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Africa’s Greatest Safaris—and the Women Who Make Them Possible

ROAR AFRICA founder, women’s rights activist, and conservationist Deborah Calmeyer shares how her fascinating childhood in Zimbabwe inspired an equally interesting career creating some of Africa’s greatest safaris.

Calmeyer’s stories—which include tales about growing up with a lioness as a pet, designing safaris for clients like Robert Redford, and having a near-death experience with a pack of wild dogs—are colored with her love and passion for the unlimited treasures and life-changing experiences Africa has to offer.

ROAR’s custom-designed safaris might include flying guests via helicopter to meet one of the last pastoral tribes in Kenya or exploring the Mana Pools region in Calmeyer’s native country of Zimbabwe. ROAR also offers a limited number of group trips, including the “Greatest Safari on Earth.” Just 10 guests join this annual journey, which travels by private Emirates A319 jet (equipped with private cabins) to four of sub-Saharan Africa’s most iconic destinations: Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world; the Okavango Delta in Botswana; Kenya’s Maasai Mara to witness the Great Migration; and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to track gorillas.

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ROAR AFRICA offsets 1.5 times the carbon emissions from the trip, and for every destination she sends her clients, Calmeyer insists on sustainable partners focused on conservation and cultural and social impact. In fact, according to Calmeyer, too many visitors to Africa focus entirely on the wildlife experience. She likes to open her clients up to Africa’s “other Big 5”—art, culture, fashion, design, and food. She incorporates cultural elements into all of ROAR’s safaris, but for those interested in going beyond, she suggests Kigali in Rwanda and Cape Town in South Africa.

Calmeyer is also an advocate for women’s rights in Africa. Her Women’s Empowerment journeys, which launched last year, are exclusive safaris led by female guides, pilots, and more, with a focus on opening up career paths for women in the tourism industry. She speaks with Bruce about the day she came up with the idea for the trips, as well as the incredible bonds that form among everyone who participates—which, of course, is one of the wonderful things about travel. After hearing Bruce’s interview with Calmeyer, you’ll want to start planning your next safari right away. But be sure to stick around after the interview, when Bruce shares a crazy safari story of his own in the Wallin Wrap-Up.

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Hosted by: Bruce Wallin

Produced and edited by: AJ Moseley & Darra Stone

Music by: Joey Salvia