What is a Private Guided Safari?

Marlon duToit All Authors, Marlon 3 Comments

“I am a Private Guide”

Really? Are you sure? Did you really, really think about what you are putting out there?

So you join a guest or family on safari, mention a few facts you read in a mammal behavior guide, snap a few pics and enjoy a glass of Stellenbosch red whilst the fire crackles away in the background, then excuse yourself and retire to your room. You visit some nice places and see some nice animals, and all runs pretty smoothly and your guests end up having a nice time.

See, there’s too much of the above-mentioned happening in today’s safari industry. Something is wrong with that picture. A vital, tasty ingredient is missing.

The words “private guiding” seems to pop up under every second image shared by photographers and guides.

“Come and see Africa’s lions… #privateguiding”

“Living it up in the Masai Mara… #privateguiding”

“Just had a awesome leopard sighting… #privateguiding”

These hashtags more often than not, should read something along the lines of #IHaveNoIdeaWhatIAmDoing #ITakeGoodPhotosAndNowAmAPrivateGuide

Hope you could figure that out? 😉

Now please do not misunderstand the reasoning behind this chat of mine. This is not a rant or avenue for excess frustration. See it as an enlightenment, a transfer of knowledge and understanding or a rather confusing topic.

private guiding, wild eye, gerry van der walt, marlon du toit, safari, africa

So what is a privately guided safari all about? One word…


It is as simple as that. Right from the get go, the safari is centered around all of your needs, wants, expectations and dreams!

Every safari should be a dream come true, a bucket-list experience.

I know a few great private guides out there who gets this right every single time, great friends of mine! That said, I know of more safari guides that sell these private safaris, but what you end up with is far from what you initially envisioned. Problem is, you may not know that at first.

Have you ever questioned the qualifications your guide may possess? This is a vital factor. Again, market today seems filled with photographic guides offering their services, but have they ever guided before? Will they be able to look after your needs before their own? When you get ill, get stung by a scorpion, show symptoms of malaria, have a poor dining experience or he safari does not live up to your expectations, will that guide still be so competent and confident?

See, between the Wild Eye Private Guides, we have well over 20 years of lodge-based guiding experience. We know what to expect and most importantly, we know how to deliver a quality service in good AND troubled times.

If you are only ever used to eating tinned food, you can’t be blamed for thinking it’s better than caviar…

Take nothing away from the scheduled safaris we offer here at Wild Eye. These travels always yield amazing life-changing experiences. You gain access to exciting wildlife destinations at great prices, and get to make friends for life as you are joined by great like-mined people in relaxed environments. Nothing wrong with that at all!

Now you are probably asking, “Why go private?”.

Do allow me the opportunity to explain…

private guiding, wild eye, gerry van der walt, marlon du toit, safari, africa

Imagine sitting down with your chosen guide, telling them your safari dreams and working hand in hand to make them come true.

Imagine the opportunity to visit that place you have always wanted to.

Imagine taking your partner or family on a journey few have ventured on before.

Imagine yourself walking along the banks of the Zambezi River, exploring the Great Lakes of Kenya or canoeing the channels of the Okavango Delta.

Imagine yourself falling in love all over again, the magic of a African safari gripping your hearts all over again.

private guiding, wild eye, gerry van der walt, marlon du toit, safari, africa

Now imagine doing all of this in the company of a skilled bushman, someone who has devoted his life to the safari dream and most importantly, to making yours come true.

He will take care of just about your every need.

He will be your travel agent, safari planner, photographic tutor and behavioral expert.

He will ensure you always have the best view of that leopard and most importantly, make sure your shutter is the first to fire.

He will make sure you are seated first at dinner and will always keep an eye on the levels of your wine glass.

He will keep you out of harms way, and ensure that every camp you visit treats you like royalty. Experiences often lay hidden in the small details.

Most importantly, he will become your friend.

private guiding, wild eye, gerry van der walt, marlon du toit, safari, africa

Wild Eye Private Guiding

Does this not sound like something you hunger for?

See, too many guide’s are in this for themselves. Too many “private guides” seek thrills and encounters to add to THEIR story, instead of writing in yours. The sad part is that few people have the ability to distinguish between a nice time in the bush, and a truly life-changing adventure, purely due to lack of travel experience.

If you don’t hear these words, or ask the right questions before travelling with someone, you may be doing yourself the greatest injustice.

It is easy for me to say these things. Right?

I could easily be one of “those” guys claiming the legitimate experience, meanwhile back at the ranch…

Andrew! The past few days have seriously been some of the best in our lives. Kapama private Game Reserve exceeded our expectations tremendously.

Thanks again for making this happen!

Hunter Hampton
Hunter Hampton
River Lodge, Kapama

I’ve been on two safaris with Gerry. Simply put, he’s the best guide in Africa. Incredibly smart, superb attention to detail, deeply committed to nature, and lots of fun. He’s also one of the best wildlife photographers in the business – and loves to teach. I’m hoping to go on many more adventures led by the amazing Gerry!”

Chris Michel
Chris Michel

A lot of photo safari guides use their guests to fund their own travel, so THEY can get THEIR shots. Marlon makes sure I am in position and he has also been unbelievably helpful as a teacher as well.

Everyone I have met on my Wild Eye trips has been dedicated, thoughtful, and welcoming. From the lodges they choose to the guides they enlist, you are guaranteed a top experience perfectly customized for photographers.

For these reasons and more I will travel with Wild Eye whenever possible. Though not born there, Africa is in my blood. Each visit is a special moment for me, and Wild Eye provides me with an experience that nurtures this love affair, and the tools and skills to capture it and share with the world.

Dave Marshak
Dave Marshak

Andrew was just fantastic! Endlessly patient, kind, helpful, freely giving huge amounts of help both during the drives and when back in the lodge. A great organiser, making everything seamless and smooth and taking into account everyone's different wishes. Great company as well as being the perfect leader.

Naomi Stolow
Naomi Stolow

Gerry is part of a rare breed of photographic hosts who will not pick up his own camera till his guests are happy and comfortable with what they are trying to achieve photographically. For him, the guest experience is the top priority. His knowledge of animal behaviour is invaluable in trying to get that shot. When back at camp, he is more than happy to help you understand programmes like Lightroom, ensuring that you go home with not only some great shots, but also lots of new knowledge. Add in his enthusiasm and easy going nature and you have someone who you will want to go on trips with again and again.

Simon Beevers
Simon Beevers

private guiding, wild eye, gerry van der walt, marlon du toit, safari, africa

Why should your dream safari end in disappointment?

Why should it not be EVERYTHING you had hoped for AND MORE?

When you entrust your finances, dreams, hopes and expectations in the hands of the right guide, I guarantee you that your life will be changed and you will always come back for more.

Am I being arrogant? Absolutely not!

Do I have faith in my and my teams abilities to provide an incredible privately guided experience?

Absolutely yes!

Till next time,


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About the Author

Marlon duToit

Passion, enthusiasm and an unquenchable thirst to explore and introduce you to our natural world’s wildlife perfectly sums up my ambitions. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. Through my African adventures I kept my photographic passion alive. Behind a camera aimed at a lion or a leopard is where I am most at home, my heart skipping a beat at the mere thought of it. 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 aim to tell a story, to bring that moment alive to you and to capture your heart through it.

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