June 22, 2023
Hi from Mara!
We have been busy traveling all over Kenya! Our first day here we learned how to become a Maasai warrior! First the boys went into the bush to find adequate sticks to turn into spears. Then, they competed to see who could throw their spear the farthest, Toby came out on top! Next, we moved to jumping where Sara Frances gave Carson a run for his money! Our final mission was archery with a long bow and arrow, and Cam blew everyone out of the park! While we were moving from place to place, we learned about all of the plants that have medicinal use in Maasai culture. For example, the bark from the Black Acacia trees can be chewed to hydrate when in places with little to no water! On our walk back to camp we even got to see Baboons, only feet away from us! Once we arrived back at camp we were ecstatic when we realized their was a bonfire so we just had to stay there to watch the sunset over the valley! The views here are insane. Once the sun set, we had a delicious dinner followed by hot cocoa! Emmy has perfected the ratio of water and cocoa mix, it always ends up tasting the best!
Our second day in the Mara was definitely one to remember! We traveled by foot to a Maasai village where we were greeted by true Maasai warriors! We jumped, danced, and even sang just like we learned the day before! Lilly was really getting into the traditional dancing, while Thomas was jumping just as high as they were! We then moved into the village to see what a traditional house looked like. We started by adding to their walls (you should ask them about the ingredients when they get home) and Lux got down and dirty with it, literally! After learning more about how the women make their homes, we actually got to go inside one! We learned that although they are small, they can fit families up to 8 people. We then moved out to the center to practice our bead making to hopefully be able to create the beautiful work of the Maasai women. Lux definitely had the skills to make the best bracelet, she is so creative! Once we all had new jewelry to show off, we watched the boys start a fire. Cam got a spark in no time! We were grateful they allowed us into their village, and especially for the traditional African meal, Ugali! Wallis jumped on the opportunity to try some! We also walked to a stream to gather water and Bays had no trouble carrying it around her head! I’m not sure how she did it! Before leaving we stopped by their market, where they were selling beautiful bead work and different carvings they have made. We can’t wait for y’all to see everything they bought! Mary Marshall has officially learned to art of negotiation! In the afternoon we helped around camp by cementing river rocks to different accent walls. We were all having the best time listening to music and playing jigsaw puzzle! Emmy and Sara Frances even mentioned how it was therapeutic! To end the day we played soccer for over 2 hours with the Maasai, the time just flew by! Harry was the best goal keeper this soccer field has ever seen! Thomas and Lilly were killing it as our forwards! They did so well, with the help of all of us, that we won! Celebrations are in order! We had such an amazing time learning about the Maasai culture and then playing soccer with the warriors, that we can’t wait to see what else is in store for us!
Our third day in the Mara was superb! We had an early morning wake up call and quickly hopped into safari cars for a day of game drives! Once we entered the park we got a call that there was a leopard, one of the rarest animals to see! So naturally we booked it, and ended up getting a perfect front row spot to watch it! Wallis was so excited, as it was the last animal on her list to see! After observing we continued onward through the grasslands! It felt like they never ended, you could see as far as the eye would let you! We soon came upon a pride of lions, and we got so close it felt like you could just reach out and touch one. We also saw two cheetahs stalking a Topi! We ate lunch under a tree in the middle of the Mara! During our lunch stop Bays, Carson, and Toby practiced their synchronized handstands. Even got some good “flicks” as Cam calls it! After lunch we continued our drive seeing many elephants, zebra, hippo, buffalo, giraffe, and even ostriches! Sadly, we couldn’t stay forever, but that’s okay because the Maasai warriors wanted a rematch in soccer! We put up a good fight but had to call our game as a tie because we lost all of our day light. Good thing there is always tomorrow! We ended our perfect day with a bonfire and music! It couldn’t have been more perfect.
Our last day in the Mara was filled with lots of love, laughs and of course soccer! We visited a nearby primary school just to further emerge ourselves into the true Maasai culture. We were welcomed with hugs and smiling faces no one couldn’t forget! We danced, sang, and played their version of duck duck goose! Sara Frances was first to be picked, then Carson and Wallis! After that we got to listen to the whole school sing some of their favorite songs! Unfortunately, they also had to hear us sing a few songs, nonetheless it was an unforgettable morning! Later in the afternoon we went back and played soccer, braided hair, learned songs, and got to know the kids! While Bays, Lilly, and Mary Marshall were teaching almost as much as they were learning, Lux was getting a new hairdo! She had so many braids in her hair it was hard to count! After an extremely rewarding day we ended the night with the most creative Moonup yet, led by Sara Frances and Thomas! And of course, music and a bonfire! We are going to miss this place so much, but we are walking away with lifetime experiences.
We spent our last few hours on the drive back to Nairobi listening to our favorite songs and soaking up every last minute with everyone! We also distributed little notebooks so all 14 of us could have written notes from everyone on our trip! It really made the trip more special, and started the tears. We had an incredible banquet dinner and we are so lucky to walk away with 13 new best friends and a million new memories!
We also have gotten word the kiddos made it to Amsterdam, and are on their flight to Atlanta! Thank you all so much for sharing your loved ones with us we can’t wait to hear all about the rest of their summers !
Lots of love,
Mary App and Carter
June 16, 2023
Good morning from the Equator!
We started off our drive to the conservancy with one safari car in an intense game of uno headed by Mary Marshall, and the other blasting music with Toby on aux! The drive felt like no time at all, especially with our stop at a little market, where almost everyone got some goodies! After we loaded up on snacks, we headed on our way to the conservancy. Once we arrived, we were greeted with a delicious lunch, which included our favorite African pita bread! It made for an even better day! After we all got settled into our single room suites, we headed off for an afternoon game drive. We saw cape buffalo, zebras, southern white rhinos, tons of impalas, baboons, and Sara Frances’s favorite, elephants! We could even see Mt. Kenya, the second tallest mountain in Africa, right behind Kilimanjaro. As the afternoon continued, it started to sprinkle and then quickly turned into a full-on downpour, but spirits never dwindled! Lilly, Thomas, and Toby made sure of that by keeping morale high while being soaking wet! Once we arrived back at camp, Wallis showed us her talent for ping pong. She beat every single one of us! Ping pong Olympics here she comes!
We were fortunate enough to not only learn about the last two remaining northern white rhinos, but also see them! We first cleaned out their barn and then moved to cleaning out a trough for two white southern rhinos. While Bays and Carson started the water cleaning, Lilly and Emmy quickly jumped in, literally. They were shin deep in algae and muck! The coolest part about it all was the two female white southern rhinos are going to serve as surrogates for the northern because the last two are a mother-daughter pair. As heartbreaking as it is, there is still hope! We were so happy we were able to learn more about them! We even went to see them, where they got so close to our safari cruisers that Toby and Wallis could reach out and touch them if they wanted to! In addition to seeing both the southern and northern white, we also got to feed a blind black rhino. In the span of a few hours, we saw every single type of rhino Kenya has to offer! After our conservation activity, we headed out for a lion tracking trip. Definitely a highlight of our safari experience thus far!
We watched a pride of lionesses for so long that we were able to see them soaking up the sun and the rain. After getting lions under our belt, we stopped back at camp for a quick dinner of veggies and pasta, a fan favorite, especially for Cam. If you thought our day couldn’t get any better, it does… with a NIGHT safari!! We saw so many animals that you can’t see during the day like hyenas! Not only did we see them, but we happened to come up on their den where they all sleep during the day! Little did we know, we would also get to see TWO male lions on our way back! It was easily a day for the books!
Our last morning at the conservancy was not put to waste, as we were up early and ready to take on the day! We went to look at the cattle ranch section and got to learn about tick prevention on baby calves. They were so cute! On the way there and back, we saw giraffes for the first time and Harry couldn’t have been more excited! We started our journey to the Maasai, making a quick pit stop at the equator! Then, we headed on to our camp for the night at Lake Naivasha! A fun fact about this lake is that it is where Queen Elizabeth was told she was becoming the next Queen of England! They used a water plane on this lake to fly her back to England! After learning so much about where we were, we headed back to camp to enjoy a delicious lunch and dinner. In between, we had another intense game of ping pong going where Cam was on top, then Thomas, then Wallis, and then Emmy was our final winner before we had to stop for dinner! While all of that was going on, Lux got everyone else up and moving with a long walk and a nice HITT workout! It was really nice to have a free afternoon to hang-out! We are so excited to continue our ventures tomorrow!
Mary App and Carter
Bays – Dear Dosty and Q, Having a splendid time in Kenya right now. I have met several acquaintances. I have seen a superb amount of wildlife including the last 2 southern white rhinos in eternity,Furthermore, Happy early Father’s Day.
Harry – Hey Gray, Having an amazing time in Kenya. We’re more than half way done with this trip. I can’t wait to see you. I should be back in time for your birthday and we can go out and get you something nice.
Camden – Dear Kristin and JD, Been a great time so far and have had tons of fun! Seen a bunch of animals and can’t wait to see y’all and and happy Father’s Day JD.
Thomas – Dear Mom and Dad, I have been having a great time in Kenya so far. Zanzibar had the most beautiful scuba-diving and we just visited the last two Northern White rhinos at the Ol Pejeta conservancy. Happy early Father’s Day dad!
SF – Jambo Mom and Dad!! Africa is amazing. I am pretty sure I have said “this is the coolest thing I have ever done” so many times. Scuba diving was so much fun I also saw so many cool animals! Happy early Father’s Day dad! I love and mis y’all!
Mary Marshall – Dear Mom and Dad, I am having such an amazing time so far! Zanzibar was one of the most beautiful places ever. Scuba diving is definitely one of my favorite things to do now. Safari has been awesome as well!! We’ve seen so many cool animals. Happy early Fathers Day dad! Love you and miss y’all!
Emmy- Dear mom and dad I miss y’all but I am having an incredible time. This place is easily the coolest place I have ever been. Scuba was so wild and awesome. I also just saw lots of cool, exotic animals. Happy Father’s Day. See y’all soon. I love you both so much!!! Xoxo
Lilly- JAMBO!!!! Mom and dad (and whoever is reading), this is the coolest trip EVER!!! I can’t get over the incredible views, it’s unreal. Scuba was so fun and we got to swim with dolphins, then we saw so many animals on our safaris. Thank you so much for sending me on this trip!!! Happy early Father’s Day dad!! Love & miss y’all!!!
Toby- Mom and Dad, even though it’s not over the last ten days have had some of the most rewarding and once in a life time experiences. We’ve seen some of the craziest animals in both scuba and safari and can’t wait to spend time with the Maasai. I heard the nuggets won! Thank you for so much for taking so much time to send me on this trip. Hope you are all doing well and can’t wait to see you guys soon!
Carson- Hey, what’s up. I’ve had a great time in Africa. I’ve seen so many cool animals on the safari’s and while scuba diving. I miss you all and hope all is well back home, can’t wait to see y’all soon!
Wallis- Jambo! Mom, Dad, and Evans what is going on? I am having so much fun in Kenya and Zanzibar. We have gone scuba diving and now I am officially certified which is so cool. We also went on a night safari the other night and got to see some really amazing animals that are native to Africa. Anyways happy early Father’s Day and I miss y’all!
Lux- HEY GUYS!!!! I miss y’all so much and I hope you are doing great! This trip has been so cool, I’ve seen so many awesome animals and I’m so grateful to be here. I seriously can’t wait to see you guys soon I love you!Happy early Fathers Day dad you deserve to have the best day ever.
June 13, 2023
Jambo from Africa!
We all successfully made it to Nairobi and ate a late dinner provided our amazing camp. We ended the night with new merch and some much-needed sleep before we jetted off to Zanzibar! The boys had an intense game of ping pong before we left for the airport. Our flight was filled with amazing views and great conversations! Emmy was our ray of sunshine the whole day by keeping a positive attitude and boosting morale. Once we arrived Lux and Lilly started a game of star in the pool that had everyone in the water! At dinner, Cam encouraged everyone to try new foods resulting in Carson trying octopus, not sure he will eat it again, but he tried it! When dinner time came around, we were treated to a traditional African meal and an excellent dance performance by a local Zanzibar dance group! This turned into a dance celebration by the entire group, especially Harry! He could join the dance squad after his performance.
We started off our first pool day with Wallis as our demonstrator. She was awarded best in the group for remembering everything from the e-learning! While most of the group was working in the pool, Thomas was on the boat getting his advanced open-water certification with Carter. Lux and Harry joined the boat crew because they are also open-water certified divers. Harry was pampered with food and hot tea making everyone excited for the next few days on the boat! The night ended with an intense game of slap Jack headed by Cam, Sarah Frances, and Carson. The next day we finally got to get our fins wet in the Indian Ocean! We split between two dive boats but that only makes coming back together at lunch and dinner that much more fun! After we finished with scuba, we all loaded up and headed into the rainforest of Zanzibar to see their native red monkey. Thomas definitely got the best pictures! On the ride there, Bays and Toby took Swahili lessons from our amazing guide, Seif. He has really become a celebrity with us! By the end of the drive, they were talking to each other in Swahili, and you will have to ask them to teach you something when they get home!
We are proud to say all 12 kids got certified! It was a really rewarding few days where we ended our second dive, on our third day, with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We happened to be right in the path of a pod of dolphins! Toby was positioned perfectly to where he could almost just reach out and touch them. We all agreed it was such a special unique moment and we can’t wait to come home and show everyone. After our incredible diving adventures, we headed to prison island. The name is deceiving because it wasn’t a prison ever, it was actually a hold for people during the Atlantic slave trade. It is used today as a habitat for tortoises. You should have seen the look on Harry’s face when he realized they were real. Bays and Mary App were on the hunt for the 197-year-old tortoise, unfortunately, they were unsuccessful. To end our day, Toby and Thomas are coming home with a few new Zanzibar jerseys! We had such a blast exploring and just taking everything in. Our last dive day was incredible. We got to see the dolphins again underwater, and this time Lux was thrown right in the middle of them! Our guides were shocked at how lucky we were as they have not dove with dolphins in 3 years. In the afternoon, we got lots of rays and soaked up the sunshine before heading into Stone Town. We walked around looking at all the beautiful architecture, markets, and even did a little shopping. Carson bargained his way into a Zanzibar soccer jersey for half-price! We also got to walk by and look at Freddie Mercury’s house, as he was born and lived his youth out in Zanzibar. Our last day in this beach paradise was bittersweet, but we were able to get a group picture and attempt a pyramid, with Mary Marshall at the top! Our travel day was an experience that came with Emmy and Lux attempting to teach Cam how to make a bracelet out of string and Harry learning how to braid hair with our lovely models, Sarah Frances and Bays.
We have made it back to Kenya and headed out for our conservation and safari tomorrow morning! We will report back from the Conservancy! We cannot wait to explore Kenya and see what it has to offer!
Mary App and Carter
June 7, 2023
Hello Kenya + Zanzibar Families!
We heard from our leaders this morning and the group has landed safely in Nairobi! 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!