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The Safari That Changed My Life

The Safari That Changed My Life

We originally went on a Wildland Adventures trip to Tanzania in 2002. It would be a vast understatement to say that our Wildland Adventure to Africa changed my life.

As a child, I had watched Wild Kingdom and other nature programs on TV, but I never imagined that I might one day travel to Africa. My wife, Wendy, arranged our first trip working with Nicole from Wildland Adventures. It was a private tour with our three boys, aged 8, 14, and 16. We were met by a representative at the airport who took us to our hotel, where we subsequently met Ronald our driver and guide. Ronald stayed with us until we departed for Zanzibar. We spent two weeks exploring the Northern Circuit of game parks beginning with Sinya, a private game reserve and ending with six days in the Serengeti. Part of the time we were also accompanied by a Maasai guide, Lamiani. The venues were fabulous, the accommodations excellent, and the guiding superb. Ronald was always enthusiastic, worked quite well with the kids, and was quite flexible in terms of our needs. He was knowledgeable about all manner of wildlife and he was extremely in touch with photographic desires in terms of positioning, lighting, etc.

After spending a lot of time in the field during the subsequent decade, that trip still sets the bar for excellence in wildlife encounters and for excellence in guiding. Ronald helped us appreciate not only the large showcase animals but more subtle aspects of our environment including the flora, the smaller creatures, and aspects of animal behavior. Aided by Ronald’s superb guiding skills we were able to have close encounters with a variety of Africa’s cats from servals in the grass to a cheetah with a kill in a tree. In the Serengeti, we saw a lioness bring down a wildebeest and feed it to its cubs. We had excellent bird encounters from small bee eaters and kingfishers to ostriches in mating plummage. Particularly notable were the culture encounters with the Maasai, the Datoga, and the Hadza. Photos from my Wildland Adventures Africa Safari

Subsequent to our trip, we have remained in contact with Nicole, who organized the trip. I have even spent time with her in Tanzania and in Dubai.  We have also stayed connected with our guide Ronald and have met up with him during several subsequent trips to Northern Tanzania.

"This first trip to Africa was the evolutionary precursor to many facets of my life."

Since our first trip to Tanzania with Wildland Adventures, I have been back to Africa more than a dozen times and cumulatively have spent over a year there. I went on to become a professor in the Center for Africa Studies at Stanford.  I have been working with an organization aimed at health promotion in Africa and I have taught classes on Biogeography and on development. I have also led trips to East Africa and across the world including Papua New Guinea, the Galapagos, Madagascar, and even a Darwin Safari to Great Britain. Stemming from my time in Tanzania with Wildland, I have continued to pursue my fascination with wildlife photography.Pictures from all these adventures can be found on my website: http://www.stanford.edu/~siegelr/photo.html

Wildland Adventures unexpectedly came back into our lives this past spring. We received an offer to attend the Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Charles Darwin Research Foundation – an event sponsored in part by Wildland. This was also an opportunity to meet Wildland Founders Kurt and Anne Kutay. We jumped at the opportunity to attend this event and to express our gratitude for opening up this important chapter in our lives. We look forward to future interactions and collaborations with Wildland.


Robert David Siegel, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor (Teaching)
Department of Microbiology and Immunology,
Program in Human Biology,
Center for African Studies, and
Woods Institute for the Environment
Stanford University 

My Go-to Base Layer
Our Extended Wildland Family in India

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