Turn left off Prince Albert’s main Church Street up an unpretentious gravel road named Magrieta Prinsloo Road, Skaapies Einde and you might think you are driving into Karoo scrubland populated only by peacefully grazing sheep; after all Skaapies Einde means Sheep’s End.
Instead, the absent Ms Magrieta Prinsloo leads you to the humble edifice of Avoova’s elegant gift shop and factory, which first established this international brand with original crafted decorative items artistically rendered from ostrich shell pieces.
Today, Avoova employs 50 local artisan crafters and exports fine wares to multiple overseas destinations, elevating the repute of the the world’s largest flightless bird and its equally large but humble ostrich egg – one which can easily be likened to the Faberge egg of the Karoo.
Not only producing beautiful gift ware to adorn your home or to shower on friends and family, Avoova also looks after its community. Together with famed photographer and author Obie Oberholzer, Avoova raises funds for local education through beautiful images of the Karoo’s people and landscape with the sale of the book Karoo Story, another beautiful keepsake to take away with you. You can also visit Avoova at its four other boutique shops in and around the Cape.
Artists, Art Galleries and Giftware
With Avoova, undoubtedly the retail star in Prince Albert’s shopper’s corner, singular artistry still survives with local metal worker Kashief Booley carrying the title of Prince Albert’s blacksmith.
Not so long ago, every small town had a blacksmith who was indispensable to life from supplying tools, repairing wheels and shoeing horses. Today Booley is an artistic blacksmith who supplies locals with crafted items such as gates, burglar bars and other needful things. Perhaps in response to the sound of metal crashing on metal all day, he remains a man of few words.
Happy to fill you in with all the delectable art history and future investment possibilities of the art world however is Kurt fromWatershed. Situated inside a beautifully restored Victorian house typical of the architecturally rich town of Prince Albert, Watershed is a haven in which to browse and buy interior design, art, furniture and fashion artfully displayed throughout its four interlinked showrooms.
Along with an impressive collection of retro furniture, Watershed houses selected prints of world-renowned photographer Jürgen Schadeberg and the Karoo Collection, a showcase of local artists’ work.
From Berlin with Love
Schadeberg is the Berlin-born photographer who snapped many famous Drum magazine covers in the 1950s, as well as almost all of the remaining photographs of Nelson Mandela before he was imprisoned.
Framed copies and other memorabilia of the Drum covers are available for sale at the Watershed, which lays claim to house the only exclusive gallery of the works of internationally acclaimed photographer Jürgen Schadeberg in the world.
A Portrait of Mandela
Referred to as the ‘father of South African photography’, the Berlin-born photographer has lived and worked in South Africa for much of his life. He is particularly known for his striking portraits, including those of Nelson Mandela over several decades, the 1950s black musical and political scene while chief photographer, picture editor and art director of the magazine in the 1950s, as well as Apartheid and modern South Africa. He now lives in Germany, but Kurt is on hand for art lovers and memorabilia collectors to purchase signed and framed copies of his photographs.
Prince Albert to New York
International journalist Joseph Berger was one such collector who not only bought his own signed copy of a Schadeberg but was also moved to write a beautiful travel article about the heritage and crafting community in Prince Albert titled ‘An Artist Colony Thrives in the South Africa Desert’ for the New York Times Travel section.
Local photographer Louis Botha is another artist who finds sanctuary in Prince Albert and in the hearts of Michael and Renate, owners of the four-star De Bergkant Lodge which is highlighted in Joseph Berger’s New York Times travel piece for its beautiful heritage buildings and 4-star hospitality.
Louis Botha’s framed art works adorn De Bergkant Lodge’s dining room walls where the public is welcome to pop in and browse and buy together his two books Slow Down, Look Again andKaroo on sale as beautiful keepsakes of one’s travels through the Karoo’s vast and silent landscape populated with hardy but ultimately authentic characters. You can also pick up a pack of his beautiful photographic cards and send a message home to arrive before you do. You can read more about Louis Botha on De Bergkant Lodge’s blog here.
A Gem of a Small Town Life
Says Michael, owner of De Bergkant Lodge: “We like to believe that we bring a lot of international attention to this hidden Karoo village from the many Swiss, German, Dutch and other European travelers who like to enjoy nature blended with luxury hospitality.
“We have made a big investment in purchasing the lodge and want to share both its beauty and its tourism potential with the local towns people. We recommend all the natural and sporting adventure services and book dining arrangements for our guests at the local eateries. Wherever we can, we uplift the community and highlight the many talents and skills to be found and enjoyed here.”
De Bergkant Lodge also employs and trains local staff at De Bergkant Lodge and bring international service standards to what more sophisticated townie’s might only consider a ‘dorp’.
Renate, who heads up housekeeping says, “Michael is extremely exacting. Every little detail is considered and room preparation and set up is precise. Coming from a Swiss finance and banking industry, there is no room for error.”
“Of course,” says Michael, “we expect initiative and integrity from the people we employ. Not everyone is up to meeting our standard, but we are very lucky in having found Ashley who started with us as dining service staff and who is now promoted to front office. It is always a two-way street and expectation without effort won’t get someone stable employment. It goes without saying that theft or tardiness is not tolerated here.”
International Investment Uplifts a Small South African Town
De Bergkant Lodge’s international standards pay off not just for the upliftment of its service staff but for the town itself too. On any lazy afternoon, spent basking around one of the Lodge’s three swimming pools you can hear more than three international languages being spoken; but De Bergkant Lodge is as popular with local travelers too, hosting politicians to celebrities from across the country.
Investing in South Africa doesn’t come without its challenges as Swiss-born Michael and Renate have discovered. The village recently experience two electricity blackout of 19 hours each which impact booking systems and guest comfort.
“We are learning to adapt and unfortunately have had to go the route of generators to keep connected with our guest bookings. Luckily the South African sun makes solar an option for our geysers in our ten rooms and with most restaurants using gas to prepare foods, it means dinners are set to enjoy the romance of candlelight if Eskom brings us more blackouts. We like to call this adaption as the ‘art of living’ in the Karoo!”, chuckles Michael.
Art lovers will be interested in the upcoming Open Studios art weekend taking place from 5 – 8 July where resident artists open their studios – often located in their homes – to the public, creating the village’s very own ‘art route’.
Visitors have the chance to not only view the artists’ art, but to meet them in person and discuss their work with them. These works include mediums ranging from land art, water colors, ceramics, letter art, stone carvings, oils and acrylics.
Book your next breakaway at De Bergkant Lodge at www.debergkant.com.
Incentive professionals understand the importance of rewarding employees in order to drive productivity.
It is also their responsibility and challenge to find the most rewarding destination with which to motivate and excite incentive participants – one that provides the best activities, adventures and amazement which will motivate and drive participants to achieve heightened success.
Long haul destinations offer the promise of the exotic but it can be challenging for incentive professionals to fully understand how to get the most out of the destination when they are situated on the other side of the globe.
This is why working on the ground with a destination management consultant (DMC) of that particular country as well as the local operators on the ground, is so important.
Incentive Travel Tips only Experience can Deliver
South Africa is renowned for its encompassing beauty, natural reserves, world-class wines and safari adventure travel, together with a world-class luxury lifestyle along its vast coastline from its position on the tip of Africa.
What many foreign incentive operators don’t realise is that South Africa is a very large country and all too often lengthly and costly travel logistics can impact both incentive itineraries and client budgets.
Almost every incentive travel group to South Africa looks for the reward of a Big 5 wildlife experience and their first port of call is the world-famous Kruger National Park. However, many factors come into play here which are often not available at first glance to booking agents.
Firstly, moving large groups to and through the Kruger National Park is a challenge and along with the park’s other 1.5 million annual visitors, it is not a high-end luxury incentive activity.
The more upmarket private reserves which edge the park, such as Sabi Sands and the Timbavati region offer an equally thrilling wildlife experience but do not have the scale of accommodation facilities to host big incentive groups, so they focus on catering solely to the free independent tourist (FIT) market.
How to Travel on an Incentive into the Kruger National Park
Getting your group to the Kruger is your next challenge.
Landing at OR Tambo International Airport in Gauteng Province, the park is a five hour drive by car and longer by luxury bus. Alternatively, groups can fly into Hoedspruit and the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, which then requires another hours’ drive to reach the Park’s Numbi Gate.
Traveling such distances often requires splitting the group and using costly alternative travel logistics can open up room for error. For the travelers themselves, the journey can turn into one long, hot and boring day… not something one wants to put ‘winners’ through.
Unless of course, they are arriving to something truly spectacular and inaccessible to anyone else.
Bespoke Safari Incentive Offerings
Hayward’s Grand Safari Company, the 2019 Winner of the Best Safari Experience in Africa at the Safari Awards this year, offers a bespoke Kruger National Park Grand Safari experience and is the first private safari operator to be allowed access to this South African wildlife treasure.
Transported to untouched wildlife regions within the 19 485 km² park where there are no public access roads or hotel or ablution buildings, or other tourists in sight, guests are hosted in 5-star luxury tented accommodation which caters to up to 200 people on pristine Park land that has not been touched by a human foot before.
Dedicated game rangers protect, teach and guide groups towards some of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring nature experiences during the day while at night they are wooed by the night sky and entertained by the best chefs, butlers, cigar aficionados, story-tellers, spa specialists and cultural entertainers in Africa.
Immersed in pure natural environments for a week, guests emerge from a world-class luxury safari that is stained indelibly on their memory.
Setting a bespoke 5-star safari camp up in the Kruger National Park can be costly however, for those wanting to spend a shorter time engaging with the country’s wildlife and safari experience, there is something as equally inspiring and closer to ‘home’, or rather closer to Gauteng’s international airport.
Bringing the Kruger Incentive Experience to Johannesburg’s Doorstep
South African Tourism is behind the marketing of the all new Dinokeng Big 5 game reserve in Tshwane, just one hours’ drive from OR Tambo International Airport and one which offers a wildlife experience on a par with the Kruger National Park when it comes to immersing and engaging with South Africa’s natural heritage.
Adjacent to Hayward’s Grand Safari Company Headquarters in Boekenhoutskloof, this Big 5 reserve is also close to the diamond mining town of Cullinan and the Wonderboom Airport which offers direct transfers to South Africa’s second most visited destination, Cape Town, South Africa’s lifestyle and wine-drinking destination of choice.
Here, in Dinokeng, delegates are served an equitable safari experience on a par with the Kruger National Park but where incentive operators have more opportunity to spend travel logisitic costs on activities and entertainment to inspire and woo the group.
These include transfers by Rovos Rail, Diamond Incentive events, cultural entertainment and artisans such as the Ndebele King’s own traditional dancers and the five star services of classical pianists, hot air balloon sky safaris, wine and whiskey tastings and bespoke staged events right in its Big 5 safari camp each and every evening.
To discuss your next Grand Safari big group incentive trip, contact Top Woman in Mice and Hayward’s Safaris’ Production Director Celia du Preez on (South Africa) Tel: 0861 732 583 (International) Tel: +27 12 808 0442.
Always wanted to go on an authentic luxury safari into the heart of wild Africa?
Here are 5 top bucket list safari destination choices to decide on whether you’re planning a private family heritage safari event or a big group corporate incentive to motivate and reward your top achievers.
Each extraordinary destination offers its own unique experiences, real-time wildlife action and achingly beautiful natural environments.
We asked Adventure Extraordinaire Peter Hayward of Hayward’s Grand Safari Company to walk us through each bespoke destination following the company’s most recent achievement of being awarded the title of Best Safari Experience in Africa 2019 by The Safari Awards for their authentic safari expeditions and events.
Almost every traveler to South Africa has the world-famous Kruger National Park at the top of their tick list when stepping off the airplane at OR Tambo International Airport. Whether self-driving through the park or booking into one of its hotels, visitors will discover it is a popular – and busy – undertaking.
Hayward’s Safaris had the privilege of being the first private safari outfitters to be allowed to take private groups of between 40 and 200 adventurers into the Kruger National Park where a 5-star luxury tented camp had been prepared for them in the most select and untouched parts of this 19 485 km² park. Here, guests experience wide open skies and stretches of untouched natural reserve where adventure game drives and guided bush walks spent exploring the area guarantees private sightings of the Big 5 without another camera-happy person in sight.
“Here, in these private and pristine Kruger National Park areas, not only is it teeming with wildlife,” says Peter Hayward, “you won’t spot another visitor for an entire week, except camp crew there to serve and entertain you. The safari game guides are of the highest caliber and you have access to the largest and best wildlife hot spot on the planet together with your own private luxury safari lodge set up just for you in the middle of it all.”
Spotlight on: We focus on safari highlights such as walking safaris, sun-downers by the waterhole, themed cultural events, stargazing and conservation talks.
iSimangaliso Wetlands Park
A World Heritage Site and Big Six destination in the northern reaches of KwaZulu-Natal, this wetlands wonderland offers all the excitement of the Big 5 with an abundance of hippo and crocodile, together with the addition of a complete marine experience.
“From bush to sea to teeming freshwater lagoon, this region is tropical in temperature and abundant with wildlife of every kind. In the morning you can be diving the marine reserve and in the afternoon watching the flamingo framed against the sunset of its vast expanses from your cocktail cruise on the lagoon. This is nature in its most primitive form,” says Peter.
Spotlight on: As the country’s most important refuge for the continent’s rhino population, you will find both black and white rhino protected here in its most ideal habitat in the uMkhuze section – one of the oldest sanctuaries of the Park.
Cradle of Mankind Heritage Safari
Rich in the culture of our human origins, the Cradle of Mankind is another World Heritage Sites which offers explorers fascinating discoveries of our past. Join scientists and archaeologists deep in research as they discover secrets from the past at Maropeng. Close by, the Big 5 Dinokeng game reserve offers wildlife experiences to match that of the Kruger National Park.
Spotlight on: Guests enjoy it all here, from culture to craft, history, wining and dining and gentlemen’s activities such as fly-fishing and clay Pigeon shooting.
Kalahari Desert Adventure
In the deepest desert landscapes at the junction of three Transfrontier Parks between South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique where there is no other infrastructure in sight, you will immerse yourself in the magnificent beauty of the dunes by day and the spectacular nights skies at the campfire by night. A rare habitat of vast stillness and tranquility, each guest finds the greatest luxury of all… time. Time to oneself, time to connect, where time slows down and disappears.
Spotlight on: The Kalahari was the home of the first native hunter-gatherers. Cultural and dune safari activities focus on the cultural survival skills of the San people and their ancient history.
Fly into the Delta in Botswana by airplane and see veins of sparkling water laid out below you in this green belt of nature and watery estuaries at the northern most reaches of desert-dry Namibia. The sparkling jewel within a desert, this Delta offers water safaris in among its islands, channels and fertile, forested regions. Rich and fascinating, your safari ensures big game experiences up close and personal from the safety of your game vehicle or motorized boat.
Spotlight on: Enjoy Big Game viewing with a difference. Together with lion, cheetah, leopard and African wild dog and large herds of elephant and buffalo, you may also spot the red lechwe and shy sitatunga native to the region.
Discover more exciting safari destinations with Hayward Safaris when you visit www.haywardsafaris.com
South Africa is a vast and diverse landscape encompassing a rich cultural history. International safari travelers to its world class wildlife reserves and heritage sites are always curious regarding both is past dynamics as well as the country’s modern-day political characteristics.
We have compiled a list of rich and inviting fiction and non-fiction books and films by South African authors and playwrights which portray a glimpse into some of its past and present events, people and influences which blend into a many-hued interpretation of South Africa as it is today.
Fair Game: A Hidden History of the Kruger National Park
By David Fleminger
Fair Game is the story of the hidden history and heritage of the Kruger National Park. It’s an engrossing and little-known tale filled with boisterous personalities, twists of fate, unlikely heroes, stubborn perseverance, greedy villains and (luckily) a very happy ending. So, prepare yourself for a grand historical safari as it recounts the unlikely tale of an unwanted wasteland that grew into the one of the greatest game reserves in the world.
Conversations with my Sons and Daughters
By Mamphela Ramphele
In these conversations with people of a younger generation Mamphela Ramphele responds to the growing despair among young South Africans about the cracks that are appearing in South Africa’s system of governance and threatening the idealism of the country that reinvented itself with the dawn of democracy in 1994.
Born a Crime – Stories of a South African Childhood
By Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting.
No Future Without Forgiveness
By Desmond Tutu
Desmond Mpilo Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 and was only the second black person ever to receive it. In 1986 he was elected archbishop of Cape Town, the highest position in the Anglican Church in South Africa. In 1994, after the end of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela, Tutu was appointed as chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate apartheid-era crimes. His policy as described in his book is one of forgiveness and reconciliation and serves as an international example of conflict resolution, and remains a trusted method of post conflict reconstruction.
Power of One
By Bryce Courtney
In 1939, as Hitler casts cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams, which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives and the power of one.
Life and Times of Michael K
By JM Coetzee
Written by South African novelist J.M. Coetzee, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003, and the Man Booker Prize for both this novel and another book of his, Disgrace, is a bleak, but haunting and entirely captivating novel about the physical and spiritual journey of a man who travels throughout war-torn South Africa on a mission to return his ailing mother to her rural home.
by James A. Michener
Set in South Africa, beginning 15,000 years ago and ending with the Boer War, this is a novel about people caught up in the march of world history. It is a story of adventure and heroism, love and loyalty, and cruelty and betrayal.
The Day of the Dead Moon – 5 part Audio book series
by David Rattray
The Day of the Dead Moon is a beautifully narrated and captivating chronicle of the events leading up to the destruction of the Zulu capital at Ulundi and the subsequent impact of this campaign on the Zulu people, including the battles of Hlobane, Khambula and the death of the Prince Imperial. David Rattray devoted much of his life to the exploration of these troubled times by studying books and documents relating to this period and collecting stories handed down through the oral tradition of the Zulu people.
Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa
By Martin Meredith
Southern Africa was once regarded as a worthless jumble of British colonies, Boer republics, and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. But then prospectors chanced upon the world’s richest deposits of diamonds and gold, setting off a titanic struggle between the British and the Boers for control of the land.
The result was the costliest, bloodiest, and most humiliating war that Britain had waged in nearly a century, and the devastation of the Boer republics. Meredith expertly shows how the exigencies of the diamond (and then gold) rush laid the foundation for apartheid.
In his review, celebrated author in his own right, Wilber Smith writes: “Despite the depth of scholarly research it contains, this book reads not as dry history but as a vivid and thrilling account of the forging of southern Africa into its present distinctive shape and character. Martin Meredith captures the colours and textures of the land and brings to life the extraordinary figures who peopled it and whose influence lingers on. His descriptions of Rhodes and Kruger, of Robinson and Barnato and all the other actors, rogues and heroes of this epic drama played out upon the scorched African veldt are filled with fascinating insights and rich with anecdotes which bring them bursting from these pages.”
Jock of the Bushveld
By Percy Fitzpatrick
Jock of the Bushveld is the classic and much-loved South African story based on the true experiences of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and his Staffordshire bull terrier, Jock. The story begins in the 1880s, at the time of the South African gold rush, when a young Fitzpatrick worked as an ox-wagon transport rider in the old Transvaal. There he came across a man who was in the process of drowning a puppy, the runt of the litter. He saved the dog and the story of his ever-faithful and loving companion was born. This book can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.
Long Walk to Freedom
“Long Walk to Freedom” the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, describes the South African anti-apartheid struggle; his childhood; his development into a freedom fighter; his twenty-seven years in prison; and his remarkable role in the construction of a new, democratic South Africa. A must read.
By Nadine Gordimer
A selection of short stories written over the years sees characters from every corner of society come to life, along with the South African landscape they inhabit. The stories have a strong focus on racial issues, yet their implications are universal. They include moments of vision, often ironic, sometimes shocking, mostly dealing with the hair’s breadth balance of racial tension still current in many different parts of the world today.
Mafeking Road and Other Stories
By Herman Charles Bosman
These slyly simple stories of the unforgiving South African Transvaal reveal a little-described (and rarely romanticized) world of Afrikaner life in the late 19th Century. Much like Mark Twain, Herman Charles Bosman wields a laughing intolerance of foolishness and prejudice, a dazzling use of wit and clear- sighted judgment.
An Instant in the Wind
By Andre Brink
An Instant In The Wind is arguably André Brink’s masterpiece. In the guise of an historical novel set in the eighteenth century, Brink presents a superb portrait in miniature of the dilemmas and contradictions facing a South Africa organised by an assumption of apartheid. Unlike many stories of conflict, however, an Instant In The Wind is no tragedy. Unusually, the novel is a remarkable tale of fear, struggle and eventual survival that leaves the reader with an uplifting positive message on the value and potential of human cooperation. This is a historical novel, it’s a travel book, it’s a road story, it deals with relationships between consenting adults and there are several battles with nature.
Cape Town: The Making of a City
By Nigel Worden, Elizabeth van Heyningen and Vivian Bickford-Smith
This richly illustrated history of Cape Town under Dutch and British rule tells the story of its residents, the world they inhabited and the city they made – beginning in the seventeenth century with the tiny Dutch settlement, hemmed in by mountains and looking out to sea, and ending with the well-established British colonial city, poised confidently on the threshold of the twentieth century.
This social history of Cape Town under Dutch and British rule traces the changing character of the city and portrays the varied lives and experiences of its inhabitants – black and white, rich and poor, slave and free, Christian and Muslim.
This is the extraordinary story of two inseparable South African children which follows an inspirational story line against the breathtaking backdrops of a dramatic African landscape and New York City in the mid-1970s “e’Lollipop” is a life-changing story that reminds us of the true value of friendship, community, sacrifice and family – despite our colour or creed.”A South African classic of international stature it manages to transcend the boundaries of its day imposed by Apartheid
Made in 1987, Cry Freedom is based on the best-selling book by South African newspaper editor Donald Woods. It tells the story of Woods’ attempts to uncover the truth about the arrest and subsequent death of black activist Steve Biko, and the way in which he was forced to leave South Africa because of it. Directed by Richard Attenborough, it stars Kevin Kline and Denzel Washington. With South Africa still firmly in the grip of apartheid at the time, Zimbabwe stood in as the location, with filming taking place in Harare. It was nominated for three Oscars and numerous other awards.
Winner of the 2006 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Movie, Tsotsi is gritty, raw and profoundly moving. A tale of teenage angst in modern South Africa, it is set in the hard world of the Johannesburg townships. Tsotsi (which means “thug” in township patois) gets more than he bargains for when he steals a car and finds he’s got a baby to look after. Directed by Gavin Hood, it is based on a novel by South African writer, Athol Fugard, originally written in 1960, but left unpublished for 20 years. The protagonist is played by Sowetan native Presley Chweneyagae.
Catch a Fire
Directed by Philip Noyce and starring Tim Robbins and Derek Luke, this movie follows the story of the apartheid struggle, starting with the armed insurrection of Umkhonto we Sizwe (the military wing of the ANC) in the 1960s. It focuses on the story of a young black man who unwittingly gets caught up in the struggle and the policeman who arrests him. The real Patrick Chamusso, on whom the film is based, appears as a walk-on, while writer Shawn Slovo’s parents, leaders of the South African Communist Party and famous anti-apartheid activists, Joe Slovo and Ruth First, also appear.
This science-fiction fable, directed by newcomer Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter (“The Lord of the Rings”) Jackson, takes the form of a mockumentary about ugly aliens which invade South Africa and are herded into a slum. The film’s South African setting brings up inescapable parallels with its now-defunct apartheid system of racial segregation. The title “District 9” evokes Cape Town’s historic District 6, where Cape Coloureds owned homes and businesses for many years before being bulldozed out and relocated.
For some, travelling through the endless miles of the hot and dusty Karoo is a journey to be gobbled up as fast as possible, leaving a trail of dust between departure and arrival as fierce and wind-whipped as the dust devils that dance among the brush.
Photographer and author Louis Botha used to be one such traveler until the Karoo’s great silence and complex simplicity crept into his soul.
“It’s difficult to explain why, although I am convinced it is because photography taught me to ‘look differently’ at things but I started to plan my journeys to include the network of dirt roads that track through the various regions of the Karoo’s vastness,” he says.
Stopping as often as possible on his journeys, Louis Botha began to observe and appreciate from a new perspective: “I discovered a wealth of beauty and diversity I had never connected to before. This process gained momentum, pulling me in, until I realized I had lost my soul to the Karoo and I bought an old Victorian house in the 250 year old Prince Albert.
After a qualification in the field of commerce and several years in the corporate world as an executive, Louis Botha came to realise that Life is short, and Art is long!
“I decided to rearrange my lifestyle completely in order to make more time to express my vision and feelings through using Light reflecting off my subjects. It’s only when one becomes part of the Karoo community that one fully appreciates the meaning of the words ‘less is more’!”
Captured by the quality of natural light available, the atmosphere of stillness, exposed human emotions and the character of its ancient landscape, Botha says, “In slowing down my life, my senses were sharpened. I was able to see again, to smell, to hear, to taste and to feel, almost as if for the first time.”
Photography of Voice
“For me photography challenges me to communicate without words, to evoke emotion without saying anything, to tell a story or to present the ordinary in an unordinary way, to make the viewer look again, think again, feel again, appreciate again. I am attracted by discovering the other side of people and things, the treasures waiting to be discovered in seemingly empty relationships and vast open spaces. The challenge is to remove the clutter and the pretentions, to reveal what is real.”
Simple Images Big Photo Art
Using an old Hasselblad from the 1950’s Louis Botha’s new knowledge gave rise to his first book ‘SLOW DOWN look again’offering 148 pages of black and white storytelling portraits on film of the people of the Karoo, their ordinary lives and the mystery that will always remain firmly part of Karoo for those who are destined to be just visitors.
His second book ‘Karoo’ is an even deeper look into the wide open spaces, silence and timelessness of this unique and ethereally beautiful landscape.
“Why go to Tuscany or Provence for peace or photographic opportunities when we hold such treasures on our own doorstep. Here, in the Karoo you are offered a chance to discover yourself, to figure out where you stand in relation to your creator, your loved ones and your next of kin. Thinking about who you are, what you stand for, your purpose in life and what it means for others, it also then becomes easier to engage with the environment, to connect with people, with places, with weather conditions and objects in your everyday life.
Adds Louis Botha, “After a while, one’s images start to reflect back at you, the true spirit of the subjects, and of oneself. This experience corresponds with the saying ‘every photograph says something about the subject, and something about the photographer’!”
When shooting, Louis Botha uses digital photography in general. Occasionally, and depending on availability, he may opt for medium format film when doing portraiture or panorama landscapes. His preferred end product is an image that is printed on high quality fine art paper or canvas, to be displayed on a very special wall.
Gallery Showing at De Bergkant Lodge
To meet the many perspectives of the man behind the camera, step into 4-star De Bergkant Lodge at the top of Main Street, Prince Albert where Louis Botha’s framed images adorn the walls.
Says De Bergkant Lodge proprietor Michael Sönnichsen, “We are fascinated how Louis Botha has captured the essence of the region and its people and we are honored to be able to bring this beauty to others in the form of a gallery showing his photographic works.
“Visitors to Prince Albert are welcome to come in from the heat outside and view his selection of works or purchase one of his photographic works, or books. His first book Slow Down Look Again retails for ZAR 490.00, his latest book Karoo retails for ZAR 690.00 or you may purchase both for ZAR 1 000.00.”
Photographic Workshops in Prince Albert
Hoping to share a little of his gift of sight and the beauty of the Karoo with others, Louis Botha offers a four-day photography course in Prince Albert which includes a landscape and a portrait practical workshop and addresses both the visual and technical skills required to capture images with greater impact. It is a very special workshop designed to introduce visitors to the abundance of silence, space, timelessness and beauty of the Karoo and its people.
“It’s not about the camera. If you can see it, feel it, you can capture it,” says Louis Botha. “I am intensely aware of the importance of light and time, for our lives, for the longevity of the earth and everything on it, and for the impact it has on every image captured.
“In friendly Prince Albert, people are warm, humble, rich in knowledge and stories, kind and sincere. Here, there is an abundance of form, texture, structure, colour, contrast, solitude, emotion, space and safety, and an absence of clutter, pretentions, materialism and noise.”