Nico van Zyl
Land, wildlife and local communities are the essential ingredients of successful and sustainable Eco-Tourism. I have a passion for sustainability and educating people on the importance of preserving the longevity of all forms of life for a sustainable future.
I discovered safari through experience in the Sabi Sand game reserve which hooked me line and sinker! Consequently, I started my career on a family game farm in Limpopo. Eventually, I learned to understand conservation at a young age. I went on to work at a wildlife reserve in KZN South Africa, and progressively developed within. I soon became aware of how vital eco-tourism was to ensure the success of conservation, but also first hand experienced the positive impact it made on local communities as well as guests alike.
My career path quickly focused on the safari route, and I became actively involved with providing activities as a field guide where I specialised in horseback safaris to facilitating facilities management and hosting the larger groups of visitors at a destination. That developed into parks management overseeing larger public wildlife parks and it ultimately lead to property management. A short break out of South Africa saw me developing tourism products and I also practised as an Equine Veterinarian Nurse in England. I later co-founded a conservation-based veterinarian educational product known as Vets-Go-Wild.
I became involved in the more complexed side of safari products as a tourism facilitator to assistant lodge manager and then worked up to General Management level working across Africa in different safari regions. In the latter stage of my management positions, I realised the value of sustainability at destination level. It intrigued me due to its positive impact as an overall contributor to the success of eco-tourism. It is now a lifestyle, not a "job"anymore, but it has also cemented my passion for the safari industry entirely.
I also do much volunteer work raising funds for community development programs, conservation initiatives and wildlife research experiments in Africa.
I love excellence in hospitality, exceptional service and empowering people by developing personalised skills. Those skills are enveloped by generating creative opportunities and supporting communities to ultimate independence. We must design for the future so that the future can look after itself!
"Independence cannot be real if a nation depends on gifts!"