July 29, 2023
We have had the most amazing week of safaris, and it’s been such a wonderful way to wrap up these special three weeks we’ve had in Tanzania! The kids are all at the airport now and are boarding the plane to get back to you all. It was a sad goodbye, but we couldn’t be more grateful for such an amazing three weeks spent with your even more amazing kiddos!
This past Monday we headed out for the safari section of our trip. After our amazing summit of Kilimanjaro, everyone was looking forward to a week full of beautiful views and relaxation to wrap up the trip. We headed off to the Ngorongoro Crater, and after a long drive finally made it to the edge of the crater. We stopped off at a viewpoint shortly after the gate, and the kids were in awe of how big the crater is. We were lucky to have Samia guiding us once again, and he explained that the crater was formed after a volcano even bigger than Kilimanjaro collapsed years ago… we laughed and told him that we were glad it collapsed so we didn’t have to go higher than Kili! We were looking out over the crater at herds of animals, when Caden pointed out three Rhinos that were on a stroll, they were small from up above, but with how rare they were it was cool to check off one of the big five! Afterwards we headed to our campsite, and saw an elephant taking up the right side of the road on our way there – Charlie was in awe that it was real life! Once we made it camp, we had a great meal before heading off to bed. We had some visitors at our campsite (zebras, buffalo and more) but we got some great sleep-in anticipation for a day full of safaris in the morning.
In the morning we woke up and headed down to the crater to check out all the animals. Within about 20 minutes of driving, we drove right up to a lioness on her morning stroll and our driver Dennis told us we were a lucky group, as time went on, he proved to be right! We saw everything that morning from hippos to elephants, and it was cool to see all of the wildlife interacting with each other in such a cool place – it’s the only crater in the world with wildlife in it! We stayed there until about noon and had lunch by a hippo pool. After a delicious treat of ice cream, we got in the car and headed off towards Serengeti National Park. We made it there just before dinnertime and right in time for a sunset that Graham said was one of the most beautiful ones he’d ever seen in his life. After dinner we had moonup under the stars of the Serengeti and headed off to bed excited to explore a new terrain.The next morning we woke up early with the sunrise to explore as animals are usually more active in the mornings and at night. They were right – within the first thirty minutes we stumbled upon a leopard, and William and Houston were very excited as it was their favorite animal! We were the first safari cars to see it, so we got to enjoy it by ourselves for about 15 minutes before other people picked up on its location… it was quite the treat! A little bit later in the day we came across a mother and son duo of cheetahs, and we got extremely close to them which was amazing because of how rare they are in Serengeti! They sprinted in between our cars up close, and it was cool to see their athleticism so close in person. We headed back to camp for lunch, and had a nice break in between safaris during the afternoon. Later at around 4pm we headed off on another safari, and Samia was nice enough to let us break the rules on music a little bit… so the kids were very excited to drive through such beauty with the music going! We didn’t see as much wildlife in the afternoon, but the views and sunsets were all worth it. We saw the most beautiful elephants towards the end of the day and Cate and Eleanor had an amazing sunset photoshoot with them before heading back off towards camp for a late dinner. It was another beautiful sunset on the ride in, and with the music playing in the background it was one of the most beautiful moments of the whole trip! Libby and George led us in a great moonup to cap off our safaris, and everyone went around and said which animals they thought were the coolest before heading off to bed.
The next morning we woke up and headed back towards Arusha and out of Serengeti. It was a beautiful drive in the morning, and the kids were sad to be leaving such an incredible place. On the way back we learned that the first humans ever were believed to have been from the area right outside of Serengeti. As we drove towards Arusha, we stopped at a camp that was near Mto Wa Mbu where we had stayed during the first week, and Charlie and Mick even saw some friends on the side of the road that they had met during their time there! We set up shop at the camp, and had some time in the afternoon to reflect on the trip so far, everyone was sad to see the trip coming to an end, but we were enjoying the last few nights we had together. Afterwards we had another great moonup under the stars led by Kiki and Houston, and headed off to bed shortly after.
Yesterday morning we woke up and headed back to Arusha. We stopped along the way at the Tanzanite Experience, and were excited to learn about one of the most precious stones in the world! We headed back to the hotel after and got all of our stuff packed before heading out for a delicious banquet dinner in Arusha. The kids filled up on pizza, wings and much more, and we were grateful to have one last meal together. We had our final moonup last night, and everyone shared some hugs and happy tears as they reflected on such an amazing trip.Caroline and Kiki were the first to leave this morning with Lily, and then we just dropped the rest of the kids off at the airport. Thank you all again for letting us spend such an AMAZING few weeks with your kids. They were such a great group of kids, and we are so excited to stay in touch with them in the future.
Briggs + Lily
July 23, 2023
Saturday morning our whole crew made it up to Uhuru Peak (19,341 ft) on a bluebird Kilimanjaro morning and we CONQUERED THE MOUNTAIN! You all should be very proud of your kiddos, they absolutely crushed the entire journey, and it was the coolest experience getting to see them tackle such a monumental accomplishment as a team.
Last Sunday we packed up our things and headed towards Mt. Kilimanjaro to begin our trek. Everyone was eager to get on the mountain, and we were so excited to meet our lead guide, Samia, and our other guides and porters… we were lucky to have our best friend Samuel from the first week join us as a guide as well! Samia is a legend, and this would be his 401st SUMMIT of Kilimanjaro, so we knew we were in good hands. After lunch we set off down the trail for about a seven hour hike through the rain forest at the foothills of Kilimanjaro. We eventually made it to the Machame camp right at dusk and everyone was tired after a long first day of hiking, but spirits were high to finally be on the mountain!
The next day we woke up to beautiful views of the scenery surrounding the camp since we hiked in the dark. We had a good breakfast and the kids were ready to hike above the clouds! After about a few hours of hiking we got about the tree line and the kids were amazed to realize that the clouds were forming below them. It was truly beautiful and was a view that never got old. We hiked through terrain you could’ve easily mistaken for the most beautiful parts of Colorado until we got to Shira camp which was ~12,000 ft. It was a BEAUTIFUL campsite that gave us views of nearby mountains and a sea of clouds below us. We had a great meal for dinner, interrupted by an impromptu photo shoot in front of the most beautiful sunset, and then Houston and Libby led us in a great Moonup after!
The next day would be our longest hike yet, but we woke up well-rested and ready to head out on our hike. Our movie savant Graham led us in a game of 20 Questions as we tried to guess which famous actors and singers he was thinking of while we hiked to our lunch spot… the Lava Tower. It is a beautiful rock formation formed from lava flow (since Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano) and it is nestled at just above 15,000 ft, so it’s a great spot to eat lunch and acclimatize our bodies to the altitude. After lunch we had about a two hour hike down a valley towards Barranco Camp (~12,900 ft), which is perhaps the most beautiful campsite on the entire trek. It’s located just under the northern face of Kilimanjaro, and on the other side is a wide valley full of clouds. Once we made it to Barranco we played some cards in the mess tent, and afterwards Eleanor led us in a full on dance party outside… even Samia joined in on the fun! Some of our cooks, Eric and Abdul, also became quick friends of the group and Charlie invited them inside the tent to continue the dance party into dinner. The group had been crushing it up to this point, and we were so happy to see them enjoying themselves on the mountain!!
The next day we had a much shorter hike to Karanga camp, but the views along the hike were insane! The day began by tackling “The Breakfast Wall”. It’s a beast of a wall right beside Barranco that you hike up just after you eat your breakfast in the morning. It involves a little bit of scrambling across some rock, so the kids were excited to do some more technical climbing… and they were amazed to see porters carrying 50+ pounds on their heads flying by them up the wall! As one of the LODs of the day, Cate led us up the wall with no hesitation and after about an hour of climbing we were through the tough part. After that we came upon a spectacular view of the mountain, and a great view of the cities beneath us once the clouds cleared. We continued on and eventually made it to Karanga where we were able to rest for the afternoon. We enjoyed some popcorn and tea time, and Mick led us in a heated game of “Spy” before dinner. Afterwards Mick and Cate led us in a great Moonup and we headed off to get some sleep before our hike to base camp the next day.
Thursday we woke up and headed off to Barafu base camp. The kids were getting a little nervous with Summit looming closer, but we assured them that they’d been crushing it so far and would be up the mountain in no time. We headed out early from Karanga and Samia taught us the “Mountaineering Walk” shortly after heading out on the trail. William demonstrated afterwards for the group and after getting Samia’s stamp of approval we headed onwards. The hike was beautiful and as we ascended it looked more and more like Mars. Once we got to the base camp at Barafu the group was very excited to be greeted by a great surprise for lunch… FRIED CHICKEN! That rejuvenated their spirits, and afterwards we got them all packed up for summit day. We had an early dinner and then Samia gave an awesome pep talk afterwards. Libby and Houston led us in an inspiring Moonup before heading off to bed early since we had an early wake up call at midnight.
The porters woke us up at midnight and it was go time. We got all packed up and ready to go, and then had a quick breakfast before heading up to the top. The stars were out in full force, and our LODs, Graham and Kiki, led us out on our way after we gave the kiddos an inspiring speech. They have a phrase here called Polé Polé that means “slowly slowly”. It’s how they hike up the mountain, and that morning we walked for very long distances at a very slow pace to sustain the group’s energy. Just like the turtle and the hare though, we found we could accomplish big things by taking things slowly. We hiked by the light of the stars and our headlamps for about 5 hours before the sun began to show it’s face around 6 am. It was a sunrise none of us will ever forget, and it brought a boost of energy to our group as we continued up the mountain. We stopped to take it in with some tea and candy, and our porters energized us with their reggae dances and mountain songs. Our energy came up with the sun and we continued onwards. George and Caden led us during our final charge up the mountain, and although the group was tired, we were so impressed by how consistent they were in their approach towards the peak. After about 8 hours of hiking, at around 9:15 AM we finally made it to Uhuru Peak, and tears of joy and hugs started pouring out everywhere. We could not have been any prouder of your kids for the way they supported and carried each other up the mountain, and we know it will be a moment that they remember for the rest of their lives! We raced back down the mountain towards Barafu camp that we had stayed at the night before, and once we got there we ate Chicken Noodle Soup and rested for a few hours before hiking down to our camp for the night. We got to camp at dinnertime and everyone was grateful to be breathing in all of the oxygen they could as we got lower and lower in altitude.
We slept like babies last night, and this morning we woke up and had about a four hour hike to the Mweka gate where we finally completed our trek. It was a long, beautiful journey and we are so grateful your kids were with us for it. We had a celebratory lunch with the guides and porters, and they shared some celebratory songs with us as well. Tonight we made it back to our hotel in Arusha, and George and Caroline led us in a great Moonup where we were able to reflect on our time on the mountain and all that it taught us. It’s an incredible journey, and we are so grateful for everyone’s safety and success on our summit attempt. Thank you all for keeping us in your thoughts over this last week, and we are looking forward to some much needed rest and relaxation on safari this week! We will talk to you all soon!!!
Briggs + Lily
Caroline- Hey fam!! We just finished Kili and I’m exhausted but it was so beautiful! Miss y’all so so much! Love ya
George- I made it up Killimanjaro, I’m having lots of fun.
Kiki- Hey family, I love and miss you guys but I’m having SO much fun. Kiliminjaro was amazing, and we’re about to start safari. Love you guys!
Houston – What’s up family! Kili was an experience of a lifetime – can’t wait to tell you all about it in a couple of days!
Graham-I’m having so much fun in Tanzania. Can’t wait to tell you guys when I get back!
Charlie-hey mom tell Carter and and Davis what up and I made it to the top of kili I can’t wait to tell you about it when I get home and I love you.
Caden- I made it to the top of Kili, I can’t wait to tell you guys all a bout it when I get home, I love all of you.
William- dear mom I have made it to the top of Kilimanjaro. I’m not feeling my best but I am pushing through and I can’t wait to see you.
Mick-I summitted! miss you both hope you’re having fun. Excited to see you both soon
Cate – Hey mom dad and Clare!!! We woke up at 12am 2 days ago and SUMMITTED KILI!!!! I’m so excited to see you and tell you ALL about how much fun I’m having. We’re about to go to safari so see y’all in a week <3333
Libby- Hey family! I love and miss you all so much! I’m having so much fun and we’re about to start the safari. See you soon!
Eleanor – Hey mom and dad!! I’m having the best time ever and I summitted Kili!!! I love and miss y’all so much please say hi to the fam for me (give Stan and Win a hug for me)!
July 16, 2023
Greetings from Africa!! We’ve had an AMAZING first week working with the Red Sweater Project in Mto Wa Mbu, and it’s been such a great time getting to know all of your kiddos! They’re such a fun group, and the way that they’ve engaged with the culture here in Africa has been such a cool thing to see!
The kids met Briggs at the Doha airport last Sunday, and then flew on a red eye flight to JRO airport during the evening. Monday morning the group met Lily at the airport, and everyone was very happy to finally be in Africa!! We stopped in Arusha for a quick breakfast before heading onwards to Mto Wa Mbu to get to our campsite for the week. The group was amazed when we pulled into the campsite. It’s a beautiful spot with an infinite pool overlooking Lake Manyara, and the group was relieved for a little rest and relaxation after a LONG few days of traveling. After lunch we all took some time to rest and chill by the pool, and by dinner time we were AMAZED at how quickly the group had gotten to know each other. Some representatives came over from the Red Sweater Project and gave a quick presentation on the culture in the village, and then we had a great dinner afterwards. We led the group in our first moonup that night, and were so excited to learn more about everyone!
Tuesday we woke up early to head to the Mungere School for our first day of service. The kids were amazed at the baboons we saw on the way to the school (they act like squirrels and are just as prevalent as they are back in the US) and they got to see a little bit of what life in Mto Wa Mbu looks like. Once we got to the school the kids were given a quick tour by our friend Sheb, and they were introduced to their new friends – the students of Mungere! Nothing helps build friendships like some yardwork, so we quickly started to dig holes to plant new trees as well as water the gardens. Everything grown at the school is used to cook all of the meals for the students, so gardening is a very important subject at Mungere! George and Houston were strong leaders on the hole digging project, and got us off to a fast start on the first day. We had lunch around noon and had a dance party to a school favorite “Kwikwi ” right before. The students loved that our very own Kiki had a name that was so close to their favorite song, so they were quick to get her out on the dance floor. After lunch we had our first game of soccer between team Yanga and team Simba – a storied rivalry at the Mungere school. Team Simba prevailed this time, and Caden and Caroline were all over the field displaying some serious skills on the soccer pitch. Afterwards, we headed back to our campsite for some R&R by the pool. We had a great dinner that night prepared by our friend and camp host Samuel, and then Graham and Kiki led us in our first student-led moonup of the trip before heading off to bed!
The next morning the kids were excited to go back to Mungere. Once we got there, Sheb announced that our goal for the week was to dig about 100 holes, so with that in mind the group got our shovels and started to dig! Charlie and Mick soon struck up a friendship with Oba, who is his class president and future president of Tanzania. They quickly turned into his “secret service” and kept the group entertained while we dug. After lunch we headed to the basketball court for one of the most chaotic and entertaining games of basketball you’ve ever seen in your life. After a long hard fought game, Mick hit a turnaround jumper in Briggs’ face for the win and the crowd went crazy! After the game we headed back to camp and enjoyed another afternoon by the pool. We have been amazed at this group’s ability to entertain themselves, and the creativity that goes into some of the pool games that Charlie, Mick and Graham can come up with is truly brilliant. Samuel treated us to “popcorn and teatime” and Cate and Kiki battled it out in some cards before dinner. After dinner we had another great moonup before heading off to bed!
On Thursday we headed back to the school for our third day of service. By this time the kids had made some great friends at Mungere and had even learned a ton of Swahili as well. They greeted their friends with phrases such as “Jambo” (hello) and “Mambo Vipi” (What’s up?) before getting back to work on the garden. After lunch, the students at Mungere showed us a new game called Ready. It’s an intense new game that involves an empty Seven Up bottle, a lot of dust, and a sock filled with sand – you’ll have to ask your kids to explain it once they’re home… it might just replace Spikeball as the next big beach game in the US! We headed back to camp afterwards and had another beautiful afternoon by the pool. For dinner Samuel treated us to a Tanzanian specialty – “chips mymy” and we had full stomachs as we headed off to bed after moonup!
Mungere runs on an American school schedule, so Friday would be our final day with all of the students we’d been working with. Therefore we set out on a mission to finish our 100 holes, and by lunchtime we had done just that. After days and days of keeping the total count, Graham was happy to reach triple digits! After lunch we had the final battle between teams Simba and Yanga on the soccer field. Yanga went down 3-1 early, but Eleanor and Libby were determined to mount a comeback and went off for multiple goals each to claim a 4-3 victory for team Yanga! We were sad to say goodbye to the kids after the game, but we were so appreciative of all that they taught our students during our time at Mungere! We headed back to our campsite to enjoy another day by the pool and had a great dinner followed by an even better Moonup.
Saturday morning we woke up and headed back to the school for our hike to the waterfall. We were joined by a few students since it was the weekend, and the views along the way were beautiful. We walked through rice paddies, banana farms and so much more scenery on the hike. We took some pictures with our friends once we arrived and enjoyed the scenery before heading back towards the school. On the way back to town we were fortunate enough to be invited to one of the students, K’weya’s, house to see what a Maasai boma looks like! His family was so nice and it was such a cool experience to be invited into their home. Afterwards, we headed into the town to check out the markets, and the kids enjoyed shopping for paintings, wooden carvings and more. William was so excited when he was able to trade his Nalgene bottle for a wooden hippo, he’s quite the barterer! Afterwards Sheb, Barracka and Noel from the Red Sweater Proeject joined us for a pizza party to celebrate our birthday girl Caroline!! We had a mid-dinner dance party to some Taylor Swift and then broke out the birthday cake after – it was quite the party! Afterwards, we had moonup with our friends from Red Sweater and they shared more about their mission. We are so grateful for the week we got to spend with them, and we encourage all of our students to stay in touch to find ways to continue to help Red Sweater in their mission to educate Tanzania’s future generations!
Today we headed back to Arusha to prep for our Kili trek starting tomorrow! We are so excited to get on the trail, and everyone is so excited for the journey ahead. It is such a cool experience, and we are so excited for your kids to get to have the experience of a lifetime. We will be in touch after our trek to the top!!
Briggs + Lily
July 10, 2023
Hello Kilimanjaro Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely! The group is patiently awaiting one student experiencing travel delays and are ready to get the ball rolling! 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!