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South Africa 3A • July 10-July 26, 2023

See Ya South Africa!

July 27, 2023

Banquet continues 🙂 but our time in Africa comes to an end :(.

Our afternoon was packed with fun for banquet day! After our cooking class, the “limo” picked us up to take us to potentially the most anticipated activity of the trip – THE MARKET! Right on the beach, situated next to the fruit market and surrounded by local restaurants and surf shops, it was so fun to see the liveliness of Tofo Beach while at the market. Vivi and AB had their list of all the souvenirs they wanted to buy ready to go. Jeff whipped out his Portuguese and got to bargaining. I’d be eyeing this one elephant all summer and was determined to get a good price for it, and Frances was able to get it for half the price I paid. Billy walked away with a full Mozambican fit. After our spree at the market, we hopped back in the “limo” and set off for lunch at Tofo Scuba one last time. We are delicious chicken sandwiches ocean side and did a haul of our souvenirs. Like I said, this afternoon was packed so after a quick lunch and a tough goodbye to Tofo Scuba, we dropped off our souvenirs at the lodge and headed to our final activity – a sunset cruise! We surprised the group with matching printed Mozambican shirts. They were bright, slightly obnoxious, and so festive. We met our skipper Tony, and he took us out in a traditional dhow boat around Flamingo Bay. We stopped at an island and hopped out to explore. Fallon, Lucas, and I went hunting for sand dollars. In Mozambique, they call sand dollars “pansy shells” because of the flower shaped imprint in the middle. We found so many! Only if we had a real dollar for every sand dollar we found! Back on the boat, we sipped our cokes and watched the sunset in Africa one last time.

After our final activity, we enjoyed dinner back at Tilak Lodge. Seated around the table in our coordinated shirts we recapped memories from the trip and devoured the delicious hot brownie and ice cream for dessert. After dinner, we had to prep to leave tomorrow and pack/shower but this group had no problem making even this fun! Soap was flying over the stalls and a toothbrush concert commenced at the sinks. While packing, Frances and I jammed out to Disney throwbacks from movies like Frozen, The Little Mermaid, and Hercules, and even some new movies like Coco. Once everyone was prepared for our early morning departure, the fun continued. The girls practiced The Parent Trap handshake/dance over and over. We then played a series of Minute to Win it games as a group. The first event was rolling a ping pong ball down the hallway into a cup. May was victorious after only her second try and got her pick of prizes – the Pop Rocks were an easy choice. The second game was throwing the ball into the cup, and Fallon took the win. We then moved to cup stacking. This time we split into our blue and black teams from capture the flag/volleyball/kickball. Black team had won all 3 events so blue team was determined to take the cake. AB is a pro cup stacker and set up the blue team after her strong performance opening and closing the round. Blue team erupted in cheers after they clutched a much-anticipated win! For the final event, we split into pairs of two within the teams. One person placed a paper cup between their teeth while their partner tossed a ping pong ball into the cup. The winners from both teams would face off in the final round. Vivi and May from the black team absolutely killed it and finished a full minute before any pair on the blue team had successfully completed 3 catches. Frances and Lucas finally got 3 to represent the blue team in the 1 v. 1 face off. Out of nowhere, Frances and Lucas found their groove and hit three back-to-back, which afforded them a huge victory! It’s comeback season for the blue team! After all the fun, we wound down for our final Moonup together. We reflected on what we would take back home with us after the trip. AB shared about being open minded and Billy talked about the value of living in the moment. Then it was nugs went all around – our two weeks together adventuring through Mozambique and South Africa have been the best!!!

The next morning, we rose with the sun and hit the road to catch our flight back to Johannesburg. About halfway into the drive, I get a text from one of the other South Africa leaders that our flight had been cancelled. Service was spotty and he’s a bit of a prankster so I truly thought it was a joke. Well…definitely not a joke. However, everyone took the news in stride! The girls were excited about the idea of mega-bedding one more time and then feasting upon the City Lodge breakfast the next morning. Vivi, Jeff, and AB were all able to catch flights that night, but nonetheless we enjoyed one last meal together as a group. As a final banquet goodie, Lucas and I surprised the group with “nug jug” wooden boxes from the Mozambique market. We all sat around the dinner table writing nugs and memories from the trip to place in each other’s boxes. It was the perfect way to conclude our time together before they caught their flights!

The next day we had quite a bit of time to kill in the airport but we made the most of it! We slept in and drank lots of Earl Gray tea at breakfast (a fan favorite of the group). We were all able to take long warm showers to feel refreshed before our flights. For lunch, Karan and Devan ventured to not one, not two, but three restaurants in the airport to get the full experience (and they sure were full). Last but not least, we went to see the new Barbie movie! Kaitlynn, May, and Frances scrounged up some pink they were able to find in their duffels for the showing. The boys were a bit hesitant but I’ll say, I sat between Timmy and Lucas and they were laughing a significant portion of the movie. After our movie outing, we headed back to City Lodge and into the airport. After security, Karan and Devan found a restaurant for all of us to gather for one last meal together.

Our time together has been a HIT (definitely not a miss as the group liked to say). This trip is full of awe moments as elephants swing their trunks feet from our safari vans, we work alongside a veterinarian to dart a rhino, or when we dive into the water with whale sharks. It’s full of small moments like intense games of Spit or playing Ninja during drink stops on game drives. It’s full of moments to step outside your comfort zone and into a new culture. We laughed, we danced, we ran into the ocean with glow sticks, we jammed out in the van, we stuffed ourselves with delicious food from the braii, we played endless games of Empire around the fire, and we got to live in the moment with new friends in new places!

Life is an adventure and we are lucky to have gotten to experience it with everyone in SAF 3A.


It’s been a blast, signing off,

Sarah Catherine and Lucas

Making a Splash in Mozambique!

July 25, 2023

Thursday morning, after a final breakfast at Little Mongena (where the muffins that taste like cake are a highlight), we hit the road to the airport/City Lodge for none other than AIRPORT FUN DAY! During our ride, our LODs, Devan and AB, kept us entertained by queueing up a fire aux and playing rounds of Heads Up. Once we dropped our bags at City Lodge, we raced to the airport food court. Everyone ordered some of their favorite comfort foods. Lucas, Frances, AB, and I had some Pad Thai while the rest of the girls got grilled cheeses, fries, and milkshakes. The boys hit up Chicken Licken and Steers for wings and burgers. Then the real fun began – off we went souvenir shopping! A lot of the crew headed to buy more socks and underwear – Billy now has some South African flag and rhino socks to rock. We also took over the bookstore and bought word search/crossword puzzle/sudoku books in anticipation for the long travel day to Mozambique. That night at dinner everyone was racing each other to find all the words in the word search and putting their brains together to complete the crossword puzzles. Karan is a pro at crosswords, and my go-to call for help when I would get stuck. We wrapped up the night with a chilly Moonup by the pool (we are missing the bonfires at Mabula and Little Mongena) and curled up in bed after warm showers. We are ready for the beach!!!


Our travel day to Mozambique started early and lasted all day. However, this crew was loaded with snacks and entertainment! We shared gummies (shoutout Karan for the peach Haribos), tried our hands at more crosswords/word searches/sudoku, and jammed out on the bus. We arrived at Tilak Lodge in record time and the girls were thrilled to discover they’d all be sleeping in a big bunk room together! While the kids inhaled dinner, Lucas and I surprised everyone with glow sticks! After dinner, we raced down to the beach to stick our toes in the sand and take a dip in the Indian Ocean for the first time. The air was brisk but the water was actually warm! We had a soaking wet and goofy Moonup led by none other than the dynamic duo Karan and Kaitlynn and then raced back to the showers. The boys discovered the girls toiletries after they left them in the shower and were appalled by the sheer number of products, while the girls laughed that the boys had 5-in-1 questioning what 5 things it could possibly do. After seemingly endless banter, everyone crawled in their bunks and curled up for a good sleep before the beach big day tomorrow!


The next morning we hit the beach early after eating cinnamon sugar and chocolate crepes for breakfast. We walked down the beach from Tilak Lodge to Tofo Scuba for our first activity – an ocean safari (just when you thought we were done with safaris!). The ocean safari is my personal favorite activity and despite the choppy waves, it was a favorite of the group’s as well. While on the boat, we saw 2 humpback waves up close that were flapping their tails, waving their fins, and breaching the surface affording us an incredible view. It is breeding season for humpback whales and they migrate to Mozambique during this time. We also were lucky enough to see a WHALE SHARK!! With fins and masks on, we slid into the open ocean with the whale shark. It was on the move, and we raced after it to get a good look! They’re extremely docile which allows us the incredible experience of getting so close to an animal of that size. There are only 1000 known whale sharks in the world and 300 of them are known to be in Mozambique. After hearing this, the interaction was even more special knowing how rare it is to be able to swim alongside a whale shark! After the exciting encounters, we enjoyed eating some coconut in the boat and headed back into shore for free time at Tofo Scuba.


After playing in the waves, laying out in the chairs, and eating delicious burgers for lunch at Tofo Scuba, we set off to shred the waves! It was time to surf! Our Florida boy, Jeff, was quick to stand up on the waves and even tried catching a few shots on the GoPro. Vivi made slowing down on the wave look effortless as she dismounted her board with a flip. On their last Moondance trip to Belize and Costa Rica, Devan and Karan had gone out surfing in the rain while most of the group hung back. They were excited to show off their skills from the extra time they spent learning last summer. It paid off! Devan exclaimed towards the end of the session, “I’m 6 for 6 – let’s go baby!”. Back at Tofo Scuba, Timmy and Billy played some beach soccer with the locals. Timmy scored a goal but it was revoked due to the shot being too high, but Billy pulled through with an incredible save.  Everyone dug a large hole in the sand. It was a day full of activities (not to mention we also played an entire game of kickball) and everyone was wiped come dinner time. We hit the hay early after a delicious pie dessert to recharge for another full day of fun!


We ran back all the activities the next day! We started the day with another ocean safari. It was quiet out on the water, so our skipper took us to a reef to snorkel. Fallon, May, and Vivi were quick to jump in and explore! The reef was active with fish everywhere. Afterwards, we headed back to Tofo Scuba for the much anticipated ice cream stop – MILKSHAKES! Kicked back underneath the African sun with milkshakes in hand is the life! We played in the waves and squeezed in a round of volleyball before lunch. After our delicious fish sandwiches, we split up for surfing and more beach time. Everyone in both groups got up by themselves and showed off for the GoPro. Kaitlynn and Jeff caught an awesome wave together and were throwing up the shaka the whole way. After surfing, they raced back to the showers and then chilled up at the lodge overlooking the ocean and watching the sunset over the palm trees. Going back to our roots, we circled up and played Empire – this time with the sound of the waves in the background.


Our last day of activities and fun in Africa brought about new activities! We had a relaxed morning which included sleeping in, eating breakfast, and playing cards (Spit was getting very intense) before our first activity. We then set off for our cooking class!! Tony, our guide and Tofo Beach local, met us and led us on a walk through Tofo Beach to his house for the class. We were greeted with fresh coconuts as a welcome treat! This crew LOVES coconuts. After one of Tony’s friends impressively scaled a 30 ft coconut tree to cut them from the tree, we sipped on the delicious coconut water. He then opened our coconuts and showed us how to scoop out the meat.


We then began making the “matapa” which is a traditional Mozambican dish made from cassava leaves, ground peanuts, and coconut milk. Our favorite part of the activity had to be the cookies however. We each get to create our own designs from the dough. Frances was quite the artist and designed an impressive flower and elephant! The cookies tasted as good as they looked! After our cookie appetizer, we were served a full meal of fresh pineapple, fish, rice, and the matapa. I was so impressed by how adventurous everyone was trying all the new foods. Everyone doused their rice in the matapa sauce and most everyone ate the fish right off the bones. Karan and I even ate the fish eyeballs! Between breakfast, eating our body weight in coconuts, cookies, and the fish/matapa meal, we were stuffed! We then took a scenic walk back to the lodge for our next activity.


There’s more fun to come here in South Africa! Banquet day has just begun!


Having a blast,

SC & Lucas


Karan: Hey mom and dad!! South Africa and Mozambique were great experiences that I will remember forever. I am excited to see you guys soon. Love you


Timmy: hey mom and dad so happy you let me go on this trip! Can’t wait to see you guys in a few days!


Ab- hey y’all! Trip has been super fun so far beach is so pretty. Excited to come home, miss y’all!


Kaitlynn- Hey family! I have had so much fun on this trip and can’t wait to see y’all when I get home! Love y’all!


Fallon- Hey mom! Thank you so much for letting me come on this trip! I’ve had so much fun and can’t wait to see you!


Frances – hey!! I miss you guys! I can’t wait to see y’all. Thank you so much for sending me on this trip. I’ve had such a great time and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I love you!!


Devan- hello I am very exited to see you guys! It’s gonna be a lot of fun and it’s gonna be a fun rest of summer! Also I had a great time here 🥰🥰🥰


Vivi- Hey mom and dad!! Thank y’all so much for sending me on this trip. I’ve had so much fun and can’t wait to tell y’all all about it! Also can’t wait to see y’all I miss y’all a ton!


Billy- Hey mom and dad. Love you so much and can’t wait to talk to you tomorrow. Thank you so much for sending me on this amazing trip. I had the best time and can’t wait to tell you about it.


May- hey mom and dad! Thank you so much for sending me on this trip! I love it here and can’t wait to share all my cool pictures! Love y’all and miss you!


Jeff: hey guys Mozambique is awesome. Thanks for letting me come on this trip! See you soon



Service update from South Africa!

July 19, 2023

After a chill morning and sleeping in at Mabula, we said goodbye to Michael, Prilla, and Lucas (Mabula staff Lucas — not leader Lucas). They not only went above and beyond for us this session but have worked nonstop to make each Moondance trip the trip of a lifetime! As Devan always reminds us at Moonup, “nugs to the kitchen staff, cleaning crew, and guides for doing everything they do for us!”. We hopped in the van and headed to Little Mongena for our community engagement portion of our South African adventures.

When we arrived, we were greeted with colorful fruit drinks and a delicious lunch to enjoy overlooking the lake! We ate lunch right above the boat house which of course immediately spawned the question, “do we get to go on the boat?!”. Lucas and I answered with our classic and unconvincing “I don’t know” with a smirk and shortly everyone was ushered into the pontoon for a sunset boat cruise. Boats illicit good vibes and the good vibes were rolling. We laughed, chatted, sipped our sodas, and enjoyed each other’s company. We docked the boat and headed back to the tents to snag an extra layer. In the winter in South Africa, the weather swings quite a bit — ranging from mid-40s at night to upper-70s during the day. We circled up around the fire and Lucas and I hinted that a dance circle might be in store soon. Soon enough, dancers from the nearby community arrived with drums, shakers, and lots of energy. They performed traditional South African dances and songs and we were lucky enough to be included. They scooped us from our seats and the dance circle began! SAF 3A was not afraid to get down. Billy was thrown into the middle of the dance circle and followed right along with the performers. Vivi and AB’s dance moves even earned them a solo performance after the rest of us had returned to our seats! Afterwards, as we all ate dinner which was another amazing braii, Jeff continuously expressed his enthusiasm for the dancers and how much fun he had! With full bellies from a fabulous desert of crème brûlée and Malva pudding, we reflected at Moonup about what service means to each of us as we approached our first day in the community.

The next day, we took the 20 passenger safari bus (which is an experience in itself) into Hammanskraal to go finish up a project from the last Moondance group. The last group had worked diligently to paint the outside of the house for a mother and her 5 children; we had the opportunity to paint the inside. Morné, one of the guides from Little Mongena, expressed how impressed he was by this group’s worth ethic. By lunch we had the first coat painted the entire kitchen, hall, and living room. At times, the space was a little tight for 13 people, and we would rotate off playing with the kid’s whose house we were painting. The kids loved painting with us and it was so fun to work alongside them. Other times, they just wanted to play! May, Vivi, AB, Jeff, and Karan struck up a soccer game in the front yard with the older kids and their friends. It got pretty intense, down to the final goal when we had to leave for the day. May was on the winning team and celebrated with chest bumps for the whole team! While they played soccer, others entertained the little ones, and a few of us finished up the final details inside. It was a fun day all around — we were able to complete the project well and got to experience the joy firsthand from the kids who lived there! We then headed back to Little a Mongena for showers and en evening game drive. New place — new animals! We hadn’t seen elephants since the first day at Mabula so it was so exciting when a herd of 20 elephants crossed the road in front of us. The highlight of the evening was our drink stop! We tossed the football in the glow of the setting sun, tried endlessly to get a coordinated jumping picture of the girls, played Death Sack, and devoured all the yummy snacks. I think we would’ve played all night! Nonetheless, we hopped back on the vans and headed back to camp for a delicious dinner of steak, chicken curry, and vegetable pesto pasta. Delicious is an understatement. Without fail, we circled up around the fire for a few games of Empire and Moonup. This Moonup we discussed the important and exciting day upcoming the next day. July 18 in South Africa is Nelson Mandela Day! Nelson Mandela spent 67 years of his life in dedication to promoting equality in South Africa and was South Africa’s first black president. Nelson Mandela Day was established in 2009 to recognize and remember his efforts and to challenge everyone to spend 67 minutes for his 67 years in service to others. We lucked out that it was a day we were already planning to spend in the community! During Moonup, we discussed Nelson Mandela’s legacy and how we were going to get to take part on this special holiday!

The next morning, we eagerly loaded the bus for day 2 in the community. Little Mongena planned a project to build a house for a single mother of 6 who currently lives in a house below ideal living standards. We arrived at the worksite ready to work! The community members on site were so kind and demonstrated how where to place nails, how to use the pick ax to break apart the rocks, and what materials were needed where. Kaitlynn and Vivi got their hands dirty and with not hesitation were digging small trenches to place the siding. Timmy, whom the community members called Romeo, flattened the protruding nails from the ceiling. Frances was quick to jump in wherever needed holding siding while the men nailed it in. Fallon could be found getting to know and conversing with all the workers. It was busy, hands-on morning. In addition to building the house, as a part of Mandela Day, Little Mongena also invited the elderly community for a big lunch to celebrate the day. We raced from the project site to the community center to help serve lunch. Over 120 elderly people show up for the lunch and to listen to leaders from the community to discuss the impact of Nelson Mandela and how to continue to work towards a better future. After passing out lunch, we loaded the bus hungry for our own lunch but full of gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of such a cool day! Back at Little Mongena, we devoured our lunches and quickly packed up for our night in the bush! To the kids surprise, we told them to go get changed and back their backpacks because we would be sleeping under the stars. We set off for our bush walk where we got to see the rhino up close, on foot as they drank from a watering hole. The wildebeest also put on a show as they ran across the bush. We arrived at the campsite to a roaring fire and entire dinner spread. We weren’t exactly camping, definitely more of glamping, but no complaints here! We chatted until late into the night by the fire until we finally retreated to our sleeping bags. All the kids slept in a massive circle for warmth (and just for fun)! We could hear elephant trumpets and lion roars in the night (shoutout to our guides for keeping the perimeter safe)!

The next morning, we packed up our sleeping bags and headed back to camp (this time in a safari van instead of a bush walk). We regrouped and refueled with a abundant breakfast for our final day in the community. We returned back to the house we helped build yesterday. While we waited on the cement to arrive for the flooring, this group who never fails to entertain themselves with endless group games, played street baseball with a stick and a hackey-sack, bowling with empty two liters, and hot potato. The most entertaining game by far was limbo. With an extra-long piece of wood, each person took their shot getting low. Kaitlynn appeared to be the clear winner with great form, but Timmy shocked us all. Despite being on of the taller group members, he had an interesting, hilarious, yet effective technique almost hopping beneath the bar. Timmy took the cake as the limbo champion although the odds were stacked against him! Finally, the flooring arrived and we got to work helping mix the cement. We ended the day doing little tasks like cleaning up the site. Then, we headed back to Little Mongena for some downtime and our final safari of the trip.

It’s been a fruitful few days in the community and fun evening at Little Mongena. Next up, we have the much-anticipated Airport Fun Day and “the Bique” as everyone is referring to Mozambique.

Having a blast,

SC & Lucas


Billy: hey mom and dad this is the coolest trip ever. I’m having so much fun in South Africa. We are at our second game reserve and have been seeing cool animals we leave for Mozambique soon and can’t wait to see you.

Timmy: what’s up mom and dad! I am at Mongena with all of my friends playing cards with Billy. This trip is so awesome and I am so glad I went on it. I’ll see you guys in a few days!

Karan: What’s up family! This trip has been one of the best experiences in my life. We are currently in Mongena, a game reserve. So far we’ve seen all of the safari animals you can imagine. See you guys soon. Shoutout Lucas Ralls.

May: Hey fam!! I am having so much fun here in Africa! My fav part was getting to pet a rhino! Miss y’all and tell the dogs I say hi. PS: hey Lizzy, Abby, and Suz miss y’all!🫘

Vivi- Hey family and happy birthday Mom!!!! Right now we are at a game reserve called Mongena and we have seen so many cool animals. Miss y’all and can’t wait to tell you all about the trip. Also hey Lizzy, Stain, and Dumples miss y’all 😂

Fallon- Hey Mom! I’ve had so much fun seeing all of the animals here! I miss you so much and can’t wait to tell you all about Africa. Finn, I hope you had a good time in Idaho and are having fun with lacrosse. Tell Becks I miss her. Love y’all!

Kaitlynn- what’s up fam!! I am having so much fun here and the animals here are crazy! I can’t wait to tell y’all all about it. Also dad and you call the bank and figure out my debit card it didn’t work(sorry abt that). Also text Tyler and Hannah I miss them! Love y’all and can’t wait to tell y’all all about Africa!

Jeff- hey guys miss y’all super cool here. Can’t wait to tell y’all all about it. Slept outside last night and a lion was like 40 feet from us. Anyway love and miss y’all

Frances – hey! I miss y’all!! I’m having soo much fun. Tell Catherine I miss her so much and I’m so sad that I’m missing her birthday. I can’t wait to celebrate with her and I love her so much. Also tell Lilly I love her and I hope she has the best birthday and I can’t wait for her to drive me around. Anyways I can’t wait to see y’all and tell everyone I love and miss them!!

Ab- hey y’all! So far it has been so much fun. We are still on the safari part, I got a good vid of elephants mom! Happy early birthday to both of y’all!

Devan-What’s up family! How are you doing!? I am having a good time in South Africa and we will be on our way to Mozambique soon! Can’t wait to see you guys soon hope you’re having fun at home! Bye!😊😊

Lions, Zebras and Rhinos oh my!

July 16, 2023

Shop shop, gang’s all here in SOUTH AFRICA!

This group was ready to rock and roll from the moment they landed making record time through customs. The crew rounded the corner with Patagonia Moondance bags on their backs and smiles on their face. We high tailed it to the hotel for check-in, which we also completed in record time. We ate our pizza and jumped right into our first Moonup together. I’m not sure if this crew was just well rested from the long flight, jet lagged, or just amped to be in South Africa (maybe a mix of all), but no one wanted to retreat to their rooms. We circled up for a few rounds of “Spoons” (using our new Moondance red wristbands) and Presidents. After some bonding, everyone finally curled up in bed excited for the adventures ahead!

The next morning, we enjoyed an abundant continental breakfast the hotel boasting of mini pancakes, an array of familiar and new fruits, and made-to-order omelettes. Lucas and the gang set off for our first stop at Mabula Game Reserve, and I stayed back awaiting on our final member, Fallon, to arrive in Johannesburg after a travel debacle. The staff at Mabula greeted Lucas and the gang warmly with a welcome lunch and an overview of the upcoming activities. They then set off on their first game drive! Sodas, dried mango, Kudu biltong, and pretzels were enjoyed beneath the setting African sun and they got their first glimpses of wildlife like a crash of rhino, dazzle of zebra, and pod of hippos. Fallon arrived that night and we treated ourselves to a fun dinner together to celebrate her arrival!

The next morning, the rest of the group took it slow and waited for us to transfer to Mabula. They decided to pretend it was Fallon’s birthday as an excuse to celebrate her arrival! We were greeted by the group with a Happy Birthday song which led to lots of laughs, and the girls immediately whisked up Fallon to show her to their cabin. Happy to finally be together, we jumped in the safari vans for a cheetah walk! We located the cheetah and were able to walk on foot up close to see the cheetah brothers. The guides warned us that elephants had been spotted in the area earlier that morning so we needed to be on high alert. While Mr. T relayed facts about the cheetahs regarding how fast they run, hunting tactics, and reproduction, we spotted elephants. Immediately, and calmly, we walked single file back to the vans. Our adrenaline was pumping and we raced in the vans to get a sighting of the elephants from a better angle (and from the safety of the vans). We got to see all 6 elephants at a close distance as they enjoyed their midday snack from the trees. AB got the coolest shot on her GoPro of the elephant shaking its head, head-on at us. We were so lucky to have such a personal encounter day 1! After an exciting morning, we ate lunch by the water and then headed back to Kwafubesi for some downtime. This group is a huge fan of high tea. Kaitlynn and AB were enjoying a latte and an espresso. Let’s just say everyone was amped for the game drive. It was our first sunset game drive as a whole group, so we had to do it right. We ventured into the lion territory. The lions put on a show! While lions are typically portrayed as the vicious kings of the wild, they can be pretty lazy and can sleep up to 20 hours a day. We lucked out and the lions were very active. What a show it was for us! We headed back to camp for a wonderful dinner and Moonup under the clearest, brightest stars I’d ever seen.

We started Day 3 at Mabula early and headed to learn about the Ground Hornbill Project. Mabula is the largest conservation project in South Africa dedicated to the southern ground hornbill. After an educational morning, we headed up the mountain for brunch with a view! We went back to camp for a game of ultimate frisbee where truly everyone shined. Kaitlynn was a defensive weapon while Devan and Jeff were always ready to sling it down the field. Soon, we set back out for another activity — feeding rhinos!!! Anytime we see the white vans we know it’s gonna be a cool activity. We hopped in the back of the vans and approached the crash of rhino consisting of a mama rhino with her calf and 3 others she had taken in until they can form their own group. Timmy especially enjoyed feeding and seeing the Rhinos!  After the feeding, we went straight into the evening game drive. This group is a master of group games. Devan and Frances led the charge in Big Booty, duck duck goose, ultimate Frisbee, and safari van games like the word game and wavelength. After the exciting game drive full of laughter and hilarious facts from our animated guide, Tiaan, we were treated to a feast of fried chicken, broccoli casserole, pea soup (SC and Lucas’ favorite), and warm rolls. We then ended the active day with none other than a game of Empire. May slid under the radar with a name no other than the one and only Hayes Hitchens and ended up victorious. By the fire, we had Moonup and relished our time together in South Africa.

Our last full day at Mabula started with a lot of anticipation after the ecologist, Prilla, shared we’d be darting a rhino. This group was nothing but excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Vivi was a trooper and held the oxygen in their noses and remained dedicated to the job despite getting rhino snot all over her. Fallon and Kaitlynn helped notch the calf’s ear for tracking. Timmy was diligent on eye drop duty supplying eye drops to each rhino every minute. Devan and Karan stepped up to help replace the tracking bracelet on the mom rhino. From Lucas and I’s perspective, this was our smoothest darting all summer. Everyone listened well and got hands-on in a helpful manner. After all the dna samples had been taken by May and measured by Jeff, the veterinarian issued the reversal drug and the rhinos were reunited! It was such a cool experience and vibes were high all day! After the darting, we set off for a short game drive then to a bush breakfast. We ate up on some big, beautiful red rocks overlooking the reserve. We then headed back to camp for CAPTURE THE FLAG. AB had suggested it the day before and generated a lot of excitement. Blue and Black team suited up in full bloutfits (blue and black outfits) and put on their blue/black face paint. Flags were hidden (up for debate if every hiding spot was legal) and the games began. Billy took charge of the black team ready to strategize and play to each of our strengths. I knew when I continually found myself in jail, I could count on Billy to race to get me out. Frances held down the fort for the blue team playing some strong defense. During game 2, the entire black team except Fallon ended up in jail. We played the best of 5 games and it was all tied up — the next flag capture wins. It was all hands on deck. Black team FINALLY found the flag up in the tree and after getting most of the blue team in jail, with some teamwork and quick tree-climbing skills, the black team secured the win. The original deal was for losers jump in the pool, shortly, it became a free for all! We all raced back for our cabins for a warm outdoor shower and then relaxed during teatime. Everyone was exhausted but all smiles. We ended our last night at Mabula with a game drive, drink stop featuring a game of Ninja, and a braii (a South African version of a barbecue) with a delicious spread beneath the stars. We have adored our time at Mabula and are excited for the next adventure.


Stay tuned for more fun,

SC & Lucas

Safely in South Africa!

July 11, 2023

Hello South Africa Families!

We heard from our leaders and the majority of the group has landed safely in South Africa! Unfortunately, due to travel delays Fallon will be arriving shortly and the group can’t wait to welcome her with open arms! 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


  • Anna
  • Billy
  • Devan
  • Karan
  • Jeff
  • Kaitlynn
  • Frances
  • May
  • Timmy
  • Vivi
  • Fallon