rotary safari

Rotarian Action Group Endangered Species and Lake Chelan Rotary, have formed a joint venture with Kosen Safari’s (Rotarian owned Kenyan safari company) and Rhino Mercy (Rotarian founded US conservation NGO operating in the Greater Kruger National Park of South Africa).  This Rotary partnership provides a unique African safari designed by Rotarians for Rotarians.  This African safari adventure combines the traditional safari experience with visits to local Rotary clubs and Rotary projects.  Rotarians Hillary Kosen and Tom Tochterman believe experiencing the good works of Rotary in the context of the African bush will benefit Rotarian effectiveness in addressing and meeting the values of Rotary and living the Four Way Test.  This program and itinerary will:

  • demonstrate that saving endangered species can advance economic and community development by providing jobs and services in the discipline of conservation,
  • demonstrate that effective delivery of basic education and literacy can be enhanced by introducing relevant environmental curriculum at the primary school level in communities most affected by human/wildlife conflict, and
  • demonstrate that by discouraging wildlife crime and providing alternatives to affected communities that peace and conflict resolution can be advanced in the absence of the false economy provided by poaching and overharvesting.

Join us in Africa for a wilderness experience that will change your life while making you more committed to “Service Above Self” than you thought possible.  The itinerary that follows may not be exact but provides an excellent outline of what to expect.  You will also find biographical information for Rotarians Hillary Kosen and Tom Tochterman.

Day 1 – Johannesburg, SA

Arrive in Johannesburg South Africa at Africa’s most modern International Airport, OR Tambo International.  Rotarian Tom Tochterman will be waiting as you enter the main passenger terminal after clearing passport control, customs, and baggage claim.

We will check into one of the airport hotels (Southern Sun Hotel, City Lodge Hotel or Hotel Intercontinental).  After a short rest meet in lobby for local wine, group introductions, and discussion of itinerary.

  • Arrive at OR Tambo International Airport (ORT), Johannesburg South Africa
  • Meet and greet at airport with host, Rotarian Tom Tochterman
  • Check into airport hotel

Day 2 -The Three Rondavels

Depart the Johannesburg for the wild African Savannah with rest stops including The Three Rondavels, with a view that rivals the Grand Canyon.

Arrive at the main gate of the Balule Nature Reserve, Olifants West entrance.  This is the official beginning of  your adventure and Big Five apex predator safari experience!  We will trek across the reserve to find your luxury accommodations.

  • Drive to Balule Nature Reserve, in the Greater Kruger National Park (approximately 6 hour drive with rest/scenic stops)
  • Arrive at Ezulwini Game Lodge
  • Evening Safari (arrival time permitting, game drives begin at 1630hrs)

Balule Nature Reserve

Balule Nature Reserve shares an unfenced border with the renowned Kruger National Park providing an unforgettable safari experience.

Ezulwini Game Lodge

Ezulwini (Zulu for paradise) offers lodges of outstanding quality.  Experience superb service and traditional cuisine in exceptional, panoramic, African settings.  Indigenous African fauna and flora enhance your visit to this timeless continent. 

Lodge has its own unique character and charm, and will provide you with an authentic, atmosphere-filled, African adventure.  Relaxation comes easily when surrounded by the restful allure of nature in our ecologically orientedlodges.  

After your departure, the hospitality experience will provide you with enduring memories.

Day 3 – Photo Safari

The photo safari on Day 3 begins at sunrise!  Don’t worry coffee, tea, and rusks will be waiting for you!

After the morning game drive and breakfast we will venture off the reserve to a primary school in a local village where an education officer teaches the relevance of good environmental stewardship; the Bush Babies Environmental Education Project is endorsed by Rotary Action Group Endangered Species.

We will return to the reserve in time for an evening safari!  The nocturnal animals are some of the most understated beauties of the bush!

Bush Babies

The Bushbaby (Galago moholi) symbolises and defines our Environmental Education Program, where learners are the ‘Babies’ of the community learning about the ‘Bush’. With the support of local communities, tribal authorities and participating schools the Bush Babies Program is now at 10 schools within the communities boarding the western boundary of Kruger National Park. Currently, reaching 870 children aged between 12-15 years old, we aim to create an environmentally literate community.

The Bush Babies Program is interlinked into the curriculum of the local schools, bring knowledge to life whilst raising awareness about their surrounding environment, providing a better understanding of conservation and leading to sustainable use of resources and ultimately installing an ethical ethos in our future generations.

The schools are visited on a weekly basis, by our Black Mamba Environmental Education Officer and a different aspect based on the theme of the day is discussed to familiarize the learners with their natural environment and emphasizing the importance of protecting it for future generations. Black Mamba Rangers make regular visits to the schools and teach the learners about poaching and how they are working to protect these species and how its affect’s them personally as well as the environment. The Bush Babies youth education program aims ultimately to create a greater sense of environmental patriotism toward the natural heritage of indigenous peoples.

Day 4 – Photo Safari

If we are lucky you will see all of these animals on your morning Safari.  After the morning safari and relaxing day at the lodge we will spend the evening doing a Rotary make-up at the Rotary Club of Hoedspruit, South Africa.

Kudu, two species of spiral-horned antelopes. The very large greater kudu is common in southern African wildlife reserves. The svelte lesser kudu is an elusive dweller in the arid lowland thornbush of northeast and East Africa. Both species have corkscrew horns (in males only), depend on cover for food and concealment, and form small herds.

Hoedspruit Rotary

Hoedspruit is a town in the North East corner of South Africa adjacent to the world famous Kruger Park.  Once a sleepy railway halt, it is now a town of approaching 4000 people and is the epicenter of the ecotourism and game conservation industries in South Africa.  It hosts tens of thousands of tourist each year, and has a thriving mango, avocado and citrus growing farming community. The tourism, farming and associated support industries have made Hoedspruit one of the fastest growing commercial and residential communities in South Africa today.  

The Rotary Club of Hoedspruit (Hoedspruit Rotary) was formed in 2015 and its members’ efforts have already established it as a significant entity in the community through the projects and other activities undertaken by them.  In 2016 over R 100,000 was raised and distributed by Hoedspruit Rotary for the benefit of anti-poaching and community upliftment programs.

Day 5 – Hoedspruit Endangered Species

After resting up from another morning safari, we will go off reserve to visit the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center (HESC) where many species live under the care and custody of well trained animal keepers.

HESC is not a zoo rather a sanctuary for rescued animals many of which are intended to be reintroduced into the wild. A once in a lifetime experience up close and personal to some of the most exotic sub Saharan animals.

Day 6 – Safari and Much More

Morning and evening Safari and much more. Nobody ever tires of the morning safari when apex predators are finishing up on their nighttime escapades!

You cannot get tired of the sight of the animals up close and personal. You will forever be affected by the sights, sounds, and smells from a “lion kill”.  It will change you!

Another mid-day excursion off the reserve to visit the Sigagule Children’s Center, a project supported by the Rotary Club of Hoedspruit.

When we return to the reserve we will be provided a presentation about the Black Mamba all female anti-poaching unit, a project endorsed by the Rotary Action Group Endangered Species.

Founded in 2013 by Transfrontier Africa NPC and Rhino Mercy, to protect the Olifants West Region of Balule Nature Reserve. Within the first year of operation the Black Mambas were invited to expand into other regions and now protect all boundaries of the 52,000ha Balule Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park.  The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit became an immediate success.

Their teams work to the concept of the “Broken Window” philosophy, striving to make the area of influence the most undesirable, most difficult and least profitable place to poach any species. With a passion for wildlife and rhino conservation, these women are the voice in the community through their conservation work.

The objectives of the Black Mamba project are not only the protection of rhinos through boots on the ground but also through being a role model in their communities. These 32 young women and 1 man want their communities to understand that the benefits are greater through rhino conservation rather than poaching, addressing the social and moral decay that is a product of the rhino poaching within their communities. They are concerned for their children’s sake as the false economy has brought loose morals and narcotics into their communities.

Day 7 – Return to Johannesburg

There is no better way to remember your time in the Kruger National Park than during a sundowner.  The African sunset with all that it conceals and brings to life will forever change how you view the world and how it must be protected and enjoyed. As you have experienced the sun setting on the African landscape hold dearly the sights, sounds, and smells; the smooth and the rough; the life, death, and birth; the weak and the strong. Remember that it takes all of it to make such a wild and beautiful landscape.

As you return to urban life and your work life routine, it is our sincerest wish that your time in Africa will inspire you with a renewed outlook of those around you, the places you work and play, and a new appreciation for the importance of ‘pro-environmental choice making’.  We hope that you too had that ‘ah-ha’ moment during your visit and you are moved to return to this spiritual place…the African bush.

Day 8 – dep. Johannesburg arr. Nairobi

Upon your arrival at Jomo Kenyatta international Airport in Nairobi Kenya Rotarian Hillary Kosen will pick you up and take you to your luxury city hotel.

Kosen is a member of the Lake Chelan Rotary, a native Kenyan and an experienced safari guide.  There will be meeting to discuss your upcoming visit to the Massai Mara and the Rotary projects you will see.

Offering the perfect fusion of European luxury and Kenyan hospitality, Villa Rosa Kempinski is a unique destination where guests can spend time relaxing or working.

In addition to the 200 rooms and suites distributed throughout its ten floors, you will also find exquisite dining opportunities here. Our dining selection includes Cafe Villa RosaK Lounge our lobby lounge; Balcony Bar, Chinese Restaurant 88; Italian Restaurant LUCCA; and our Levant -style lounge and restaurant Tambourin.

Day 9 – Elephants & Giraffe

Today we visit the David & Daphne Sheldrick Elephant rescue center and the Giraffe education center.  Both of these locations are within Nairobi.  In addition, we will visit the jewelry center and in the evening have a social with the Milimani Rotary Club.  Milimani is involved with our Rotary projects in Kenya.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is focused on the protection of elephants, rhinos and other wildlife at a field level, over the last 40 years we have aided countless African animals, from elephants to antelopes and always with the following in our minds – animals have a right to be free, to roam wild, and to be safe in their surroundings.

We have a responsibility to afford them that right and challenge those that would seek to take it away or harm them.  We are proud of what we have achieved, and we are grateful to those that believe in us and support us, making our lifesaving work possible.

There is much more to do, however in seeing what we have achieved and the difference we make every day, we know our experience and integrated field projects work for wildlife and, matched with your continued support, we can and we will achieve so much more in the years ahead.

The Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife (A.F.E.W.) Kenya was founded in 1979 by the late Jock Leslie-Melville, a Kenyan citizen of British descent, and his American-born wife, Betty Leslie-Melville. They began the Giraffe Centre after discovering the sad plight of the Rothschild Giraffe. A subspecies of the giraffe found only in the grasslands of East Africa

This is the only sanctuary in the world within a capital city that enables you to come into very close contact with the world’s tallest yet endangered animal, the giraffe. We are situated in a quiet natural environment, whose biodiversity makes us home to a herd of Rothschild Giraffe, some Warthogs and over a hundred and fifty species of birds. We inspire children, youth and communities to interact with nature and conserve the environment for posterity.

Day 10 – What can a Rotary Global Grant do?

Today we drive two hours South West of Nairobi to Kisiriri Primary school to visit the ongoing Rotary water/sanitation improvements, classrooms renovations and new latrine construction.

You will also have an opportunity to visit with primary school students and staff.

Kisiriri primary school is in the Mau forest, it is located 7,800 feet above sea level.  This is the school that Rotarian Hillary Kosen and your guide attended many years ago,  sadly, very little has changed since then.  There is no electricity and and until recently there was no clean water and the toilets the children used were in very poor condition.

Eighteen months ago, Lake Chelan Rotary began to look for partners that would be interested in submitting a Global Grant request to The Rotary Foundation.  With the help of Rotary Clubs in Australia, Canada, Kenya and the USA and a number of non-Rotarians, sufficient funds have been raised and a Rotary Global Grant has been approved.

The Global Grant has allowed  us to renovate a number of classrooms and provide the school with two rain water harvesting systems, 34 new toilets and 100 new school desks.  One of the rain water harvesting systems will be used to sell water to the local community to raise funds for the maintenance of the new facilities and additional school improvements.

Day 11 – Brighter Futures Project

Today we visit the village of Nkoilale to learn more about the Rotary Brighter Futures Project.  The Brighter Futures Project enables twenty four students to board at the school and provides them with school uniforms and personal necessities.  The project has also installed solar lighting into 73 local homes that has helped improve the lives of local Maasai tribe.

When we are finished at the school we will proceed to Siana Springs Camp where we will stay the night

Each of the 27 students supported by Brighter Futures at Nkoilale primary school have a sponsor.  Some are supported by Lake Chelan Rotary but many are supported by individuals, most of whom are not Rotarians. Students are provided with housing, food, school uniforms.  Four students have graduated from Nkoilale primary and are now attending secondary (high) school.  Unfortunately, secondary school education is not paid for by the government in Kenya.  Most of the girls who are part of the Brighter Futures Project have decided they want an education rather than be married at a very young age.  Before becoming a part of the project, parental consent is required (this is not always easy), and they must be accepted into the school by the school administration.

Through the combined efforts of Lake Chelan and Wenatchee Sunrise Rotary clubs solar lights have been installed in 73 rural homes around Nkoilale.  Everything needed is sourced and preassembling so that they are easy to install.  Each kit includes household light switches and USB charging connections.  You to can help by installing a light kit during your visit.

Self-sufficiency is a fundamental objective of the Brighter Futures Project.  A sewing room now exists in Nkoilale,  the objective is to develop a small business to tailor school uniforms, dresses and boys’ shirts.  Shelving, tables, two treadle sewing machines and a serger have been purchased and the sewing room is now producing school uniforms for students at local schools.

All of the schools helped by the Brighter Futures Project have their unique challenges, but they all hve one thing in common – very eager children who want to learn and a complete lack of books!   For this reason Storybook Libraries was conceived.  The objective is to collect donated books and ship them to Kenya every 3 to 4 months until there is a library of 1,500 books in each school.  to date about 3000 books have been collected and 1400 books have been shipped to Kisiriri primary school.