We just had a fabulous and unforgettable 13 day trip planned and accompanied by Julie. She faced the challenge of planning a itinerary for 12 high school juniors and seniors (17 and 18 year olds) from the School of Environmental Studies in the US. We started our trip in Johannesburg visiting the Apartheid Museum and Soweto, learning about apartheid and working with impoverished children. We were able to learn first hand what happened during Apartheid, how it ended, and the current issues with poverty, housing, and education.

From there, we headed out towards Kruger National Park where we first stayed at a Tshukudu Bush Camp, went on the Blyde River Canyon cruise, and visited Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Hippo Hollow, Elephant Whispers, Chimp Eden, and then Kruger National Park. We ate interesting food, heard from many different people about the issues that South Africa is facing, and saw the incredible beauty of this area, including all of the Big 5 and many, many other amazing animals. Our students had a lively discussion about the issues of conservation, culling, ivory and rhino horns, caring for animals in a wildlife center, and the economics behind this all.

If that wasn’t enough, we then flew to Cape Town where we saw more of South Africa’s diversity. We went on a boat trip to Seal Island; visited an ostrich farm, the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point, a colony of African Penguins, Robben Island, the Kirstenbosch  Botanical Gardens, Two Oceans Aquarium, and Table Mountain; listened to a white shark researcher; and ate the unique foods of this area. Again, our students were exposed to this area’s unique ecosystem, ecology, and social issues that allowed them to explore and compare ideas and issues.

Julie was unbelievable through this whole trip, creating a trip around our students. She presented ideas by using both her vast knowledge and stories and also by finding people to talk to us. She worked hard to ensure our days were jammed packed with activities. I would highly recommend Julie and her husband Scott to help plan not only a school group’s trip, but for anyone who wants a unique and individualized experience in South Africa.This was a trip of a lifetime!!

Karen Maunu, Special Needs Educator at SES, June 2016