There is a little known American safari that does more than just enjoy the wilderness of Mfuwe in Zambia. Dazzle Africa gives back to conservation and communities by harnessing the goodness of giving. The idea grew out of a safari trip taken by six American women. “It was a life-changing trip to Mfuwe Lodge,” says Stacy James, Executive Director of Dazzle Africa.

The award-winning Mfuwe Lodge in the South Luangwa is best known for the elephants that wander through the reception area in search of the wild mangoes in the back courtyard. It is operated by the Bushcamp Company, who is internationally recognized for their conservation efforts throughout the area.

Their charity arm, Charity Begins at Home, works to improve the lives of those communities that live in the Luangwa.

The first inspiration

That first experience of wild Africa drew the six women together. “We were a mixed bag of women coming from various states throughout the USA, but all melded together with a common desire,” Stacy said. “We found the Mfuwe Lodge to be a magical place and our hearts were filled to the brim. We were extremely grateful to have had the experiences we did and we wanted to do something to give back.

There are many visitors to Africa who briefly feel the need to do something, but few of them follow through. Stacy and her newfound friends went back home and did do something: something good that is enduring.

They worked with the Bushcamp Company, the Charity Begins at Home organization and The South Luangwa Conservation Society to find out how to help.

“We decided to focus on our passions, and those were children and wildlife. Once we had a focus for our passion, the partnership was up and away.” Stacy explains that Mark, a close friend best described how they operate.

“We should all do what's easy for us and hard for others."

Like-minded safari guests

Stacy explained that they hosted their first Safari in 2012. “We believe that you need to fall in love with a project, and love grows out of experience.” Their friends, Jada Fire and Alvin Tam joined them to host a yoga safari and the result was the discovery that they were quite good at running a safari that was personal, inspiring, and addictive.

Some guests return year after year.

The essence of the safari is to incorporate the aims of Dazzle Africa into the activities of each day. Guest involvement can be life changing for the community of Mfuwe and for themselves. Mike Paredes and his wife Nancy were incredibly inspired by Stacy and Ami Desai, safari coordinators, when they went on a Dazzle Safari. They witnessed these ladies at work discussing funding the full-time wildlife veterinarian who was de-snaring elephants, lions, wild dogs, and other animals. “As often happens when exposed to industrious people, we were hooked: not only did we financially sponsor a student and return for the 2015 safari, but Nancy and I planned and are leading the 2016 safari for Dazzle Africa,” said Mike.

Conservation benefits

The Dazzle Africa Safaris are not elitist in the way luxury travel is so often perceived to be. Dazzle wants potential guests to be like-minded. Dazzle Africa values kind, easy going, adventurous, and generous people. Donations are usually built into the total cost and guests receive a helpful tax receipt at year's end. Sometimes, guests will also raise money for projects prior to their trip.

In just five years, the conservation efforts of Dazzle Africa have helped reduce the poaching of wildlife in the area. A big win is that they are able to co-sponsor a full-time veterinarian to aid animals injured by gunshot wounds and snares. In addition, their efforts in providing scholarships for students has changed the lives of individuals living in the local community.