Meet the Team

Jim O'Brien

Who-are-we-Jim-225x184Jim is an avid traveller with personal experience of some of the world's most challenging - and interesting - countries under his belt. With almost two decades of experience in the travel industry, Jim started his career as a tour leader in the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent before settling down to a slightly more settled life on the Essex / Suffolk border. With a deep connection with Africa, Jim's recent travels include pioneering trips to meet the Toposa people of South Sudan, travelling through Nigeria, a good contender for Africa's most difficult country, and being one of only a handful of travellers to have visited Somaliland, the breakaway country that no-one recognises. His experience also includes leading the first ever English speaking group tour to Chad's Ennedi Mountains, perhaps one of the most exciting destinations we offer, and destinations further afield include such diverse countries as Suriname, Turkmenistan, Georgia and Bangladesh.


Chelsea Duce

Chelsea’s passions include trekking, wildlife, traditional cultures and the great outdoors. From hiking in the Peruvian Andes and the northern uplands of Turkey, to meeting hilltribes in Vietnam and exploring the rainforest of the Ecuadorian Amazon, her travel experience includes South America, South East Asia, the Indian Ocean, Europe and the Middle East. From homestays, to jungle lodges, from caves to camping and from sleeper trains to boats, she has stayed in the most remote, authentic and odd locations in each and every country she has travelled to and is always interested in getting to know the locals. As well as travel, wildlife conservation and animal welfare is also at the forefront of her interests and she spends much time petitioning, raising awareness, fundraising and volunteering. Chelsea’s role at Native Eye extends from designing itineraries and answering your questions, to accompanying our newest tours.


Rachael Spall

Adding an Antipodean element to the office, Rachael was born in New Zealand, grew up in Australia but has been settled in the UK for the last twenty years. Her travels have taken her from the 'classic' backpacking routes through Eastern Europe as the Soviet Union was breaking up, to the beaches and jungles of South America and South East Asia. Rachael looks after the 'behind the scenes' stuff at the office, liaising with our teams on the ground to make sure everything runs smoothly. Nowadays settled in the UK's smallest town, Manningtree, more often than not she can be found frequenting the local Italian restaurant.....


Matt Bowden

Matt-225x184Matt has a keen interest in the outdoors, regularly ‘Munro-bagging’ in Scotland and doing long distance walks closer to home. Matt’s recent travels include exploring the island of Socotra, hiking through the Caucasus mountains in Georgia and tracking gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and he’s most at home on a windy hillside with map in hand, en route to a village pub with a fire.



Joan Riera

Joan grew up bJoan2-225x184etween Catalonia and Cameroon, and was initiated into Africa cultures at the early age of 10. Later he studied Anthropology and Sociology at Richmond University and continued his studies in traditional African societies. Joan has written several travel guides and since 2005 has focussed on West and Central Africa. He now collaborates with Native Eye in the design and organisation of unique trips in little visited African destinations - the more challenging the better!

Call us on 01473 328546
or email [email protected]

Native Eye Favourites

Not sure where to go? Have a look at some of our favourite trips...