About Wild Eye
Established in 2012, Jono Buffey, Gerry van der Walt and Andrew Beck set out with the intention to refresh the photographic travel and private guiding industries by focusing on providing a professional service that is both fun and relaxed, whilst ensuring guests enjoy amazing travel experiences and world class service.
From the most humble of beginnings, Wild Eye has grown grown dramatically and is now made up of a team of full-time expedition and tour leaders, tour consultants, sales & marketing, full logistics and safari operations teams in both our Johannesburg and Nairobi offices, as well as our very own authentic piece of Africa – the Wild Eye Mara Camp. The combination of which resulting in service level excellence and a wide variety of destination offerings both on the African continent, and across the globe.
Our aim is to continue to build the best and most dynamic travel company in the world whilst continuing to change the way our guests see the world!
Meet our Team
Like any successful organisation, Wild Eye is underpinned by a team of hard-working and passionate individuals, all of which driven by the collective goal of changing the way our guests see, and experience the world!
Since its inception 8 years ago, Wild Eye has always aimed to hire the best people, and that is currently true not only for our team of specialist guides, but for each and every single member of the Wild Eye office team.
Chances are, if you’ve booked a Custom, Private Guided, or Scheduled Tour, or in some cases, all of the above, you would have dealt with our ‘behind the busy scenes’ members of the office.
What started out as a small team of three visionaries, has since grown to a team of 15 people in our local Johannesburg offices, and a small team of operations and guides in our Wild Eye East Africa office based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Some of the names and faces listed below you may already be friendly and familiar with, others perhaps not as much. Either way, meet the Wild Eye Team
Wild Eye South Africa
From very young age, I have had an unbridled passion for the great outdoors.
I need to pay tribute to my Dad, who instilled this in me, taking me on many adventures to great wildlife destinations in Zimbabwe and surrounding countries.
I have been blessed to continue on with this journey, fuel my passion and, in recent years, being able to allow my dreams to come true. After being born in Zambia in 1966, we moved to Zimbabwe in the early 1970’s and lived there for 10 years. During this time we visited most of the great Wildlife Destinations that Zimbabwe and the surrounding countries have to offer.
During school holidays and long weekends, we would venture out into the wilderness to various reserves which included Mana Pools, Hwange, Kariba, Chobe, Victoria Falls and Gorongosa in Mozambique. These were true adventures, as they would all be undertaken in our trusty tents and collapsible caravan – never in the luxury of lodges or hotels. This made them more real and allowed me to experience the true value of being immersed in nature with many abiding memories of special wildlife encounters. After completing school, I went into the world of commerce, eventually culminating into owning my own company for 20 years, before I sold the entity in 2007.
Unlike my partners, I have no experience in guiding, managing lodges or being in the hospitality industry, but I have gained an understanding of the business-critical requirements that contribute into creating a successful company. In my opinion, the culture of the people and the organizational behavior, is a key driver in the success of any company, and we have managed to successfully integrate this into Wild Eye. Together with the incredible efforts of my partners and all the incredible people we employ, we have shaped Wild Eye into a great business.
I have been incredibly blessed being able to follow my dreams and, more importantly, so has my family.
Unbeknown to me, besides visiting some incredible places – the greatest joy has been to create bonds, friendships and relationships with some of the most magnificent people on earth.
Managing Director & C0-Founder
“By combining a passion for nature photography with my education and more than 15 years experience as a field guide, my goal is to not only assist people, whether through teaching them new skills or pushing them creatively, in capturing the beauty of nature but also to create an awareness of the fragile balance that exists in nature. I believe that my photography speaks for itself and my goal it to keep on creating images that will keep an awareness of our planet’s natural heritage in people’s minds while at the same time, through the various Wild Eye safaris that I help conceptualise and host, share the privilege of being out in the unspoilt wilderness area that Africa is so well-known for. At Wild Eye we have created a vehicle which merges the raw beauty of traveling in Africa, and elsewhere around the world, with the ability to not only capture these moments on camera but also to teach and inspire people along the way”.
Director & C0-Founder
“Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. I was very fortunate that my love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. I believe that my unique background and experience in conservation and field guiding provides a wealth of information extending beyond just that of photography, adding to each and every one of the photographic safaris I lead. I look forward to sharing my passion for wildlife & photography with you”.
Director & C0-Founder
“Passion, enthusiasm and an unquenchable thirst to explore and introduce people to the wonders of wildlife perfectly sums up my ambitions. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Thanks to a deep love for nature and photography, instilled by my dad at a young age, I grew up with the constant desire to be as close as possible to wildlife. I followed through with my childhood ambitions and worked within the professional guiding industry for nine years as a lodge-based ranger, and at times a travel photographer. Completing six years of full-time guiding for the world-renowned Singita Game Reserve, I gained crucial skills not only in the field guiding but the skills required when hosting guests too. My intention has never been solely for recognition but for the plight of what’s left of our natural recourses. Using my love and understanding of wildlife I am able to convey to the viewer more than an image or a fleeting moment – I bring that moment to life, telling a beautiful story in the process”
“My experience of working, living and travelling out of London for 10 years after University, another five years of consulting roles with every sector from Mining to IT, before joining Wild Eye, has given me life and work experiences that I use every single day in the office. I have officially been with the Wild Eye family for 5 years, starting as their bookkeeper for a few hours a week, to an role I now treasure: Business Operations Manager, an all encompassing role relating to Finance, Logistics, Operations and HR for our small and dynamic team. I know a lot of people can’t say this but I LOVE MY JOB! I am lucky to be able to work with an amazing group of individuals with a passion for Changing the Way You see The World!”
Business Operations Manager
[Al’s image & Description]
“I left a corporate career in pursuit of a burning passion for the great outdoors and all things wilderness. Following a relatively short professional guiding career, I arrived at the realisation that my true passion was for African adventure, and wildlife photography. It is in this pursuit of adventure, that I chose to share my passion for photography with others. Now in the role of Business Development, I take comfort in the opportunity I have to combine previous qualifications, corporate business and guiding experience into what one could only describe as the ‘best of all worlds’.
Business Development Manager
Custom and Private Guided Tour Consultants
Soon after I matriculated I spent a season working at a Ski Resort in South Africa. I then completed my BCom in Tourism Management in 2015 through the University of South Africa and began working at Flight Centre as a travel expert. I have always loved being able to work with people and, having a part to play in planning amazing trips for them is exactly why I love Wild Eye. As Private Tours Coordinator I am able to work closely with guests, our amazing guides and office team, while at the same time always being able to learn something new about different destinations. No day is the same and every safari and guest alike different and special in every way, which always enables me to continuously grow and learn.
Private Guided Tour Consultant
After completing matric, I enrolled for a National Diploma in Tourism Management at the Tshwane University of Technology. A requirement for the completion of this course was a 6-month practical, however I was fortunate enough to be one of a few students to be selected to do a 12-month Graduate Culturation Work programme at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, USA.
In 2011 I completed my B-Tech Tourism Management degree at the University of Johannesburg whilst also being involved with VIP services for the 2010 FIFA World Cup that was hosted in South Africa. In November of 2010 I departed to Canada to do seasonal work at Whistler Blackcomb, Vancouver. I returned to South Africa in April 2011 where I started by Retail Travel Agency career which also led me to Corporate Travel. My passion and love for the outdoors took me to a position with Wilderness Safaris. In 2019 I joined Wild Eye looking after the Custom Travel.
I have a great love for the outdoors, and anything involved with nature and adventure has me ticking. In my free time I enjoy mountain biking, craft beers and spending time with my family.
Custom Tour Consultant
Scheduled Tour Logistics
Coming from an outdoor and farming background, it was the obvious choice to complete my Diploma in Hospitality, Lodge Management and Game Ranging.
I guided actively for a period of 5 years, and then continued to manage lodges in various remote locations and countries for another 6 years.
We moved back to Nelspruit in 2016 to start a family of our own, and I continued to manage a guesthouse there, as well as pursuing my dream of owning a coffee shop.
In January 2019, we left this all behind to bring about a drastic change to our lifestyle, moving to a bustling Johannesburg. This is also where my journey with Wild Eye began.
My Lodge experience helps me to address our clients’ concerns accordingly. I am thoroughly enjoying my position with Wild Eye and take absolute pride in ensuring that guests enjoy a stress-free travel experience.
Scheduled Tours & Logistics Coordinator
At the end of 2017 I left the corporate world, I had no idea where and what I was going to do but a change was needed. Not long thereafter I got an interview at Wild Eye and so the journey began.
Coming from the corporate world this was way out of my comfort zone, but as I always say, challenge accepted. And boy oh boy am I still grateful today for this opportunity. From the first time I met the Wild Eye team and started working there, I felt home, part of something amazing. And some people will never understand how numbers can make one happy, but it really does make me happy. We take everything on as a team, and we encourage one another day by day. We grow and stand together. I am part of the financial management of Wild Eye and our strive is to change the way people see the world in all aspects.
Social Media Management
I have always been a creative person with a great passion for telling stories in a different and unique way. After 8 years in the news industry I decided to merge my passion for visual story telling with my other passion – wildlife, nature and Africa. By telling the stories not only from the field, but how we get there as well, I believe the opportunities to grow digital audiences are endless. Combining my knowledge of filming, graphic design and editing with my passion for the outdoors, I truly believe the best is yet to come…and then some.
Community Manager & Content Creator
Tour and Expedition Leaders
“Nature and the outdoors is something that was instilled in me from a very young age having grown up close to the Kruger National Park. Most weekends were spent either visiting this iconic park looking for certain bird and mammal species, or fishing at any given opportunity. It was however only during the time I spent living in Uganda that the thought of making a career out of Guiding became a real possibility. I have had the privilege of Guiding and Managing Camps in the Eastern Cape, Madikwe, Zambia and Botswana. I have been with Wild Eye for just over three years and love the way we create memorable and life changing experiences for our clients.”
Johan van Zyl
“My passion for the bush and everything that comes with it started as far back as I can remember. Thanks to my parents who introduced me to wilderness areas at a very young age, I managed to live my dream by obtaining a background in conservation and being a lodge based ranger for four years, working in world-renowned places such as the Timbavati and Sabi Sands Private Game Reserves. Through this I have not only gained knowledge of the environment but also acquired the necessary people skills required in our industry. I am passionate about sharing my wildlife and photographic knowledge with guests to ensure that they too can capture that special moment for eternity. Something special happens deep in the heart of the wilderness, and I couldn’t think of anything better than experiencing the wonders of the African bush!”
“Having Grown up in White River, a small town in the Lowveld area of South Africa, I have had an inner burning and desire to pursue my passion for wildlife for as long as I can recall. I was guided at a young age by my family who share the same passion for the natural world as I do. Frequently visiting wilderness areas instilled a deep craving to explore and learn more about the bush. Once I left school I began my journey to becoming a guide and following my dream. I have been a field guide for the past 9 years, starting out in the Western Cape and then returning to the lowveld where I spent 4 years at Londolozi Private Game Reserve gaining invaluable experience and opportunities to learn about the natural world, and myself as an individual. My love for wildlife kick started my passion for photography which thankfully allowed me to grow and pursue it as a career. I continue to enjoy sharing exciting safari adventures with clients, parting ways with my knowledge of, and passion for wildlife photography.
“An insatiable need to explore and to experience Africa’s beauty and wildness led me into a decade of work as a guide of various sorts in some of Africas most remote camps to some of the most luxurious and prestigious lodges. I got into private photographic guiding for the purpose taking others on these unforgettable adventures. My goal is not to simply teach others the mechanics of photography but also to connect you to Africas limitless space, hereby stretching the aperture of your mind and soul with mystery and wildness”
Wild Eye East Africa
I pursued Tourism Management at University and possess skills that suite well with management, tour logistics and hospitality.
I am fortunate to grow in a diverse business culture where I have gained a vast experience in the tour business processes and operations with a firm commitment to changing the way our guests see the world!
In addition, a combination of an experience in camp management, collaborating the Wild Eye East Africa team and leading them as well, has helped me in contributing to successes in the past five years.
With a background spanning across wildlife and environment conservation, communities empowerment, travel and hospitality, office and finances management, I am proud to be working with a company that is greatly passionate about wildlife, people and conservation.
Operations Manager East Africa
The Office Space
In our relatively short history, Wild Eye has remained in the Design Quarter Shopping Centre in Fourways, Johannesburg. Originally, set up in what seemed like a very spacious office, until we started to employ additional team members, resulting in us having to move to a slightly larger office.
The most recent addition to our offices, was a break-through into an empty office space next door and an associated decor improvement project to what could now be described as a very modern, comfortable, spacious, open plan space encouraging teamwork, collaboration, flexibility and productivity.
[NEW OFFICE IMAGES]