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South Africa 1B • June 6-June 22, 2023

Safari's N Service

June 21, 2023

On day 12, we arrived at our final destination of the trip, Little Mongena. We were fortunate to have the chance to ride on an early morning game drive at the Mabula Reserve, as well as later that night upon arrival in Mongena. We were greeted at our final stop with a delicious lunch and a drive through the bush. We saw giraffes, wildebeest, rhinos, and more! Lawton and Henry continued to take impressive photos of the animals as we watched them go about their day. As we waited for dinner, we were surprised with a spectacular show of a local cultural dance. Sullivan even knew all the words to one of the songs already and Kate led the way with her enthusiastic dancing. Everyone had a blast dancing and clapping along, and it set the tone for the rest of the evening. As always, we hung out around the fire and our leaders of the day led an insightful Moonup discussion.


Day 13 signified the first day of community engagement for our group. After a delicious and nutritious breakfast spread, we headed into town to begin work. Our project was to prime and paint a preschool that needed a little TLC. The group was incredible and took a lot of initiative from the get-go. We actually completed two days’ worth of work in one as a result! Henry was especially hardworking, and no blank wall space went unnoticed. Before dinner, we took a sunset boat cruise in the lake around our lodging. The marsh was beautiful at sunset, and we even saw a few crocodiles and rare birds. Afterward, we had heartfelt conversations around the fire and shared another enormous feast together before Moonup.


Day 14 was our second day working at the preschool and painting the walls. After a hearty buffet breakfast, we loaded up the vehicles ready to make more progress. This day we moved to the interior and began working on the inside walls. Our group was moving along at an impressively efficient pace, and we were excited to make a real impact on this school. Everyone had great optimism and encouraged one another as we spent most of the day together painting. Emily and Johnny tackled an entire wall together and Elise and Anna went after the primer inside. We went back to the lodging for a late lunch and surprised the group with our evening activity: a sleep out in the bush! We packed our backpacks with warm layers and water, and then began our bush walk. We walked the path for about an hour with our guides, asking questions, tracking prints, and spotting animals. We arrived at our campsite where a warm dinner, lanterns, a campfire and sleeping bags awaited. Spending the night beneath the stars and amongst the calls of so many wild animals was quite the bonding experience! We huddled together and played games around the fire before hitting our sleeping bags. Our outfitter guides even joined in on Moonup which was so special!


Day 15 was our last day working with the preschool on our community engagement project. The group had made incredible progress and we are all so excited to see the final product and truly embrace giving back to our community. We also had time at the end of the day to play with all the young children. Zyah, William, and Mary Grace especially loved this play time with the kids and did not want to leave. It was such a great experience seeing our hard work pay off and have so much pride in our accomplishments. Completing the service project on the last full day of the trip was a heartfelt conclusion to such a life-changing and spectacular trip. As a rewarding finish, we jumped in the vehicles for one last game drive. As if the trip couldn’t get any better, we ran into a lion and lioness on the hunt. I know the students are eager to share the details on our most recent close up lion encounter, so you’ll have to ask them about it when you see them soon 🙂


Day 16 was a travel day back to Johannesburg for the airport. We were all so sad that this day had finally come and couldn’t believe it was already time to fly out. We spent some time in the airport organizing, reminiscing, feasting, and finalizing plans before saying farewell to our amazing first group. We want to thank each and every one of you for allowing us to experience these wonderful moments with your children. Every single one of the students in the group made a lasting impact on the group dynamic and we are so proud of them and everything they accomplished in the past couple of weeks!


We are so thankful, and can’t wait to see what each kid accomplishes in the future!

  • John Morgan and Anna



Student Thank You’s


Henry-Dear Mom and Dad. Thank you so much for finding Moondance, and signing me up for this trip because it was so worth it, and it was truly a life changing experience that I am very grateful for.


Sullivan- Mom and Dad, thank you so much for this great opportunity. I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life on this trip, and this summer wouldn’t be one of the best already if it weren’t for this trip.


Kate- Dear family, It’s really hard to put into words how much this trip and these people have made an impact on my life. This has been an experience that is impossible to recreate, and I’m so grateful that you gave me this opportunity. Love you!!


Lawton- Dear family, thank you so much for letting me go on this trip and experience all these memories with these people. this is been the best few weeks and a once in a lifetime opportunity. i love you all so much and i can’t wait to tell you about it soon!


Johnny- Thanks mom and dad for this wonderful opportunity. These people have made a huge impact on my life. I’m so grateful for you guys! Love you!


William- Mom and Dad, thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity! It has truly been amazing and I can’t wait to get home and tell you more. Love William


Zyah- Mom and Dad thank you so much for giving me the privilege to go on this amazing trip and make memories with these new friends. I’m so grateful for you both and I love you guys so much!


Elise- Dear mom and dad, thank you guys so much for raising me to be an independent person and to be myself. I’m so lucky to be on this trip and it’s helped me grow as a person. Thank you for letting me have this amazing opportunity and letting me run free every summer. I can’t wait to see you guys I miss you so much!! I love you and I appreciate you guys so much!!


MG- Dear family, I’m so grateful for y’all letting me go on this trip and for supporting me in everything I do. I can’t wait to come home and tell y’all all about Africa and show all the pictures/videos I took. Love y’all so much!!!!


Emily- Thank y’all so so much for letting me go on this This was by far the best experience of my life and it impacted my life in so many numerous ways. Can’t wait to tell y’all everything

Lunch with the Lions

June 18, 2023

Day 7 was a bittersweet one. We were all very sad to leave our gorgeous beach bungalows in Mozambique, but eager to begin the second segment of the trip. The group rose early and hit the road back to Johannesburg, South Africa. Once we landed, we explored the mall a bit and ate some snacks at the hotel while decompressing from a long day of travel. After some down time filled with great discussion, games, and clean showers, we headed to Nando’s for dinner near the hotel. Nando’s is a chicken restaurant that we had heard a lot of great reviews about and we decided to try it out for ourselves. Our table boasted a wide array of everything from grilled chicken salads to fried chicken and fries, and Henry thoughtfully ordered churros for the table! Everyone was well-prepared and did a great job helping the big travel day go smoothly so we treated ourselves to some diner-style milkshakes. As always, we ended the night with our ritual Moonup discussion circle, led by Leaders of the Day, Kate and Sullivan.

Everyone woke up super excited for what day 8 had in store. We were headed to the Mabula Game Reserve for our first day of safari! After a delicious and fresh breakfast, we left the city for a short van ride towards the reserve. Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed by our host, Lucas, and he and the rest of the game drive team presented the group with an introduction to the spectacular days that laid ahead. After a quick lunch and settling into our beautiful “tents”, it was time to load up the Land Cruisers and hit the trails. Everyone was ecstatic to see a variety of animals so early on. We had the opportunity to see zebra, buffalo, crocodile, baboons, rhinos, and more! William and Lawton did an impressive job capturing all the animals on their cameras and we can’t wait to see how the photos turned out. After a couple of hours in the bush, we warmed up around a fire and enjoyed another delicious meal courtesy of our outfitters. The stars were out in full force and we took advantage of the bright night sky and had Moonup beneath the starry sky to complete an amazing first day in the game reserve.

Day 9 proved that this trip really does just keep getting better and better! In the morning, we woke to a warm breakfast and headed out for our second day of safari. We were lucky to spot a variety of different animals along the drive, and even ate a picnic lunch amongst a group of hippos. Everyone would agree that what came after lunch was two of the biggest highlights of the trip to date. Directly after lunch, we rushed to meet the conservation team and assisted in a rhino darting and transfer. The group was able to get hands on with the veterinary team—Zyah even helped with injections. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience to see the helicopter team work in conjunction with the medical team on the ground. As if the day couldn’t get more exciting… after a quick snack break, we headed to the lion territory! The vehicles were able to get us up close and personal with a lion pride consisting of one male and four females. It was shocking but incredible to see them feed on a huge giraffe and take turns eating, playing, and cleaning one another, only a few feet away. Day 9 was greater than we even imagined it would be, and we are all eager to see what the rest of our time in Mabula holds.

Day 10 was another amazing day in the bush! Our time in the Mabula Game Reserve was nearing its end, and our guides and the rest of the staff still had an exciting itinerary planned to fit in as much as possible for our group. The day started out on a great note with a delicious packed brunch picnic with a gorgeous view of the safari plains. It will truly never get old sharing meals with friends and exotic wild animals. Shortly after, we met up with a conservation researcher for an educational new perspective on endangered species, specifically the ground horn bill. The excitement continued as we met up with the herbivore team and had the privilege of spectating a huge operation of buffalo transfer and darting for vitals. Our busy morning was rewarded with a relaxed afternoon back at camp for some food and quality time together. Henry, Johnny, and JMO played some chess while Zyah, Emily, Mary Grace, Lawton, and Anna made friendship bracelets by the pool. As always, we finished off another memorable day with an evening game drive, family-style dinner, and Moonup around the fire.

Day 11 consisted of a morning cheetah tracking and brunch. We had the opportunity to follow a wildlife specialist into the bush on foot and observe two cheetah lounge in the grass. Kate was especially intrigued by the tracking process and asked great questions. After a relaxing break back at the pool deck at the lodge and some lunch, we were eager to head out for our afternoon drive. This afternoon was different though… we were headed to the lion territory! This was everyone in the group’s first time to be so up close with a herd of lions in the wild. It was surreal to be fifteen feet away from four lionesses and a male as they ate, played, and napped. Afterwards, we concluded the evening with a feast to celebrate our time in the Mabula Reserve and prepared for a travel day in the morning. We enjoyed delicious local dishes, vegetables, rolls, meats, and two different cakes! Moonup that night, led by Sullivan and Elise, was focused on how grateful we were to have the opportunity to see such extraordinary animals and share such extravagant meals with great friends.


Student Shoutouts

Emily-Heyyyyy. I am having the best time ever!!!!!! Can’t wait to tell u everything and hope the stuff  is going good. Happy Father’s Day & I touched a rhino

Elise- Hey mom and dad, I miss you guys so much!! Don’t be mad but I forgot to take pictures, everyone else got amazing ones though. I’m having such a great time!! Tell jynx pepper and zoya that I miss them. I can’t wait to see you guys and keep getting better at driving my car! I love you guys and happy Father’s Day dad!

Zyah- Hey mom and dad! I miss you both so much and I’m having a blast. My group is really fun and South Africa is amazing. Happy Father’s Day dad! Love you both so much!

MG-Heyyy!! I’m having so much fun! I touched a rhino and also have been taking so many pictures!! Tell Cocoa I miss her! Happy Father’s Day!!! Can’t wait to see y’all!

Lawton- hey mom, dad, rand and dogs, i love you all so much and miss you but i’m having the best time ever in south africa! tell mj, ashby and all my friends i love and miss them and can’t wait to see them when i get back. also, happy father’s day dad!

Kate- Hey fam! This trip has been even more amazing than I could have ever thought, and I am having the time of my life with the best group ever. The binoculars are in outer space! Can’t wait to tell you about it! Love and miss y’all!

William- Hey guys! I am having such a great time in SA and it is beautiful. I can’t wait to see you and tell you all about it. Thank you so much for sending me on this once in a lifetime opportunity and I hope you’re having a great summer! Love y’all so much

Johnny- Happy birthday old man! And Father’s Day! Love you guys so much! The trip is wonderful and I am having a blast! Miss the gym and you all. Can’t wait to see y’all at the airport. Love you!

Sullivan- Hey guys I’m having such a great time over here this has been an awesome experience! I’ve gotten to do so many cool things and I bet I am better at surfing than any of y’all. Happy Father’s Day dad I love you and can’t wait to tell you all about the trip.

Henry-Hey guys, having such a great time, this trip was a lot better than I ever expected it would be and I’m so grateful to have this incredible experience at just 15. can’t wait to see you all when I get back home.

Greetings from South Africa!

June 12, 2023

Hello (or “Hallo” as we have learned to say here in South Africa) Moondance families and friends!


It is so hard to believe that the first six days of the trip have come and gone so quickly! It feels like just yesterday that we arrived in Johannesburg after a long flight. We have already had such a blast and we are excited to have many stories to tell you all back home. 


Day one was spent meeting up with the group for the first time in the Atlanta airport and taking the first steps of beginning the journey to South Africa. We spent a few hours in the airport getting to know one another and sharing some last minute movie recommendations before taking off for the fifteen hour flight. Once we had landed, it was already day two of the trip and it was time to settle into what would be our new home for the next 16 days. John Morgan had delicious pizzas waiting for us upon arrival and we all enjoyed a slice of home, and recapped funny stories from our travel day. Everyone was in need of a great night’s sleep, so we rounded out the night with our ritual Moonup discussion and hit the hay!


Day three we were off to Mozambique and everyone was rested up and ready for another exciting day of travel. We woke up to a delicious assortment at the breakfast buffet provided by our hotel and loaded up on fresh fruits, omelets, pastries, and more! After breakfast, we caught a short, hour-long flight to Villanculos, a city in the beautiful country of Mozambique. The flight consisted of lots of reading, sandwiches, and getting to know their seat buddies a little better. Everyone was giddy looking out the window at the stunning blue water and vast sandy beaches that lay below. We loaded up in a large van that would take us a few hours north to the lodging at Tofo Beach. During the van ride, we passed the time with riddles, games, sing-alongs, and more opportunities to better get to know the others in the group. During our twenty questions game, Elise impressed the group by quickly guessing a difficult answer. Arrival at the beautiful beachside lodging consisted of cheers of joy and ten very happy students when we were greeted by our gracious host, Brody, along with a delicious and filling family-style meal. To cap off one of our last long travel days of the session, our leaders of the day (LOD’s), Sullivan and Zyah, led us in our nightly Moonup discussion and we prepared for the fun ocean activities that awaited us the next day. 


Day four was such a thrilling day that will certainly be remembered by the group. The girls felt extra ambitious and woke up early to see the sunrise on the beach. Walks on the serene beach as the town began to stir was the start of a peaceful and relaxing morning tradition (one that the boys would later decide to join in on). Afterwards, we fueled up for the big day ahead with a hearty breakfast of crepes and set off for the first activity of the day, our ocean safari. Much to our delight, we were quickly greeted by a whale shark and we all jumped in to snorkel among the gentle giants. The safari only got better with time, and we continued to see more whale sharks. The last one we had the opportunity to swim with was about 20 feet long! Luckily, Johnny was able to capture some impressive footage on his GoPro. Everyone was in awe, and ready to debrief that bucket list item over some cheeseburgers and fries at the dive shop. Post-lunch, we split the crew into two groups, and divided the rest of the afternoon with surf lessons and beach time. Each student was able to successfully catch some nice waves, but Henry stood out as our best surfer and showed us how it was done. A full day in the sun and salt water left us with empty bellies, and we were grateful for another delicious dinner spread and a surprise cheesecake for dessert back at the lodge to round out an eventful day. Henry may have been the star of the show during our surf lessons, but William entertained the table and took the cake (if you will) during our cheesecake competition at the end of the night. 


Day five was another great day out on the water, thoroughly enjoyed by the group from start to end. We went on our second and final ocean safari and swam amongst a large pod of dolphins. It was such a surprise to look down with our snorkels and watch them play beneath our feet and around the boat. After our time on the water, we stayed ashore for a great lunch of fresh, locally caught fish and followed up the meal with a leadership activity and beach volleyball. For the few hours to follow, we enjoyed ample surf time, and Kate did a phenomenal job showing off what we had learned in lessons yesterday. While not surfing, some of the group opted to work together and build a large sandcastle. As the sun set, it was clear that another fantastic day in the sun called for some well-earned showers back in the lodges and a big spaghetti dinner followed by Moonup led by our leaders of the day, Lawton and Henry. 


The final day of our time in Mozambique was filled with visiting a local market, taking a local cooking class, sunset sails, and birthday surprises! After another hearty breakfast, we headed to the market in town with our host, Brodie, and had the opportunity to purchase some handcrafted souvenirs. Henry and Zyah bought some sweet, juicy pineapple and brought it back to share with the group. After lunch at the dive shop, we took a tour of a nearby community and saw where they grow cassava, cashews, and more. Shortly afterwards, the group enjoyed a cooking class and served delicious, local dinner and dessert dishes. Emily and Mary Grace helped out with the food preparation and gathered coconut shavings to help make the cookies. The students were blown away by the stunning sunset views, marveled at while sailing on a Dhow boat and listened to music. Before bed, our LOD’s ended their Moonup by surprising Sullivan with a birthday brownie cake and we sang for him while he blew out his 15 candles! What an amazing way to celebrate! We were all happy to be there with him on his special day. 


It has been an incredible couple of days here in South Africa, and we can’t wait to fill you in on the ones to come! 


Signing off for now, 


John Morgan and Anna

Safely in South Africa!

June 7, 2023

Hello South Africa Families!

We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in South Africa! 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


  • Henry
  • John Henry
  • Kate
  • Lawton
  • Mary Grace
  • Sullivan
  • William
  • Zyah