1. The Extraordinary Personalities of Africa

    image By: Tom Martorelli

    Everyone loves the idea of an African safari. For many of us, it’s a lifelong dream come true. Indeed, it’s an absolute thrill to gaze upon the magnificent wildlife and the awe-inspiring landscapes they roam across. But the magic of a Road Scholar safari adventure, we learned, goes beyond any single location or animal sighting. It was the depth of the experience and the quality of the education that set it apart. We were welcomed into the villages and homes of the local residents we met, and we were joined by wildlife experts and naturalists for an insightful exploration into the habitats and conservation issues surrounding Africa’s natural wonders.

    The line for lunch at Mfuwe Day Secondary School.

    This post is an introduction to some of the unforgettable people we met in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, a salute to the people who made it so infinitely enjoyable and educational, either through their hard work guiding us along the way or by simply inviting us into their lives for a brief moment.

    Our group leader, Lisa Reed, helping us wind down after another great day.

    Lisa’s knowledge of the land, its wildlife and people —particularly children— is impressive. So is her ability to share it. We often didn’t know until later how skilled she is at managing on the fly, finding last-minute opportunities for adventure and making them happen.

    You can’t say you saw the South Luangwa Valley without a morning nature walk with Peter Zulu.

    Peter is not only a senior expert, he’s also Headman at nearby Mambwe Village. He’s a great host, taking visitors by jeep and on foot to discover wildlife and clues about their daily lives. When you meet Peter, don’t forget to ask him about dung beetles, or how elephants wear down trails to water.

    Video: The people of South Luangwa  are as curious about us as we are about them.

    Click here to watch the video: The Many Faces of Africa

    Patson Phiri and participant Ina Fernandez enjoy a laugh before our bush breakfast.

    Patson Phiri is another exceptional instructor based at Mfuwe Lodge in South Luangwa. He can offer compelling lessons from what seem like ordinary aspects of a walk in the bush. Animal tracks, fruits from nearby trees, insects and birds as they fly by never cease to surprise him. And he never ceases to regale us with great stories.

    Watching the workers at Tribal Textiles, we not only witness time-honored creativity and technique, we’re also seeing the growth of a new business, and maybe the early stages of a developing economy – one that’s committed to progress while preserving the best of established traditions.

    The SEKA Theatre Group’s good-natured send-up of North Americans on Safari.

    Maybe the best thing about our African hosts is their sense of humor. One of the SEKA Group’s many productions includes a humorous look at travelers trying to get that perfect wildlife photo – like this well-framed shot of a kudu.

    Something magical happened during our journeys through Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia – magic that touched all of us; magic we all want to recapture. We owe that in large part to the amazing and talented people we met and learned under during our unforgettable Road Scholar Wild Africa learning adventure.

    The only question on my mind now is: when can we go back? 

    — Tom

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