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Longboat Key Garden Club plans its first group trip to Africa

A new member inspired the club to travel together and seek out its mission abroad in her home country.

Longboat Key Garden Club members will be heading for a four-day safari in the Sabi Sands private reserve with lots of wildlife.
Longboat Key Garden Club members will be heading for a four-day safari in the Sabi Sands private reserve with lots of wildlife.
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The Longboat Key Garden Club is busting out its safari hats.

The club is planning its first group trip to Africa in October. Garden Club President Melanie Dale said there have been about 100 inquiries but the trip is set to accommodate about 20 travelers.

The trip was suggested by new Garden Club member Debbie Mc Hardy. Originally from South Africa, Mc Hardy works as a private guide for the African Firefly travel company. Since joining, she's talked to many members about wanting to share the beauty of her home country with them and how it ties in with the Garden Club’s mission. 

Mc Hardy said several members have gone to Africa before but haven't experienced it through an extensive and local trip like this one. 

“When you're part of a group, you feel a lot more comfortable doing things,” said Mc Hardy. “Perhaps, if you're single, you could share a room with someone else and meet new people. Just having other people to be with encourages adventure and travel.”

The trip is from Oct. 12-22 for $6,682 per person including accommodations, tours, and flights. It is only open to current Garden Club members. 

Longboat Key Garden Club member Debbie Mc Hardy will serve as a private guide for the club's four days in Cape Town.
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The 10-day African adventure starts with four nights in Cape Town. The group will go to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain to see penguins and go on wine tastings at wineries. Mc Hardy said that Cape Town is the smallest of the six recognized floral kingdoms in the world with over 9,000 plant species so it is perfect for gardening enthusiasts.

Following that will be four nights on a safari in the Sabi Sands private reserve. On the safari, members will see a variety of wildlife such as cheetahs, elephants, lions, rhinos, zebras, leopards, wild dogs and antelopes. 

The last two nights will be spent in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, where they will view the famous waterfall and go on a sunset dinner cruise on the Zambezi River.

The Longboat Key Garden Club will be taking a ten-day group trip to Africa where they will visit Victoria Falls.
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“This trip fits right in with what we do as a club and the preservation that we're trying to do,” said Dale. “The magnificence of Africa will strike a chord with a lot of our members. It fits in with most of the beliefs and what we're trying to accomplish as a group through the attention to ecology and Mother Earth. Most of our members are very much aware of what's going on environmentally, but this trip will give us a chance to connect with more than just Florida. This is a chance to see a different part of the world that has a very different environment and connect to environmental issues on a more global level.”



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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