July 29, 2023
Today started bright and early with Jake and I waking the girls up to music of course and heading to breakfast. We enjoyed homemade granola bars and oatmeal for breakfast before setting off on our first activity. The granola bars were to die for especially when dipping in them in hot coco or coffee. This morning we were off to learn about the Ground Hornbull birds. These birds are highly endangered and are only found in South Africa. We had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with the team who work on the Ground Horn Bill conservation project. The conservationist working on this project told us all about the bird species and their way of life. These birds are giant black birds with a red throats and chests. These birds stand about 3 feet tall and walk on their tippy toes along the bush floor, only flying when necessary. We saw they help facilitate a natural breeding process for these birds by providing man made nests for the birds to take too. They also protect baby birds that might not survive and re introduce the birds into their natural habitat. We were able to be able to get out of the trucks and walk around to learn about their natural habitat and the work Mabula does to help this endangered species. After gaining all the bird knowledge we headed off to explore the bush some more. We were driving along and came across the elephants in the middle of the road and trees off the road. The elephants were eating and knocking down anything in their way. It was absolutely breathtaking and spectacular to see this enormous creations so up close. Everyone was so pumped. After our wonderful elephant interaction we continued along and saw so many zebra along the way. Zebras are Delaneys favorite so this made her super happy, we learned all sorts of new facts about them as well. (Be sure to ask about everything they’ve learned). After some exploring we stopped for brunch by a pond, brunch included freshly homemade parfait cups and a boxed breakfast with eggs, fruit, pastries and more. Claire and myself loved the parfait we much we gobbled them up and asked for more! Grace loved the blueberry muffins and everyone loved the croissant. After our morning festivities we headed back to the lodge for some ‘Free time Me Time’ before this afternoon. The girls spent this time mostly reading and chatting. Before heading back out we enjoyed pan fried chicken, roasted turkey and potatoes for lunch and then loaded up the game viewers. This afternoon we got the absolute privilege of feeding a rhino! The girls road in a truck bed and through hay out for the rhino. The rhinos benefit from this because the grasses lack nutrients in the winter months. Next we drove to the top of one of the properties look out spots and enjoyed the view. We snapped tons of pictures and played around. To close out our explorations for today we went out searching for the elephants one more time. We had an awesome encounter with the elephants they walked right by us! It was awesome! As the sunset, we headed back to camp for dinner and campfire. We were greeted by a Sheryl temple and warm towel upon our arrival back to camp. Since the rain has subsided we were able to enjoyed a bonfire this evening. After dinner we all gathered around the fire while Grace and Kate lead an insightful Moonup Discussion. Jake and I surprised the girls with extra long sparklers to dance the night away.
Last day best day! Today we got an early start to prepare for our awesome morning activities. Jake woke the girls up just before the sun came up and had everyone be prepared for the day before coming to breakfast. This morning we had a light breakfast of yogurt, fruit, cookies, and oatmeal. Before we started snacking on our breakfast, Dory and Prelah came to brief us on todays activities! This morning we were going to participate in a rhino darting!!! The girls were so excited. The plan was to dart a rhino cow and its calf. Both of these rhinos had lots of work required from notching, collar replacement, DNA collecting, and microchip placement. The girls scarfed down their breakfast and eagerly jumped in the game drive vehicles to head out on our AWESOME morning activity. First, the conservation team had to locate the mother and calf rhino. While we waited we did a short game drive. We went to see a big ol crocodile basking in the sun next to the pond. It was sitting so still everyone thought it was fake! We stopped by a big open field and watched some zebra and rhinos graze. We swung by another pond to get a quick stretch and take some pictures. Right after that, we got the call. The rhinos had been found. We sped through the bush to catch up with the conservation team. Andy, the vet, greeted us and briefed us on all the procedures that would take place. Mackenzie, Emma, Sloan, and Madeleine were lucky enough to join the vet in the back of the truck to go dart the rhinos. After the darting, the rhino and the calf took off towards the thick bush. The vet and other staff had to jump out of the truck to chase them down so they did not lose sight of them. The medicine finally kicked in for the mother rhino, and we all caught up with the vet. The calf on the other hand was being a little stubborn. The vet really had to work with him before the calf went under. After that it was all hands on deck. Claire and Rae started helping remove the old collar and place a new one. Virginia and Delaney began the notching process on the calf. Grace sprayed anti parasitic spray to help remove all the ticks. Kate helped administer some shots on the calf. It was such a cool experience! Everyone got to feel inside the rhinos mouth and it’s rough skin but also it’s super smooth skin in between the crevices of its legs and shoulders. We even got to snap a group picture with the rhino. Gracie was lucky enough to have the chance to take a fecal sample of the rhino! Once we wrapped up it was time to the rhinos off anesthesia and wake them up. We loaded up the vehicles to watch them wake back up. They woke up, checked on each other and trotted off to go munch on some grass. We left the rhinos and headed to lunch in the bush! We had a picnic lunch on a rock outcrop of sandwiches, crackers, chicken wings, veggie quiche, and potato salad! It was delicious. We had a fantastic 360 degree view of the entire Mabula property. We snapped lots of pictures, the girls climbed all over the rocks and had a blast in the warm sun. We finished up at lunch and headed back to camp for some free time me time. After free time, we had a ‘paperwork’ session where the girls wrote letters to themselves and filled out a sheet about their future goals. We had high tea, complimented by some amazing snacks and headed out for our afternoon game drive. We had a fantastic final afternoon game drive. We drove around seeing rhinos and giraffe and zebra! We had our game drive stop on an open plain next to a big fig tree and we watched the sun set behind the mountains. We snapped lots of pictures. Virginia, Madeleine, and Delaney all climbed up the tree to go explore. Before heading back to camp we hung out by the road listening to the elephants parade through the bush. Hearing them trample huge trees like it was nothing was awesome. We returned to camp and the girls were in for a real treat! Tonight we are having our banquet dinner! Gracie and I grabbed some gifts from the airport such as tiaras and bracelets for everyone to take home. We also grabbed lots of glow sticks for everyone to wear during dinner! Dinner was an African braai, ending just the way we started our amazing adventure. We had our dinner in the boma next to the campfire. Before loading up our plates we had a huge dance party! Our guides Matimba and Thabo joined in too! Then they got Lucas and Lindani to join! It was sooooo much fun! We sang all the hits including Baby by Justin Bieber. We loaded up our plates with some fantastic food. We filled our bellies while telling stories of the amazing adventure we had these last two weeks. We had our final Moonup around the campfire then we ran off to play with sparklers we bought earlier. The girls did their best to spell out South Africa with the sparkler and we were able to snap a picture with the camera. It was off to bed for an early morning with our last game drive and big travel day home tomorrow.
It’s here. The day we thought would never come. Our final day of our South African adventure. We wanted to make the most of our final moments together, so we woke up before sunrise for one last final game drive. As we left camp, the sun was coming up and we had a beautiful final view of the African bush. We drove around seeing giraffe, impala, wildebeest, and zebra all for the last time. We got a call about the lions and we raced over there to see them. The lions were hanging out just under a tree. We pulled right up to them to say hello. The male lion let out some growls (not directed at us) which was so cool. As we drove back to camp we all reminisced on the amazing memories we had made on the trip. Right before pulling into camp a mother rhino and her calf were walking across the road. It was the perfect send off! We came back to camp to have breakfast and pack our bags. We ran into quite the surprise when we found out our flight was cancelled! But never fear the adventure goes on! Madeleine and Ginny were able to rearrange their travel plans while the rest were staying to keep Moondancing until the flight tomorrow. We arrived to the airport to check in to City Lodge. We said our goodbyes to Mallie, it was such a blast having her join us for the last part of the trip! We ran to get some lunch at the airport. We all snacked on burgers and salads. Exactly what we needed. We came back to city lodge to hangout before we regrouped for a Woolworths run. We got Ginny and Madeleine checked into their flights and we all said goodbye to our best friends and sent them on their flights home. This group had an emotional goodbye. It was clear how far they have come as a group and how much they loved sharing this experience with each other. The rest of the crew came back to the hotel for a tea party in one of their rooms before heading off to bed. Gracie and I did some planning for our super mega airport fun day tomorrow. We were so excited for the surprises we had for the girls to help make this unexpected extra day superrrrr fun!
To Claire, Delaney, Emma, Ginny, Grace, Kate, Mackenzie, Macy, Madeleine, Rae, Sloan, and Virginia, thank you all so much for making this last session in South Africa unforgettable. We love each and everyone of you and are so thankful for all the memories we made!
Jake and Gracie from SAF C signing off for the summer! Thanks to everyone who followed along!
July 24, 2023
Sunrise to Sunset!
Today was our last day having fun in the sun and sea and Jake and I have all sorts of special surprises for the girls throughout the day. First thing this morning the girls all decided they wanted to get up to watch the sunrise on the beach. We watched as the sun came peaking above the horizon displaying beautiful views of orange, pink and yellow. We listened to music, played games, and wrote Moondance in the sand. For breakfast we enjoyed fruit, cereal, yogurt and crepes. The girls took on adding peanut butter on their crepes this morning! Our delicious breakfast was followed by a wonderful morning huddle by Mackenzie and Rae letting the group know our plan for the day which included surfing, lunch, a visit to the market and a sun set boat ride. Group two headed out to surf first today, and they were pumped up! Emma, Grace, and Sloan were absolutely crushing it and blew me away with their surfing skills. Virginia took on the challenge of a smaller, more difficult board and it didn’t even phase her – she was such a natural out there! Macy was cracking me up the whole entire lesson and her smile never left her face. Next, we had chicken sandwiches for lunch, that put a smile on everyone’s face.
After lunch we headed to the local market to let the girls see all the native art, fabrics, paintings, goods, jewelry and more! Here the girls had the opportunity to shop around and get some keepsakes from the trip and presents for those back home. The girls were all super satisfied and excited about all their new goodies. We loaded up the truck bed and rode the “limo” back home while the owners dog Fintan ran along beside us. Once we got back Jake and I had a surprise!!! We called all the girls around and jammed out music and then handed out watching Authentic African button-down shirts!! All the girls put their new cute shirts on so we could match, we looked great!
Then we started to head to our launching location for our sunset boat ride. The boat we’d be sailing on is a real African Dhow boat that natives historically, and to this day, use to fish and sail. Once we were on board, we sailed towards an island that is fully showing during low tide and only partially shows during high tide. It was high tide, so we got out on the small patch of sand and searched for sand dollars all around the bank. Claire and Kate were so good at spotting and finding sand dollars. After we all found sand dollars we got back on the boat and sailed toward where the flamingos hang out. On the way Jake and I conducted Trip Trivia and gave out Twix candy bars for correct answers. Rae seems to have an AMAZING memory because she knew all the answers. Due to the high tide we were able to get the boat super close to where the flamingos were standing.
Next, the most spectacular thing happened, the birds took flight right in from in us and flew into the sunset. We headed toward the mangroves to check out what birds we could spot as we sipped on Coke and Sprite from old fashion bottles. In the mangroves we spotted a giant crane which was so neat! As the sunset fell, we took a plethora of photographs and enjoyed some music. Lastly our guide Tony surprised all of us with homemade donuts! They were incredible! After our boat ride we headed back to Tilak Lodge for dinner and Moonup. At dinner together we found ourselves all totally cracking up trying to watch Ginny and Delaney play a silly game. After dinner we ended our day how it began, on the beach. We all sat and admired the stars while Rae and Mackenzie lead a wonderful Moonup. We are sad to leave our slice of heaven on the beach, but we will cherish these moments forever. Tomorrow, we head back to Johannesburg and we can’t wait to get back to the bush!
We had an early morning to pack up and head back to South Africa. We woke the girls up just before sunrise to grab their bags and head to the bus for our ride to the airport. We waved goodbye to our phenomenal host Brodie and another one of our best friends Fenton. The ride back was quick and smooth. Many of the girls continued to sleep on the ride back, and others decided to continue to read their books. Brodie had packed us a brunch and all the girls snacked on PB&Js with some fruit and juice. We arrived at Vilankulos airport with plenty of time to spare. The girls were exceptional as we did check-in and customs. We got to our gate, and everyone dropped their stuff to grab some snacks from the little shop. We sat waiting for our plane snacking on Pringles, KitKats, and other chocolates while we sipped on waters and Cokes. Emma and Virginia led a phenomenal late morning huddle about our plans for the rest of the day. Jake and Gracie started doing skits after we got the plan for the day, acting out all our future activities. Our plane finally arrived, and we jumped up to board. The flight was super quick, and we were even served the chicken wraps we got last time! We landed, flawlessly went through customs once again, and ran to collect our bags.
We headed up to City Lodge to check in and drop our bags before we started our airport fun day!!! First, we stopped by Woolworths, similar to Whole Foods, and grabbed lots of snacks and treats. The girls grabbed chocolates, gummies, popcorn, cookies, and even some carrot cake. Next stop was the pharmacy! Some girls needed to grab some extra lotion, deodorant, or shampoo for our last trip section. Next, we went to the bookstore! After finishing all the books they brought, they needed one last read (or 4) before heading back home. After the bookstore, it was time to run downstairs to welcome our newest group member Mallie!!!! Mallie is from Moondance HQ and she handles all the marketing for Moondance! Everything from the Instagram to the merch she does it all! Gracie came up with a cheer for the girls to do for when Mallie walked out by singing and spelling out her name with our arms. Mackenzie nailed the dance. We welcomed Mallie with a big group hug, she was so excited to be here! We headed back to City Lodge for dinner. The girls ordered pastas, burgers, salads, and pizza and we filled our bellies. After dinner, we ran off to do Moonup in Rae and Virginias room. Emma and Virginia led a fantastic Moonup having us think about our favorite childhood games and giving compliments to the person on our right. After that it was off to bed before another transfer tomorrow for our final destination – MABULA!
We made it back to the bush and we couldn’t be more excited to see what it shall entail. First, we started the day with an amazing breakfast buffet at City Lodge and then loaded up the vans to head to Mabula Private Game Reserve where we will be staying in their luxurious tented campsite Kwafubesi. When we arrived, we got a warm welcome from the staff with a briefing on what exciting things we have planned and a delicious lunch. Next, we headed to camp to get settled in to our new home. The girls prepared for our first game drive on the Mabula reserve while some dark clouds rolled in. This brought in some rain and stormy weather which lead us to making the decision to switch from a game drive to a game night!! We played a game called fish bowl that is much like charades and entails describing and acting out cards. We played for so long and the whole group was so into it and couldn’t stop laughing. Especially when Sloan impersonated a dog and Rae pretended to be Barbie. After game time we gathered together for a fabulous meal starting with soup and beet salad. Mackenzie especially loved the beet salad. The main course was an amazing beef, veggies and rice. Lastly, we snuggled on the couches and started Moonup. Claire and Sloan lead a wonderful Moonup discussing the thoughtful advice they’ve received in their lives. It was such a special bonding night for the whole group, and we are pumped to see what tomorrow brings, after a night of slumber to the sound of rain.
Good morning from Kwafubesi!!! Today is our first full day at Mabula. Gracie and I woke the girls up to some groovy music and dance party. One by one they all headed up to the pavilion for breakfast. This morning we had yogurt, fruit, hash browns, eggs, and toast! All the girls were raving about how well they slept last night because of the heated beds we have here! We wrapped up breakfast and loaded up the vans. This morning we were headed out for a cheetah walk! We left camp and drove out to meet up with the conservationist Prelah and Dory. These cheetahs were particularly mobile this morning due to the cold weather. We arrived to meet Dory and Prelah and by the end of the briefing the cheetahs had wandered off in the other direction.
We drove a little ways down the road to catch up with them, then we set out to go find them. Conservationist place collars on their high priority animals, which is why we were able to locate the cheetahs in the bush. We arrived to see two brother cheetahs just basking in the sun. They blended right in with the surroundings! We could see them when they popped their heads up to take a look around. Both of them got up to stretch and walk over to the shade and we all got a good glimpse of them. Madeleine asked some amazing questions while we were with Prelah and Dory and we all learned so much because of her curiosity! We said goodbye to the cheetahs and headed out on a short game drive. We saw zebras, red hartebeest, and even some giraffes! One of the giraffes we saw was only a couple of weeks old! All the girls loved him! Pretty soon we arrived at the pond for a picnic lunch! As we pulled in, we spotted the hippos on the bank! For lunch we had apples, bananas, sandwiches, and fries. The girls ate everything in sight, the sandwiches were a huge hit! Mike even treated us to a warm cranberry and ginger drink!
We wrapped up lunch and headed back to camp for some free time but not before stopping by the crocodiles. We swung by a small pond with a huge crocodile just across the way. Cedric, our guide, educated us on everything about the crocs. During their free time, some girls took a quick nap, while others decided to read their new books purchased on airport fun day. Pretty soon it was time for high tea and another game drive! We had coffee, tea, and snacks before loading up the game vehicles. They brought out banana bread and spring rolls for our high tea snacks and we ate them all up. The girls loved the banana bread! We then took off in our game vehicles to go see another very special animal. We crossed the road to Mabulas other separate property that was home to the lions! We had a conservationist, Dian, meet up with us to tell us all about them. There were 4 females and 1 male lion. They were hanging out right next to the road, we had an amazing visual! Dian talked all about the lions while Madeleine, Claire, Virginia, and Delaney all asked some great questions to learn more about them. We waved goodbye to our furry friends and headed out for our game drive drink stop! On the way to our stop, we ran into some rhinos and we spotted another baby! This little guy was running around with his mom jumping and skipping and playing in the field. We drove on before pulling over for our soft drinks and snacks. We watched the sun dip below the mountains and took lots and lots of ‘flicks.’ The girls even decided to make a human pyramid!
As the sun continued to set, we headed back to camp where Lucas greeted us with warm hand towels and hot chocolate! We warmed ourselves up with the hot chocolate before it was time for dinner. Tonight, we had a tomato and avocado salad with rice, beef stew, carrot soup, and veggies! It was fantastic! The salad was a huge hit. Gracie and I then surprised the girls with some cookie dough dipped in chocolate for dessert! We wrapped up dinner and had an amazing Moonup led by Ginny and Macy! The girls ran off to bed in preparation for an early morning and another exciting day at Mabula!
Before we go, here are some words of gratitude from all the girls of SAF 3C !
Virginia- thank you so so much to my parents for letting me go on this amazing trip. A huge thank you to Meme for sending me on this trip and allowing me to make all these amazing memories!!! Another thank you to Nina and Gaggy for gifting me money for the trips necessities! I love all of you and I cannot wait to tell y’all all about it
Madeleine – Thank you so much Mom and Dad for giving me this phenomenal opportunity!! This whole trip has been unreal and I have made so many memories! I have met so many incredible people and experienced once in a lifetime opportunities! I love my counselors so much and can’t wait to tell you all about my trip! Love and miss you guys! 💗
Macy- thank you mom and dad for the opportunity to learn and be educated about new cultures, meet new people, and just an overall great experience. I would’ve never been here without you and your support and can’t wait to tell you about everything! GB and sir Jacob you guys have been the best leaders and have changed the whole experience! Berkley, boston, and mattie miss all of you so so much and see you soon, I love you all💞
Claire – Thanks so much to my parents for allowing me to go on this trip, and giving me the chance to learn lots of knew things. I have had so much fun, and made so many new memories. I miss you guys so much, and a special thanks to my leaders, Gracie and Jake, on this trip. I can’t wait to see you guys at home and love you lots.
Emma- thank you to the whole Bromley family for giving me this opportunity!! I have met so many great people and made the best memories that will last a lifetime. I miss and love y’all very much. See you soon!
Grace – Thank you so much mom and dad for giving me this opportunity. I’ve learned and seen so much on this trip. It has been an amazing experience. I know Alexis is home now so tell her I said thank you for convincing me to do Moondance. I love you all so much and of course a big thanks to Jake and Gracie! 💗💗
Delaney – thank you so so much yaya and granddaddy for allowing me to have this amazing opportunity. I have learned so much and made so many memories I will remember for a lifetime. I am so excited to tell you all about it! Thank you to the best leaders in the whole wide world Gracie and Jake y’all are amazing I will miss you so much!!!!
Kate- Thank y’all so much for giving me the opportunity to come on this trip, it has been so amazing. Tell gg and Dan and nana and papa thank you as well and that I’m safe and having the time of my life. I have made so many memories and I can’t wait to share them with you! I love you all so much and a special thanks to Jake, Gracie and Mallie for making this experience so special!
Ginny- Just wanted to say a BIGGGGG THANK YOU to Mom and Dad and also Nana and ChaCha for allowing me to have the most memorable 2 weeks ever. I have met so many amazing people and experienced several once in a lifetime opportunities. Also wanted to mention a HUGE thank you to the best leaders I could’ve asked for, love you Gracie and Jake (and Mallie)! So much love for all of y’all
Sloan – hi mom and dad!!!! I just wanted to say a BIG thank you for giving me the opportunity to go on this trip. I have made so many memories and it really was a once in a lifetime experience! Also wanted to say thanks to Jake and Gracie for being such awesome leaders!!!
Mackenzie- Hi fam!! I just wanted to say thank you so very much for the amazing opportunity to come to Africa for two weeks and to experience something I never thought possible! The people I have met, the animals I have seen, and the overall adventure has been INCREDIBLE. GB and Sir Jacob are the best leaders ever (and Mallie of course was the best surprise) and made this 10x better😊 I can’t wait to see you all and tell you all about it! I love you guys
Rae – hi mom and dad, I wanted to say I love you and thank you for trusting me to go all the way to a different continent. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve met so many great people and learned so much from them. Also, thank you GB and sir Jacob for being amazing stand in parents and making sure we don’t get charged by rhinos. Appreciate and love all of y’all
July 19, 2023
After a successful and quiet night in the bush we woke up to the sun rising and the cool crisp air. The girls were all proud of their ability to spend the night out in the wild bush. Before we could depart our sleep out location, we had to pack up camp, so the girls were faced with the challenge of rolling and packing up their sleeping bags (which is surprisingly very difficult but always provides a good laugh). Once we finished, we headed back to Little Mongena for a breakfast and a surprise pancake!!! These particular pancakes are 2 inches fluffy and so delicious; Rae especially was over the moon excited. After breakfast LOD’s Virginia and Delaney briefed us on the day ahead. We headed back to the house we’ve been working on in the village of Kekana. Today was our last day to do our part in the project, so we ensured that our work was done perfectly. Claire and Virginia helped me paint the finishing touches on our most difficult room, while Mackenzie and Ginny continued to be rock stars painting the outside. Kate, Sloan, and Macy started and finished a whole bedroom today as well, and it looked great! Rae and Grace made friends with some of the local kids and chatted it up!
After we finished painting, we cleaned up the house to leave it better than we found it. We enjoyed a packed lunch and then spent some time playing games with the homeowner’s children and other locals. Emma and Madeline watched as the kids showed off their impressive soccer skills. Meanwhile some on the others learned the Kekana version of ultimate kick the can. Virginia and Delaney really got into it. Throwing the ball to knock down a tower of cans, then attempting to stack the cans before getting tagged. We all shared so many laughs watching and playing the game. Mackenzie and Ginny had the cutest little boy giggling while playing with a soccer ball. Once it was time to go, we shared thanks and many hugs goodbye. When we got back, we had some time for the girls to shower and regroup from our long night and day of work. The girls all eventually found themselves circled up on the waterfront dock chitchatting about all sorts of things. This evening we had our last game drive at the Dinokeng Game Reserve, and it was such a special experience. We divided into our game viewers, and we were off, first stop was the cheetahs! We saw a mama cheetah with her five new cheetah cubs, and it was the cutest thing ever. The baby cheetahs still had their cub fur, which is a mix of black, white and spotted in order to disguise them as honey badgers to keep them safe. Next, we got up close and personal with two male white rhinos, it was what they call a 10/10 sighting. Then we enjoyed our drink stop to watch the sunset below the bush. As we were having a drink stop Kate pointed out the same two rhinos from a far. We loaded back up into the van and the two rhinos moseyed their way in our direction and we got another great visual. As we made our way to our last stop a hippocampus ran across the bridge right in front of us, it was crazy cool. Lastly, we had a super special after dark stop. We went to view two infamous lions on the Dinokeng reserve that had just made a kill near camp, Northern Pride Female (the oldest female lion) and Marakele (the dominant male). We got to pull up right next to the lions as they enjoyed eating the wildebeest they preyed on in the light of our headlights, it was incredible. This experience was the most amazing possible way to close out our time at Little Mongena. We headed back to camp and enjoyed pasta, steak or tuna for dinner followed by cheesecake and ice cream around the fire. Delaney and Virginia lead a thoughtful Moonup and we headed to bed! The girls can’t wait for warm weather and sunshine in the days to come.
This morning it was time to pack our things and head to the beach!!! The girls woke up right before sunrise and we enjoyed our Omelets, scrambled eggs, muffins, croissants, and fruit one last time before heading back to the airport. We said goodbye to our best friends, Mahembe, Harry, Rita, Eugene, Rebecca, Lauren, and Morné. And who could forget our favorite cat, Oreo, we gave him some love on our way out too. On our way back to main lodge, we had the pleasure of seeing our furry friends Marakele and Northern Pride female AGAIN. They had a second successful hunt through the night and were having breakfast on the other side of the road from last night. It was only a quick stop but such a good send-off after our wonderful time at Little Mongena. On the way to the airport the girls were extra chatty, as if they did not wake up before sunrise. The energy in the group was tangible, we were all so excited for the beach! We got to the airport and the girls showed excellent patience and travelers’ awareness throughout. Gracie ran and picked up lots of snacks and treats for the girls once we landed in Mozambique. We had a short flight that served us chicken wraps, beef sandwich, or a vegetarian option. Most girls selected the chicken wraps, and they were delicious! We landed and had one more obstacle to get through, customs. The girls were fantastic through customs, everyone received another stamp on their passport leaving everyone feeling like a world traveler! We had a long car ride to Tofo Beach, the girls picked up right where they left off and chatted almost the whole way there. Rae organized several card games everyone played. Later, Gracie passed out some croissants, muffins, and sandwiches. After, some girls decided to take a quick nap or read. We had a quick bathroom break, and Gracie got everyone’s blood pumping with a quick workout in the gas station parking lot. The locals loved it! As the bus ride came to an end, Jake turned on some Taylor Swift to keep morale high. We finally pulled into our new home for the next few days, Tilak Lodge! We were greeted by Brodie and Fenton (the dog). We dropped our bags in the bunk rooms and ran up to the restaurant to eat dinner. We had salad with some rice and bean gumbo, everyone chowed down after such a long travel day. We held Moonup out on the beach and spent the first several minutes just looking at the stars. Some of us even saw a shooting star! Kate and Macy led such a fun Moonup. Emma and Sloan were named LODs for our first beach day tomorrow!
Yay the First day at Tofo beach! The girls woke up and made their way up to where we eat our meals, now I’m the day light the girls could see the ocean view from the restaurant! The ocean was Crystal blue with flat waves, making it the perfect day to be out on the water in the boat. For breakfast we enjoyed chocolate and or cinnamon crepes (that they call pancakes here) and fruit. The girls then got all ready for the day and we headed to the beach to walk down to ‘Tofo Scuba’ which will be our daily stomping grounds. Once we arrived the girls were briefed on the ocean Safari procedures, and then suited up with rash guards and masks & fins. Next, we headed down to the boat to meet our captain and push the boat into the ocean. Before we knew it, we were off with salty hair breezing through our hair. First, we spotted humpback whales! The Humpback Whales have made their way to Africa all the way from Antarctica and are currently residing along the coast of Mozambique. They are here to give birth to their calves and train the babies before returning to Antarctica. This is such a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness, these whales only come from one month and only come to this specific coastline. We watched as they flipped their hairs and blew air from their hole. Next, we came across a giant pod of dolphins! We all jumped in eggar and excited to swim with the dolphins! The plethora of dolphins swimming around us was crazy cool! The dolphins were swimming all around us and we could even hear them making their calling sound. After this incredible experience we loaded up our boat and headed back to land to fill our hungry bellies. For lunch we enjoyed burgers, fries, and salad!!! After lunch we had the opportunity to play and lounge! We got an intense game of beach volleyball going and it was an absolute BLAST!! Madeleine seemed like an absolute professional and this was her first time playing on the beach! Kate impressed us with all her volleyball knowledge. Claire kept kicking the ball because of her soccer skills! The game got sweaty and involved a great deal of laughter. After our game the girls jumped in the ocean to clean off and cool off. This afternoon we were headed to our cultural enrichment and cooking class part of the itinerary. We had the girls time to get ready and then Tony (our guide) came and got us. Tony took us on a walk to his land and home where his parents live completely traditional. Upon arrival man showers us how he can solo scale a palm tree for coconuts. They gave us coconuts to try. Grace said we hadn’t ever liked coconut but not her mind has completely changed, and she loves it. After we got super hydrated via coconut water, we went to learn more. We learned about the traditional and popular dish ‘Matapa’ and how it is made. We even got to participate in the making of the dish. All the girls were so excited to get involved in the cooking, we were able to make a popular cookie they eat here. We got the cookie dough and shaped it into different kinds of cookies, we even spelled out Moondance! While we waited for the food to cook, we played some silly games. Once the food was ready, we were all BLOWN AWAY by what Tony and his family has graciously prepared for us. We got two freshly caught red fish roasted head, tail and all and SO many crabs!! As well as the matapa sauce, rice, pineapple and the cookies. Wow it was quite the delicious spread. Delaney loved the Matapa sauce and couldn’t help but going for seconds. The cookies were absolutely to die for. After our phenomenal meal we said our thank you and good byes to Tony’s family and headed back to the lodge. The girls had time to chill, shower, regroup and more, the whole group found themselves cuddled up at the beach dinning area telling the funniest stories ever. We enjoyed dinner and cheesecake before heading to Moonup! Moonup was lead by our fearless LODs Emma and Sloan and they guided us through some thoughtful reflection and silly questions! Can’t wait for a day full of ocean activities including surfing and snorkeling tomorrow!!
Today we kicked off with surfing and beach clean up! We woke the girls up for an egg, tomato, and toast breakfast before heading out to catch some waves. Gracie took the first group down to surf while Jake and the other girls went to Tofo Scuba to hang out and catch some rays before it was their turn. In Gracie’s group, Claire and Sloan showed excellent surfing skills they both were naturals! As we switched out, Gracie was out on beach doing a million cartwheels. After surfing, Gracie treated her group so some milkshakes! In Jakes group, Grace stood out as one of the best surfers. She got up on her first try! And almost never fell the whole time we were out there! Madeleine, Emma, Delaney, Macy, and Virginia were also all able to get up in the board and catch a handful of waves! They loved surfing so much everyone started asking halfway through ‘are we coming back tomorrow?’ After working up an appetite surfing, it was time for some lunch. We had fish and chips along with a salad. The fish was so fresh and so delicious! It tasted like chicken! Once we filled our bellies it was time to hit the ocean again for our final ocean Safari! One by one we grabbed our fins and shirts and headed out to the boat. Once we got out there, we were immediately greeted by our dolphin friends from yesterday! We jumped in and swam with them again before starting our zig zagging along the coat to search for a whale shark. While searching, we spotted several humpbacks out towards the horizon. They were jumping entirely out of the water and making the biggest splashes ever! It was so cool! After a while, we finally spotted a whale shark! This guy was big but just moseying on through the water. We all jumped in and swam with him for a while, he didn’t mind us at all! The girls were so stoked about swimming with a whale shark! WOW moment for sure! We jumped back in the boat for a quick break before catching up with the whale shark again. We jumped back in the water to wish him well and say goodbye before it was time to head back to shore. On the way back, we had some friendly humpbacks take a breath super close to our boat, it was amazing! Our final ocean Safari was chock full of so many amazing experiences we returned to shore still in awe of the experience we just had. After an unreal last ocean Safari, Jake treated his surfing group to milkshakes too. Gracie’s group headed back to the lodge to start getting cleaned up for dinner while Jakes group did a beach clean up on the way back home once everyone slurped down their milkshakes. After showers, the girls headed up to their hangout spot up on the restaurant deck to chat about the day before dinner. Dinner tonight was PASTA!!!! Easily the best meal we have had at Tofo Beach. For dessert, we had banana samosas and ice cream! Another fan favorite! Claire and Grace led an amazing Moonup that had us thinking about what we were gonna eat when we first got home and the most important people in our lives. Jake told the girls he was waking up for sunrise since it was our last day tomorrow and EVERYONE said to wake them up to go see it too. The girls ran off to bed in preparation for an early morning and one bigggg last day at the beach!
Here are some shoutout’s from the girls of SAF 3C!
Macy- Hi, mom and dad I swam with a whale shark and dolphins today. I’ve had so much fun and met so many new people! I’ve learned new things and had great experiences. I miss you berkeley, boston and benny so much and can’t wait to eat chicken tenders and watch love island in my bed love you!
Grace – Hi mom and dad. I swam with a whale shark today and dolphins. We took a lot of photos too. I’ve seen rhinos, lions eating, cheetahs, and a lot more. It’s freezing in South Africa but not in Mozambique. The water is cold there but it’s so much fun. I learned how to surf and I got up on the board the first time. Also Hi lili and hadley, I know you’re checking up on the updates. I miss you guys and love you guys. I’m really excited to eat a Big Mac and listen to Drake again. I’ve been writing in my journal you guys gave me too. I miss Alexis so much and I can’t wait to see her. Love you!
Delaney – Hi y’all! I am having the best time this place is soooo pretty and the safaris were amazing and the people were so sweet and the food was sooo good! I was so close to the whale shark I could have touched it and the dolphins were swimming all around us!! I mom and Brian I hope Canada is so fun. I can’t wait to tell y’all about everything and get a strawberry acai refresher. tell pepper i miss her a lot she would love Mozambique and y’all would too!! love you!!!!!!!!!
Emma- Hi everyone!! I am having so so much fun! Today we swam with whale sharks and dolphins. South Africa was very cold, but Mozambique is much warmer. We saw so many cool animals in South Africa, and a big turtle in Mozambique. I hope everyone is having so much fun on their adventures! Tell brooks, lg, hunter, and all my friends that I miss and love them! Bye!
Madeleine – Hi everyone!! I miss you all so much! I am having such a great time. I love it here so much. We have to come back to Mozambique sometime, it’s so pretty! Today I learned to surf and swam with dolphins and whale sharks. In South Africa we saw lions, rhinos, impala, zebras, giraffes, and more! Love you guys and hope you guys are having so much fun back home!
Claire – Hey everyone!! I miss everyone a lot and I have seen so many new things. I saw lions, rhinos, cheetahs, and so much more. I learned how to surf and tanned some more. I can not wait to see you all, and miss you guys so much!
Virginia – Hey everyone!!! I miss y’all but I am having the best time!! Today we swam with a whale shark and dolphins it was super cool. I’ve seen a lot of really cool animals and I can’t wait to tell you all about It when I get home. We are doing a lot of fun things and I’m loving it. Tell my friends I said hey! Love y’all much!!!!
Sloan – Hi mom and dad! I miss you both, but I’m having the best time here! We went surfing today and I caught a few waves in my own! Also when we were in a game drive earlier this week we saw 2 lions eating a kill at night and then we saw it in the morning. Also mom- I swam with a whale shark and a few dolphin today!! It was super cool! Love you guys and see you soon – put Keith in the pool and play soccer with Mickey for me!
Rae – HI MOM AND DAD!! first and foremost, please inform Mr Paul that I saw a bunch of monkeys with blue balls. I MISS YOU GUYS SO MUCH! I also miss my bed so much. I’m having so much fun here- we’ve gone on safaris, swam w dolphins and whale sharks, and I’ve even become a little surfer. So far I’ve had the most fun in Mozambique, but I can’t wait to come home to Starbucks, Taco Bell, and an enormous pot of osh. (Dad will you please make osh for when I get back?) miss you guys so much. Tell Dahra to wash his face and that I love him.
Ginny- Hey fam!! I’ve been having the BEST time in Africa so far, everything is so beautiful and Ive met some amazing people! We’re in Mozambique right now and have been going surfing which has been really fun (I’m not the best but still really fun). We also did a lot of safaris both in the ocean and back in South Africa. Hope Italy has been so much fun and can’t wait to see y’all (and get Starbucks) back in ATL. So much love for y’all!
Mackenzie- Hi!! I have been having the BEST time ever here in South Africa and Mozambique!! I have seen so many lions, zebras, hippos, and giraffes, and even got to swim with a whale shark yesterday I am making so many new friends and having an experience of a lifetime! The safaris have been so awesome and I even learned how to surf (somewhat)! I hope you guys are enjoying some peace and quiet back at home without me, and I can’t wait to see you all when I get back!! I LOVE U Mom, Dad, Regan, Taylor, Alex, Grandma and Grandpa
Kate- HIII, I have been having such a fun time in Africa and have seen everything I wanted to see. My knee came out once but it feels fine just a bit sore. I swam right next to a whale shark and I think it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. The food here is really good, and mom there aren’t that many shells but I’ll try to find some for you. I hope you’re enjoying your time without me and that the peace and quiet is nice. I’ll be home soon, tell the grandparents I’m being safe and that I’m having loads of fun. I love and miss y’all so much!
Jake – Hey Jamison Fam! Thanks for following along on my South African adventure, this trip has been an unreal experience and I’m looking forward to telling you all about it once I’m home! Just a few more days left here so see all of you very soon, hope you haven’t missed me too much! Aunt Lynn, I’ll be swinging by Auburn when I get back, let’s go get lunch while I’m there!
Gracie – Hey Barnum Fam!! Miss you all so much & cannot wait for all our fun August festivities coming up!! Looking forward to fun times at the lake, graters ice cream, concerts, yummy food and more!!! See you all SO soon for the biggest hugs ever! Hug hug kiss kiss
July 16, 2023
All the girls arrived safely and we could not be more excited! Before even meeting the girls we knew they had all already clicked because some members of a different group told us “the whole all girl group took a bathroom trip together” go figure with an all girl group. Not too long after the rest the girls came out of the terminal gate as a group. Each and every girl with a bright smile on their face, full of excitement about their arrival. Jake and I danced and sang as they approached us. We took the girls up to the hotel to get checked in and gobble down some much desired pizza! The girls were already chatting up a storm and we were off to a great start. Once all settled we did formal introduction amongst the group and shared some exciting moondance info. Jake and I shared about the Moonup processes, Leaders of the Day (LODs), morning huddle, good decision and more. After that we sent the girls off to their perspective rooms to get a goodnights rest in a real bed after their long journey. It’s just the first day and we are already so pumped about this group and know it’s gonna be amazing.
Goooood morning South Africa! We woke the girls up room by room and they slowly trickled down to the lobby for breakfast. We filled our plates with fruit, pastries, and Omelettes before sitting down to hear about todays plans. Our first stop is Little Mongena for community engagement! The girls downed their breakfast plates along with some hot chocolate, coffee, or orange juice and ran back to their rooms to pack their bags. We hit the road for a short ride to Mongena soon after breakfast. We played a game of two truths and a lie to get to know each other a little better on the bus ride. Pretty soon we all pulled into Mongena for check in and before we knew it we were cruising on open air Safari vehicles headed to our secluded tented Safari camp. On the way in we had our first wildlife encounters! We saw wildebeest, impala, and even some giraffe! The giraffes heads were poking up just above the trees it was so cool! We pulled into Little Mongena and were greeted by our dear friend Obi who welcomed us with warm towels and Mongena Sunrises! We sipped on our fresh fruit drinks while Obi welcomed us and gave us a brief orientation of our new home for the next couple of days. Obi then gave us a tour of one of the tents and the girls ran off to check out their amazing new homes. After getting settled, we regrouped on the patio deck over looking the dam for lunch. The girls ordered burgers, salads, and sandwiches. They were delicious. MacKenzie entertained all of us during lunch with her hilarious story from her plane ride over here. After lunch, we played a group game called Zoo! Kate and Sloan won the game, but to decide the real winner they had to compete in a veggie off! In the end, Sloan came out on top due to her amazing impression of a surprised pepper! By then, it was time for our first Safari game drive! The girls played another fun game (there was a lot of rock paper scissors involved) that divided them into two game vehicles. Our guides, Rebecca and Lauren, briefed us on some safety measure during game drives and then we were off! Right off the bat, Madeleine was asking some amazing questions about all the wildlife and South Africa. Delaney also shared some hilarious stories of when her grandmother came to South Africa. On our drive, we saw lots of impala and wildebeest, a couple of zebra, and even some kudu! Over in Jakes vehicle, we had a super quick sighting of a huge cheetah. He was walking across the road before he slipped into the bush and out of sight. We regrouped together after Gracie’s group found the lions! There were 4 female lions and they were laser focused on a herd of impala not too far away. Some of them began to creep forward in preparation for an ambush. After watching them for a while, they ended up letting the impala move through without any attack. We made our way back to camp where Harry greeted us with some hot chocolate and a warm fire. As we nestled around the fire, there was a shout…or was that singing? From around the corner emerged Traditional African dancers! They joined us around the fire and they danced to the beat of the drums and tune of their voices. Once the dancers demonstrated how it’s done, they invited us to join them. We all got up to sing and dance with them. Ginny threw on her boogie shoes and danced the night away. As a natural dancer, Grace blended right in with our new friends. Once we danced our hearts out, we waved good bye to our friends and sat down for dinner. Tonight we had a classic African Braai! We had salad, pap and sous, potatoes, vegetables, chicken, steak, Boerewors, and sweet corn pudding! The girls loaded up their plates and we dug into our amazing African meal. For dessert, we had Malva pudding and chocolate mousse. For Moonup, Gracie and I tricked the girls into thinking there were elephants in camp up until we found the nug jug! We had a great first Moonup around the fire and under the stars, and Mackenzie and Madeleine were named LODs for tomorrow, we cannot wait for them to lead us through our first day of community engagement!!
For our first morning in Little Mongena I thought it was necessary to wake up the first the proper Moondance way … with a dance party!!! I went tent to tent waking up each pair of girls whilst I sang and danced for them. This got the day started with many laughs and smiles. The girls all made their way to breakfast and they were in for a treat! For breakfast we first have an assortment of fruits, granola, pastries and yogurt, followed by a hot breakfast buffets including an egg station. The girls loved all the options, a bunch of the girls got omelets and Claire was pleasantly satisfied with her cheesy scrambled eggs. After breakfast our LODs Madeline and Mackenzie did our morning huddle process to brief us on todays activities and what to expect, which includes some community engagement and a sunset boat cruise. Over the course of the next three days we will be in the village of Kekana to get involved with some community work. The project we’ve been included In on is helping to paint parts of a families home. We will be repainting the whole exterior and painting a few interior rooms. Upon arrival the girls were greeted by towns people waving all over and the joy in their hearts began to flow. To start we had one team on outside walls and another in inside walls and then we swapped half way through. Sloan was quite the perfectionist and made sure all the small missing dogs were filled with paint. She was being so thoughtful about how this is somebodies home. Rae was unhesitatingly willing to get up on the ladder to reach the top of the wall and she did a phenomenal job. As we painted so many local kids came to join in and help out. This made the whole experience so much more fun. We jammed out to music while painting and periodically broke out into dance parties. Madeline made such great friends with a little girl right away and they were inseparable the rest of the day. After a full morning of painting we took a brake to enjoy our packed Lunches. The girls enjoyed trying some authentic South African brand chips and bars, as well as other good stuff. After lunch Claire had quite a fun time building sand castles with a bunch of little boys. Painting became such a fun bonding activity for all the local kids and our group of girls, they chatted endlessly and painted the afternoon away. It then came time for us to head back to camp to get ready for our evening activities. We told the girls and the kids not to fret, because we’d be returning tomorrow! They gave lots of goodbye hugs and we drove off as they waved and shouted goodbye. Once we got back to camp the girls had time to freshen up and bundle up for our boat ride. As we loaded up for our sunset excursion Delaney decided to take an accidental dip with the hippos… yes, she fell into the water, but no worries she laughed it off, dried off and changed and we were off in no time. On our boat ride we enjoyed some little appetizer snacks and soft drinks. During the ride we all shared so many stories and often found ourselves dying of laughter. This was such a great moment, I could really feel the group coming together. We watched as the sun set creating the most marvelous shades of red, orange, purple, pink and blue. Virginia was in awe of the colors and said she’s never seen anything like it. Once the sun faded away and the stars began to trickle across the sky we made our way back to camp for some hot coco and a camp fire. For dinner most of the girls ordered the veggie pasta and they were more than thrilled with the dish! After dinner we circled back up around the fire and each and every person put their sock covered feel towards the fire to warm the soles. While sitting around the first we were served yummy dessert including apple crumble, ice cream and crème brûlée. Kate and Virginia had the most genuine idea of mixing and splitting their apple crumble and ice cream to get a little of both. Our LODs Mackenzie and Madeline lead us through a spectacular Moonup that included a super funny question about everyone’s escape plan from the top of a mountain. Once we concluded Moonup and Rae and Ginny were named tomorrows LODs then Lauren, our guide, escorted us to our tents for a good nights rest!
Little Mongena Day 2! After a cozy night in our tents, Gracie and LODs Rae and Ginny all walked around the tents with the speaker for wake up call. Everyone threw on their jackets and sauntered up to the patio deck for breakfast. We had the usual fruit, muffins, croissants, Omelettes and more! The croissants are easily the group favorite. Rae and Ginny led us through Morning Huddle flawlessly. All the girls were ready to get back to Kekana to start painting! Ginny and Mackenzie were slaying the outside walls getting all the hard to reach places with the help of our ladder we brought. Emma, Delaney, Sloan, Grace, Madeleine, Macy, and Virginia were all hard at work in two of the interior rooms. Rae continued to form a strong bond with the kids who lived there and some of the neighbors. The kids were once again eager to jump in on painting and help touch up their beautiful home. The girls continued to engage them and even started learning some words in their language. We found a stopping point in our work and left early for our surprise afternoon activity! Today we were going on a bush walk! Similar to a game drive, but entirely on foot! At the end of our bush walk we would have dinner and a sleep out! The girls were so excited, and despite being warned, from our guides, about the cold were so eager to get out there! We split up into two groups and set off to find our trailhead. Kyle and Lauren led one group while Dean and Morné led another. In Kyle and Lauren’s group, before we could even get out of the vehicle, we encountered a white rhino cow and her calf. The calf was only a couple of months old, absolutely adorable little thing. They wandered off in the opposite direction, and we followed for a second, learned some facts from Kyle, then went on our way to start our bush walk. Over in Morné and Deans group, Rae was asking some great questions allowing all of us to gain better insight into the environment around us. Back in Kyle and Lauren’s group, we played a game of Bok Drol Spoeg. This game consists of placing impala poop pellet in your tongue and seeing how far you can spit it out of your mouth! A little timid at first, Claire stepped up first and gave it her best shot followed by Sloan, Kate, Madeleine, Virginia, and Macy! At the end, it was clear Jake was the winner. Not even Kyle could compete with him. Pretty soon we arrived to camp with a roaring fire and dinner being warmed up. Ginny brought her friendship bracelet string with her and shared with all the girls. We sat around making our friendship bracelets before it was time for dinner. Dinner was amazing! Afterwards, we circled up around the fire to stay warm. Mackenzie and Morné had everyone belly laughing. Rae and Ginny shocked us getting Morné and Lauren involved on the nug jug! We had a great Moonup out in the bush then went to slip into our sleeping bags for a good nights rest.
Gracie and Jake
July 11, 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!