The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

June 6, 2013

Zoo Tales: Zoo Society Trip Highlights Kenya Safari


NC Zoo

Thursday, June 6, 2013 —

"I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke that I was not happy," writer Ernest Hemingway once said.

Experience that same thrill and excitement by joining the North Carolina Zoo Society's upcoming classic safari to Kenya, June 9-20. From its magnificent landscapes and sunsets, to its animals and people, Africa holds an intoxicating magic.

Highlights of the 12-day trip include a nature center where visitors hand-feed rare giraffes, the Daphne Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage, guided nature walks at Mt. Kenya, Sweetwaters Reserve (one of only four private wildlife reserves in Kenya), a 200-acre chimpanzee sanctuary (the only place in Kenya to see this endangered species), the natural beauty of the Great Rift Valley in Lake Nakuru National Park and the incomparable Maasai Mara--the "Jewel of Africa."

Throughout the trip, guests will witness the world's richest wildlife sanctuaries and reserves inhabited by Africa's most popular wildlife: lions, zebras, cheetahs, elephants, leopards, hippos, rhinos and countless others.

Unlike other Zoo Society trips, this one includes optional, personal-learning experiences that will give context to Kenya’s countryside and people. The trip will do what all good safaris do—showcase Kenya’s magnificent wildlife and nature--but unlike most safaris, this one will offer socially based, hands-on learning opportunities that reveal details of the culture and the landscape that would be missed during more conventional journeys.

Zoo Society Educator Mark MacAllister will host the trip and lead discussions and direct activities that will make this trip a remarkable learning adventure for every guest.

Safari guests will also have a chance to give something back to Kenya during the trip when time will be set aside to visit one of Kenya’s best-run orphanages and meet some of its children. A few of the school's top students will be selected to join the safari and take their first trip into a national park to see Africa’s magnificent wildlife. Every day, time will be set aside for safari guests to discuss, reflect and learn from their experiences.

The trip includes superior accommodations throughout; all wildlife viewing by minibus, with window-seats guaranteed and driven by a naturalist guide; professional, experienced naturalists throughout; all gratuities for baggage handling, hotel tips and taxes; and all game-park entry fees.

Optional activities include a balloon safari over the Serengeti, fishing for Nile perch in Lake Victoria and a visit to a Maassai village. There's even optional programming for teachers, who can earn continuing-education credits on the trip.

A pre-safari extension is available to Amboseli National Park, situated in the shadows of the majestic Mt. Kilimanjaro and home to five wildlife habitats attracting a wide variety of animal and bird life. The park's numerous elephant herds have been studied for more than 30 years by noted naturalist and author Cynthia Moss, founder of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project. The pre-trip extension also includes a journey to Tsavo West National Park, a volcanic-landscape home to more than 1,000 species of plants.

An optional post-safari extension will continue this trip-of-a-lifetime for guests as they fly to Mombasa. Here guests will marvel at the sites of this ancient seaport, with its Arab and Indian maze of narrow streets and passageways, overhanging balconies and carved doorways. The extension includes a trip on a small sailing dhow to Wasini Island for spectacular snorkeling in the Indian Ocean, where guests can swim amid coral with tropical fish and sea turtles and watch dolphins glide past.

The Zoo Society started trips more than 25 years ago, primarily as a benefit for Zoo Society members who wanted to travel with small groups of like-minded people and experience first-hand the plant and animal species and ecosystems they saw represented at the N.C. Zoo.

For more information on any of these Zoo Society trips, contact Debbie Story at 336-879-7250 or dstory@nczoo.com. You can also access travel information on the Zoo Society’s website, www.nczoo.com .