A Man on a Mission to Interpret the Past

It was their connection to the earth that spoke to me first, how lightly they walked upon it. It was a fascination tinged with a slight nostalgia – a longing for a simpler, better time. But as the years pass, I am discovering that the ways of the Bushmen of southern Africa have as much to teach us about the present and future as they do about the past. They may be the oldest living culture on Earth, with a spirituality that predates all the world’s religions, but their approach to life still remains a source of great wisdom – their nomadic, hunter-gathering way of life, not using more than needed and making the most of all that you have, the importance of community, and working to live not living to work.

Their customs, traditions and beliefs have been well-documented, held onto for long after the different San tribes began to fade, on the rocks of numerous caves across Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. One of the best places to view their rock paintings is the Cederberg Mountains of the Cape, and here at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat.

We caught up with Londi Ndzima, the Rock Art Curator at Bushmans Kloof, to find out more about their numerous sites and the stories behind them. Discover more below in our Q&A.


1. What does nature mean to you?

Peace and quiet; the outdoors for me is the best place to be.

2. Explain your love of rock-art and the stories it has to tell about the people of the Cederberg.

The history of the hunter gatherer/San people is very similar to that of my own people, The Xhosa. Even down to things like using local plants for medicine, the role of ‘community’ and the art of storytelling. Through the rock art, one gets an insight into how they lived, who and what they came into contact with and what was important and significant to them. Through the ongoing research into rock art, there is constantly new information becoming available and I feel really privileged to be able to share these perspectives and insights with visitors.

3. Why is holding onto and preserving the past important to you?

Because there are no written accounts of the lives of the San & Khoi people in the area, we have to rely on what they did leave behind… in this case, these paintings.

4. Explain your passion for storytelling?

My Grandmother used to regale us with stories as children; about our culture, our traditions and ceremonies, such as when a boy kills his first eland which marks his entry into manhood and means that he is eligible for marriage. These stories connected us/ me to our history and our ancestors.  I have loved telling stories about the San and Khoi, through the interpretation of their art.

5. How have you continued to learn so much about the Bushman and their way of life?

Being exposed to the ongoing research through my relationship with Prof John Parkington and others researchers and specialists; as well as by reading reading reading; and talking to people from around the world (many of whom visit Bushmans Kloof). I learn every day and I’m able to bring all this knowledge to our guests.

6. What makes Bushmans Kloof such a special place for people to learn about the rock art?

There are so many amazing sites on the property, over 130, each offering its own unique bit of information and each a small piece in the puzzle of rock art in the Cederberg area. Having a Rock Art Curator on the property certainly enhances visitor experiences.

7 & 8.  What has your role as rock art curator here, and / your knowledge of the Bushman taught you about yourself, love and life?

I have fallen in love with nature, working at Bushmans Kloof.  It’s really strange because when I was young I loved maths (I wanted to be an engineer) and now I love history and medicinal plants. Quite a change… but I love my life exactly as it is now.

9. Where in the world are you the happiest and why?

Taking a walk in the rocks at Bushmans Kloof… the light here is amazing.

10. Words to live by?

–  Mentor – I’d like to leave a legacy of my love for what I do.

–  Happy –  I want people to have fun and be happy when they are around me.

–  Learn – I want to keep learning and sharing.

10 Questions with AtholPlace Hotel & Villa’s Executive Chef

I have found that getting to know the chefs behind a meal adds a certain depth to the meal itself. As though acting as another ingredient,  enhancing the myriad flavours and scents and revealing the heart of the dish. In the same way that learning about where the different ingredients were sourced, and how and why, gives the art of dining greater meaning, gives the diner, you and I, something to connect with. It is this knowledge and understanding that lets us walk away from the table feeling richer and more alive, more apart of the entire culinary process than most people on the other side of the plate are fortunate to be.

This is the hope behind our Q&As with the chefs of Relais & Châteaux Africa and Indian Ocean. To give you the story behind the dishes you’ll savour in the different hotels and lodges, and to give life to each part of that dish.

Sit down with the man behind the meals at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa in our 10 Questions with Willie Malherbe below.

10 Questions with AtholPlace Hotel & Villa Executive Chef, Willie Malherbe

1. What five things has working at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa taught you about yourself, life and love?

Mmm, interesting question. Okay, here goes. Passion is paramount, patience, self-respect, understanding and lastly, make every second count.

2. How did your path lead you to AtholPlace Hotel & Villa?

Having known and being close friends with the previous managing couple of the Morokuru Family (which includes AtholPlace) for more than a decade, I started helping out when they set up this property and that led me to being employed on a permanent basis.

3. How do you bring a taste of your environment to your dishes?

By using as much as possible local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients and working closely with our suppliers to assist us in reaching this goal. Also drawing from the multiple cultures and their cuisines found in this rainbow nation.

4. How would you describe the kind of cuisine at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa and the motivation behind it?

I would say our cuisine is relaxed with a global influence created by using fresh seasonal, ingredients with the focus being on flavour.

5. What inspires you day to day – in life and work?

Happy customers that let you know they really enjoyed there meal and dining experience is what inspires and keeps me going. In life I would say the privilege of being able to not worry about were my next meal is coming from, living in an free country and being “reasonably” healthy.

6. Where do you source most of your produce from and why?

We try and work with as many local suppliers as possible, fortunately we are blessed in Johannesburg to have great suppliers that will go out of their way to assist in delivering top quality, fresh ingredients.

7. What are some of your favourite local ingredients and dishes?

Funnily enough one of my favorite ingredients at the moment is corn. It’s a vital staple food for most South Africans as well as being a versatile ingredient to work with. When it comes to favorite local dish, I have to say “magwinya’s”  It’s a street food which consist of “vetkoek” or fried bread with a selection of fillings such as curried mince and cheese. Its available on most street corners throughout the city.

8. What do you enjoy most about working at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa?

The comradery in the kitchen is the best….

9. Your favourite dish on the menu now? And why?

Hickory smoked Springbok loin, crisp goats cheese and rainbow radish salad. Reason? I love Springbok and smoking things.

10. What makes Johannesburg such a special place for foodies to visit?

Simply put I would say it is the melting pot of different cultures and their cuisines that make Johannesburg a foodie destination… as well as the passion of the people creating the food, from the top five star establishments down to the lady selling magwinyas on the street corner.

10 Questions with Camp Jabulani’s Executive Chef, Dylan Frost

In the heart of the private Kapama reserve in South Africa, Camp Jabulani is not only an homage to the elephant, but also a refuge for the traveller, a place where people in search of something authentic, something wholesome and restorative come to rest and reawaken. And part of this journey is the role played by food. A role that Executive Chef, Dylan Frost takes on and executes with great heart.

“Being a chef is not a job for me,” says Dylan. “It is doing something that I love and have fun withhe. Using local ingredients imaginatively is one of the ways we give our guests something that they would never get to try elsewhere in the world. In addition to changing our menus, we also believe in varying our dining venues. We offer private candlelight dinners, riverbed surprises, and traditional South African boma nights (with ambiance provided by bonfires, lanterns and starry skies).”

Discover more from Camp Jabulani’s Executive Chef in our Q&A with him below and follow him on Instagram here.

10 Questions with Camp Jabulani’s Executive Chef, Dylan Frost

  1. What is your first memory of cooking?

My very first memory of cooking was when I was in Scotland, visiting my mother for a holiday. My mother use to cook for the guests in the hotel that she was working at, and I helped her make breakfast the one morning. It was a fun experience for me as I was only 12 years old.

2. What five things has working at Camp Jabulani taught you about yourself, life and love?

1. Camp Jabulani has taught me that the smallest and simplest things in life count and can make a massive difference in a guest’s life.

2.  I have also learnt the importance of working as a team.

3. Camp Jabulani has taught me that I am capable of doing amazing things.

4. I have truly learnt that I really love cooking and that I will never stop.

5. It has taught me the true meaning of love, since it’s where I met my wife. I am the luckiest man ever.

3. How did your path lead you to Camp Jabulani?

I had been working at the Plettenberg Hotel for some time and thought that it was time for a change of scenery. I was looking at jobs in the lodge industry in order to change from the hotel scene and I was fortunate enough to receive the opportunity to work here, in the wilderness of Kapama.

4. How do you bring a taste of the land to your dishes?

I like to stick to the simple elements but also add a twist, by using our local venisons, whether it be Springbok shanks or Kudu loins. These proteins are able to tell a story just by the way they look and taste on a plate.

5. How would you describe the kind of cuisine at Camp Jabulani and the motivation behind it?

Camp Jabulani cuisine is a fusion between South African and French cuisine. I keep the lunches more bistro style and the dinners have a rustic fine dining feel. We also have a lapa for boma evenings, which is always a lovely surprise for the guests, as it includes traditional South African dishes.

A post shared by Dylan Frost (@chef_dylan_frost) on

Above: Tempura Quail leg and pan fried Quail breast served orange and Bulgarian yoghurt puree, berry caviar, rainbow carrot ribbons, sushi mayonnaise and asparagus tips.

6. What inspires you day to day – in life and work?

Trying new dishes and foods inspires me. And I love watching the guests expressions after they try a dish that I’ve been working on for a while.

7. Where do you source most of your produce from?

We are fortunate enough to have wonderful suppliers closeby in Nelspruit and in Hoedspruit. We have access to the freshest of herbs from just around the corner, and we get the best cuts of meats from suppliers that we have been working with for ages and have built a fantastic relationship with.

8. What are some of your favourite local ingredients and dishes?

I am a massive fan of using the weirdest ingredient and trying new ingredients. I have recently sourced samphire here and it has brought life to some of our fish dishes, giving you that experience of eating at the ocean but in the middle of the bush. I love the Monk fish dish that we create here.

9. What are some of the unique requests you’ve had from guests when it comes to food and dining?

I have had some really weird but interesting requests before. I remember a group of guests staying in the villa. They wanted to have a pizza night and one of the young ladies requested a pizza with pistachios, goats cheese and honey. I had never tasted it before, but I can now definitely recommend it.

10. What do you enjoy most about living and working at Camp Jabulani and what makes the camp so special?

I really find that working with this amazing team plays a massive role in making the time here well spent. I am very fortunate to have a great team behind me as well, but the best part of working here is that we get to work with the Camp Jabulani herd of elephants. Even in the hardest times you can always count on the elephants to brighten up your day and bring a smile to your face.