Wild At Heart Journeys Sheldrick Trust Nairobi Nursery

Feeding time at the Nairobi Nursery, from Wild at Heart Journeys’ 2017 Notecards for Hope.

During the holiday season, giving back to the causes we care about is part of expressing gratitude for our own abundance. At Wild at Heart Journeys, the spirit of giving is woven into our work year-round, contributing to important efforts like conservation, health, and education, and allowing our clients to form a deeper sense of connection with their African travel experiences.

Virtually every Wild at Heart Journeys destination, tour, and lodge partner provides critical employment opportunities for their local population, directs a portion of their proceeds to local causes, and offers travelers an opportunity to explore the many issues facing African communities. The list is long and here, in the spirit of the holidays, we’re featuring just a few of our favorites.

Wildlife Conservation

One of the most extraordinary conservation efforts we support is Kenya’s David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, dedicated to the preservation of Africa’s wilderness and its denizens, particularly endangered species such as elephants and rhino. For every client traveling through Nairobi, Wild at Heart Journeys adopts a baby elephant living at the Trust’s orphanage (above), where travelers can visit and have the incredible opportunity to participate in the care of the “Nairobi Nursery’s” charming young residents.

Threatened by both poaching and habitat loss, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is making a measurable impact on the survival of these precious animals - successfully rescuing and hand raising over 150 infant elephants and effectively reintegrating reproductive age orphans back into wild herds. You can also support these efforts from afar, fostering an orphaned elephant as a holiday gift for a friend or loved one who will receive frequent keepers’ updates, artwork, and more!



Another one of our favorite conservation efforts is the Great Plains Foundation, a leader in developing sustainable tourism (think photography, not hunting) as a better long term solution for African wildlife and communities. Great Plains is the driving force behind Rhinos Without Borders, an ambitious project to relocate rhinos from high density populations in South Africa, where they are extremely vulnerable to poaching, to Botswana, a country that has the best anti-poaching record on the continent. Wild at Heart Journeys provides support to the tremendous efforts of the Great Plains Foundation, a model organization which gives 100% of its funds to conservation projects.

Wild At Heart Journeys JF Kapnek Trust Zimbabwe
Children at a preschool supported by the JF Kapnek Trust. Image courtesy of Wild at Heart Journeys

Children’s Health & Education

Here in the States, Wild at Heart Journey’s founder Robin Francis is personally acquainted with the family responsible for the JF Kapnek Trust and partners with them to facilitate their group’s travel to Africa. This remarkable foundation works to improve family health, reduce child mortality, and create educational opportunities for the the most vulnerable children and families of Zimbabwe. The Trust has developed and implemented initiatives that continue to prevent over 15,000 cases of HIV/AIDS in newborns every year and has created pre-school programs now serving over 18,000 children at over 200 sites (above). Robin has personally visited some of the Trust’s projects, witnessing firsthand the impact of things like health checks, highly nutritious meals, and early childhood education.

Socially Conscious Shopping & Tours

For travelers who love to shop, all of our destinations provide opportunities to purchase beautiful handmade wares and, in many cases, meet the local artisans who create them. We love arranging visits to fantastic entities like Shanga, a Tanzanian workshop and retail store based at the Arusha Coffee Lodge, that employs people with disabilities to create handmade jewelry and home goods from recycled and sustainable materials. If you recognize the name, it might be because Amal Clooney made a splash wearing a Shanga necklace while on safari with husband George!

Shanga Tanzania Arusha Coffee Lodge Artisan
Image courtesy of Shanga

When in Tanzania in 2017, Robin will also be paying a visit to Sidai Designs, a Maasai beading collective, to learn more about their programs, products, and traveler opportunities like traditional beading classes.

UThando South Africa is Wild at Heart Journeys chosen charity in this diverse country located at the southernmost tip of the African continent. uThando’s tours offer travelers insight into the work being done to uplift the disadvantaged living in Cape Town’s sprawling townships. With authenticity and cultural sensitivity, uThando provides an introduction to the social problems confronting many millions of South Africans while also illustrating the innovative and inspirational ways in which they are being handled by these marginalized communities. A portion of the tour cost goes directly to UThando’s programs.

Luggage and Lodging

Upon booking a trip, all of our clients receive information from Pack for a Purpose that connects them with their host lodge and a list of supplies that are needed by the local community they will be visiting. By simply using a small amount of space in their luggage, travelers can positively impact local concerns like health, education, and child and animal welfare. 

Botswana Selinda Explorers Camp Great Plains Foundation
Evening campfire at Selinda Explorer’s Camp. Image courtesy of Great Plains Conservation

All of the lodge partners Wild at Heart Journey’s works with contribute to education and conservation efforts within their local communities. Some, like Selinda Explorer’s Camp, run by Great Plains Conservation, even contribute all lodging proceeds to conservation activities.

Wild at Heart Journeys also encourages travelers who are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and are interested in giving back to consider donating to the Kilmanjaro Porter’s Assistance Project, an organization dedicated to improving working conditions for porters who accompany climbers on Africa’s highest peak.

Journeys for Hope

In addition to these fantastic organizations, Wild at Heart Journeys offers several special itineraries - our Journeys for Hope - that combine a truly extraordinary travel experience with the opportunity to participate in life-changing service work.

Big Five Wildlife Census Borana Ranch Safari Lodge
Image courtesy of Borana Ranch & Safari Lodge

One of the most popular Journeys for Hope is the Big Five Wildlife Census in Kenya. This itinerary tours the Sheldrick elephant nursery and then heads out to the Lewa wilderness and Borana Ranch and Safari Lodge for 8 days of hands-on activities like tracker dog demonstrations, tracking rhino and lion, attending expert conservation lectures, checking boundary fences, and more.

Our intimate and empowering Women of Tanzania journey connects a small group of female travelers to the daily life of local women and girls at various locations, opening eyes and building bridges across cultural differences. The itinerary first visits a women’s school in Arusha and then heads out to the Lake Eyasi Girls Vocation Training Centre, established in 2010 to assist young women who fall out of school due to pregnancy or cost. Travelers can learn about and support the Centre’s various programs, which include education and training support, pregnancy and childbirth care, rehabilitation, bee keeping and vegetable farming, and child care.

Note Cards for Hope

Wild At Heart Journeys Note Cards For Hope

If you are looking for a holiday gift idea that gives back, Robin has once again created her popular Note Cards for Hope. These beautiful photo cards, first started as a personal way to utilize images from her own African travels, have developed into an annual offering whose proceeds support local projects in Africa focusing on wildlife conservation, education, empowerment, and health care.

This year’s set of Note Cards for Hope contains eight 5x7 cards featuring Robin’s images taken at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage. Shop the cards now for the animal lovers and world travelers on your list!

Thank you to all our clients, partners, and friends for giving back in so many ways. We look forward to deepening our connection with you in 2017!


Robin Francis of WAHJ has been providing African travel services for over 10 years and travels frequently to the continent to meet with partners and experience their lodging, amenities, and activities first hand. Partners regard her as one of the most knowledgeable African travel consultants in the US, who has also invested in giving back to the communities she works with. Robin and WAHJ are available for complete travel booking throughout Africa or consulting on bookings made through other providers.