Our February Groupon trip ended in a whirlwind of activity, with packed days and little time to document all the many exciting things that happened. By today, all our travelers have left Zambia for their next adventures… whether that involved journeying onward to South Africa, London, or straight home to the US.
Here’s an attempt to summarize a few of the highlights from the past few days, with a few accompanying pictures for each piece of the trip.
Our visit to the farm was a short one. The chickens are vulnerable to disease that might be carried in on the bottom of someone’s shoes. So, to protect the investment in Hope’s future, we did not tour the chicken houses themselves. However, our group did get a chance to meet the team of dedicated Hope Ventures staff members working daily to make the farm a success. They heard some of the challenges of starting a business from scratch, but with a tour by Charles (the Director of Hope Ministries), they were also given an opportunity to hear the vision for farm expansion and could really see how this farm fits into the larger Spark Ventures model of sustainable solutions…
|Hearing about how the poultry farm fits into the Spark model|
|Learning about the Spark model|
|Tasting the chicken!|
No amount of pre-travel warnings and admonitions about how drenched you will get at Victoria Falls can prepare you for the soaking we received this trip. As it’s currently the rainy season in Zambia, water tables are particularly high and the amount of water dropping over the immense gorges at the falls is immense. The mist that results shoots high into the air and then falls back down in the form of a concentrated downpour. With rented ponchos layered on top of raincoats, we walked along the pathways to view the falls up close. By the time we were done there wasn’t one person who wasn’t soaking wet, but there were big grins on every single face as well.
|Getting wet and tanking pictures don't go together... here's a shot just before we stepped into the mist|
After the regular border crossing formalities, our full day safari in Botswana began with a boat ride through Chobe National Park. From our double-decker boat, we saw crocodiles, hippos, monitor lizards, water eagles, buffalo, cows, waterbucks, kudus, and more. But, even with such a successful morning, I think everyone in our group will agree that the fun really began in the afternoon, when we boarded 10-seater open-sided 4x4 vehicles. The park is well known for it’s incredible elephant population – and we now know why. Just about 10 minutes into the park, we were face-to-face with a mother elephant and her baby. After that, we turned the corner to find a large heard of giraffes, silently grazing leaves on trees that other animals could only dream of snacking on. By the end of the day, we had seen probably around 100 elephants, along with a whole new list of animals we didn’t see from the boat that morning.
|Lynn and Catherine enjoy the boat safari|
|Beginning the on-land portion of our adventure|
|Our first herd of giraffes|
|A crocodile looking for lunch|
|An elephant cools down with a mud bath|
|Some perspective on how close we were to the animals|
|Suz snaps one of many elephant shots|
With spectacularly powerful memories throughout the trip (from our time in Twapia, at Hope Community School, to coming face-to-face with animals most people only see on nature shows), the travelers on our Partnership Trips return to the US with many, many stories to tell. If you want to share in this experience as well, just check out the next opportunities to travel with Spark in 2013.