We met Rory under a star-studded sky, on the kind of night that has you singing,
Well, it’s a marvelous night for a Moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
And all the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush.
It was the kind of night when conversation flows as easily as the red wine between you. The kind that takes you from dinner in a candle-lit cabin to the open plains on a game drive with only the vehicle’s headlights to guide you through the wilderness. The kind of night you can’t have just anywhere, but that Bushmans Kloof, where Rory du Plessis, the lodge Maître de Maison, unveils time and again.
It was time to get to know more about not only life in this wilderness retreat in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa, when the sun comes up, but also about the man who gets to delight in it all, day after day.
10 Questions with Bushmans Kloof’s Rory du Plessis
- What has working at Bushmans Kloof taught you about life, love and yourself?
Life isn’t always a bed of roses, neither is love… but if you are not on the park you’re not in the game. It is about engaging with staff and guests and the more you do, the more you get out of it. Bushmans Kloof is all about experiences and as the GM you are able to manage the quality of experiences you wish Guests to have. ‘Learning’ is an evolving thing…a work in progress. BK continues to be an incredible learning curve for me.
- How did your path lead you to Bushmans Kloof? And what is your role here now?
Quite by accident really. I was in Cape Town visiting friends and received a call from a mate in London who asked if I might be interested in a position in the Western Cape. I had never worked in the Cederberg and had spent most of my career in the Lowveld and KwaZulu Natal. I went up for a quick look-see and was hooked. In my role now, I’m involved in every aspect of the operation, on behalf of the owners – from food, accommodation and guest experience, to the conservation aspects and maintaining the levels of quality expected of a Relais & Chateaux property.
- Favourite part about living in this remote reserve?
The solitude, the quietness, the stars at night, and a real bonus is never being stuck in traffic. I have been in lodges for 27 years despite a brief visit to Johannesburg, which I really did not enjoy, so I am very much a “bush boy”. I do enjoy visiting the city, especially Cape Town as it is a really vibey place.
- The best way to start and end a day here?
Always start with a good cup of coffee and end the day with unbelievably dark, starry skies, uncontaminated by city lights, with a feeling of a job well done.
- Favourite time of year here and why?
It’s actually beautiful year round… but for different reasons; the summer months for the hot and dry weather and winter with the cold and rain. If I had to choose it would probably be August and September when the flowers are out. Its when the Cederberg truly comes into its own.
- The best way to spend a day off at Bushmans Kloof or to unwind?
It’s always nice to have a lie in, and then visit the neighbouring farm for breakfast, then head down into town for a little shopping. It’s pretty terrific to actually do nothing, embrace some dolce far niente, as the days at Bushmans Kloof are always rather hectic, behind the scenes at least.
- What makes Bushmans Kloof so special?
As always ‘people’ are the ‘X Factor’ in the operation. Without our amazing Staff it simply wouldn’t be what it is. We consistently get feedback from guests saying that the highlight of the place was the interaction and care they received from our Staff.
- Favourite dish and wine on the menu at the lodge? And the best place to enjoy either on the reserve?
Favourite dish: Springbok shank with a glass of Bouchard Finlayson ‘Hannibal’; Favourite place: Our shepard’s cottage, Kodoro, in front of a huge log fire. It goes without saying that this experience is made even better with great company.
- What are some of the ways that the lodge is involved in the community and conservation initiatives and what inspires you all to maintain this involvement?
We have a long standing commitment to Elizabethfontein School , which the children of our staff attend; we contribute significantly to assisting them in many different ways and this is ongoing.
In addition, the lodge is involved in five sustainability projects with support from The TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit supported by The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands that works to ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant for generations to come. We’re also involved in saving the Cape Mountain Zebra from extinction, preserving the endangered Clanwilliam Cedar Tree (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis). We also work at conserving the Clanwilliam Yellowfish and the Cape Leopard in conjunction with the Cape Leopard Trust. We are increasing our involvement and funding to helping put Anatolian sheep dogs into the surrounding farms to prevent these amazing animals from being destroyed. And we preserve and protect over 130 unique rock art sites on the property, some dating back 10 000 years
- The best adventure so far has been… And the next adventure will be…
It’s been one great adventure from the time I got here – the lodge, the surroundings, the activities, the guests and the amazing Red Carnation family of brands that Bushmans Kloof is a part of.
The next adventure I am hoping for is some serious deep sea fishing off the Cape coast.