10 Questions With The Bush Man of Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Luke warm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”

Ellerman House’s Executive Chef, Veronica Canha-Hibbert, recently drew my attention to these sage words from Roald Dahl’s novel, “My Uncle Oswald”. Yet another quote to add to our Instagram‘s growing list of #bklittlewisdoms (Bushmans Kloof’s Little Wisdoms). A quote that speaks so perfectly to the man featured today, the so-called Bush Man of Bushmans Koof, that it was impossible for me to start this blog in any other way.

I’d like to introduce you to Jannie Van Wyk, Field Guide at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat in the Cederberg of South Africa. Today’s 10 Questions offers a glimpse at life through his eyes, a veritable “enthusiast in life”, a youth whose passion is as white hot as the embers of the campfire he gathers travellers around and the night stars he can pinpoint in the flash of a laser.

Bushmans Kloof

10 Questions With Bushmans Kloof’s Jannie Van Wyk

 1. Five important things to remember when living in the wilderness?

  • Keep a relative level of fitness; a healthy body hosts a healthy mind.
  • Have a good, if not personal, relationship with your colleagues as they will help and support you when times are tough.
  • Prepare yourself for being away from your loved ones for extended periods and make the most of the time you have with them when you are on leave.
  • Stay positive. No one enjoys a grumpy guide.
  • Keep your mind occupied and keep learning every day.

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

2. Five things being a guide at Bushmans Kloof has taught you about yourself, life and love?

  • There is always a sense that something amazing might be around the next corner… and most times there is. Get your tekkies on and go find it!
  • The thrilling scenery is ever changing; every day is unique and special.
  • It truly is inspiring to sit at a rock art site and marvel at the beauty around you; it is a sense of peace I have not felt anywhere else.
  • Bushmans Kloof has shown me what can be achieved if a team has a common goal and work hard together to achieve it.
  • I have learnt that to truly appreciate what you see before you, you must first understand it and to fully understand takes time and effort. We as the guides at Bushmans Kloof pride ourselves in helping people see, understand and appreciate it for themselves.

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

3. What training did you have to complete for your role as guide at Bushmans Kloof? (For those reading who don’t know just how truly qualified you are…)

I grew up having parents that love nature. That love was passed on to me and I was hooked! After school I studied conservation ecology at the University of Stellenbosch and then attended The Nature College and completed the Ranger Development Programme. I then registered to become a legal guide in South Africa. I did my Internship at Karoo National Park where I worked and refined my techniques and learnt many valuable lessons. When my internship ended, I applied to work at Bushmans Kloof and was fortunate enough to have my application accepted. I look forward to working here for a number of years to come.

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

4. Favourite part about living in the bush and particularly at Bushmans Kloof?

Bushmans Kloof is very supportive of our natural curiosity as guides and encourages us to better understand our surroundings by experiencing it fully. There is a wealth of fauna, flora and impossibly beautiful rock art to see and it truly feels like you are living in a wonderland. The best thing about living in the veld is seeing the connections. Realising that everything is connected and every now and then trying to connect to it yourself.

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

5. Complete the sentence:  When there are no guests around, I…

Grab my camera, get in the safari vehicle and head out to the veld.

6. It is believed that rangers and guides must be a little crazy to live out in the wilderness away from family and friends for such extended periods. How do you keep the crazy at bay in the bush?

Have fun as much as you can.

Bushmans Kloof

7. Most memorable moment on safari? 

Being charged by a male black rhino whilst on foot (at Karoo National Park).

8. Favourite time of day in the bush? Why?

Sunrise or set… for the unbelievable array of colours on display and the beautiful silhouette of the Cederberg Mountains.

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

Bushmans Kloof

9. Favourite dish to make or have made for you at Bushmans Kloof?

My personal favourite is lamb chops and boerewors on the braai with a fresh green salad and my favourite meal from Bushmans Kloof is the fish curry!

10. Next adventures for the bucket list? Have you learnt to Riel yet?

The Okavango Delta. As for Riel, not yet, but I’ll try my best.

Bushmans Kloof

Discover more from this wild corner of Africa for yourself at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat.

The Five Rules of Fatherhood – With Paul Harris

Paul Harris

Being a parent is about gently leading the wild ones, directing them through the channels of life and protecting them from that which lies in hiding. It’s about teaching them how to beat the predators when you aren’t around.

Paul Harris is one of our country’s pioneering leaders. An entrepreneur and business director. He is one of the original founders of Rand Merchant Bank, was the CEO of the FirstRand Group, one of the largest banking groups in South Africa, before he retired, and is the owner of one of Cape Town‘s two Relais & Châteaux properties, Ellerman House. But Paul is also a father. Many of his lessons for mentoring young talent in companies could just as well be from a parenting handbook, “lessons from one organisation’s success that I believe can be applied anywhere,” as he says himself.

Paul Harris

In celebration of Father’s Day today, we’ve taken Paul’s business tips from a recent article on BizNews.com to bring you something you could call, “What Paul Harris Taught Us About Fatherhood When He Was Trying To Teach Us About Business.” Or simply…

The Five Rules of Fatherhood
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1. “In my opinion, the importance of leaders mentoring emerging talent cannot be over-emphasised.”

Children need to be guided and mentored, through personal attention and interaction with those more experienced.

2. “I believe the role of a leader is not to make good decisions but rather to facilitate good decision-making.”

Lead by example and instill the values that will allow children to choose the (your) right path. Don’t stifle; allow your children the agency of free will.

3. “A leader’s job is to harness the collective wisdom of their team. When they do this the tremendous diversity of people in our organisation becomes a huge asset. For example, there is no more potent combination than grey hair and the exuberance of youth.”

In the Amazing Race of life, the more and the wider the range of skills and talents on your team, the better. As they say, “Alone, we go faster. Together, we go further.”

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4. “Autocratic managers do not survive in our culture – I always say that I judge people not on the number of people that they control and have reporting to them, but rather on the number of people they liberate. To be a successful leader in our group you cannot take yourself too seriously or have a big ego.”

Paul is one of the most humble men I have met. No titles exist in conversation with him. The father in him shines through as much as, if not more than, the businessman. Ego doesn’t make for a good father. Show your humanity, insecurities and faults and allow your child to show and embrace theirs.

5. To be the best you have to know your business and your industry better than anyone else. This requires hard work, an enquiring mind and curiosity about your business.

Fatherhood might not be about being the best but it is about hard work and is not for the fainthearted. It also requires an enquiring mind, to speak to the curiosity of youth.

Read more wisdom from Paul Harris in, “Accepting mediocre leadership sends all the wrong signals,” on BizNews.com.

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We asked Paul to share a little more about fatherhood through his eyes…

What does being a father mean to you?
I have a father, I am a father and I am a grandfather so fatherhood means everything to me.

As a father, what have you tried to instill in your children about life, love and Africa?
I believe children should have wings but also roots – and their roots are in Africa.  I do all I can for them to develop a love of Africa and I think I am succeeding!


Discover more from Paul in our Ellerman House Innkeeper interview

The Odd Moments Theory of Fatherhood

Pirogue

People say that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us.

At least, the great writer Umberto Eco did. He believed, “We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” Umberto and his father were two particularly dissimilar souls, so perhaps his father’s teachings had to be cloaked in mystery to have their effect. In the case of the Ecos, Senior wanted Junior to become a lawyer. Junior took up philosophy and literature instead. He stopped believing in God, left the Roman Catholic Church, and befriended a group of avant-garde artists, painters, musicians and writers. Sacrilege. But not an uncommon story across different generations.

The Odd Moments Way of Fathering, however, is not lost on those more similar in nature. For instance, my father and I… our paths and passions are rather aligned. It’s a result that I’m sure has been (quietly, never to be admitted) created or at least prodded along by my father, both purposefully and at more random moments. On a walk through the forest or tending to the granadilla creepers… Moments when he wasn’t trying to educate me about the world, when he was simply being his natural self.

Such has been the way with the Bourgeois family – for one of our fathers of Relais & Châteaux Africa, Michel Bourgeois, Managing Director of 20°Sud in Mauritius.

Michel B

Together with his wife, Anne Bourgeois, Michel owns and manages what is the first boutique hotel on the island – a route he embarked on in 2005. His previous career, however, and an eternal passion of his, was as an airline captain on the Airbus 340 & 330 for Air Mauritius.

Michel is a man of many passions. But from what I gather you can distill this into one phrase – art de vivre. Michel strikes me as a man of refinement over excess when it comes to the luxuries of life, a man in favour of the delicacy of taste, feeling and spirit. And a man who has shared this spirit, his passion for life’s little pleasures, with his son. And whether consciously or not, his son has inevitably followed in his footsteps.

Today, Bourgeois Senior and Junior often share the cockpit, with Junior acting as co-pilot on personal journeys. How this came to be Michel puts down to our “odd moments” theory, moments when passion, above all, shines through unfiltered on morning walks together along the beach or private flights back to Belgium where Michel hails from…

“Aviation is not a job, it’s a passion,” Michel says.

20 Sud

In celebration of Father’s Day this year, we asked Michel two simple questions… to give us a different perspective on family compared to our Mothers of Relais & Châteaux Africa series. This is a glimpse through the eyes of the men of Relais & Châteaux Africa…

Michel, What does being a father mean to you?

On top of the fact of course that I love my children, being a father means for me mostly being responsible of people.

BELOW: Michel’s extended family, the faces of  20°Sud in Pointe aux Canonniers. “Our staff have followed us on this journey and are very dear to us.”

20 Sud

As a father, what have you tried to instill in your children about life, love and Africa?

I try, day after day, to teach them values such as honesty, courage, hard work, and speaking of Africa, respect for nature. I once read this beautiful phrase in a book – “The earth is not given to us, it is borrowed, and we will have to give it back to our kids when leaving.” That is what I try to teach them.

20 Sud

Above: Michel with our AC, Annie Claude Bergonzoli, the Director of  Relais & Châteaux Africa and Indian Ocean

The odd moments, however, cannot be captured and quantified. Those remain private, between family members, or elusive altogether…

Discover more about  20°Sud and the island of Mauritius