About Us

Selecting the right people is the most important part of any safari.

Derek Dames Safaris Ltd.

As you may have noticed, Derek Dames Safaris Ltd has a wonderful new website that is now up and running.

Derek joined The Original Ker and Downey Safaris Ltd. in Kenya in the early 80’s, although his family’s connections with the firm began in the 50’s through his uncle, professional hunter Peter Becker.

Derek was born in 1951, a second-generation Kenyan who spent his childhood exploring the bush, learning Swahili, and gaining a deep appreciation of his surroundings. After attending the University of Nairobi, where he graduated with an honours degree in Design, he was awarded a scholarship to Yale University to study Architecture.

Derek worked as an architect, in both America and Kenya; before realizing that what he really wanted to do was to show people the wonderful wild parts of Africa that he grew up in.

He believes the philosophies behind architecture and safaris are very similar: creating wonderful spaces and places for people to be in!

Derek and his partners have led and organized safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, Ethiopia and throughout most of southern Africa, including Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Yet much has changed since Derek first started his safari career; not least of all the way safaris are organized and operated. With the close of hunting in Kenya in 1977, the photographic safari industry really took off, and The Original Ker and Downey Safaris Ltd. dominated the scene for many years.

But back then, the abundance of small lodges, home-stays and permanent tented camps that thrive today, did not exist.

Helicopter fishing trips and quad biking safaris were unheard of; and the options for rounding out a wonderful safari in the bush on a palm fringed tropical island were limited – not from lack of islands, but from lack of places to stay on them!

Other than the less appealing option of a large concrete lodge or hotel, filled with hundreds of other guests and zebra striped minibuses, the only way to do a “real” safari was a Luxury Mobile Tented Safari.

Yet whilst this remains the core of our business today – and it is something that we have really refined over the years – many wonderful new safari camps, lodges and concessions areas have sprung up.

And we have also massively broadened our experience with new and exciting destinations and partnerships over the years; this includes Derek’s eldest son Tom, merging his business and experience under one umbrella.

In addition, the way in which safaris are booked and planned has changed massively – safaris were organized years in advance, almost always in person, and communications were done by letter and telegram. Email, Facebook, Instagram, TripAdvisor and cell phones were unheard of – and so were websites!

But times change and our rather antiquated website was in drastic need of renovation.

So what we aim to achieve is an easy platform for you to explore the many options for a safari available to you through Derek Dames Safaris Ltd.

We want both new and existing clients to be able to use the website, in addition to any more formal communication with us, as a way to thoroughly delve into what is available, so that we can make planning your next safari fun and exciting.

We also wish to be able to provide those of you that have already booked a safari with an easily accessible source of information – from packing lists, to advice on what binoculars to bring!


Hear what some of our guests have to say about us.