For the Women of Africa, For the Women of the World

Above: North Island, Seychelles


On our travels, there have been so many men and women that have arrived seemingly out of the blue and stepped right into our hearts as though they were there all along. They arrive and never leave.

Today is about the women we’ve met. The phenomenal women that make an occasion like International Women’s Day such an obvious day to embrace. It feels, oceans and mountains away from those women, as though they are all here with us right now, smiling their big warm smiles, linking arms around shoulders in a show of that “We got this” strength and support.

Above: ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya


The women we’ve met have been in some of the most remote and wild parts of Africa, but also in the cities, in the boardrooms. We have walked together, talked together, we have cried and laughed and understood. We have shared in endless meals, in our homes, in restaurants, out on riverbanks and under infinite starry skies. We have sat with lions and shared in the “don’t make me look” fear and the “wait, let’s stay longer” excitement of Africa.

Above: Julia Geffers of Relais & Châteaux and Shan Varty of Londolozi Private Game Reserve


We have cycled across the Damaraland Desert of Namibia and the Maasai plains in Kenya. We have canoed with hippos and crocodiles on the Zambezi and sailed rough and calm seas together, in the kind of way that bonds you for life.

Some have battled the worst of life, only to emerge more in love with the best of life. Together, we have been quiet and loud, with children, families, lovers, and alone. We have given and we have received.

Above: 20 Degres Sud, Mauritius


In our travels, we see women across the great stretch of land and ocean embodying the words of Rudyard Kipling in his great poem, If, but instead of a man and a son, they make us desperate to rewrite our own version, to extend it to the truth of what it means to be a women…

“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Woman, my daughter!”


Above: Annie-Claude Bergonzoli, Director of Relais & Châteaux Africa and the Indian Ocean, at Mara Plains Camp, Kenya


In the women of Africa, the women living, loving or working here or those simply passing through, we have seen the greatest examples of spirit, persistence, love, community and a great joy for life, for all of life.

It is all of these women, the women seen and the women unseen, the women heard and the women not heard, that we celebrate and hold close today, that we honour for all they have shown us and all that they are. Happy International Women’s Day!

Above: Hoby de Foucault at Anjajavy le Lodge, Madagascar

Above: Exec Chef, Anna Ridgewell at Londolozi Private Game Reserve


Above: ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya

Above: The Cellars-Hohenort, Cape Town

Above: Jill Wagner, Great Plains Conservation

Above: Tanja von Arnim, Delaire Graff Estate, Cape Winelands

Above: Adine & Lente Roode of Camp Jabulani, South Africa

Above: Tina Aponte at Royal Chundu, Zambia

Above: Beverly Joubert of Great Plains Conservation, in Botswana (Zarafa Camp and Duba Plains Camp)

Above: Sophie Vaillant, Esiweni Luxury Safari Lodge, South Africa

Above: Ellerman House, Cape Town

10 Questions with Bushmans Kloof’s Head Chef, Charles Hayward

This is a land of wide open plains and rugged red mountains, Bushman rock art and free-roaming antelope. It is a land of rooibos fields and starry night skies. It is a place of history, myth and mystery as much as stillness and romance. It is the sanctuary known as the Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, at the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains270 kilometres from Cape Town.

Here, the cuisine of the Cape combines with the unique tastes and influences of Italy and Asia, presented in fireside dinner parties at the Homestead and outdoor summer lunches at Makana, picnics in the wild and braais at Embers under the stars.

The man at the helm of it all? Well, that would be Head Chef, Charles Hayward… Discover more below in our latest 10 Questions Q&A.

1. What is your first memory of cooking?

Sunday lunch at my grandparents’ house in the Karoo, beautiful blue skies with everyone helping to contribute to the lunch and lots of laughter and happiness. My Grandad’s tender Karoo lamb roast with wild rosemary and golden, crispy, fluffy on the inside potatoes; delicious pan gravy with little roast onion; hot bread from the wood oven; roast pumpkin with cinnamon, green beans from Gran’s garden, tossed in farm butter; lentil salad with a touch of spice from the spice markets in Durban sent by Granny’s friend from her WAF days; and to finish, my Granny’s baked Queen pudding. Simply delicious and made with so much love and care.

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

  1. The close connections and care between the wide-spread communities in the Cederberg.
  2. The local community’s homemade recipes for great breads, bredies (black pot stews to feed all who are hungry) and of course the remedies and local ‘to-do’s’… to cure and comfort all ailments.
  3. The importance of serving food as close to the harvest as possible; this is very difficult or impossible in cities.
  4. Life slows down just a little… urgency is replaced by importance only.
  5. The beauty of the harsh arid land and the life and importance of rain.

3. How did your path lead you to Bushmans Kloof?

I was working at the Grand Roche hotel in Paarl, a little gem of a property holding onto the art of fine dining and service in the Cape Winelands, and I was offered a position at Bushmans Kloof to work very closely with the owners (who are big foodies) to create something fresh and wholesome, with no pretense, a farm-to-table approach using local producers and suppliers. Well, challenge accepted!

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

I focus on simplicity, nothing over-complicated, dishes that are accessible to all and that are created using the freshest and where possible local ingredients available – while being adventurous with flavours.

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

Wholesome, delicious home-cooking taken up a notch! Guests should feel healthy, comforted and nourished.

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

My children… the sound of their laughter and unbridled joy as they play.

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

Clanwillian, the little town closest to us, for the best meat, especially lamb, potatoes and citrus, and then Lamberts Bay, for fish straight off the fishing boats.

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

–  The kapok bossie and rooibos for ingredients
–  And the popular local dish, Skilpaadtjies… lamb’s liver wrapped in crépinette and slowly roasted over an open fire with fresh crusty bread.

9. What are some of the ways you incorporate a health focus into the menu?

Freshness is key! I try to use lots of olive oil, fruit and vegetable purees instead of loads of butter sauces.

10. What do you enjoy most about working at Bushmans Kloof and what makes the camp so special?

Because of the intimacy of the place, I think the communication with the guests is really great. In the city you hardly ever meet the people you are cooking for.  The closeness of the local  community and my fellow staff members in the reserve is also a big plus.

The Art of Exploring Private Islands

“I had always known the sky was full of mysteries – but not until now had I realised how full of them the earth was.” – Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

It doesn’t matter how many times you might hear that everything in the world has already been discovered, that, as such, the art of exploring no longer exists, that it has lost its magic.

It doesn’t matter, because to you, each new journey into Africa and the Indian Ocean is as good as uncovering a new land. There is always something mysterious, something you don’t yet know, something worth discovering for yourself.

I get excited over seeing the sun rise in a new part of the world, or watching the moon grow full over a different ocean.

In a place like North Island in the Seychelles, 30 kilometres from the main island of Mahé, I found myself enthralled by the changes in the colours of the sea and hiking over the small island’s peaks – scrambling over carpets of fallen palm tree leaves and rugged boulders, under and beside the indigenous plantlife the hotel has re-planted as part of its island rewilding programme.

If ever there were a place to feel like an explorer of yesteryear, it is the Seychelles. Compared to Europe, the Seychelles has quite a recent history. It’s believed that not many explorers have set foot on North Island itself since it was uninhabited for most of its history, before being transformed into a family-owned farm that was abandoned before becoming the island we know today.

For those with explorer leanings, this is one place that really is relatively untouched and undiscovered, as only a few have had the opportunity and privilege to experience it.

My Family & Other Explorers

explorer – ɛkˈsplɔːrə/

noun: a person who explores a new or unfamiliar area; traveller, discoverer, voyager, rambler, globetrotter, rover, reconnoitrer, adventurer, pioneer.

Emerging from the forested hills, onto a desolate beach as dusk coloured the sky, Tarryn Retief, the island’s conservationist and I came across footprints of other serious explorers and followed them up from the sea.

There in the dark, where the beach sand ended and bush began, a mother Hawksbill Turtle was laying eggs in a hole she had just managed to carve out for her young with those hardworking flippers.

We sat with her in absolute quiet, in absolute dark, the red light of our torch illuminating the soft plop of each egg. We sat beside her while she covered them with sand, like a mother tucking her children into bed for the night. And then she started her slow amble back to sea.

Just the day before we had witnessed another mother covering her nest on the beach. With the Hawksbill classified as critically endangered, these sightings are particularly precious, and yet here in a land that felt very much like an Eden at sea, we could watch, photograph and record every sand-flick, every blink, every wave-surf. There was no one to disturb us and more importantly, no one to disturb the turtles.

As far as we were concerned, Hemingway and Columbus had nothing on us.

A Secluded Island Sanctuary

North Island is committed to ensuring the protection of the natural environment and biodiversity and has conservation at the heart of its philosophy. It has created a sanctuary where natural habitats, long neglected, were rehabilitated so that endangered Seychelles fauna and flora could be reintroduced and given a place to grow and thrive. Once exploited as a coconut plantation, North Island set up its Noah’s Ark conservation programme and managed to turn the island into a natural idyll where endangered species such as the Seychelles White-eye, Giant Aldabra Tortoise and Hawksbill Turtle flourish once more.

North Island’s eleven private villas, built from natural materials recovered on the island during its rehabilitation, are completely hidden from each other and sit beneath palm trees along the beach. It is one of the world’s most exclusive private islands.

Its tropical terrain of mountains and white beaches, filigree reefs and azure Indian Ocean invites explorers of all kinds: snorkellers, divers, fishing enthusiasts, kayakers, paddle boarders, surfers, cyclists, hikers and walkers.

Discover more about North Island here.