Over the past 18 months, I have nature journaled only inside my home or in my garden. This is my nature journaling foundation. When we first moved to the place we call home, I did not know how to read the landscape. I did not know the geological history of this place, nor of the histories of people in this place. It was a blur of plant colours and textures, broken into a mosaic by human buildings, roads, and infrastructure.
Twenty-five years later, I recognise many plants. The plants that would have grown here hundreds of thousands or millions of years ago bring joy to me. They nurture the soil. They provide food, water, shelter and resources to other living beings.
I learn by taking notes, observing, discussing and studying.
Any understanding that I have is thanks to people and written resources. From the spoken and written words of others, I know which plants to leave or remove to sustain the Indian Ocean Coastal Forest Biome of which our home is a part.
What was once just a blur is now a clearer, living sculpture. I distinguish healthy versus struggling habitats, and environmentally considerate or concerning human constructions. I notice many of the species of plants, animals and fungi with names and a sense of relationship to place, people and history.
I have special gratitude to guides. They have played an important part of my current understanding of the patchwork of places around my home. Guides have generously shared their knowledge of the geology and the long history of the planet’s surface. Their knowledge of archaeological sites and personal insights into the history of people in this place has deepened my sense of place. Guides also help me make sense of places that I visit.
When possible, I love exploring familiar and new places. I find it exciting to visit familiar places with a guide who knows the unseen histories and special sights. When I travel again, I look forward to going places only accessible with a guide. What I am most excited about these trips is visiting places with guides who nature journal!
If you are travelling at the moment, or looking forward to travelling in the future, consider going with a guide. There are some places that you can visit only with a guide. Imagine that your guide nature journals. Imagine that your guide can show you how to get started, if you are new to nature journaling.
Meet five special guides, guides who nature journal.
Bring your nature journal as you walk, hike or cycle. Your options depend on where and with whom you go. Some of the walks and hikes are organised to support communities.
Here are a few of the places you can go with these guides:
Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, Umhlanga north of eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal coast
Hawaan Forest, Umhlanga north of eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal coast
eThekwini City and beaches, KwaZulu-Natal coast
Inanda township, part of eThekwini Metro
Howick and Mpophomeni, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
Cumberland Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
Karkloof Forest, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
In Eastern Cape
Along the Wild Coast:
Mkambati Nature Reserve
Port St Johns
Wherever You Go, Bring a Visitor’s Mindset
You can make the best of your visit by listening, being respectfully curious. For example, you can acknowledge the stewardship of people living in and around the places you visit.
Here are some questions you might consider.
Who walked here before me?
What is the history of the space?
What can I learn about the human history of spaces?
How can I respect the people associated with these places?
How can acknowledge the stewardship of those who live in and around these places?
About Each of the Guides
In and around eThekwini (Durban)
Bongani Chisale is an amazing guide.
in Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, and in
the nearby Hawaan Forest,
both north of eThekwini (Durban).
He explains what nature journaling means to him here.
Contact him to make arrangements:
Call or message 068 084 0811
Contact him on his Facebook page.
Siphiwe Rakgabale, a Briardene resident, is a tour guide and founder of Tri-ecotours.
Tri-ecotours is based in eThekwini (Durban) by the Umgeni River estuary.
Tri-ecotours guides are all people living in the area. They specialise in nature, cultural heritage and history.
Call or message 078 726 4890
In Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
Bhekisisa Gcumisa is also known as Howickman.
He wrote that
“Spending time in Nature helps us to de-stress,
to clear our minds, to fix broken souls.
We don’t have to go miles away to reap these benefits – they right on our doorstep.”
Read his story “Walking to Stay Sane” here.
He wrote this article during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.
Connect with him for a nature journaling walk and explore the hills and valleys of Mpophomeni.
To make arrangements
Call 079 051 7898 or
Check out the Howickman Hiking Club Facebook page here
John Roff is a transformative nature guide.
He describes his role as a guide as,
"I'm here to help you experience
the deep restoration that
nature experiences can give."
He runs non-accredited, adult-level courses for personal development and enrichment.
These original courses are designed for people interested in wildlife, conservation and nature guiding.
See his website or contact him (details below)
for the latest offering of short courses at
To contact him
Write to email@example.com
Call or message 083 662 2306
See his website here
Along the Wild Coast and through Pondoland
Sinegugu Zukulu is a guide
and a “trailblazer in
upskilling youth and
raising awareness of
Pondoland’s unique and extraordinary
biodiversity and ecosystems”
- Pat and Tony Rebelo,
“Wild Coast Wonders” Veld & Flora Dec 2020
With him, or one of the guides he has trained, you will benefit from
“… his vast wealth of knowledge about indigenous plants, birds,
the Mzamba fossil beds, the red desert and the ancient traditions entrenched in the communities of the Wild Coast.”
- Shona Aylward “Shona’s wonderful Wild Coast walk – Day 1”
South Coast Herald 22 July 2019
“We found being hosted overnight by the local communities during our hike was an enriching experience and also gave us a way of supporting the local economy’s development of sustainable tourism.”
- Pat and Tony Rebelo “Wild Coast Wonders” Veld & Flora Dec 2020
Sinegugu regularly leads guided hikes along the spectacular Wild Coast. Read more about him, the hikes he leads, and the diverse landscapes of the Wild Coast Plants of Pondoland, A Feast of Colour and Ukutya Namanzi.
Phone: +27 72 428 5109
Facebook page here
Twitter account here
Read about ways to support the people and environment of the Wild here:
Learn about the challenges facing the people and places you visit. Support the efforts of other stewards to fulfil our collective responsibilities. Read more about Siphiwe’s work here and here. Read more about Sinegugu’s work here (pages 18-19) and here.
Give it a try! Support local economies, employment and projects, while enjoying nature-rich places and the hospitality of people who live in and around them.
For more details about this topics, the people and places, read our new page here.