His warm brown eyes punctuate the crisp air of the surrounding bushveld, offering many pensive and reflective moments of a life well-lived in the backyard of Africa. He is a quiet man with a mischievous demeanour and expert knowledge of wildlife. Some of his tales are best left untold, while others are moments to be shared around crackling campfires. His soul reflects a man who clearly has a love for his family, the untamed wild, and his beloved dog – Nala. Today we chat to Luan Oosthuizen, a field and trails guide at Africa on Foot, a camp in the Kruger’s uncrowded and pristine Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. Luan’s family are the original owners of the Ross Farm (Africa on Foot) and he is very much entrenched in the history of the land.
Ross Farm (now Africa on Foot) was founded by Tien Prinsloo in 1948, and became a place for his family to visit throughout the year. During this period of time, there was nothing but dusty roads and rugged fences. Plenty of memories were made in this part of the world and to this day, will never be forgotten. Just three days after Luan’s birthday on 27th June 1988, Tien Prinsloo passed away. The farm was passed down to his children, and it became their backyard – a place that became a prominent part of Luan’s upbringing. Those balmy African days shaped who Luan is today, threading the spirit of the wild through his DNA. In 2006, the Ross Farm was turned into a commercial operation and Luan moved back familiar ground in 2014.
When his leather veldskoen kick up the soil of the land we can see how Luan is perfectly in tune with bushveld living, so natural and so defined by the simplicity of outdoor living. That’s Luan ! We decided to take spend time with Luan and ask him a few questions in conjunction with his video interview.
1. Where did you grow up, what did you study and who influenced your direction in the wild word of safari? -
I grew up on a farm outside Ermalo. I studied Landscaping and Architecture. I’ve been influenced by the ‘veld from a young age by friends, family and always visiting the Klaserie as a family farm holiday spot.
2. What made you decide to become a ranger and what is the lifestyle like?
A love for nature, time in the bush and outdoors led me to this place. I also have a passion for outside and the freedom it brings. The safari lifestyle is often determined by movement of animals.
3. We know that rangers lead walks and conduct game drives, but we also know how hard you work. What does a typical day-in-the-life of a ranger entail?
Depends on whats happening around camp. It can be anything from tracking wildlife, looking after vehicles, maintenance, ensuring solar systems are running, and obviously ensuring guests are comfortable.
4. What have been a few of your most scary experiences while guiding?
One is – being stuck on a drive with a charging elephant and I had to remain calm until elephant moved off.
5. Any advice to potential rangers?
The more time you spend in nature the more you learn. Spend as much time working with other guides and always keep researching.
6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Fishing, travelling and exploring areas undiscovered.
7. List some of your favourite things about the Klaserie camps.
Both nThambo Tree Camp and Africa on Foot are untouched, eco friendly and surrounded by wide open spaces. There’s also a huge diversity of fauna and flora on our traverse.
8. What is your favourite animal to see in the wild?
The rare African wild dogs.
9. What are your future plans?
I will be introducing and leading Wilderness trails through the Greater Kruger – Africa on Foot trails will be launching soon.
10. And lastly, what are your nicknames?
Jinx, its from school days and a long story. Catch me at the camp fire or bush bar for this one…
* Nala is Luan’s feisty Jack Russell sidekick, but the pair are careful not to venture out too far. The video was filmed in and around the periphery of Luan’s house and we let Nala jump on board for a chance in the limelight.
This, in essence, is #TheSafariLifestyle !