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South Africa 2 B • June 24-July 10, 2022

South African Safari!

July 3, 2022

Hello Moondance friends and families!

Thanks for checking in! We cannot believe that we’re reaching the halfway point of our trip — its been a blast spending this last week traveling with and getting to know everyone in the group. This group has hit it off better than we could have imagined, and we are so excited for the rest of our time together in Africa! We started this segment of the trip with our last full day in Mozambique. Ashan was dying to see a sunrise over the Indian Ocean, so a few of us woke up in time to see the sun cutting through the clouds in the horizon. It was splendid, and it was even more amazing when a massive tidal pool reflected the morning light from the beach. After taking it all in, we went back to the lodge, and the whole group climbed the steps to breakfast. We filled up on energy for the day and headed down the beach to the local surf shack, where we picked out our boards and met our surfing instructors. McKenzie was super excited about surfing, and she was quick to get out on the water. By the end of the lesson, she was riding waves left and right! Campbell and Grace also caught some big waves, and everyone had a good time surfing and chilling on the beach. After spending some time giving surfing a shot, Will found a new love for photography. He went around taking great action shots of people surfing and had a blast capturing the day! George was a natural in the water, and he let everyone bury him in the sand and turn him into a mermaid on the beach. It was pretty entertaining, and it drew the attention of all the beach goers! Mae, Lilly, and Paige also had a great time taking in the Mozambican sun and giving their best at learning to ride the waves, while Ashan persistently headed out into the water and caught several waves without the instructor’s help. It was an amazing time, and the group walked away from surfing tired but pumped at having all ridden some waves. We walked back up the beach to get some lunch, and we got ice cream to refresh us after our morning in the sun.

After sunbathing a bit more and relaxing on the beach, we set up the beach volleyball net. Soon enough, everyone’s competitive side was on full display and our two teams were giving it their all. Campbell was showing everyone up with her volleyball skills, and Mae was getting really into the game. It was neck and neck most of the game, but one team came out on top and dida victory lap. Everyone was a good sport, and we all had a blast! We walked back to our lodge to have a moment to clean up and chill before our afternoon activity. Toni, one of our favorite locals who led our cooking lesson a few days before, soon met us at the lodge. He would be leading us on a sunset dhow boat tour of the cove, and we all piled into a bus to make our way there. A dhow boat is a traditional Mozambican sailboat made entirely out of wood. The van ride to the departure point was a highlight of the day because everyone was singing along to Ashan and George’s song recommendations. Everyone was belting the lyrics and dancing in their seats, and we’re pretty sure you could hear us coming down the road a mile away! When we arrived at the coast, it was raining a bit so we waited for it to pass while continuing to jam out in the van.It was a short wait, and then we walked through knee-deep water to arrive at the boat. We piled in, and we were off. Bambo was our guide, and he quickly became a fan favorite. Although a bit overcast, we had a great time enjoying ourselves and spotting groups of birds in the mangroves. We had snacks and some drinks as we sailed across the cove, and it was an amazing experience! We disembarked on the other side, and met up with our beloved van. It had a hard time of getting out of the sand, so we all gave it a push and were on our way. Bambo joined us for our return trip, and the energy levels were high! The group was singing along to their favorite songs as we headed back to the lodge, where we had dinner and Moonup under the stars. As LODs, Lilly and Will did a great job of wrapping up our time in Mozambique with one final Moonup there, and then we all headed to bed ready for the adventures that laid ahead.

Thursday morning we woke up rested for our last morning in Mozambique. The ocean air was refreshing as we walked up to eat our breakfast. Over the balcony we watched the waves crash into the beach. We enjoyed some delicious crepes and fresh fruit then went back to our rooms to pack up our bags. We played music to make the time pass quicker and keep us on task too. Before heading out, the group took one last walk on the beach together. It was so peaceful and a beautiful way to say goodbye to the ocean one last time. Then we walked out to the car park where Brodie met us with her truck to take up to the market. The kids bargained and negotiated their way through the different vendors, selecting paintings, woodcarvings, bracelets and even some cool t-shirts. Lilly got a beautiful beaded necklace, and Ashan secured a cool wooden mask! Satisfied with their purchases, we hopped back in the truck to compare what we all got. We then headed to the airport to catch our flight back to Johannesburg. Our travel day went off without a hitch — and Mae and Mackenzie made some new friends on the flight! After a quick layover in Maputo, we arrived in South Africa and made it through customs. They are great travelers! We exchanged some currency at the airport before hopping in our van in route to our next stop. The group sang songs the entire way there, and it was a blast! We arrived at Dinokeng and were greeted by Therese and Ingrid, who showed us to our rooms and then to dinner. Over a warm meal, we laughed about our travel day. Then we headed to the fire to have our Moonup. It was led by our LODs, Paige and George. When we finished our time together under the stars, we quickly headed to our warm beds to get some sleep for our big day tomorrow.

We woke up early Friday morning to go out on our first game drive of the trip. The sun was rising while we enjoyed some coffee and rusks before hopping into the trucks with our guides. They wrapped us up in blankets, and we set off to explore the South African Bush together. We passed Buffalo, Kudu, Gazelles, Zebra, and Wilder Beasts as we drove. Then Ashan spotted 2 Lions laying in a grassy field, so we all went to take a look. Once we pulled up, they were about 15 feet away! We were all in shock as we watched the animals move and communicate with one another. It was so cool! Everyone got great photos and videos from the sighting — it was definitely a bucket list experience for all of us! After the lions, we met up for snacks, coffee, hot chocolate, and tea with our guides. McKenzie, Mae, Grace, and George kept us all entertained with their dance moves. We made sure to update our daily Vlogs too with a “fit check”. After we finished our snacks, our guides were ready for our tracking activity, during which we competed with one another to identify which animal was responsible for each track. It proved to be quite difficult, but the whole group got super involved. Ashan and Lilly were the only two to correctly identify the White Rhino track! It was a great way to learn about tracking and have fun while doing it. We wrapped it up and headed back to the lodge for a delicious brunch. We then had some free time to hang out and explore. Campbell and Paige went on a walk within the gates where they were greeted by Zebras and Impala — they were able to get so close without them running off! George relaxed by the pool and the girls took time to shower and chat. Ashan had the great idea to grab some fresh leaves from a tree and feed a group of Impala! He got Lilly, Paige, Campbell, George and Will to join in and we all marveled at the incredible experience. After free time, we had lunch and then got changed and ready for our afternoon game drive. As we entered the reserve everyone was so excited to see what we would find this time. We spotted different birds, black backed jackals, zebras and more as we drove. As we approached a watering hole, Mae excitedly shouted “RHINO!” As we rounded the bend, we saw a crash of 4 rhinos together — 2 moms with their babies! We could not believe the size and power of the animals but just loved watching them graze the grass. But our night was not over yet! As the sun was setting Mckensie spotted a tall white neck in the distance… it was an Ostrich running across the path! We zoomed over to get a closer look but in a flash it was gone. So as the sunset turned the sky to darker shades of orange and pink we approached a block of vegetation in hopes of finding some large friends of ours. We drove down the path and to our left we saw a giant herd of Elephants! There was even a group of 7 babies eating all together. It was simply remarkable to see! Completely in awe we drove to have a few snacks together and unpack everything we just saw during our drives. We our bellies were satisfied we hopped back into the vans under the moonlight to make our way back home. The stars were magnificent as we drove! Mae and Grace used the spot light to keep an eye out for any animals along the way.

We made it back home and circled up around the fire to warm up before dinner. They made us Ribeye Steak and chicken with veggies for dinner and it was amazing! We laughed and swapped stories the entire meal. After we finished we went around the fire once more for Moonup. One of our safari guides SJ brought out his guitar and started playing tunes we would all know and enjoy. Lillian even played and sang a song for the group too. Then our LODs Will and Ashan started Moonup where we shared funny moments in our life’s and talked about our dreams and ambitions too. It was such a fun time together under the stars! We wrapped up by listening to Lady May together by Tyler Childers. Then we headed to our rooms to pack and go to sleep. It was such a great day! Saturday morning we woke up early and ready for the day. We enjoyed coffee and granola bowls as we waited for our hot breakfast of omelets, bacon, sausage and toast to be prepared. Once we finished, we grabbed our bags and jumped into the van to head to our service location. We jammed to music on the ride and also stopped at a grocery store to snag a few snacks too. Then we arrived in Rooiberg, unpacked and then walked over to the school where we will be spending the next few days working. After a short introduction we divided up and got to work. George, Grace, McKenzie and Mae headed up the paint crew. While Lilly, Campbell and Paige worked tirelessly to sand the window panes and doors down. Will and Ashan used the cement to patch the dents and holes in the walls. We sang, danced and laughed the whole time so time flew by super quick. When we got to a good stopping point we headed outside for some lunch. Before heading back to work McKenzie taught us all about the “circle of death” which is a workout challenge we all wanted to try. It was ridiculously hard but also really fun. Grace also taught the girls a few dances she learned at her summer camp years before. And any lunch break isn’t complete without a competitive game of ninja. Mae and Paige made it to the finals but Owen showed no mercy and ended out on top once again. Then we headed back to work to finish up our jobs. Ashan manned the Aux and kept everyone’s spirits high. Will headed up the tile team to get the remaining blue pieces off the floor. After an hour or so we took a break to relax and decided to go explore the school grounds. There we came across a beautiful lemon tree. Grace and Lilly were the first to try the tart treat— they were so good! Paige spotted a field of cows over the fence so we all ran over to meet them. After our little break we headed back inside for the last hour of our work day. We wrapped up sow sections of the painting and made sure to clean up the floors. Then we packed up and made our walk back to the lodge. When we got back we enjoyed some snacks the kitchen made for us— samosas, veggie egg rolls, crackers and some dipping sauces. George and Paige ordered the most delicious looking hot chocolate and others tried some Rooibos tea. Ashan, George, Campbell and Paige headed out to the yard to play on the trampoline. Then we all got cleaned up and headed to dinner. Mae and Grace kept us all laughing as we sat around the table together. When we were all full and happy we hung out for a bit then started Moonup up to close out our first day of service. Then we headed to bed so we could be rested for our day tomorrow. We can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip holds, and will continue to soak up every second in this amazing place!

This group is amazing and we feel so lucky to get to know them this session. Nonetheless, these kids miss their fams and wanted to give y’all some shout-outs!

Check in soon!

Lillian and Owen

Mae: Hey fam, I have been having a lot of fun! Shoutout to Gar Dog, I love you king. Also tell girl I love her so much, and I know she misses her fav person. Also I would like to shoutout my queens Helen, Caroline, Moosch, and Olivia. Can’t wait to see you all again. Peace out – Mae

George: Sup y’all it G-money checking in. Ya boi feelin the vibes at South Africa. Hope y’all ok miss y’alll okey. Everyone is a homie and I am loving the vibes out here. No BACKPACKING. Tbh Not goin lie don’t miss that very much. – Best, your favorite kid

McKenzie: Hey mom! Having a great time in South Africa thank you so much for shipping me off! Miss y’all can’t wait to tell you all about it tell sweet Eleanor I said HEY. Love you and I don’t want to leave. -peace out yo fav child

Grace: Hi parentals, and Ella! I’m having a great time here and have made some good friends! I miss y’all and can’t wait to see you but I don’t know if I want to go home next week. Anyways I love y’all! – Grace

Lilly: Hey mom, dad, and Ellis! I’m having so much fun. Thank you so much for this experience! We’ve seen and experienced so many cool things too. Say hey to della for me! Love y’all! – Lilly

Campbell: Hey mom, dad, baker, and Parker. I’m am having much fun! My favorite part of the trip so far is the safari and see the lions and rhinos. I love y’all and miss y’all! -Campbell

Paige: Hey Wheat Fam! I’m loving Africa so much! I’ve tried and seen so many new things and gotten lots of pictures. Make sure to tell Nina I haven’t lost her cameras yet! Really excited to tell y’all all about the trip soon, love y’all!- Paige

Ashan: Hi everyone, I’m having a great time. I enjoyed going to the market. I also like going surfing and the safari other than the flight delay it has been great.- Ashan

Will: Hey Mom, Dad, and any other family members I didn’t mention. I’ve been having a lot of fun here and am connecting with some of the other people on the trip. See you guys in a week! – Will


Greetings from Mozambique!

June 29, 2022

Hello Moondance friends and family! 

It’s Lillian and Owen, and we’re so excited to be leading the second session of the South Africa trip! We’re only a couple of days into it, and we’ve already had such an amazing time exploring and traveling with your kids. They are an amazing group, and we can’t believe how lucky we are to be on this trip with them! Thank you for sending them across the Atlantic and trusting us to give them a trip of a lifetime — we’re truly honored and overjoyed! For the first segment of the trip, we made our way to Mozambique and have been enjoying the adventure and beauty of the Indian Ocean since we arrived. Follow along for our day-to-day adventures as we discover the joys and obstacles of traveling through Southern Africa. 

After flying for 16 hours from Atlanta, the entire group arrived on Saturday evening. We were so excited to meet the kids, and we waited eagerly in the airport for them to arrive. When we finally caught sight of them, we were thrilled and knew from the smiles on their faces it was going to be a great trip. We were also shocked by how tall some of them are, especially Ashan and George who tower over the entire group. Everyone hit it off in the airport, and it was such a smooth start. We made our way to the hotel, settled in, and then ate Moondance’s infamous day one pizza dinner. At dinner, Grace kept making the craziest connections and George found a new favorite soda — a South African drink called Sparletta. No one else liked the taste, but for some reason George really took to it. We then had our first Moonup outside in the grass. It was a little chilly, but it was worth it to all sit in a circle, learn more about each other, and get excited about the trip. There were a few post-Moonup card games before we all called it a night, getting ready for an early start the next day. 

We woke up a little sleepy-eyed but pumped for our first adventure together. We grabbed breakfast and hopped on the hotel shuttle. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to check in, get some water and snacks, and chill at our gate. We soon found out that our flight was delayed, but we were quick to make the best of it. George, Ashan, and Will ventured into an outdoor store, and George and Will walked away adorned with new hats. Meanwhile, Mae, McKenzie, and Grace caught up on journaling the first few days of the trip, and Paige, Lilly, and Campbell took to people watching and making up hilarious fake stories about the other delayed passengers. It kept us all entertained as we waited! The airline got us a nice lunch in the airport, and some of the kids took advantage of the extra time to put their heads down for a nap right on the restaurant table. We got a few strange looks, but everyone woke up recharged and ready to go. Ashan pulled out the cards, and he taught everyone how to play ERS — our new official card game for the trip. Lilly and Campbell decided to get some exercise in before we boarded and walked up and down the steps a few times. We got word that our flight was ready to depart, and we set out on our way to Mozambique. We were so 

excited as we touched down in Maputo, and we ate dinner at the hotel buffet. We then sat around outside and had our Moonup by the pool, and we were all laughing and joking after a long travel that bonded us all together. Despite our travel delays, the group made the best of navigating the delays and obstacles that can accompany international travel. We then went to bed tired but even more excited to arrive the next day. 

On Monday morning, we slept in a little bit and enjoyed a nice breakfast at our hotel. We then headed to the airport to catch our flight. The kids were excited as we made our way to the shuttle, and we made sure to say our hellos to the friends we made the day before. As we waited, McKenzie bought a delicious chocolate coffee, and we all sat around chatting before going to security. At the gate, the whole group was excited and ready to go. Mae and Grace even started an intense game of ninja to pass the last bit of time before boarding. Afterwards, we scanned our tickets and made our way to the airplane! Campbell, George, and Paige were so excited! After a short flight, we landed in Inhambane and were greeted by our friend Brodie waving from the gate. The group gabbed our bags and hopped in the vans to head to our lodge. The drive through the countryside was stunning. The kids’ eyes were glued outside the windows where they saw bright pink, yellow, and blue houses; passed massive palm trees; and marveled at the women carrying massive loads on their heads. It was all so cool to see! 

We arrived at the surf shop and had a hot lunch ready for us — burgers and fries (or chips as they call them here). It was just what the group needed and helped melt away some of the post-travel weariness. Immediately after lunch, the entire group bolted for the water! George shocked us all and drove straight in fully clothed. It was hilarious, but it was obvious everyone was overjoyed to be at the beach! Grace, Paige, Campbell, McKenzie, Mae, and Lilly kept laughing as they ran up and down the beach escaping the waves. We made a quick walk down the beach and made it to our bungalows. There we unpacked and got settled in, but the kids weren’t tired of the beach yet, so we put on our swimsuits and headed to the waves for a sunset swim. The air was chilly, but the water was warm. McKenzie was the first to touch the water and the rest of the group was not far behind.  We all dove, swam, and laughed though the waves all while the sky started glowing with bright pink, oranges, and yellow hues. It was magical. Ashan and George showed of their body surfing skills to us all. When the sun had set, we headed back to the lodge to clean up, take a shower, and get ready for dinner.  

After an incredible meal, we headed to the porch to star gaze and play some games. McKenzie and Mae introduced the laugh test game to everyone, and it was hilarious. Then we circled up for our first Moonup underneath the Mozambican stars. Our LODs, Grace and Ashan, told some funny stories and kept us entertained the whole night. We laughed about our day and the group was so grateful to get to call this beautiful spot home for the next few days. We wrapped up Moonup and 

headed to bed to get a good night sleep.  

On Tuesday, we woke up ready to take on our first full day in Mozambique. We headed to breakfast at our lodge, which has a great view of the coastline. We could hear the waves crashing against the shore, and the sky was lit up by the early morning sun. We then walked down the beach to the scuba shop, where we pivoted plans for the day due to high winds and the choppy seas. We surprised the group with an intro to diving session in the training pool, and everyone was excited and a bit nervous. Ashan had a leg up on everyone with his PADI certification, and he had a blast swimming circles around us in the pool. Lilly, Paige, and Will were not so sure about diving, but they decided to get in the pool and give it a shot! Everyone got an intro to diving skills and practiced the basic maneuvers in the water, and we even got to try some back flips and other tricks before floating up. The water was freezing, but we were so proud of everyone for stepping outside of their comfort zone and diving in. After getting out of the pool, we headed to the hot showers, sipped hot chocolate. and sat in the sun to warm up. While we were sunbathing, the guys convinced a local to cut down some coconuts for us as a post-dive snack. We then ate lunch and went for a quick dip in the waves one more time before heading back to the lodge. 

In the afternoon, we met up with a local who’s become one of our favorites. His name is Toni, and he led us on a tour of the village on the way to his house. From the moment we arrived in Mozambique, Mae told us she wanted to meet some of the local kids, and she was so happy to run into a few of them playing on the road. They were so kind and gave us all high fives as we passed. Once we got to Toni’s house, he climbed up a tree and had us taste test different coconuts at various stages of ripeness. We then learned how to cook a local meal called Mataba, which is made only from cassava leaves, ground peanuts, and homemade coconut milk. Nearly all of the ingredients are harvested from his land, and the kids all got a chance to make the meal. McKenzie and Paige had fun making some coconut biscuits into fun shapes, while George, Will, and Lilly helped grind the coconuts to make coconut milk. Campbell, Grace, and Mae sampled the coconut biscuits first, and they loved them. Ashan also got some firsthand experience cooking, and then he went around capturing some great pictures of everyone preparing the meal. We all sat down for the Mataba meal with some crab, and it was delicious! Afterwards, we made our way back to the lodge, where had some downtime to hang out and clean up. Lilly pulled out her hair tinsel, and the girls had a great time putting them in their hair. We all headed down to the beach soon to play a round or two of football before sunset, after which we played a few group games and hung out before dinner. Campbell and Mae closed out our night as LODs with Moonup under the stars, and we headed for bed after a full day of fun activities! It was a great day, and we’re so glad everyone had fun as we experienced the thills of Mozambican everyday life. 

We’ve had a blast during the first segment of our trip, and we can’t believe it’s passing so quickly. 

We can’t wait for the kids to experience the other activities we have planned in the days to come and be sure to look out for our next trip update! 

Until next time, 

Lillian and Owen


Safely in South Africa!!

June 25, 2022

Hello South Africa Families!

We just heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Johannesburg. The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.

Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!

-Moondance HQ


Students

  • Ashan
  • Campbell
  • George
  • Grace
  • Lilly
  • Mae
  • Mckenzie
  • Paige
  • Will

Staff