I had a chance to chat with Willem Van Den Heever about his life as a photographer, traveler, explorer, and climate change activist. He chats about how he does it, where it all started, and of course his near-death experiences. This isn’t all sunshine and roses, but worth every step.

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Here’s the YouTube Transcript of our conversation (not entirely accurate – doesn’t do well with accents):

00:00
hi my name is wilhelm van dijker and
00:03
i’m a filmmaker photographer
00:06
writer and explorer currently
00:10
in cape town south africa
00:21
shut up and sit down
00:24
[Music]
00:26
for me that was actually like a big
00:29
thinking
00:30
point especially that first part of the
00:32
lockdown
00:33
where i kind of it was a bit of a
00:35
retreat for me
00:37
um where a friend and of mine we just
00:40
secluded ourselves completely
00:42
on a farm so we literally didn’t see
00:44
anyone we lived a very basic life
00:47
like get up at sunrise do some exercise
00:49
meditation
00:50
swim in the ocean and then do some
00:53
reading and writing
00:54
and yeah basically like a highlight will
00:57
be well it was
00:58
especially for him it was like at four
00:59
we start preparing the fire for
01:01
the night’s meal we also don’t have as a
01:04
stove or anything like
01:06
all our food came from the fire well
01:08
that was that
01:09
the first 21 21 days of lockdown
01:13
that was the first um 47 days
01:17
yeah so until we yeah had
01:20
because it was outside of cape town as
01:22
well so we couldn’t just leave once we
01:24
were there we were kind of stuck and
01:25
it was you know quite serious if we have
01:28
to leave and get on there into
01:30
um how we’re going to do this without
01:31
any permits and stuff yeah but then we
01:33
actually thought a lot about that
01:35
because we’re in a similar industry and
01:38
he’s lucky because he’s got a lot of
01:39
online marketing jobs as well that he
01:41
does that
01:43
that survived some of them but um we
01:45
were starting to think
01:46
if this goes on like what are
01:50
new skills or new things to
01:53
to venture into or that we can try
01:55
because somewhere you have to ask
01:56
yourself okay
01:57
it’s time to get creative in the sense
01:59
of um
02:01
you can’t sit around wait forever and
02:03
this might go on longer than you think
02:05
and even if it does come back it won’t
02:07
be the same
02:08
which means that a lot of your jobs with
02:11
most of your income will be less
02:15
so you have to start thinking of new
02:16
skills and
02:18
even if you think that you don’t have
02:20
new skills we realized it’s a great
02:22
time to to start creating new skills for
02:25
yourself we’re just learning new skills
02:27
so we started looking into
02:31
uh honey farming because a family member
02:34
like he kind of started a little bit
02:36
with with that like looking into it
02:38
and a family member of him started doing
02:41
it but
02:42
he he didn’t do the farming himself and
02:44
he said well
02:46
there’s an opportunity let’s look into
02:48
this just learning how to farm with bees
02:50
and like something like honey like i
02:52
think
02:54
agriculturally will be there forever
02:57
will survive and it’s sustainable like
02:59
that’s the other thing it forces us to
03:00
think like like what is really
03:02
sustainable in today’s day and age
03:04
like what will survive and what is going
03:07
to take the world
03:08
forward as well like what is
03:10
contributing to a
03:12
to a better sustainable future for
03:14
everyone in the world
03:16
instead of that might be
03:19
like a quick fix or a quick money-making
03:21
thing now
03:22
but in the long run it’s not going to
03:24
survive and it’s not contributing really
03:27
to to to a better society like it’s
03:29
actually contributing to
03:31
a lot of bad like the dealing with
03:34
now at the moment that boils up
03:36
so and it’s i mean it’s not easy like
03:39
it’s not easy
03:40
it’s and it’s not an overnight thing
03:41
like the next morning you’re a farmer
03:43
or whatever so i’m pretty interested in
03:46
that so tell me
03:47
so did you start so it’s it’s actually
03:51
quite sad because we were very
03:52
passionate about it and then
03:54
it was the whole our biggest challenge
03:55
was getting just to
03:57
start it or getting the hives that was
03:59
on another farm
04:01
and to the the kind of the the property
04:04
that we were staying at
04:06
because we realized like there isn’t big
04:07
enough space it would be perfect to do
04:09
this but then we also need like
04:11
a guy to train us and
04:14
so first of all like there was no way
04:16
she just didn’t get stung to death
04:21
i was quite nervous about that as well
04:23
but yeah then we couldn’t get the the
04:25
guy and their hives and everything there
04:27
because of the regulations and traveling
04:29
stuff and then finally when
04:31
it was allowed we had the right permits
04:33
um i wasn’t sure if it was him or one of
04:35
his workers that was supposed to come
04:37
on that weekend so we were supposed to
04:40
leave the city go back there
04:41
and then the friday or the thursday you
04:43
know to fight us
04:44
they got sick and they it’s with go of
04:47
it like they are
04:48
they tasted positive so the whole thing
04:51
yeah
04:53
got kind of got food on hold um
04:56
yeah so we still haven’t done the
04:58
training and got the hives at the farm
05:00
but
05:00
it the the the company is kind of
05:02
running um
05:04
but it’s not um it wouldn’t have been my
05:07
company whatever i would i just wanted
05:09
to get involved and learn how to farm
05:10
and obviously we would have been
05:12
kind of cheap labor then and we could
05:14
stay on the the property for free
05:16
and it’s and that’s kind of what was the
05:18
most appealing for us was that
05:19
lifestyle that we lived that very simple
05:22
lifestyle in this very basic
05:24
um kind of cabin which we would have
05:27
worked on a bit then
05:29
that that was actually so fulfilling in
05:31
itself
05:32
and we realized like we would rather
05:35
want to live
05:35
this lifestyle and make less of
05:39
of an income but you spend less then
05:42
then going back to the city which we
05:44
anyway ended up doing because we had no
05:46
choice but then just like hustling from
05:48
the city again
05:49
yeah it’s just super stressful and i
05:52
think it can get a very
05:53
unhealthy lifestyle very quickly yeah um
05:57
over here and we would rather especially
05:58
because we both kind of
06:01
live so nomadic now and kind of work
06:03
remotely
06:04
so we said like if we are here for a few
06:07
months after year until the borders open
06:09
and we can travel again
06:11
we can do it from anywhere why not do it
06:13
at
06:14
with that kind of lifestyle and at that
06:16
pace
06:17
so where does i mean where does this
06:19
wait i mean where does this
06:21
like nomadic sort of travel
06:25
spirit come from like if you always be
06:27
like that or if you just want to
06:29
you know experience as much as you can
06:31
or what or
06:32
like what is your what is your thing
06:35
i think it’s def yeah it’s something
06:37
that’s kind of been
06:39
inside of me and and i think like it’s
06:42
inside of a lot of people but a lot of
06:43
people don’t
06:44
explore it or they then delve into it
06:47
and
06:47
maybe it’s a self-conscious thing maybe
06:51
it’s a
06:51
it’s a comfort zone thing and maybe it’s
06:53
just a lack of support i think
06:54
especially in our kind of cultural
06:56
tradition
06:57
um where we were brought up um like now
07:01
it’s starting to change but it was very
07:02
much a recipe of you go to school
07:04
then you go and study you get a proper
07:06
job like studying it’s only a certain
07:08
amount of things and then
07:09
jobs only a certain things and you start
07:11
a family and that’s it like the biggest
07:13
thing will be if you move out of your
07:14
hometown
07:16
and i just never yeah
07:19
and i always i always latched on to to
07:22
stories of people who
07:24
um who did the opposite who broke those
07:27
rules who rebelled against
07:29
it and kind of explored that intuition
07:33
inside of them to explore the world and
07:36
to just
07:36
to tell yourself like you’ve you’ve been
07:38
put on this planet
07:40
and you’re not really sure why but you
07:42
know that
07:43
it’s it’s you’re starting to realize
07:45
it’s a lot bigger than you think and
07:46
there’s a lot more people and stories
07:49
and places out there than just this and
07:52
it
07:52
is possible to explore them
07:56
and to learn from them and to get to
07:58
know them yeah
07:59
um it’s not going to be easy always and
08:01
a lot of people are going to be
08:03
against um your lifestyle of doing it
08:07
but why not like it’s really that thing
08:09
of like you only have this one life on
08:11
this one
08:12
planet like one why not exploit as much
08:14
as you can of course
08:15
but i think i i am lucky in the fact
08:17
that i think
08:19
something in it was always in my dad as
08:21
well so he was always whenever i had
08:25
crazy ideas or wanted to live that kind
08:28
of lifestyle he was
08:30
always for it so he always motivated me
08:32
and
08:33
um i think he also read a lot of books
08:37
that he handed over to me
08:38
about explorers and adventurers and
08:40
people who did
08:41
um crazy big out there things
08:44
but because of because there’s something
08:47
bigger out there than just this
08:49
right um and i think it was since i did
08:52
that first trip
08:53
like it was it was in high school that i
08:55
that i knew
08:56
i’m not gonna study and get stuck in my
09:00
hometown like i
09:01
i’m gonna go out and do something crazy
09:05
to get out of my comfort zone and to
09:08
experience
09:09
the world in its fullest and then after
09:12
i studied and
09:13
kind of saved started serving up from
09:15
from high school
09:16
and went hiking um and hitchhiking
09:20
for six months in america with only a
09:22
backpack and really got
09:24
kind of threw myself into the deep end
09:26
and got
09:27
put in a lot of um difficult situations
09:31
i realized but like this is really
09:33
living and i think it was only
09:36
after that one once i came back and had
09:39
to deal with normal life and society
09:41
again for certain
09:42
periods um i realized that
09:46
no matter how bad the circumstances were
09:50
when when i put myself into it while
09:53
traveling
09:54
uh or risking a lot of things like at
09:57
the end of the day
09:58
it was still a more in a way more
10:01
carefree or less stressful
10:04
way of living than everyday society
10:08
like there’s something about when you
10:10
when you strip a lot of things off
10:13
and your biggest worries and fears are
10:16
are stripped down to the core to the
10:18
most basic of words as in food
10:21
water shelter and i guess safety
10:24
and when it comes down to like safety of
10:27
um
10:28
you and nature and not a threat like a
10:30
human threat like we have to deal with a
10:32
lot in society
10:34
it’s also there’s a lot more that’s out
10:36
of your hands
10:37
and you get get comfortable with that
10:40
easily to know that you can do what you
10:43
can do to get to take calculated risks
10:46
but a lot of it is not in your hands and
10:48
you’re out in nature
10:50
and you’re willing to risk a lot of
10:51
things for this experience
10:54
but at least when you go you know you’re
10:56
going you’re going happy you’re going
10:58
uh you’re going out of this world a lot
11:00
freer and at least knowing that you
11:03
um pursued something
11:06
um something out there that’s that’s
11:09
bigger than just
11:11
a job and a family and
11:15
yeah just yeah um everyday stuff
11:19
so yeah i think like and i got a little
11:22
bit addicted to
11:23
towards that i got addicted to that
11:26
feeling of
11:27
of being so completely free
11:30
with so much less of the type of stress
11:33
and anxiety
11:35
that you have to deal with of course
11:37
with everyday life and society and a
11:39
normal job
11:41
um but sure it came with a lot of
11:43
sacrifices
11:44
as well i’m sure sometimes things do go
11:46
wrong
11:47
but overall before you carry on
11:51
and what so like how did you start like
11:53
did you just say
11:55
i’m done i’m just going to sell all my
11:57
stuff obviously it’s what you wanted to
11:58
do
11:59
and then and then just booked a ticket
12:02
and we’re like i’m going to rough it i’m
12:03
going to get a backpack and just walk
12:05
so it’s kind of like into the wild into
12:07
the wild relived you know and uh
12:10
and whatever happens happens and doors
12:12
open you know so
12:13
you didn’t go to a job you save as much
12:15
cash as you wanted and we’re like i’ve
12:17
got my camera
12:18
i’ve got my bag i’ve got enough clothes
12:20
for a week or whatever
12:22
so you know how did you start
12:25
yeah it’s kind of it is a little as
12:28
naive as that sounds
12:29
it kind of was but i think it was also
12:32
like it came from
12:33
it wasn’t just random it it came from
12:36
like i said after starting to read in
12:38
school about these explorers and
12:40
adventures doing these great things the
12:41
idea was planted
12:43
and at first i remember it was actually
12:45
i was thinking of just doing it
12:47
um like around south africa like
12:50
like circumnavigating the whole country
12:53
yeah
12:53
um then i later found out
12:57
well firstly i want to go bigger i want
12:59
to remove myself completely out of my
13:01
comfort zone and
13:02
my known world to something completely
13:06
different a different world but then i
13:08
also realized like
13:09
i think it’s actually more dangerous
13:11
like doing it
13:13
in south africa than leaving to a
13:15
completely different continent
13:17
where there are bears and mountain lions
13:21
i mean i don’t mean dangerous from a
13:22
from a nature point of view
13:24
or no i know just from from uh from a
13:27
human point of view like i i think i
13:29
realized that the sad reality is
13:32
um i can’t do that or live exactly like
13:35
i want to
13:36
live in our own country like you can’t
13:39
just
13:40
hike anywhere and picture tent anywhere
13:42
and hitchhike anywhere
13:44
sure i’m not saying everyone is evil and
13:46
and it’s not
13:48
possible but your your chances are more
13:50
likely that something’s going to
13:52
end up bad for you this no of course and
13:55
yeah and i think i mean yeah stories
13:56
like into the wild that also
13:58
um it inspired me a lot i think there
14:01
was something
14:02
romantic about that idea of the american
14:05
wilderness
14:05
and yosemite and the big cliffs and the
14:08
forests and
14:10
uh so i kind of wanted to pursue that
14:13
and
14:14
yeah saved up didn’t get a job i ended
14:17
up
14:17
studying at first it was like directly
14:19
out of school and then my dad convinced
14:21
me to
14:22
spend while you know what your passion
14:24
is and you have the opportunity to study
14:26
it
14:27
study it get your degree but then also
14:29
through that you can spend more time on
14:31
planning and and saving up more
14:34
and i thought i’d get enough planning i
14:36
mean
14:37
it wasn’t just buying a ticket i did
14:40
some planning but i later realized not
14:43
enough
14:44
but it’s it’s also difficult because
14:45
there’s a there’s a fine balance between
14:48
um like doing a lot of planning and
14:51
spending
14:52
like years getting your plan as flawless
14:55
as possible
14:56
but then also like oh there’s always
14:59
going to be stuff that and
15:00
end up not like you initially flat so
15:03
just
15:04
somewhere you have to just go in and
15:05
risk it that was a glass
15:08
exactly yeah and i i actually um i
15:11
watched this documentary last night and
15:13
it’s i just found it on youtube it’s
15:15
free the whole thing is on youtube it’s
15:17
called chasing bubbles
15:19
and bubbles is the name of the of a
15:21
little sailboat that this guy bought but
15:23
he was very much like that where a lot
15:25
of people
15:25
said the one one of his friends said
15:28
he’s the smartest idiot that i know
15:31
because he was a really i mean he’s not
15:33
a dumb guy he was a smart guy
15:35
um even like he’s a very random guy so
15:38
he was even on um
15:40
wants to be a millionaire right but he
15:42
did that thing where he
15:43
he decided i want to sail around the
15:45
world and he knew nothing about sailing
15:48
but he he bought a sailboat he read
15:51
how to sail for dummies like literally
15:53
that handbook
15:55
and kind of just figured it out along
15:56
the way and he made a lot of connections
15:59
and and his thing was he’s not gonna do
16:01
it to do it in the fastest time whatever
16:03
so he stopped at every possible
16:06
port or island or location and connected
16:08
with people
16:09
and and got those people on board as
16:12
well saying i’m going this is my next
16:13
destination want to jump on and come
16:15
along
16:16
do you know something about sailing
16:17
because then i can learn some some stuff
16:20
some skills from from you again
16:23
you must have met some some fascinating
16:26
people
16:27
around the world you know some that
16:30
can’t communicate with you because of
16:31
language barriers and
16:33
yeah and all that kind of thing who who
16:35
would you say
16:36
is like the i know maybe it’s hard to
16:40
say but who is the most interesting
16:42
person that you’ve met
16:45
yeah that is hard because i def
16:47
definitely met
16:48
kind of a lot of them all over
16:52
but if i think about that trip
16:55
um in 2016 the hiking through america
16:59
they were i mean there were a lot of
17:01
characters because
17:03
once you put yourself in that world like
17:05
you put yourself in a world where there
17:07
are similar characters only living in
17:08
this world
17:09
so they were two young guys i think that
17:12
one guy was actually even younger than
17:13
than me and they were like
17:17
doing the same thing one of them were
17:20
actually just doing
17:21
part of that trail to train for the
17:24
continental divide which is like the
17:26
longest
17:27
um well at least in north america trail
17:29
but it’s also the most um
17:33
dangerous and like off the grid
17:36
and remote kind of trails so you you
17:39
deal with a lot less people you go
17:41
through the rockies you deal with
17:42
grizzly bear territory
17:43
and he said no and that’s also like uh
17:47
two and a half thousand miles i think
17:49
and he was training for that and he
17:51
didn’t even sleep in a tent
17:52
like he only had a turf that he kind of
17:56
set up over a branch or something and
17:58
then a sleeping bag like a realistic
18:00
sleeping bag and the first night we met
18:02
actually snow and i was freezing inside
18:05
my tent and was sleeping back and we
18:06
woke up
18:07
and it was like snow everywhere just
18:09
this little patch of him
18:11
like completely at peace
18:17
and he had a little guitar as well like
18:19
it was almost like he
18:20
sacrificed a lot more essential things
18:23
so just so that we can have his
18:25
top within to make music but he ended up
18:28
we stayed in contact over facebook and
18:30
he ended up doing the i remember i
18:32
came back to south africa in in july in
18:35
august i moved to cape town and end of
18:37
august
18:37
i saw the post that he made it he
18:40
finished that whole uh
18:42
two and a half thousand miles on the
18:44
continental divide yeah
18:46
that’s funny i think another person that
18:49
stands out
18:50
just at the top of my mind now is and
18:52
it’s funny because he’s actually
18:54
now he’s a friend and i kind of knew him
18:57
because he was from cape town
18:58
south african guy and his name is
19:00
alberto thief and
19:02
i knew like he was also living kind of
19:04
alternative lifestyle and
19:05
very nomadically always traveling and he
19:08
did some adventures but
19:10
then i ended up um
19:13
last year beginning of april last year i
19:16
told him listen i’m gonna
19:17
kind of just travel around southeast
19:19
asia and i knew by then he was
19:21
he was kind of he made um
19:24
south korea is space so he would work a
19:27
few months there
19:28
take all his money just go traveling
19:30
just go backpacking
19:31
yeah and i told him i’m gonna be around
19:33
um can i come visit you
19:35
and he was completely open he said yes
19:38
please come
19:39
you can crash in my place i’ll show you
19:42
around in between my work
19:43
and we kind of met we we only met
19:46
at a at an exhibition a photo exhibition
19:49
of his
19:50
of one of his friends i think once in
19:52
time like it was a handshake
19:54
a few words that’s it so i rock up at
19:56
his place
19:57
and we just kind of became friends
20:01
um and he started telling me about his
20:04
stories and his way of living and i’ll
20:06
never forget it
20:07
but it started on the train it was like
20:09
a two-hour train
20:10
from the airport where he picked me up
20:13
or the main station
20:14
towards where he stayed kind of outside
20:15
of town and he started telling me
20:18
like you have to i just have to prepare
20:20
you but i i live very basic
20:22
i don’t have a lot of things don’t man
20:25
i’ve been traveling now for almost
20:27
two years i’m used to sleeping on the
20:29
ground it’s fine don’t worry about me
20:30
i’m sure this is gonna be
20:32
luxury still compared to what i’m used
20:33
to yeah and
20:35
i know i think i said something about
20:37
don’t worry about food or whatever i’ll
20:39
get us some
20:40
some bananas and coffee it’s like my
20:42
staple diet
20:43
and nuts when i travel from the store
20:45
and he said oh no you can’t get get
20:47
coffee because i don’t have a kettle
20:49
uh or a fridge thing and then i realized
20:52
okay this guy’s really living basic
20:55
and we got to his place and actually had
20:57
a bed um
20:58
but it was basically nothing else and he
21:01
said well
21:04
like he knows he knows how to hustle and
21:06
he already did the math
21:07
and he realized like he gets um like a
21:10
meal from his
21:11
uh from the cafeteria from where he
21:13
works every day and he realized like the
21:15
rest of the food he knows places where
21:17
he can
21:18
get a proper meal for cheaper than
21:19
buying all the
21:21
ingredients and like half of it will go
21:24
rotten or whatever
21:25
and another interesting thing was he
21:27
said if you
21:28
like that lifestyle if you commit to
21:30
that kind of lifestyle
21:31
you can’t get attached to a place to a
21:34
property and as soon as you’re gonna
21:36
start
21:37
decorating the place putting up pictures
21:39
making it nice and homey
21:41
you’re gonna get attached to it and they
21:43
say for me this is just a big taint
21:45
this is a four wall tent that i’m living
21:47
in now
21:48
until this day and then i’m taking my
21:51
backpack
21:52
and i go out into the world exploring
21:54
again um
21:56
but yeah it was it was an amazing time
21:58
and i definitely
21:59
i learned a lot and people like that
22:01
fascinate me because those are the
22:03
people that
22:04
realize and see that there’s there’s
22:06
something more out there more to this
22:08
world
22:09
than yeah just that recipe really you’ve
22:12
slept
22:13
in some really uncomfortable crazy
22:16
places right
22:18
yeah what was the what was the first
22:21
sort of mind ship like you
22:22
coming from a comfortable house or
22:25
whatever
22:26
it is the first time that you were
22:27
forced to actually sleep on the side of
22:29
the road or under a bush
22:31
or under a bridge or something like that
22:33
what was going through your mind were
22:34
you like going
22:35
this is cool or i want to go home like
22:38
the first time
22:40
i think i don’t think it was i want to
22:42
go home and i think what helped
22:44
was that first time i was so tired
22:47
i was so exhausted that i didn’t care
22:50
like for me
22:51
i just wanted to sleep and i think that
22:54
got me
22:55
used to it kind of like it was always
22:57
that thing of
22:59
um yeah i’m kind of i’m so tired i just
23:01
want to sleep
23:02
and like that the tent or whatever that
23:06
becomes your
23:07
your home or your safe space your
23:09
comfort plate right and it’s like a
23:11
little ritual later on putting it up
23:13
getting into sleeping bag but they were
23:15
definitely different terrains
23:17
where even after months of doing that
23:20
like they would still be uncomfortable
23:22
terrains like rocky
23:24
hard terrain that i would
23:27
get woken up in the middle of the night
23:29
and not have good sleep
23:31
because this is so uncomfortable
23:34
and then like it’s possible and
23:37
i got used to it but then i also
23:39
realized like oh but then you get like
23:41
nice
23:41
mossy forest terrain or beach sand which
23:45
is like your
23:46
that’s the the king-size city that you
23:49
want to sleep on
23:53
i definitely think it’s it’s a skill
23:55
that that helps
23:56
throughout life um especially when
23:59
because the funny thing is
24:01
i had this i had a big fear like it’s
24:04
not it’s still a bit there but i’m
24:05
better at it but
24:06
sleeping in public spaces so when it’s
24:09
just
24:10
me out somewhere in my tent that’s fine
24:12
but as soon as it comes to a point where
24:14
it’s like a public space where there’s
24:15
other people around
24:17
like on airports or stuff like that
24:20
um i really struggle to do it because i
24:23
have this feel like people
24:24
are looking at me while i’m sleeping i
24:26
think it’s because
24:27
while you’re sleeping you’re in your
24:29
most vulnerable state and it’s like this
24:33
protective thing that comes out yeah um
24:36
but that got better over the years as
24:38
well like even on planes
24:40
i just just can’t sleep at least now
24:42
like
24:44
yeah i’ve gotten to a place where i knew
24:47
that
24:48
okay you’re really exhausted um you have
24:50
to get some
24:52
and uh and have you had any near like
24:56
near-death experiences
24:59
yeah i did um
25:03
and that’s kind of why i wrote that book
25:05
on that trip as well
25:07
to kind of explain a bit about that but
25:10
my first big one
25:12
there were a few along along the way but
25:14
the first big one
25:16
was after like it was i think it was the
25:18
second day of starting this hiking trip
25:20
so this was after hitchhiking from
25:23
border of canada to bordeaux mexico
25:26
and they were there was one like
25:29
weird uncomfortable situation where i
25:32
could feel like
25:33
my life may be in danger now but nothing
25:37
serious ever happened i managed to like
25:39
kind of
25:40
evade it the whole time but then the
25:42
second day of
25:43
of hiking i
25:46
kind of misjudged the kind of how
25:50
difficult this is going to be and the
25:52
weather was against me as well this was
25:54
desert terrain
25:55
it was extremely warm and
25:58
um i didn’t realize like how much water
26:02
i’m consuming
26:03
because it’s extra warm as well because
26:05
i’ve got too much weight on my back
26:07
and i ran out of water in the first day
26:10
which i realized okay this is a problem
26:12
so then the next morning i had to do
26:16
i don’t know it was something like five
26:18
kilometers or something
26:19
with a map sure there’s a stream where i
26:21
can fill up water
26:23
and and but by then i was already
26:26
dehydrated
26:27
so i realized like i’m in trouble here
26:29
because i’m already dehydrated tomorrow
26:31
is going to be another
26:32
almost 40 degrees day in the desert and
26:34
to do five kilometers in that kind of
26:36
circum those circumstances already
26:39
dehydrated
26:40
um like that’s trouble yeah and
26:43
there’s no certainty of the water
26:45
actually being there
26:47
so yeah it was um like it just kind of
26:51
my state got worse the next morning when
26:54
i woke up
26:56
i was already like starting to
26:57
hallucinate i realized i have no power
27:00
um something that i also didn’t realize
27:02
is as soon as you you start dehydrating
27:04
you you kind of
27:05
well i stopped eating like you don’t
27:07
have appetite anymore
27:08
so i didn’t realize i wasn’t eating as
27:10
well and i have literally no power
27:13
and now i still have to do five
27:14
kilometers and by the time i got to the
27:16
where the supposed stream was on the map
27:18
it was all dried up
27:20
because of the the extreme weather
27:22
conditions
27:24
and it was and it’s it’s funny because
27:26
you don’t think straight so
27:28
i had this like survival handbook with
27:30
me and there’s a few tricks and stuff
27:33
which i could have done to help prevent
27:35
this situation
27:36
right but i just wasn’t thinking
27:38
straight anymore and i kind of
27:39
i stumbled on for another kilometer or
27:41
two and i passed out i completely
27:44
had no more energy and i passed out i
27:46
just kind of aimed for a shady
27:48
shady spot and um i realized like i’m
27:52
losing conscious i’m like just like
27:54
falling asleep
27:56
in a very deep sleep and then at some
27:58
stage i realized okay this is
28:00
really dangerous because i’m if i fall
28:03
asleep i might
28:04
never wake up again and i have to just
28:06
try to stay awake
28:08
as long as i can yeah and i try and
28:11
did that and then by complete miracle
28:15
um there was a guy who was
28:18
hiking from the opposite direction and
28:20
that time of the year there were very
28:22
few hikers especially that
28:23
section because it’s a very it’s it’s
28:25
desert so you only kind of do it if you
28:28
want to
28:28
get through it but he was doing it in
28:31
order to
28:32
i think he wanted to film birds like
28:35
just as a hobby which is also random
28:38
because it’s like desert it’s not a lot
28:40
of birds around anywhere right
28:42
but he found me he realized yeah there’s
28:45
trouble here and he had like five liters
28:47
of water with him for the day so
28:50
he immediately gave the water to me and
28:53
um yeah picked me up took me to his car
28:57
took me to the ranger station i was
28:58
close by and yeah that was my first
29:01
very very real near death experience
29:06
and you’ve written you’ve written a book
29:08
or
29:10
of sorts and have you published it yeah
29:13
so it was
29:14
um kind of self-published at the end of
29:17
20 2018.
29:21
yeah um and uh i think there’s
29:25
there’s literally one or two copies left
29:28
wait on where can i get one or we can
29:31
unlimited
29:32
dish dot com yeah um
29:35
uh it’s a kind of very cool uh
29:38
only like local supporting local artists
29:41
and everything on this limited edition
29:43
but they also they just open up an
29:45
actual physical store
29:47
at 44 and stanley in joburg
29:50
so never been there but i’ve heard it’s
29:52
the cool hip spot
29:54
and i know there’s a there’s a lot of
29:55
cool yeah i know it has been a few times
29:57
though
29:58
yeah so there’s an actual physical store
30:00
now and you can buy it inside there as
30:01
well
30:02
yeah yeah get in touch with me enough
30:06
yeah um
30:09
what so so i mean you’ve obviously been
30:12
to some really
30:14
odd places really cold places
30:17
is that is that ever planned or do you
30:20
along the way meet somebody and they
30:23
kind of you
30:24
you know they’re like hey why don’t you
30:26
come with me or something like that you
30:27
know
30:28
is it is all your roots often planned
30:30
you go like you said earlier i’m gonna
30:31
go
30:32
uh i’m gonna go travel you know east
30:35
asia
30:36
or whatever and that’s what you do and
30:37
you do do a whole a whole plan
30:39
trip but like going to going to like
30:42
very
30:42
very cold and very crazy places is that
30:45
ever planned or is it just you
30:47
as i say you meet somebody and you end
30:48
up going there
30:51
yeah so a lot of these places especially
30:52
those places um
30:54
whilst you two i was really
30:57
fortunate to get a job like once once
31:01
the more i started doing these kind of
31:05
explorations and travels on my own
31:08
and i did a trip with a friend that was
31:10
kind of the first next step finding a
31:12
like-minded person to do it
31:14
with me and then i kind of realized
31:17
because he was a filmmaker as well
31:18
and and that was the first time we said
31:20
okay we’re going to do this but we’re
31:22
also going to
31:23
document this in a way um and it was
31:25
great to have someone like-minded but
31:28
also someone
31:29
in my field of work and we’re
31:30
documenting this on our own
31:33
um and then i realized like this guy
31:35
actually
31:36
he had done similar things like that but
31:39
we
31:40
actually did it as a job he got paid for
31:42
it or at least
31:43
costs were covered due to sponsors um
31:46
and getting certain people the right
31:47
people involved
31:48
and then i realized well um if i really
31:52
love doing this and living this
31:53
lifestyle
31:54
why don’t i look uh for a way of doing
31:57
it as a job or at least just getting it
32:00
funded and not every time have to do
32:03
other
32:03
shitty jobs for like a year or whatever
32:06
just to save up enough to do that four
32:09
months or two or three again
32:10
um and then i i went for it and i was
32:13
fortunate enough to
32:14
to get a job then as a as a expedition
32:17
filmmaker and photographer so i worked
32:20
for a company
32:23
that kind of went to all these really
32:26
far out secluded places
32:28
um places very few people ever get the
32:31
chance to go to so their main clients
32:33
were people like
32:34
national geographic or travel writers
32:38
those kind of people and i was perfect
32:42
yeah so
32:43
um and that kind of uh gave me access
32:47
to a lot of these places but then what i
32:49
did was
32:50
my contracts was normally between two
32:53
and three months
32:55
and then what i would do is i would i
32:57
would look at
32:58
the map and say okay we’re gonna explore
33:00
this part or do this for the job and
33:02
this is where i’m finishing
33:04
and then i knew that okay i’m it’s gonna
33:06
be because it’s contract based so it’s
33:08
gonna be
33:09
a few months before three three to four
33:12
months
33:12
before the next contract again yeah and
33:14
then i would just go like okay i’m
33:16
finishing that side of the world there
33:18
i’m just going to go on my own and
33:20
explore the rest of it for
33:22
for another two three months or however
33:25
long
33:26
i get and and that was so a lot of it
33:29
was
33:29
planned because of the job and the
33:31
company
33:32
and there was after that there would be
33:34
a broad plan of
33:36
want to do southeast asia and i want to
33:39
go explore that pod with a motorbike
33:41
because that friend
33:43
in korea albert he did it and
33:46
and he kind of um
33:50
kind of told me like this is a great
33:51
adventure like this and there’s this
33:54
you have to do this and there’s a
33:55
there’s a lot of stories and
33:57
things to photograph so that was a broad
33:59
idea but then along the way
34:01
like i remember the first day
34:04
so that was like four months before that
34:07
happened
34:08
the first day before i got on the ship
34:11
for the job
34:12
in myanmar i was walking in the street
34:16
um just exploring on my own and i met
34:19
these
34:20
two girls tourists as well who were lost
34:22
and i kind of
34:23
helped them out gave them directions and
34:25
we just kind of hanged out for the rest
34:27
of the day because we wanted to see
34:29
similar
34:29
spots right and at the end of that day
34:33
i kind of explained to them what i’m
34:34
doing and they obviously
34:37
told me what they were doing and the one
34:39
girl was working in
34:40
hong kong at that stage and then i told
34:43
her well i’m gonna
34:44
after this job two months from now i’m
34:46
gonna explore southeast asia
34:48
i’ve always actually wanted to see hong
34:49
kong it was kind of on my
34:51
like it was an idea as well and she said
34:53
well
34:54
come visit me and i’ll show you around
34:56
and like that just became part of the
34:58
planting
34:59
so it just slotted in okay cool i’m
35:01
gonna go visit my friend here
35:03
my other friend there and then
35:06
go to hong kong so a lot of it is kind
35:09
of
35:10
yeah and i realized like you have to do
35:12
that as well or at least be open to it
35:14
i’m not saying
35:15
just jumping every second person’s
35:18
van who say hey come along
35:22
but in the days there’s something
35:24
magical and special
35:26
to opening up your world like that to
35:29
someone else’s world
35:30
right and and and looking out for those
35:33
opportunities
35:33
and and it happened after that as well
35:36
where i would meet someone
35:37
and they say you know you get along like
35:41
you first start hanging out you get
35:42
along well and this person
35:43
say i live in this side of the world
35:45
yeah you should come visit me one day
35:46
and i always tell those people
35:47
you should be careful of saying that
35:48
because i know a lot of people say it
35:50
because they’re trying to be polite but
35:51
i’m the kind of guy
35:54
i’m gonna knock on your door and i’m
35:55
actually gonna be there
36:00
so where’s next uh ah
36:04
there was i mean there was a lot of kind
36:06
of plans before
36:07
uh this whole covert thing started but
36:10
um
36:11
so i would have i would have done a job
36:13
with the
36:14
expedition company a contract along the
36:16
west coast of africa
36:18
which i was really excited for because i
36:20
started realizing a lot that
36:22
um i think we would make the mistake of
36:24
looking
36:25
too far out to the
36:28
far out corners of the world and it’s so
36:31
much
36:31
still to see and explore um
36:35
like so close to us just in africa and
36:37
for me namibia has always been one of
36:39
those things like
36:40
namibia has it’s for me it’s the same as
36:42
someone wanting to go to iceland i want
36:43
to go to namibia
36:45
and some are like whenever there was a
36:47
plan it just never worked out
36:49
so i would have that would have been the
36:52
next stop with the ship and then kind of
36:54
go up the whole coast all the way to
36:56
um to lisbon in portugal um
37:00
and i would have finished there and that
37:02
would have been my first
37:04
move to actually um moving to europe
37:07
and i would have met up with a friend um
37:11
who is that side now he got a flight out
37:13
already and then kind of
37:15
um i would have started making that my
37:18
base
37:18
and started the process
37:22
of uh of applying for residency through
37:25
um a working visa
37:28
and started doing full film production
37:31
work
37:32
um from that side and basically living
37:35
there now or making that my new base
37:38
so right now that is still the plan so
37:41
as soon as
37:42
the board is open or there’s a way that
37:44
i can get a flight
37:45
um i will move over to lisbon and start
37:48
making that my new
37:50
base um and then from there yeah there’s
37:53
there’s a lot of um plans still of of
37:56
places
37:56
and and stuff i want to do one of the
37:59
talking points
38:00
um in that first part of lockdown was
38:03
also
38:04
you know that thing of when you realize
38:05
okay well your time might really be
38:07
a few like what are the things that you
38:09
really still want to do
38:10
or the places you really want to see and
38:13
that hiking trip i never
38:15
finish it the way i i wanted to or
38:18
um i got planned because of injuries and
38:21
near death experiences and not just
38:22
losing a lot of fun
38:25
yeah so there’s a there’s a big section
38:27
that i ended up never doing
38:29
and a lot of people said it’s like it’s
38:31
one of the most beautiful sections they
38:33
said it’s actually sad that you
38:35
struggled for so many months through
38:36
like the desert part
38:38
and then you ended up missing missing
38:40
the the
38:41
like a foresty great part um between
38:44
oregon and
38:45
um so i really want to go back and do
38:48
that and hike for three months again
38:49
like similar to what i did back then um
38:53
but then like one thing i realized is
38:56
i’ll
38:56
i won’t do it alone again right so i
38:59
have a potential friend that’s
39:00
interested in doing it
39:01
i will definitely do it with someone
39:02
then um i think it’s great
39:04
doing something that alone um but there
39:07
comes a time where
39:09
after that after you’ve learned yes that
39:11
your your things you have to learn
39:13
while doing any kind of traveling on
39:15
your own
39:16
it’s nice to have someone like-minded to
39:18
share it with
39:19
um and then i wanna we wanna try and
39:22
like
39:23
uh rent to buy a fan or car and then
39:27
like go through the whole of america
39:28
down to south america and
39:30
and see more of central and south
39:32
america as well
39:33
besides if things really get bad you’ve
39:36
got somebody that you can eat
39:38
exactly yeah and you
39:47
you’ve got someone with a camera we can
39:49
help you document as well and then you
39:50
actually end up with pictures of
39:52
yourself as well not just pictures of
39:54
the landscapes
39:56
oh willem it’s great to talk to you man
39:58
i’m running out of time yeah so
39:59
if you’re out people want to follow you
40:02
or follow like some of your work
40:05
or look at some of the documented video
40:07
stuff that you’ve done or
40:09
other than instagram or whatever where
40:11
can where can they look which may get
40:13
older
40:14
i think the best place is just to go to
40:16
my website then
40:17
which is villainfilms.com
40:21
so we’ll learn my name and then films fr
40:24
lms.com and most of the stuff on there
40:27
and i’m actually i’m i’m working on
40:31
uh i feel like this is my my biggest uh
40:34
film project uh to date um
40:37
it’s a it’s a documentary and
40:41
uh it’s around uh antarctica um
40:45
after i i got the chance to to
40:48
to go there in beginning of the year and
40:51
and
40:52
climate change or the climate crisis
40:54
we’re facing
40:55
and kind of just how i think i i
40:58
i was fortunate enough the last two
41:00
years to be on the front line
41:02
of in terms of climate change and where
41:05
it’s making serious impacts in the world
41:08
and i felt like there’s as a filmmaker
41:12
and being in those situations where i
41:15
get to see and witness
41:17
this and document that i have to have
41:19
the responsibility to
41:20
to kind of voice it as well and do what
41:24
i can
41:25
so i’m working on that and so it’s
41:27
around climate change and specifically
41:29
what it’s doing to antarctica and kind
41:31
of that spider web off but how does
41:34
that actually impact us here in south
41:36
africa
41:37
anyway in the world your normal person
41:39
so yeah that’s kind of what i’m busy
41:41
with and
41:42
i’m not i’m not sure when it will be out
41:45
um
41:46
and then how it’s gonna be out in the
41:48
world but i do know like this is gonna
41:50
be
41:51
like it’s a big project of mine it’s a
41:53
big dream long time coming and
41:55
news on that will also be um published
41:59
on my social media channel is a website
42:02
and yeah
42:03
i i want to encourage people to try and
42:05
follow it or look
42:06
out for that like it’s not something i
42:08
want people to buy or whatever it’s just
42:10
something that i would like people to
42:12
see and learn more about
42:14
yeah cool man love it
42:17
thank you
42:30
[Music]
42:40
[Music]
42:50
you