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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Safaris, Cheetahs, Africa – The Best Way Is to Show ‘Em

Today we welcome our first guest blogger, Alan Feldstein of Infinite Safari Adventures, who recently visited CCF.

Safaris, Cheetahs, Africa – The Best Way Is to Show ‘Em
BY ALAN FELDSTEIN

In 2000 I made my first trip to Africa. It was during that safari I fell in love with Africa and everything about it – the people and their culture, the animals, the natural beauty of the landscape. The first time a giraffe bent her graceful neck to peer into my safari vehicle – well, she had me at jambo (Swahili for hello). All I had to do was see it for myself.

When I came back I told anyone that would listen how amazing Africa was and that they had to go – tomorrow, if not sooner. Most would nod and say – yeah sure…someday. I would reply you have to see it for yourself.

But I could not shake my passion so I went back to Africa. Again, and again and again. Finally I took my son and daughter on their first African safari On that trip, I got the chance to combine a wildlife safari with my other passion – kayaking. I had become friends with our safari organizer, Steve Chumbley, on a previous African visit and discovered we shared a love of kayaking. So, during this trip, the two of us set off exploring in kayaks Steve had built himself. Launching off the coast of Tanzania, we explored remote areas no other kayakers had ever been. But even that was not enough for me. So, enlisting Steve as my Tanzania-based business partner, I decided to start a safari company – Infinite Safari Adventures. Now, when people tell me they want to go to Africa “someday,” I can tell them “Someday is Now!” And help them see it for themselves.

Seeing is believing. I will never forget taking my kids to pet gray whales in Baja Mexico. After the long bus and vehicle travel from Tijuana to Baja, they were, to put it mildly, not happy. But all the whining, complaining and texting to friends was forgotten when we first set out on the water motorboat. Within, 10 minutes, a gray whale appeared close enough to our little motorboat to touch (and kiss). The next thing I heard was that this was the most awesome trip they had ever been on. After witnessing a mother whale and her babies playing, you will do anything in your power to save the whales. My son is now pursuing his degree in environmental education. All he had to do was see it for himself.
Petting a grey whale with my son in Baja.
Last December I was one of only a handful of travel company owners invited by the Namibian Tourist Board to visit Namibia for the purpose of seeing what the country had to offer in the hope that I might add Namibia to our safari offerings. I jumped at the chance (I am always up for a good adventure) plus it gave me the opportunity to take Laurie Marker up on her offer to visit CCF. We had met at the Explorer’s Club where we are both members. We had gotten to know each other better when she visited Los Angeles and came out to my wife Diane and my house for dinner.
With Laurie and my dog Heidi who became a fast friend to her.
When I arrived I got to see CCF’s amazing operation and facility. I got to watch cheetahs run. I got to go with Laurie and feed a mother and her 3 natural and 3 adopted cubs. And I am proud to say I helped to release “Chester” in the Bellebenno reserve to be reunited with his 3 “bros.” The task should have taken an hour but because of the muddy roads it took four times that long. Using radio telemetry we found the other 3 “Jedi warriors” who met us on the road. Stopping the truck we unloaded Chester in his box. I picked up the back corner and as I did saw through a couple of holes the glowering amber eyes of one very wet, very unhappy cheetah. “Hang on Chester,” I said reassuringly, “We are getting you out of here.” And we did. Seeing a cheetah leap out of his crate to see his pals, and then turn with them to go out and live free – well you would do anything to help after that. All I had to do was see it for myself.

If you are reading this blog item you are most likely a fan of CCF. But no matter how big a fan you are you have to see it for yourself.

That is one of the things that make me most passionate about Infinite Safari Adventures. Taking people on safari to see wildlife, meet the local people and experience all there is to see and do is the start of “paying it forward.” One person becomes inspired, who inspires others, who inspires still others and eventually there are enough inspired people that cheetahs, whales, rhinos, elephants and yes, even lions whose populations have been decimated will have a chance to live on for future generations. All you have to do is see it for yourself. Want to know how? Just ask me.

Alan Feldstein
Infinite Safari Adventures
www.infinitesafariadventures.com

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