About Us

The Garden Route of South Africa is one on the most beautiful and diverse natural landscapes in Africa. The vision of Venture Beyond is to provide the traveller with an opportunity to explore the hidden and less well known jewels of this ecological wonderland.

Our special interest day tours include marine and forest ecology, palaeontology, ornithology, the Knysna Forest and Knysna elephants as well as art and spiritual awareness and relaxation.  Each experience is professionally guided and offers the explorer a personalized experience.

We also offer three-night and five-night tours in our Plett Trail packages that can be tailor made to suit your requirements.  These specialized tours cater for corporate groups, private groups and individuals and offer guided exploration through the Tsitsikamma, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Klein Karoo.

Heading up the Venture Beyond team is Grahame Thomson and Julie Carlisle who together have created specialist Garden Route trails and tours that cater for every intrepid traveller, so join us, and Venture Beyond the ordinary and mundane...

Grahame Thomson

Graham ThompsonGrahame was born with a deep passion and love for Africa. This affinity with the landscape, its people, its wildlife, would take me afar, down many a road less travelled

He started his exploration of the land when he was just 19, appointed as a cadet ranger and stationed at the iMfolozi game reserve in northern Zululand. My mentors were Ian Player, then senior conservator and also Zulu game scouts Mtshali and Qotowane, who taught me the beautiful Zulu language, the skills of tracking and the value of being silent when out in the wilderness.

His last posting with the Natal Parks Board was as zone officer, responsible for the entire Maputoland region in northern Zululand.  One of his favourite haunts here was the remote and virtually unexplored Tembe Sihungwane area, which was the last refuge for a small and nomadic herd of elephant.  Hunted and persecuted for nearly a century, this relic population had found sanctuary in the thick sand forest and it was here that he spent almost two years, tracking them, understanding their plight and guarding them possessively from the ever persistent threat of poaching. Through these efforts and others to follow, the Tembe Elephant Reserve was proclaimed in 1983 and today these friends of the forest roam safe and secure.

Grahame's passion for the elephants of Africa has known no bounds. After Zululand he trekked afar, first to Hwange and Chobe National Parks, Bumi Hills and finally Tuli and the remoteness of the Koakoveld, always seeking closeness and inspiration from these monarchs of the savannah and the desert. The years dissipated in time, but the sun was always warm upon his face, his cloths scented by the dust of Africa, his soul inspired by the spirit of the wild and horizons afar.

The creation of his own company, Seaton Thomson & Associates was born soon after our first hesitant steps towards democracy, early in the summer of 1995. Although the elephants, the black rhino, the desert landscapes were still his passion, he had begun to understand the desperate need to integrate our 45 million people into a tourism ethic, so that both urban and rural communities could have the real opportunity of becoming role-players in this emerging industry.

Here in the beautiful Garden Route another new journey has begun. Venture Beyond's special interest trails and tours will leave a lasting impression on all who venture beyond the ordinary and mundane and explore with us in the home we all call Africa.

Julie Carlisle

Julie CarlisleJulie Carlisle was born and grew up in Johannesburg but spent many holidays in the wilds of Southern Africa.  She has been involved in conservation, environment and tourism projects in various forms for thirty years, living in Botswana, KZN, and various locales in the Western Cape, finally settling in Plettenberg Bay.  

After working in a veterinary clinic, followed by a game lodge and trails operation, Julie moved to Botswana for four years to work on a lion rehabilitation project, doing environmental education, fundraising and communication. Following this, she moved back to South Africa, working on a series of environmental documentaries doing research and as production secretary.  This work led her to KZN where she worked in Game Capture in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, overseeing the captured animals, monitoring food and working on an animal husbandry manual.

After four years Julie moved to the Southern Cape where she formed two environmental education organizations in Oudtshoorn. This then led to her moving over the Outeniqua Mountains to Nature’s Valley and Plettenberg Bay where she worked as Project Manager for several Non Profit Organizations, formed her own NPO and worked towards the declaration and registration of the Garden Route as a biosphere reserve with UNESCO.