Mark C. Ross has been guiding safaris in Kenya and East Africa for over 30 years.
An educator, adventurer and an explorer, he was raised in North America on a wildlife refuge in a family of teachers and highly trained musicians. Academics and the Arts were the primary focus and from a very early age Mark began earnestly studying wildlife, photography, and East Africa. His early jobs of roughnecking on oil rigs, working as a ranch hand and as a fire fighting helicopter rappeller all gave him a strong taste for incorporating the outdoors and adventure into his learning. While still in High School he began teaching wildlife and ornithology and planning his education so that it led him ultimately to Kenya. Marlin Perkins, Director of the St. Louis Zoo and Host of Wild Kingdom, was an early mentor of Mark’s and encouraged his learning.
After completing two Bachelors degrees in wildlife and doing research in zoology in Kenya’s Masai Mara for a doctoral thesis, Mark earned yet another degree in Secondary education and followed his natural abilities into the world of teaching. It was during school vacations, while he taught in Kenya, that Mark started guiding safari’s for guests and his side business/hobby blossomed so quickly and so widely, just by word of mouth, that Mark eventually chose to focus his teaching skills into teaching “in the field” (which is how Mark still looks at his occupation). Mark loves his work and it shows in his gracious approach to his guests and his reverence and great knowledge of the field. For 30 years Mark Ross’ safari business has thrived almost entirely by word of mouth.
The New York Times, Time Magazine, and National Geographic have hired Mark in various capacities and his photographs and writings have appeared in numerous publications worldwide. He has also written two books (Dangerous Beauty, True Stories from a Safari guide, published by Hyperion Press, and Predator, Life and Death in the African Bush, published by Abrams books) and is working on a third. Both of his books have achieved critical acclaim and Predator is used by several International safari companies as their definitive predator guide that they recommend to guests for safari pre-reading.
As the only safari guide in East Africa who is a commercial pilot with his own fleet of airplanes and land vehicles, several degrees in wildlife biology/zoology, fluency in the native language, Kiswahili, and a vast knowledge of the people and the history of East Africa Mark is in an unparalleled position to guide your safari. He also is one of the few guides who is licensed to travel and guide on foot through many of the parks in Kenya and East Africa.
Mark has collaborated on more than a dozen films and has been the subject of two Dateline NBC Documentaries. He has also been the co-host and subject of two Animal Planet productions. He is a guest lecturer for National Geographic and for numerous zoos throughout the USA and is a consultant for numerous safari companies, both in Kenya and abroad.
Mark is a lifetime honorary board member of the Lindbergh Foundation, is an exam writer, lecturer and teacher for the Kenya Professional Guides Association. Micato Safaris, USA, contracts with Mark Ross as a teacher and trainer for their guides. He is a founding director of the Kolunga Foundation on Rusinga Island in Kenya which serves the entire community of a small fishing village filled with orphans and victims of the AIDS epidemic
Mark C Ross is methodical, patient and composed in times of either opportunity or crisis. He is always armed with his Nikon D3 and his .416 rifle (more than enough firepower to stop an elephant or buffalo in their tracks). He discharges neither without cause but does not miss his mark when necessary as is evidenced by the his vast library of published photographs and grateful safari guests whose safety he considers paramount.
In 1999 Mark was one of thirty-one people captured by rebels in Uganda while guiding a safari. The horrific incident received international attention and Mark was widely lauded for his level headed role in keeping the group safe. In the worst of situations he was able to use his vast knowledge of local tribes and the country, fluency in Kiswahili and survival skills to not only keep his part of the kidnapped group alive but also once released lead them back out of the impenetrable forest to safety.
Mark has guided International groups ranging in age from 4-93 as well as individuals, photographers, filmmakers and fellow scientists. He has successfully guided a 9 year old up Mt Kilimanjaro, a 78 year old on a seventeen day horse trek, a 93 year old on a mountain gorilla trek, and all ages in between. He is a highly educated academic and a devoted naturalist who has an unparalleled understanding of wildlife and botany of East Africa. It is his passion and great ability to share it with all of his guests, many of whom return to travel again and again with Mark as their guide and host in East Africa.
When Mark is not guiding he flies his aerobatic plane, enjoys skydiving and plays squash avidly. Time each year is devoted to exploring and photographing other parts of the world from the worn saddle of his motorcycle. He is an avid reader and a musician.
Mark lives in Nairobi, Kenya which he has called home for over 30 years.