James was six years old when he left the shores of England for the great unknown of Africa.
His favourite book at the time was Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Young Max gets sent to bed without supper, only to find his room morphing into a prehistoric jungle with all sorts of bizarre creatures as his new companions, and a fantastic adventure ensues. That’s what it was like for James: “One day I was watching cows chew the cud in the meadows of Derbyshire, and a week later I was listening to the roar of wild lions in the South African savannah. I felt an instant and powerful connection to the wilderness, and since then a deep yearning whenever I’m away from it”.
He subsequently dedicated his life to sharing this connection with others in the belief that through reconnecting people to the natural frequencies of the earth humanity will stand the greatest chance of protecting its wild heritage.
James designs and leads intimate, environmentally conscious trips across five continents with a passionate focus on Africa. These journeys aim to seek out the breathtaking feeling of being in wilderness; bridge the divide between humankind and nature; spotlight conservation initiatives; and allow for philanthropic opportunities. “I love the challenge of creating the perfect safari, if such a thing exists – taking the time to mould practical parameters such as budget, seasonality and calendars around the magic ingredients of adventure, wonder and surprise that nature delivers in abundance,” says James. “An exceptional safari usually takes us out of our comfort zones, shifts the way we see the world, and leaves us bonded closer to not only nature but the family, friends or partners we travel with.”
James is the photographic ambassador for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, through which his works have been exhibited at Christie’s in London (2017) and Los Angeles (2019). He has worked as storyteller and photographer for the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project over multiple expeditions, including the four-month 2,400km canoe expedition that was the focus of the critically-acclaimed documentary Into the Okavango. In 2019, their team won Rolex National Geographic Explorers of the Year. He is the reconnaissance photographer for Natural Capital helping to bring attention and protection to threatened wilderness regions outside of national parks.
James is an award-winning conservation photographer. He guides personally tailored photographic journeys around the world, for people who wish to work respectfully with nature to create unique and beautiful imagery. These trips are for both amateurs and professionals, and the focus is as much on animal behaviour, anticipation and collaboration with wildlife as it is on technique. And for those who don’t want to pick up a camera, James also provides his guests a collection of edited photos to document their experience.
James honed his guiding skills at world-renowned Londolozi under the tracking tutelage of Freddy Ngobeni. He has been guiding for over two decades in almost as many countries. He is one of very few naturalist and photographic guides to have led safaris spanning Antarctica, the Brazilian Pantanal, the Chadian Sahel, Chilean Patagonia, Antarctica, the Indian Himalayas, the Congo Basin, the Namib Desert and beyond. “I have learned the greatest thing we can do for the people we guide is to help them see with new eyes, listen with new ears.”
Conversations Out of Africa
James, Warren and Michael chat about travel, conservation and safari life
This entire planet is our home. All of the beings that we share this home with are our kin, our fellow earthlings. We are all different expressions of the same stardust and there is not a single one of us that is not meant to be here. What kind of neighbours we choose to be of course is entirely up to us.
- James Kydd
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