As the Founder and CEO of ROAR AFRICA, I have curated thousands of journeys to Africa over the past 15 years, working closely with my incomparable team to create life-changing moments for our clients. I just returned from our inaugural Emirates Executive Private Jet Safari, with ten travelers. I believe this monumental journey has reaffirmed the importance of responsible travel to Africa, and most importantly, sending a message that travel is safe and trustworthy.
We got through the trip safely and without a single positive case (taking eight PCR tests over 12 days.) It was a journey of many highlights, beginning with the exquisite Emirates Executive Private Jet, kitted out with private cabins, spa bathrooms, and a fantastic cabin crew who looked after us like royalty. From our touchdown in my home country of Zimbabwe, where I thought my heart might burst with pride, and where the airport was opened early just for us – we then hopped into helicopters for a spectacular trip over Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Worlds of the World.
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We ventured next to Botswana, where we awoke to lions on the doorsteps of our tents in the Okavango Delta and watched wildlife under a bowl of stars. Full of adrenaline, we soared above the majestic waterways in helicopters with no doors. From there, we found ourselves enveloped in the warm embrace of Angama Mara in Kenya. Our days were spent hot-air ballooning over the Mara River and experiencing the instinctual thunder of wildebeest hooves, as we sat watching the river crossing of the migration. The final leg of the trip took us to Rwanda to see the world’s last mountain gorillas.
The entire trip was offset, and the environmental projects that benefitted from this journey included the installation of 69 solar panels in local villages in Rwanda, planting of 1,300 trees, access to fresh water for 3,000 people in Kenya, and funding the protection of a rhino calf.
It’s my sincere hope that this journey will inspire a new wave of responsible tourism back to Africa—and if you want to go beyond first class then The Greatest Safari on Earth on the Emirates Executive Private Jet is the answer. I simply can’t wait to do this all over again in 2022 and 2023.
Deborah Calmeyer is a member of Travel + Leisure’s A-List of travel advisors. Contact her at [email protected] or 855-666-7627.