Have you ever gone somewhere for the first time, but it felt like a homecoming? In 2012, as I got off the plane in Mfuwe, Zambia, the wind seemed to sing and the sunlight danced on my arms. Although I had never been to Africa before, I nearly shouted as we landed, “I’m home!”
Weeks before, a friend called out of the blue and asked if I wanted to go to Africa with her. She and I had never traveled together before and Africa was not on my bucket list of places to visit. To this day I’m not exactly sure why I said yes- I guess I was primed for an adventure. I had recently lost my last contracting client and I was growing bored with my work. For months, I was stuck in limbo trying to figure out my next move and even contemplated creating a start-up company. Compared to that, heading to Africa must have seemed like less of a risk.
Several members of our travel group chose to rendezvous in New York the night before we flew out so we could get to know each other before our Zambian adventure started. As we landed from our flight, guides were waiting to take us to the bush camp in South Luangwa National Park. They were friendly and happy to answer our many questions as we drove through the villages along the way.
Arriving at Mfuwe Lodge for the first time is hard to describe- I wasn’t expecting that level of luxury. As the jeeps stopped in front of the lodge, we were greeted with refreshments, lots of wildlife, an open outdoor pool, and furniture that seemed to encourage losing oneself for hours. After a brief safety orientation we were able to explore our rooms, and once we were settled in we decided to go out on safari.
The sheer number of facts the guides were able to give us were truly astounding. Be it about large carnivores, hundreds of different species of birds, or thousands of types of flowers- if it’s in the National Park, they can talk to you about it. This was my first safari so I didn’t yet know how unique of an experience it is in Zambia. There are so few people here compared to safaris in other countries which allows you a better connection to nature and wildlife. Also, with a tight-knit travel group on a Dazzle Africa safari, it is easy to bond with your fellow travelers and I still communicate with many of them ten years later. I have since gone on several safaris with other tour operators and while I have enjoyed them, it is definitely not the same experience as a Dazzle Africa luxury safari. Some of the best stories of my life happened on this trip in 2012. But perhaps more importantly, I connected with the people of Zambia and understood why my friend Stacy and her 5 incredible cofounders felt the need to create Dazzle Africa. I, too, am committed to preserving this amazing habitat and its people.
Today It no longer seems odd that I call Mfuwe home. The places and people, and the experience I got from saying yes to Dazzle Africa, could be expressed in no other way.