ERNST VAN GRUNING - Head Guide
Ernst was born with a passion for the outdoors and from a young age his interest in camping, fishing, the outdoors and his love for animals were very obvious to his family. This also made him the ‘odd one out’ in the family and he often worked on farms in his school holidays. He studied Game Ranging and Lodge Management and in 2002 Ernst started his first guiding work that incorporated security work which enhanced his love for animals. He could actively assist in their protection and had the opportunity to work in KwaZulu-Natal, taking drives into Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, St Lucia and Mkuze, which in its own is an amazing Biome. He got his first opportunity to experience Madikwe Game Reserve in 2005 and it allowed him to develop another passion – trails/bush walks and photography.
In 2007 he had the opportunity to experience the Sabi Sands and Greater Kruger area. He loved time there but my heart longed to go home. In 2008, back at home volunteered his free time as an Honorary Officer, enabling him to give back to the community and to assist in training of new guides in the park. Ernst feels privileged to work at Madikwe Hills in Madikwe Game reserve. He feels Madikwe gives guides a freedom that allow them to share the bush in ways that it is meant to, allowing them to go off road and track the animals. He loves sharing his passion for the bush with guests and sharing the wonder that is Madikwe.
TREVOR ROBINSON - Assistant Head Guide
Trevor was born in Zimbabwe in Harare in 1989. He spent much of his younger life outdoors looking for insects and other creepy crawlies. He was the youngest member of the herpetological society of Zimbabwe and a member of the beekeepers’ association of Zimbabwe. Trevor has always had a fascination with the intricacies of the bush. He and his family emigrated to south Africa in 2005 and in 2008 started attending a two year diploma in game ranging and ranch management, where he was inspired and motivated by his amazing and passionate instructors. Tevor’s guiding began in the Eastern Cape of South Africa in 2010 where he spent 3 years. In 2013 Trevor moved to Madikwe Game Reserve in 2013 and has never loved a reserve so much.
“For I envy the man who has not been to Africa before, for they have so much to look forward to.”
SAMSON GAOPELO - Field Guide
Sam (Kega) grew up in a small village about an hour and half west of Madikwe Game Reserve. His bush-life inspiration comes from him being raised on a farm and he always wanted to become a guide. Sam started working at Madikwe Hills in 2004 as a butler. After 8 months he became a tracker, and worked his way up to a guide in 2006. In 2008 Sam married Irene, our Front of House Manager, who he met at the Lodge. Sam has reached his dream and is so passionate about the bush. He says Madikwe Hills is ”home sweet home and will always be around”.
LUCKY NOKANE - Field Guide
Lucky grew up in a rural area, 30 minutes’ drive outside Madikwe Game Reserve, He became interested in wildlife at a very young age (12-15 years). On weekends and school holidays, he used to go to the cattle farm and helped his grandfather to look after cattle. During those days, he noticed lots of different animal tracks and became interested in knowing animals such as spotted hyenas and leopards. All the good and scary stories his grandfather told him made him inquisitive and that is where it all started.
Lucky went to the Kruger National Park on a theory course for three months and has been guiding full time since May 2011. He is currently on an NQF level 4.
“I love nature, so honestly anything is interesting to me; just being out on the drive brings a big smile to my face as this reminds me of my childhood.”
ALTHI SCHOONWINKEL - Field Guide
I grew up on a small family mine which made it possible for me and my family to travel all over South Africa. At the age of 12 I moved to Sierra Leone (West Africa) where I got to experience the rainforests and also got involved with the rehabilitation of chimpanzees. In 2010 I studied Zoology and in 2015 I completed my FGASA level 1 training. I am very passionate about the bush and extremely enthusiastic about what I do. I excitedly joined the guiding team at Madikwe Hills in 2016.
JACES BORNMAN - Field Guide
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything”- Albert Einstein
As a guide our passion for wildlife is a given, but what sets me apart is the the passion I have in finding the passion in others. I grew up in a home where both my parents are deaf, wich may seem like a disadvantage to most, instead I see it as a great advantage! It allowed me to be more aware of the smaller things in life and focusing on the fine details many may have missed thus sparking a great interest in entomology, herpetology, ornithology and photography. Being in the industry for over 10 years I still see every day as a learning opportunity in the vast field of nature and wildlife.
Just the Best
From the moment we arrived we never wanted to leave. The staff were absolutely fantastic and everyone went out of their way to ensure we stayed in absolute luxury and never wanted for anything. […] Althi, our guide made sure we didn’t spend too much time lazing around in the rooms, with the early morning call at 4.45 am but once we got out on game drives watching the sunrise and spotting game she was soon forgiven! She and her spotter, Sidney, ensured that we saw a vast array of game – we even got to see the wild dogs hunting.
Fiona B, (February 2018)View on TripAdvisor