By Phebe Wahl By Phebe Wahl | January 18, 2023 | Lifestyle
AndBeyond’s newly launched WILDchild program offers the young—and the young at heart—a much-needed connection to community and an opportunity to unplug in order to reconnect.
WILDchild guests on a game drive at South Africa’s Phinda Private Game Reserve
As we sit enjoying the glacial views after a long hike in the Andes Mountains, our guide gathers a tiny bit of fruit that has fallen on the forest floor. She quickly reminds us that we must “leave no trace” in these pristine, snow-dusted forests where the ancient, endangered monkey puzzle trees tower above.
Young guests enjoy a tour of the organic garden at Chile’s andBeyond Vira Vira lodge
We pack in—and pristinely pack out—leaving only a few footprints in the snow. Other guides might have left that small bit of fruit for the animals, but this guide teaches us to have the utmost reverence for this land— as this forest does not belong to us.
Children swimming and snorkeling near Zanzibar’s andBeyond Mnemba Island
One of the many lessons I was taught as a child was to always leave a place better than how I found it. This adage applied to everything from being a houseguest (always come bearing gifts) to time spent in nature. So I was thrilled to learn about andBeyond’s new WILDchild program that encourages younger guests to travel with a deeper connection and consciousness to destinations—striving to give back everywhere they venture.
The focus on “care of the land, care of the wildlife, care of the people” is at the very heart of every andBeyond program. Sure, there are many programs and properties that spotlight ecoconsciousness as a core pillar, yet few that invest in their care of land, wildlife and community so deeply. Founded by former Abercrombie & Kent CEO Joss Kent, andBeyond strives to foster the next generation of conservationists.
Kids in the WILDchild program enjoy the elephants at Ngala Safari Lodge.
The newly launched WILDchild teen eco-challenges are offered at andBeyond’s luxury lodges in Chile’s Vira Vira Lodge and Africa’s Phinda Private Game Reserve. The itineraries are designed specifically for a 14- to 18-yearold and their parent. (The added bonus is that teens only cost half the adult rate.)
A tiny guest greets animals at Chile’s andBeyond Vira Vira lodge.
The five-day itinerary is packed with adventures all led by the andBeyond team of expert guides. Think white-water rafting down Class 4 rapids, horseback riding through river crossings, cooking classes and glacial hikes. Woven throughout these experiences are moments to engage with and give back to the community.
A little girl learns to make fire with the Masai at Kenya’s andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp in the Masai Mara National Reserve as part of the WILDchild program.
There are adrenaline-pumping moments that get the heart racing— and touching community connections that make the heart melt. “It not only creates a series of unforgettable moments for the whole family but forges strong bonds between our young guests, our planet and its people,” says Kent. Guests are encouraged to make a donation to support one of the area nonprofits or community outreach efforts as part of their stay. The idea is to not just leave no trace, but to leave it a better place—a lesson certainly worth passing on to our children.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND