"On the Spirit of the Wild progamme I felt as if my journey to live a better life is starting. I learnt about respect, value, life and its obstacles and how to move forward."
Melisizwe Ntombana
Walking on Bergplaas Nature Reserve

Our Programmes

Spirit of the Wild

The Spirit of the Wild

The Spirit of the Wild

The Spirit of the Wild Programme or Spirit of the Wild offers a one-to-three-week wildlife, guiding and leadership experience that awakens each participant’s pathways of knowledge, belonging and purpose. It is a profound personal and leadership skills development journey that reconnects people from all backgrounds with the natural environment. In the 21st century, many of us have lost this connection, which is the lifeline to our shared humanity, our collective well-being and the achievement of our full potential.

In 2012 the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) endorsed Spirit of the Wild as a Specialist Training Provider and Certificate Programme. The range of graduates is remarkable: from young people who grew up in squatter camps with no previous experience of the natural environment to the Chief Executive Officer of the FGASA. Participants from financially disadvantaged programmes can apply to attend at no cost. Bergplaas’ international partners are highly supportive of this.

10 Years of Graduate Success

In 2016, Spirit of the Wild celebrates its 10th anniversary. The programme accommodates groups of up to 18 participants at a time, either for the one-week programme or for the three-week certificate programme, completed in three one-week sessions over the course of a year.

The diverse range of participants includes:

  • Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa’s urban and rural areas;
  • Young people from the South African government’s job creation initiatives in the conservation sector;
  • University and College Students;

Participants – the experience and gains

The wildlife and personal development skills that participants gain through the Programme and the inner and outer journey they experience on Bergplaas Nature Reserve, include:

  • A deepening of your understanding of wildlife and wilderness;
  • Growth in your awareness of being part of the natural environment;
  • Advancement of your communication and guiding skills; and
  • An awakening of your vital force and life purpose.

This triggers a growing connection with self, a trust in self, a confidence in and acceptance of self, which, in turn, nurtures the ability to lead and share the knowledge, relationship- and communication skills they have gained.

All participants on the Spirit of the Wild Certificate Programme experience these gains.

Spirit of the Wild – Leadership Programmes

Bergplaas offers this Leadership programme to various overseas organisations and it has proven to be a great success.

Participants includes:

  • MBA students from Europe;
  • Citizens and Eco-Tourists from all walks of life; and
  • Global Business Leaders.

2022 Spirit of the Wild Course Dates

  • 14 - 20 February
  • 07 – 13 March
  • 21 - 27 March
  • 09 - 15 May
  • 12 - 18 September
  • 03 – 09 October
Spirit of the Wild in action

Irene van Lippe-Biesterfeld

“The Spirit of the Wild Programme leads to a revaluation of our personal relationship with the natural environment and our place as humans in this unique ecosystem we call Earth.”

Nature Conservation Student

Nature Conservation

Nature Conservation Student Experiential Training

Short courses and one-year internships for Nature Conservation students from Nelson Mandela University, the Tracker Academy, the SA College for Tourism and other partner institutions. The Tracker Academy trains disadvantaged, unemployed young men in the traditional skills of tracking. The SA College for Tourism offers a one-year tourism and hospitality certificate course to disadvantaged, unemployed young women.

» Contact us about this course.

Nelson Mandela University

Nelson Mandela University is the largest University in the Eastern Cape, the province in which Bergplaas is situated. Many of the students at NMU are from financially impoverished households and the only way that they are able to achieve a university education is by securing loans, scholarships and bursaries.

Bergplaas and the School of Natural Resource Management, NMU George Campus, have developed a strong partnership since 2011 that was formalised into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2016.

As part of this MOU Bergplaas offers:

  • One-year internship/experiential training for one third-year Nature Conservation student;
  • One to two-week programme for First and Second Year Nature Conservation Students;
  • A one-to-two-week stay at Bergplaas for 12 first year and 12 second year NMU Nature Conservation students during their vacation, which would include a one-week  Spirit of the Wild Programme, and a second week of practical reserve management;

Bergplaas annually selects the third year practical year intern from the second year group.

» More information

Tracker Academy & SA College for Tourism

The Spirit of the Wild Programme annually hosts two groups of eight students from the Tracker Academy for a one-week Spirit of the Wild training programme on Bergplaas. In addition, Bergplaas annually hosts two hospitality graduates from the SA College for Tourism, and one tracker graduate from the Tracker Academy respectively, for a one-year internship.

» More information

Earth shape made of flowers

Earth as your Guide

Do you put your energy into true nature-based solutions in your organization?

Program the earth as your guide

The biggest issue of our time is how we balance ourselves and our way of living and working with what our planet can handle. For ourselves and our health, for our fellow species and for the earth as a whole. Fortunately, there are many new and beautiful initiatives. But often a link is missing and that is nature as a source of innovation instead of as a precondition for protection.

The most successful system

We are collectively reinventing how we can make a truly sustainable transition. We do this in our own lives, but also at the level of organizations and social systems. Although technology is necessary, we cannot make it with our ratio and technological innovation alone. We forget to consult the planet itself. It is the most successful, most sustainable and oldest system we know. With her 4.5 billion years of experience, she is a unique, living source of knowledge and inspiration. We are part of it with all our cells. It's time for true nature-based solutions where we transform the way we act. The big question is how we get from looking for (technological) solutions to acting from a deeply felt connection with the earth. This action starts with yourself. And with the earth. In this program you will get started with this. You learn to translate truly nature-based solutions into actions in your organization. It's surprisingly practical.

After this course you are able to:

  • Initiate sustainability initiatives and true nature-based solutions within your organization based on a deeply felt connection to the earth.
  • Stimulate creativity in a healthy working environment with these initiatives.
  • Use your natural potential and include all your qualities in the transition to true nature-based solutions in your organization.
  • Do this together with the earth.

Who is the course for?

Anyone who wants to give concrete shape to a new world with head, heart and soul and who wants to sit down with the earth to do so: entrepreneurs, environmental managers, sustainability employees, environmental consultants, innovators, HR managers and everyone involved in developing sustainability and want to shape this together with the earth.>

Leaf growing out of the ground

Earth as your Guide

What are you learning?

  • Practically and easily converting your own motivations into actions.
  • You learn about human potential beyond reason, you learn how to move and how to inspire others and make them move.
  • Theory about processes and relationships within nature.
  • You learn by experiencing how you can use these properties and powers of the earth and use them for the steps of your organization. Excursions and a travel to Bergplaas Nature Reserve are therefore part of the course.
  • The earth becomes your buddy, which you not only do it for, but participate with.
  • See, research and incorporate inspiring examples of nature-based solutions in your organization's transition.
  • You make an action plan for your own organization and you start implementation during the course.
  • Your own transition and that of your organization start immediately!

The Course Outline

Part 1: The start

In the first part you will learn about processes and relationships within nature, how to interpret these, how to use them and how to let them guide your goal. In addition to the teaching days, you form learning groups in which you inspire each other with intervision throughout the training. You meet your learning group in person or online on a regular basis between class days. You choose in your learning group when and how often you meet.
Class days: September 2 – September 30 – October 14, 2022 from 10:00 – 17:00
Place: Various inspiring places in the Netherlands

Part 2 To the core

In this part of the program we travel to Bergplaas Nature Reserve in South Africa. In this journey you experience the deep connection with the earth and your own natural potential.
Travel dates: October 23 – 28, 2022
Location: Bergplaas Nature Reserve, South Africa

Part 3: Designing and doing

In this last part, you will use a tool developed by students from Wageningen University & Research to convert your goal into actions for your organization.
Class days: December 2, 2022 – January 27, 2023 – March 10, 2023
Place: various inspiring places in the Netherlands


Yvonne Johannesma

Yvonne is an Organizational Coach and trained in intuitive intelligence. She was trained as a Spirit of the Wild guide at Bergplaas Nature Reserve. In addition to her work as an organizational development consultant at a technical multinational, she and students from Wageningen University & Research conduct research into decision-making in organizations based on a deeply felt connection with nature. Her passion is to connect the heart and head of organizations.

Tjeerd Gorter

Tjeerd is a physical geographer and consciousness trainer. In addition to training, he has been organizing travels to the most beautiful places on earth for years. Knowledge about the earth comes together with experiencing the forces of nature. These travels are huge process accelerators. Tjeerd also works in environmental impact assessment.

In addition, various guest speakers and trainers are invited


The investment for this program is € 3,995.00 (no VAT is charged on the program, we are registered with the CRKBO), including coffee, tea and lunch on the class days and all accommodation costs, including food and drinks at Bergplaas Nature Reserve. The trip to Bergplaas Nature Reserve and transfer to and from the airport are not included.

The maximum number of participants is 13.

» Contact us about this course.

2022 Spirit of the Wild Course Dates

  • 14 - 20 February
  • 07 – 13 March
  • 21 - 27 March
  • 09 - 15 May
  • 12 - 18 September
  • 03 – 09 October