What the World Needs More Of

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” 

— David W. Orr, Ecological Literacy

We have come across a few of these peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers across Africa and the Indian Ocean. People and places we believe are making the world a more “habitable and humane” home, inspiring us daily in their purpose and dedication and pure love for the natural world and the communities of the continent and its islands.

Below are 19 people and places the world needs a lot more of…

Peacemakers

A person who brings about or promotes peace (the concept of harmony and the absence of hostility; inner and outer tranquility); creators of harmony in nature and wellness in the individual and the greater tribe.

  • Royal Chundu, Zambia

This lodge on the banks of the gentle upper Zambezi River is built on a philosophy of harmony. Peace lies in… the setting, with raised villas and walkways between the trees, to ensure a lighter footprint on the land, and the stillness of being away from it all… The community spirit – with only local Zambian employees, the support of local farmers and fishermen, and village visits to give a true sense of place to travellers and ensure that the community benefits from the lodge. And the practice of sustainable cuisine, in harmony with the earth and supportive of the local ways.

  • Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, South Africa

In the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains, Bushmans Kloof is a natural sanctuary for indigenous plant and animal life. Several endangered species, over 150 kinds of birds, 750 plant species and over 35 species of mammals live in harmony together among the open plains, sandstone formations and towering mountains The lodge works closely with the local school and communities, fostering a relationship of compassion and a more peaceful world. In the spa, guests find tranquility in treatments that marry ancient wisdom with modern expertise. 

Healers

  • Londolozi Private Game Reserve, South Africa

The Londolozi Healing House unites the safari excursion with artful resting, curated bodywork and yoga in the wilderness of a private reserve. Working with wellness practitioners, therapists and wilderness guides, this is a chance to focus on your well-being, to quieten the noise and slow down the hurried world of today, in the name of self-healing and deepening your connection to nature. Read more >

  • Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas

At the centre of this getaway on the white sand of Paje beach in Zanzibar is an Oasis with open-sided treatment rooms, hammams, showers and the soft sounds of tropical garden life that winds around every path. The wellness practitioners have a way of using the spices of the land and intuitive touch to heal body, mind and spirit, furthering the experience and going deeper with sunrise or sunset yoga on the beach, exhaling with the tides and gazing out to the horizon.

Restorers

  • North Island, Seychelles

The story of North Island is simply unique, their commitment to restoration a defining feature of the private island lodge. As part of their Noah’s Ark Project, their goal is to  restore the entire island ecosystem (degraded and overrun with invasive plant and animal species) to its original natural abundance and diversity. It has been one of the most ambitious island rehabilitation programmes ever undertaken by a private company and a handful of NGO partners. Read more >

  • Camp Jabulani, South Africa

It is pure heart that drives Camp Jabulani, in the Kapama Private Game Reserve of South Africa. Under the wing of owner, Adine Roode and with a team of committed elephant handlers and conservationists, the tale of this sanctuary for orphaned elephants is one of the most genuine and inspiring you will hear. It is one that knows no bounds, with their additional work with the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, where rescued rhinos and other at risk wild animals are cared for.

  • Anjajavy le Lodge, Madagascar

A true haven of Madagascan wilderness, Anjajavy le Lodge has been pivotal in the creation of a protected area of Anjajavy, including forest and marine areas, ensuring the rewilding, biodoversity and sustainability of a region under threat. GM, Cedric du Foucault and his team worked tirelessly to restore this north-west peninsula, the land, the animals and the quality of life for the community. In the last nine years, they have accomplished: the scientific reintroduction of aye-ayes and giant tortoises, after extinction in the wild for 700 years; important research on fosa; and the replanting of 400 000 trees.

All in all, “somewhat of a miracle,” says Cedric.

Storytellers

  • Dereck & Beverly Joubert, Great Plains Conservation

Who? Filmmaker, Dereck Joubert, and photographer, Beverly Joubert – National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, wildlife conservationists and the inspiring husband and wife team behind Great Plains Conservation and its Relais & Châteaux camps in Kenya and Botswana (Mara Plains Camp, ol Donyo Lodge, Zarafa Camp and Duba Plains Camp).

Why? Their deep love for Africa’s wild spaces and beings has led them across Africa, capturing the stories of leopards in the Maasai Mara, Okavango lions, migrating wildebeest, wandering elephants, rhino relocations and the Maasai culture… creating in the last 30 years: 25 films, 11 books, six scientific papers, and several articles for National Geographic magazine, focusing on large predator species. They have received eight Emmys, a Peabody, the World Ecology Award, and in 2009 they were inducted into the American Academy of Achievement.

In Beverly’s words, “A great image should tell a story and start a conversation.” A conversation, in the Jouberts’ case, of conservation.

Read more:

The Way of the Wild Artist – Beverly Joubert – 10 Questions

The Dignity of Dereck Joubert – 10 Questions

  • Peter Tempelhoff, The Cellars-Hohenort

Who? Executive Chef at The Cellars-Hohenort and Greenhouse restaurant in Cape Town, Peter Tempelhoff.

Why? Peter weaves his tales through food – the stories of his own life, journey and passions and those of the region, the Cape and greater South Africa. The menu at Greenhouse presents dishes that look beyond the pantry and into the oceans, farms and orchards of the county for inspiration, sharing the local culture, traditions and flavours with diners. Read more > 

Discover Peter’s recent night of culinary storytelling at Ellerman House here >

Lovers

There are few places in the world where the romance of life, a sense of joie de vivre, is so strong that it manages not only to bring couples closer but also to make individuals fall in love with their own lives, with themselves and with life all over again.

It takes a certain spirit and fire, the kind we have encountered at 20 Degres Sud, Mauritius, and Blue Margouillat, Reunion Island, for instance, over languid meals and fine wines, and yes, long walks on the beach… 

Delaire Graff Estate in the Cape Winelands has sparked the lover in many of us, charmed by the estate’s wines, its vines and gardens designed with the term “Genius Loci” (‘the Spirit of the place’) in mind. AtholPlace Hotel & Villa, Johannesburg, with its Honeymoon suite and Marie Antoinette style breakfast on the private patio, Ellerman House, with the Atlantic Ocean peering through the open door, as we rest under the sheets a little longer, or sip champagne on the terrace.

In its intimate setting on a cliff in the Big 5 wilderness of Nambiti Private Game Reserve, Esiweni Luxury Safari Lodge has gathered us around a campfire to watch the sun go down, while the silhouette of a giraffe passes by and a glass of Moet finds a way into our hands.

At Chateau de Feuilles, Seychelles, lovers are made in a pool on top of the world, looking out over the Indian Ocean’s waters and wishing to be nowhere else but right there, in that moment.

Read more in our blogs:

8 African Experiences to Transform You

The Art of Giving. And Giving Well.

The Importance Of Being Educated

How To Stay Inspired – AtholPlace Has the Answers

To stay inspired, to hold on to our sense of purpose, that is all we ask for. In our work, our relationships, ourselves. This is not simply about contentment, this is about creation, about passion, about the impatient calendars and proverbial butterflies getting in the way of us finding the time and space for the things we’d like to do – planning new adventures, writing that book, those vows, researching new projects, taking time to reflect, to find answers, to connect with ourselves, to get creative, to plan our next steps for a life well lived.

Outside of that time and space, everything calls for our attention. There are ways to reel in the mind, but often more is needed: a change of scenery, a new workspace, different faces, nature’s sounds, quiet and calm, good food, prepared by someone else, no kids or pets (love you, Bones)…

Once in a while, we take a kind of retreat – a self-care retreat, a writer’s retreat, an artist’s retreat, a silent retreat, a fitness retreat, a wellness retreat and often something more indulgent – in the inner-city sanctuary of AtholPlace Hotel & Villa, in the great urban forest of Johannesburg, South Africa.

There’s something special about the familiar faces that greet us and know our every whim, who give us the space friends and family sometimes don’t or can’t, but who also know when to lean in, to stay awhile and share in a deeper moment.

There is a great call for these kinds of getaways and often they come with a range of treatments, workshops, health regimes, meditation and breathing practices, times and structures, to help you find peace and serenity. Sometimes, we just need something more moderate, a simple retreat of the mind, or we might prefer to dictate our own time and to go unseen.

Whatever kind of retreat you need or favour – a deserted island or a hotel surrounded by trees and birdsong – the effect is a better you, a clearer, rested, reset individual, ready to give attention to the things you’ve neglected.

AtholPlace Hotel & Villa has the essentials of the perfect retreat: a gym for fitness, rolling green lawns and yoga mats for self-guided yoga, pilates or meditation, adaptable menus and wholesome, healthy food and juice options, a spacious exclusive-use villa or suites for privacy and quiet, organised restorative spa treatments, and a kind and gracious team.

You never really know when inspiration is going to strike but creating the space for it to find a welcome home is the first step. Just put your phone in the draw and take each moment as it comes…

Discover more about AtholPlace Hotel & Villa here.

8 African Experiences to Transform You

Have you ever gone on a trip thinking from the outset: this will change my life?

I haven’t and yet, in retrospect, each and every trip has in some way transformed me, transformed my life.

What’s most surprising though, looking back at my travels through Africa, is how so often it isn’t simply the expected or the dramatic that starts the change in motion. It’s a myriad of many little spells and sparks.

It isn’t merely seeing Kilimanjaro standing tall in the distance that gives you renewed energy, clarity, understanding. It’s so much more than that. Like walking it perhaps… Experiencing the process.

Or horse-riding in the shadow of the great mountain, with a horse and a guide that you connect with. Or cycling across the wild plains of big cat country, starting out in fear and finishing in joy. 

Transformation is in the release of anxiety and the acceptance of the unknown.

It isn’t merely being in nature, it’s your openness to it, your presence. It’s the healers and elders helping you to find the words to comprehend it all. To show you the path to new truths.

It isn’t merely the elephant rubbing its trunk against your cheek, but the safe space created by the keepers and handlers and other guests in unique sanctuaries.

Africa can transform you in a conversation, a show of kindness and compassion on a drive from the airport to your lodge, with the dirt roads, bush scent and dance of impala across your view. A connecting of minds and hearts and senses.

Sometimes it takes longer, the course of a week-long stay, as your nerve and sinew remember how to relax, release, in the hands of a therapist or the warm sea’s light embrace. In the remembrance of the wisdom of the simple things.

The change can start slowly, at the beginning of a mountain trail, with the natter of the mind still holding your heart in its fist, and might only show itself clearly once the last valley has been crossed. When the fresh air has blown a new course through you. When the clouds lift and light shines in at just the right angle to create the epiphany that everything is, actually, as it should be.

Transformation can come in the form of a book, a concert, heartbreak as much as love, calamity as much as good fortune. It can come instantly or take months, years. And when it does, life is always better for it.

Consider this your invitation to the kind of travel that goes deeper, the kind of journeys that transform, the kind of adventures that Africa has in abundance.

Here are 8 African experiences to transform you.

1. Journeys in Rejuvenation

The newly-launched Londolozi Healing House takes you from the world of doing into the world of being, and combines safari excursions with artful resting, curated bodywork and yoga in the wilderness of Londolozi, in the Sabi Sand. Experience unique treatment combinations called ‘Journeys’ for true rejuvenation, restoration and transformation, guided by a team of wellness practitioners, bodywork therapists, wilderness guides, yoga instructors and a sound healer.

Read more in Londolozi’s blog and website.

2. Canoeing the Zambezi River

Feel the sweet blend of adrenaline, trepidation and wilderness on a ride down one of Africa’s most renowned rivers at Royal Chundu, in Zambia. It is a journey that takes you out of yourself only to bring you more into yourself. Get up close to the watery mystery, its animals and plant life, scents and sounds while paddling with a guide. It’s one of those rare moments in life that stand out, that stay with you and make you feel both, strangely, more peaceful and alive. Alive among elephants, otters, hippo, crocodiles and great African fish eagles, of course…

3. Connecting with Elephants

Spending time connecting with the elephant herd at Camp Jabulani you learn as much about yourself as you do elephants. Discovering the ways these great animals live, love and play is eye-opening – how every part of their existence is geared towards assisting each other, their compassion and depth, their capacity for fun and curiosity. If you open yourself to them and their lessons, their love, you are bound to go home a more enlightened and peaceful person.

4. Mindful Eating

The culinary experience at Greenhouse, at The Cellars-Hohenort in Cape Town, transforms the way we see food. It goes beyond mere taste and presentation. It is a journey that impels you to think about each mouthful, to be mindful while dining and to give your attention to the story behind the ingredients, the dish, the culture, land and people involved. Eating will never be the same for you after a meal here.

5. A Sense of Time with Rock Art

Learning about how others live, lived, is one of travel’s greatest gifts. It gives you greater clarity when looking at your own day to day, but also your place in time. It reminds you that the ways things are done are not fixed laws, but rather accepted fads. It reminds you of your freedom to live in your own way. Witnessing the tales and art work of the hunter gatherer Bushmen tribes on the rock walls of Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat in the Cederberg Mountains does just this. With a rock art curator to guide you in the process, you’ll discover the spiritual world of these indigenous people – the most ancient tribe in the world – and likely be moved by their philosophy of touching the earth lightly.

6. Animals Never Before Seen

There is something special about Anjajavy le Lodge in Madagascar. It is one of the most authentic and sincere places you will come across on your travels. A wild land of mangroves, beautiful coral reefs, bays and baobabs, fossil caves, white beaches, traditional tombs, and animals unique only to this Indian Ocean island – lemurs, fossa, giant chameleons. With no threat posed (none of the animals are poisonous), you’ll find yourself overcoming fears, you’ll see the adventurer in you step out, your courage ignited by the ocean air. It’s freeing and when one feels free, anything is possible. Witnessing such a feat of conservation at work in the protected Anjajavy reserve reminds you of the power of a few inspired individuals. Perhaps your inner conservationist will blossom here too.

7. The Mountains are Calling

Cape Town is a special place, with special powers, but much of its magic lies in it mountains. Even the sight of them has had people pop up houses all around their foothills and cliffs. The transformation happens, though, once you put foot to rocky earth. With every step winding up Lion’s Head, Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, and so many others, you’ll feel your heart pulsing,  sweat glowing and endorphins rolling. Somehow, at the end of a hike in these mountains, looking out over sea and city, answers arise, concerns dissolve, ideas are sparked and that new leaf feeling takes over. Time spent disconnected, away from phones and computers, will do this. Make a habit of returning to the mountains for clarity and energy and you’ll see the transformation start to take shape.

Explore the mountains from your base at Ellerman House, The Cellars-Hohenort or Delaire Graff Estate.

8. At One With A Horse in the Wild

Whether your horse is in the desert or has no name is irrelevant, the magic happens in your connection with this sensitive and powerful animal. One of the most potent and enchanting places to feel the transformative powers of horsekind is ol Donyo Lodge in the Chyulu Hills of Kenya. Traipsing across open plains with leopard, elephant, giraffe, wildebeest and other wild things all around, you have only your horse and yourself to trust. It takes two, as they say… It’s a lesson for professional and beginner riders alike, as this is no country farm. At the end of the ride, you’ll notice how in the moment you are, you might even feel confidence and pride return, you’ll definitely feel in awe of the natural world and the majestic, humane and respectful way the horses move between the other four-legged animals of this wilderness. A great lesson for us all.