Why an African charity is sending underprivileged children on luxury safaris

This excellent article on Children in the Wilderness’ work in Africa appeared in the Telegraph UK over the weekend. Written by Roderick Gilchrist.

The children saw the lions before the lions saw the children. Woken by their chatter, the big cats rose up from the long gold and green grass, yawned, stretched, sniffed the breeze and looked out over the vast riverine plains of their kingdom.

Dawn had broken and the sky was beginning to blur from inky black to the softest peach, but already the new day hummed with mysterious insects. The larger of the two young lions shook his shaggy head and thundered out a wood-sawing roar, the carnivore’s reveille. It echoed across this wild land. The bush was waking up.

“Shumba, shumba!” the children cried with uncontrollable excitement. The shumba – meaning lion in Kaonde, a Bantu language spoken mainly here in central Zambia – looked at us with regal nonchalance.

“Lions think our vehicle and we are all one, so if we sit still and keep quiet, all will be well,” whispered Newton Muringa, our guide from nearby Shumba Camp. Fat chance. “Shumba, shumba!” the children chorused again. From our front-row vantage point in the jeep, we could see the lions’ sabre-like incisor teeth and almost feel the earth shake when they roared. This was the most thrilling moment of the children’s lives.

Shumba Camp is one of 39 properties owned throughout Africa by Wilderness Safaris – all marketed to high-net-worth individuals who want to immerse themselves in the Out of Africa experience while cocooned from the raw drama of life and sudden death in the bush. Guests rise at dawn from colonial-style canopy beds to float in hot-air balloons above herds of stampeding game, a flight made more intoxicating still by champagne sipped at treetop height. An artful stylist has designed this remote outpost, on a wooded island on the Busanga Plains, in the contemporary tropical mode.