Where purpose and passion meet
2014 proved to be a turning point in Gillian and Ralph Louw’s lives. After being involved in a cycling accident with a taxi some years before, Ralph could no longer continue working as a chopper pilot. Coupled with this, Gillian was retrenched from her role as a golf club’s food and beverage manager, where she had worked for eighteen years. In their early 50s at the time, Ralph and Gillian were faced with the very daunting question, what did they want to do for the rest of their lives?
These momentous changes forced them to stop and think about what they wanted the next chapter of their life together to look like. The first step they made was deciding to move to Hermanus in the Western Cape after finding the perfect property on Property 24. Living in Hermanus sparked the idea of starting a small upmarket tourism business, taking people on walks and trails. This was not the first time Gillian had had this idea. While doing the Whale Trail with friends in 2004, and standing on top of the Potberg Mountain, admiring the magnificent scenery around her, Gillian had an epiphany of sorts- she wanted more people to see what she saw at that moment. So, the seed was planted long before it became a reality.
Getting the business off the ground proved to be a struggle, so Gillian and Ralph took up a job running a lodge in Zambia in 2017. When it was time to renew their contract, they had to decide whether to come home and try and get the business up and running again, or continue working in Zambia. They chose to go home.
Fuelled by a desire to succeed, they put their heads together, learning new skills necessary to market their business correctly. They learnt all about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Facebook Marketing. Having a passion for conservation, both Gillian and Ralph had completed various courses through FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa). However, to give people the ultimate experience, they furthered their studies in Marine Guiding and qualified as Cape Tourism and Wine Guides.
It paid off. They now offer tailor-made tours for groups. Their walks and trails include the Whale Trail, Overberg walks, hiking in the Cederberg and exploring the Kogelberg. Their Wine Walks are extremely popular too.
Ralph and Gillian love what they do; they get to combine their passion and purpose. They have used all the skills they have acquired over the years and turned it into a successful business. They don’t describe their work as a job, but rather as a calling. Richard Leider, the founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company, has a beautiful quote. He says, “Purpose is a verb. It is spiritual practice embodied in lived day-to-day experiences. If we live daily as a “default self’—the self that is hiding behind a mask of approval and cultural consensus-we will always feel empty. We will fill our time, but it will never feel like a fulfilling time.” Purpose is undoubtedly a verb for Ralph and Gillian, fulfilling their time and providing people with memorable experiences while doing so.
For more information on the walks and trails, visit their website at www.africansunroad.com