Alan Binks guided his first African safari in 1969, with no experience but plenty of enthusiasm. After nearly half a century of criss-crossing the continent, Alan is regarded as one of the “wise elders” of Ker & Downey, where younger guides regularly draw on his extensive wildlife knowledge – gained from years of studying the elephants, gazelles and birds that have so absorbed him throughout his career.
Alan’s safari life began in 1967, managing a research study into the potential for ranching wild antelopes, which gave him the grounding for a lifelong passion in animal behaviour. Today, that passion encourages his guests to track lions on foot and to spend hours in the company of large herds of elephants – animals for which Alan admits an admiration bordering on the human. “I’ve experienced a few unforgettable moments of rapport with elephants,” he says, “and I really believe you can have some level of personal communication with these amazing animals.”
Alan is renowned as a fine art photographer, and enjoys helping amateur photographers to improve their craft while on safari. Since entering his first photography competition at 15, Alan’s stunning wildlife portraits and large-format landscapes have appeared in numerous magazines and coffee-table books – including his own book, A Cry from the Wild. His photos also provide a permanent backdrop for the walk-through diorama of the African Rain Forest exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Biodiversity.
A keen pilot, Alan regularly flies his own Cessna and takes part in occasional gliding competitions, including representing Kenya in the 2001 World Gliding Championships. He lives in his self-designed home on the edge of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy with his partner, Maggie, and his two children also work in the safari business.
Alan has been a partner of Ker & Downey since 1980 and served on the company’s board for 24 years. He has conducted safaris in most African countries – with some of his clients returning every year for decades – and, in half a century, he can honestly claim to have never followed the same itinerary twice.