Africa | Ecuador
Africa | Ecuador
Driven by a profound passion for the wilderness and the creatures that inhabit it, I maintain a deep connection with nature. My commitment lies in safeguarding our world by sharing my love and knowledge with others through the delivery of life-changing and transformative journeys that positively impact our land, wildlife, and people.
I wholeheartedly believe in destiny, as my life, unknowingly at the time, was intricately designed and directed toward my current profession. It all began on my family’s horse, cattle, and sheep farm in South Africa’s untamed Great Karoo. This is where I grew up and is the place I will forever cherish as home. From a young age, I would spend days venturing through the bush alongside my Xhosa friends, exploring rivers, mountains, relying on the sustenance nature provided, studying animal tracks, plants, rescuing injured creatures, climbing trees, and becoming fully immersed in the natural world.
My guiding career commenced at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in 2002, a piece of heaven where, for over 21 years, I had the privilege of intimately acquainting myself with every cave, valley, and forest. A pinnacle moment in my Phinda journey was the discovery of a new frog species that now bears the name “Phinda Rain Frog” in my honour. Phinda also served as a remarkable abode for my wife and I, teaching us valuable lessons about the essence of life. It was there that we had the magical opportunity to raise our three children for many years, hoping to instil in them the same passion for nature that courses through our veins. And so far, it seems they have inherited it with fervour!
In addition, my affiliation with &Beyond allowed my wife, Shauna and I to explore a diverse range of lodges and wildlife hotspots during our downtime, deepening my understanding of various regions in Africa, the &Beyond portfolio, and other properties. After leading and training guiding teams at Phinda, I transitioned into the role of a Specialist Guide, venturing across Africa and even South America, ensuring that my guests (many of whom have become lifelong friends) experienced unforgettable moments. My role with &Beyond continues to evolve, and I now harness my experience and knowledge as a Private Guide to curate personalised adventures for guests, serving as a Travel Specialist as well.
I currently reside in Monzi in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, surrounded by the breathtaking Isimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site. Here, I am blessed with the perfect balance of proximity to my family, the wilderness, and the majestic Indian Ocean.
An &Beyond Private Guide is someone who has undergone rigorous training at one of our elite ranger training schools and who has been carefully handpicked for this role because of their extensive guiding experience. These individuals are recognised as the best in the industry offering exceptional professionalism, accomplished interpretative guiding and an extraordinary guest experience overall.
21 years of guiding experience, and counting…
I enjoy spending time with my wife, children, and family.
I love hiking, especially in the Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Hiking grounds me and the ‘Berg is one of my favourite places on earth. I also have a passion for birding, snorkelling, exploring new places, and propagating and planting trees. I am also an amateur geologist – I love rocks and fossils!
East and Southern Africa and South America.
More specifically, I am well-versed in East and Southern Africa, including Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and South Africa, plus birding in Lesotho. Additionally, I have spent time and guided in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Cloud Forests and Galapagos Islands as well as Costa Rica.
I am competitive, passionate, and patient.
I have a deep connection to the natural world – am constantly learning, am humbled by the wonders that surround me and am driven to positively impact and protect our beautiful planet.
Birds, frogs, reptiles, and termites.
I am fascinated by trees and their medicinal uses, as well as fungi. I am also a keen photographer and enjoy exchanging tips with guests and capturing extraordinary sightings. Additionally, I enjoy propagating trees and restoring natural areas.
At the top of my travel list in Africa is Gabon.
I would also love to see the redwoods in the United States and observe polar bears in Alaska. Torres Del Paine in Chile’s Patagonia, Antarctica, and South Georgia are also on my bucket list. Ultimately, there are simply too many places to mention…
Choosing a favourite animal is difficult, especially since I have a favourite for each area I visit!
However, if I had to choose, I would say the sengi (elephant shrew). They are incredibly unique, cute, and elusive, and there is even one named after Nelson Mandela!
As for birds, I don’t have a specific favourite because I love them all and particularly enjoy searching for and discovering rare and new bird species. However, one owl species that has always resonated with me is the pels fishing owl. While in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, looking into its large black eyes, I instantly fell in love. They are powerful, have incredible calls, are difficult to find, and belong to a small family of owls that fish across the globe.
This is such a difficult question as there are so many incredible places to see and explore…
However, if I had to choose, it would be the unexplored forests of Uganda teeming with gorillas, chimpanzees, and undiscovered species. Additionally, the wildness and magnificence of the Okavango Delta in Botswana and the vastness and abundance of bird species in Kenya.
All guests who are passionate about nature and want to have fun.
One particular memory that comes to mind is leaving a perfectly incredible lion sighting in the clear afternoon sun …
… only to head towards a brewing storm. We ended up getting absolutely drenched and laughing so hard that I couldn’t even drive. Over the years, I’ve had many other enjoyable moments and good laughs with my guests.
I only wear blue underwear (haha!). I also love to collect stones and beautiful pieces of wood.
We are part of this earth. Nature talks to us and rewards us. Give it passion, love and care and it will give it back to you.
It’s important to take the time to connect with nature, not just with our ears but with our souls, and to feel and see beyond what our senses perceive. By learning to communicate with nature as humans did in the past, we can rediscover the extraordinary powers we once had in the natural world. It’s a truly magical experience.
Wow, I have been privileged to enjoy so many memorable sightings…
From a gorilla reaching out and grabbing my leg as well as “hugging” other guests to witnessing a selous mongoose in Phinda Private Game Reserve. Observing an African wild dog and hyena fighting and scavenging a huge hippo carcass and later feeding side by side. Seeing another African wild dog chasing a waterbuck into a lake. Witnessing the survival of a waterbuck calf trapped between a crocodile, an angry hippo, and a pack of African wild dogs. Plus numerous rare bird sightings. There have been countless other incredible moments as well…
We are part of this earth. Nature talks to us and rewards us. Give it passion, love, and care, and it will give it back to you.
Let Daryl guide you on a journey-of-a-lifetime
Let me take you (and your non-birding partner) on a birding adventure like no other, discovering iconic wildlife and the vibrant cities of South Africa
Journey with Daryl on one of these incredible itineraries
Follow @daryldellsafaris on Instagram