July 13, 2017
Hello from South Africa!
Our trip has continued to be an amazing time filled with incredible experiences, laughs, and memories. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Mozambique after a wonderful 5 days of fun, but have already spent time reflecting on our time spent there. The scuba diving portion of our trip did not fail to meet our expectations, as we spotted a plethora of other exotic sea life, including eels, octopi, and clownfish. Drew had a little trouble equalizing at first but thankfully worked it out and he led our group through a sea floor exploration; he cannot stop smiling about this.
Separately, we were able to enjoy some gnarly waves down the beach during our surfing portion of the trip. Our group’s laughter and screams of joy could not be contained throughout this experience. Blair was sure to contribute to this experience through her ongoing surfing commentary that proved to be hilarious for everyone. Austin spent this time riding every wave until his board hit the shore. His skill was definitely rivaled by Anna’s, seeing as she got to spend two days surfing and really mastered her form.
Outside of these activities, we had plenty of time to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. Dotsie and Hudson spent the entirety of this time in the ocean with a heavy dose of contagious excitement. While on land, Maggie proved to be the group’s card master throughout countless wins in rounds of “spit” and “speed”. Thomas displayed his soccer experience during games of soccer and kickball, while Will kept the mood light with numerous jokes and stories. If you were ever looking for Eliza she wasn’t hard to find because you could hear the crunch as she munched on dried spaghetti at all hours of the day. She even packed the leftover noodles in her carry on. There’s never a dull moment with this group of campers.
On our free day, we took advantage of an open afternoon with a visit to the local open air market. Here, Yancey made the purchase of the day buying some authentic Mozambique pants. Molly started a trend among the girls bargaining for a toe ring and now all the girls are matching. The day ended with some good ole milkshakes, a favorite food amongst the group. It was hard to leave Mozambique behind but we’re thankful for all the fun and memories it provided!
I cannot believe that tomorrow is our last full day. This trip has flown by. Tomorrow we spend our time at the Ukutula Lion Sanctuary interacting with the many lions they have on the property. Although it’s sad it’s our last day, we know it’s going to be an incredible one. This truly has been the trip of a lifetime and I know everyone is so excited to share stories with all back home!!
All the best,
Liz and Stew
July 9, 2017
We are checking in from the beautiful beach of Mozambique and the trip has been amazing so far! It was extremely hard to leave South Africa because we had a phenomenal time in the bush. We spent the majority of that time participating in game drives as well as working with the Bushveld Mission Children’s home.
On our drives, we saw an amazing array of animals ranging from zebras to rhinos. Blair’s excitement became uncontrollable with our up close encounter with a beautiful herd of elephants. Her actual tears of joy were complimented by the excited screams of the rest of our jeep. Our biggest disappointment was not seeing a hyena despite Dotsie’s constant hopes and overt optimism that excited our entire group each day.
In between drives, there was never a dull moment. We enjoyed the enthusiasm of our eclectic group of leaders as well as Maggie’s creativity in formulating group games that always ended in laughter. On our third night we switched things up and instead of sleeping in our comfy cots with big blankets we slept in the African bush. This was an incredible experience. We set up camp with our cots, sleeping bags, and big fire. Not long after being there we had a visit from a big ole rhino coming to check out our camp and we were able to watch him for about 30 minutes, which was an unparalleled experience considering they’re a declining species. We celebrated the Fourth of July with a big braai (barbecue) and we went to bed with full bellies. During the night we were all assigned shifts to watch over the camp and make sure we didn’t have any animals visiting camp. Molly and Eliza were champs and brought us home during the late hours of the night until we all awoke to the beautiful African sunrise.
After leaving the game reserve we entered into themuch anticipated service portion of our trip. Bushveld Mission Children’s Home is truly a special place. We were welcomed into their home with open arms and we immediately began playing with the kiddos. Yancey was quick to throw a young boy on his shoulders and they began painting the windows. The boy tackled the tall parts atop Yancey shoulders while Yancey took care of the lower portions, they were quite the team. Meanwhile Thomas was enduring the hot African sun as he painted the gate to the Mission Home. Many kids accompanied him, all paining and singing in the sun, and I’m pretty sure they left with more paint on their bodies than on the fence. If one were looking for Hudson she could be found in the middle of a pillow fight, laughter filling the room and feathers flying everywhere. Bonds were so quickly made with all of the kids at the home as well as the sweet people that worked there selflessly day in and day out. Needless to say it was very hard leaving this place that had become a home to us as well.
Our last accommodation in South Africa before traveling to Mozambique was a beautiful set of cottages. There, we had an intense game of soccer where Will was awarded MVP for his big foot that led his team to victory. We also went on a hike to an incredible lookout where we were able to gaze at the breathtaking African plains and even participate in a little yoga atop the lookout. To conclude our safari segment after our last Moonup in South Africa, one of our favorite guides described our group’s spirit animals in depth, which ranged from Anna the dragon to Austin the kudu.
Today was our travel day filled with much anticipation to reach the beautiful beach. Though our flight was a little delayed that morning, Drew kept the spirits of our group up with his countless riddles, jokes, and card tricks. We all made it here safe and sound and cannot wait for tomorrow when the scuba diving begins! Excited for all that’s in store for us here because we know it’s nothing short of spectacular.
All the best,
Liz and Stew
July 3, 2017
Hey from South Africa!
Our trip has gotten off to a spectacular start that has already included a great deal of laughter and awe inspiring sights. After arriving safely in Johannesburg and getting over some jet lag, our crew hit the road bright and early under the leadership of our two first Leaders of the Day, Maggie and Thomas, who did a wonderful job of maintaining happy and excited attitudes. Our bus ride was filled with entertainment as our group continued to bond, which included riddles and games coming from Drew and Molly. Hudson also lead the way in solving the toughest riddle that Liz and I could come up with-nothing gets by this group of Moondancers.
As we approached our first destination, the Adventures with Elephants reserve, Austin began to spot animal after animal in the South African Bush. These animals included ostriches, giraffes, and others, which further contributed to our group’s excitement. Finally, the time came to interact with a crew of incredible elephants! This interaction included amazing performances from the elephants, such as dancing, jumping, and memory games. Bela Bela, one of the baby elephants was particularly interested in Maggie and gave her her own special greeting. Anna mustered up the courage to approach the largest one, who thanked her with a slobbery yet sentimental kiss on the cheek. Next, Yancey played soccer with the most athletic elephant of the group, making some notable saves in the process. Blair received a shower from the trunk of an Elephant seeing as she was in the front of the group when we all got sprayed. After this, everyone mounted the elephants for a casual stroll around the grounds of the reserve, where we were able to spot more wildlife, such as zebras and warthogs.
After the conclusion of this amazing experience, we trekked further into the Bush and ended at our new home, the Monkey Camp in the Marataba game reserve. Here, we were greeted by a welcoming staff that is full of knowledge and enthusiasm. At sunset, we embarked on our first safari drive. Here, Will kept us on our toes by spotting numerous wild animals and the perfect observation of a breathtaking South African sunset, which we agreed was truly one of a kind. Dotsie was in awe of even the smallest observations such as the reflection of the trees on the water or the configuration of clouds in the sky, which reminded the group to appreciate the little things. Lastly, Eliza keenly spotted a white rhino barely visible in the brush during her group’s safari, which was as our guide said a “sharp spotting”. This was an incredible start to the first of our many game drives to come, so the bar is high.
The trip has started off on an awesome foot and it’s only the end of our first full day. So many adventures await us and we couldn’t be more excited for all that is in store!!!
All the best,
Stew and Liz
July 1, 2017
Hi South Africa Families!
We’ve heard from all leaders and the group has arrived safely in Johannesburg. They’re settling in for a good night’s sleep and will hit the ground running in the morning! Stay tuned for more updates!
-The Moondance Team