One of the Most Exceptional Cycling Experiences Ever

It has been called the ultimate cycling safari. A mountain biking experience to rival all other mountain biking experiences. And an event for only a chosen few: a powerful pride of protectors, preservers and legacy builders. The concept behind the Great Plains Foundation’s Ride For Lions will make you want to be part of that pride, no matter how daunting it looks…

Discover more about the journey here, or as told by the Great Plains Foundation below…

Lions need land. They need hidden places, not always prime savannahs, to breed and to roam as nomads. They need this land now more than ever as a reservoir for their dwindling numbers.

There are an estimated 44 million acres of land in Africa on which lions roam that is currently unprotected or under hunting management. 60% of the remaining 20-30,000 lions live under no protection at all on this land. Great Plains is working to change these numbers and protect more land for lions.

Through the Great Plains Foundation’s Ride For Lions, conservation-minded individuals and companies help fund and expand the amount of conserved land where lions roam freely. We do this through the purchase of land leases that cost roughly $250,000 to service and protect each year. In many cases, these leases are parcels of ex hunting land where the animal populations have significantly declined. Through programs and partnerships that rehabilitate the land and wildlife while mitigating human-wildlife conflict we have seen areas once desolate, become safe havens where lions and other wildlife return in abundance.


Participants in Ride For Lions not only demonstrate a commitment to conservation, but also intimately experience the land being conserved throughout the course of the ride.

Groups are limited to just 10 members. In keeping with the singular intimacy of this experience, riders gain a greater appreciation for the land undistracted by large groups.

A ride like this is unprecedented; combining an on-the-ground conservation experience with the comforts and security of Great Plains operations. It is a 4-day exploration of Kenya’s priceless Amboseli-Tsavo region: a showcase of Nature’s grand-scale artistry and wildlife spectacles. It is this magnificence that riders witness, experience and conserve.

Graced by the presence of Mt Kilimanjaro, riders follow bush tracks, elephant trails and footpaths. From the vast swathes of savannahs with green smudges of game-rich wetlands, riders gradually ascend into the lava world of the Chyulu Hills.

At these higher elevations, the verdant slopes tumble towards the great plains of Africa that extend forever.

Ride for Lions is imbued with the Great Plains defining ethos: exquisite attention to detail, luxurious finishes, beautifully appointed locations, non-negotiable safety measures, fine dining and inimitable style. Riders enjoy a perfect synergy of exceptional touring and exceptional care.

There are echoes of the Hero’s Journey in this spectacular event. Like the archetypal Hero, riders have embraced a great adventure together, shared experiences, endured challenges, triumphed, emerged with new insights, and, most importantly, making a heroic difference to African conservation.

Contact info@greatplainsconservation.com for more information on joining Ride For Lions.


Watch the Video for a Closer Look


What Leopards Can Teach Us About Being Human

“Maybe it’s animalness that will make the world right again: the wisdom of elephants, the enthusiasm of canines, the grace of snakes, the mildness of anteaters. Perhaps being human needs some diluting.” ― Carol Emshwiller.

After three days spent beside a leopard and her cub in a foresty corner of the Maasai Mara, I’d like to add leopard to this mix. I’m sure Carol would welcome it and agree that wisdom, enthusiasm, grace and mildness are all traits of this big cat, and that it’s impossible not to question your own humanity after time in their presence.

I questioned a lot of things after my time with the leopard they call Fig and her new young thing perched in the trees at Mara Plains Camp in Kenya. After game drives, I returned to camp beneath trees of my own and pondered about life, sitting on my deck looking over the plains. In that way safaris make you look at life from a different angle, and think about things like what it means to be a mother, the importance of naps and how we really should climb more trees.

I thought that if anything, the leopard might just be able to teach us how to be better humans.

With these cats, as much as there was a time to chase her mother’s snaking tail while she slept, sloped along a fallen tree, there was a time for Figlet (Fig Junior) to collapse beside her, calm, quiet, still. A time for tenderness.

As much as there was a time to roll and tumble wildly together in the shade of their kingdom beneath the trees, there was time for that charm and elegance leopards are known for, the adults at least. Like wisdom, grace would find the cub in later years, when jumping out of the bush at unsuspecting butterflies with a little too much enthusiasm would become a slow, flowing, elegant stalk toward a lone gazelle.

It isn’t that humans need diluting, we just need some reminding, from the wilderness, from nature. Wisdom, enthusiasm, grace and tenderness – that’s all we have to hold onto, that’s all the leopards were showing me, that’s all that’s needed, Carol was saying, to make the world right again.

Discover more about Mara Plains Camp here.

The Greatest Thing That Has Happened in My Life

When we started seeking out the stories behind our lodges and hotels in Africa and the Indian Ocean, we very quickly began to see the immense impact these properties were having not only on their settings, their destinations, but on the people they employed from local communities. We became attached, in that way you do when you’re getting to know someone who intrigues and inspires you. It’s what makes it difficult to leave a place, to look at the photos after a trip and not ache to be back on that river or sea or mountain, talking and laughing and living with the people who opened their hearts to you, for a moment.

What we discover each time is the power of tourism, its ability to transform lives and create opportunities that make for what Royal Chundu’s chef Teddy Mazonda calls “the greatest thing that has happened in my life.” Teddy is one of those people we’ve be fortunate to spend time with, on the banks of the Zambezi, one of those people who intrigue and inspire even when you’re miles away.

Meet Teddy for yourself in our Q&A below.

How did you start working as a chef at Royal Chundu and what is your role today?

I started as a scullery hand in 2011 and today I am sous chef. My role is to make sure that whatever goes out meets and exceeds the guest’s expectations. This is the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life. It was in 2012 when we had a cook-off with the team. We were given a mystery basket and we had to cook one starter, one main and one dessert, which we would be judged on. it was so difficult because many of us had only had a few months in the kitchen but we produced sensible dishes and I managed to win. There were two Australian guests on the panel of judges who gave me good advice for the future. It was a great experience!

What has working at Royal Chundu taught you about yourself, life and love?

It has taught me to believe in myself, never to doubt that I can do better, to always be positive and remember that the sky isn’t the limit.

Life: in life you can be what you want to be, as long as you believe in yourself. In spite of where I started, in the scullery, I had that zeal to one day be a chef.

Love: if there had been no love, I wouldn’t be where I am today. We work together because it’s a family lodge.

Your favourite dish on the menu at Royal Chundu and why?

Smoked quail. We were the first to taste the dish with my colleagues and it helped give me an idea of the guest’s experience. The smoking process we use reminds me of my childhood in the village when we would smoke food as one way of preserving it.

What inspires you day to day – in life and work?

What inspires me the most is watching great chefs on food shows on television. It’s something to aspire to and teaches me how to go about life and how to become a great chef myself. Cooking new dishes everyday also gives me a zest for learning new things.

You could say that the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” refers to the making of a meal too. How does the whole team play a role in the creation of dishes?

In making a dish everyone is involved in coming forward with an idea and then we cooperate to bring out the best, like they say, “Together we stand, divided we fall.”

Where do you source most of your produce from and why?

We source most of our produce from the community so to ensure the freshness and taste of the product and also to support the community. Our concept is Zambian cuisine, celebrating local ingredients.

What are some of your favourite local ingredients to use?

Impwa, Lusala, Ichisongole, Malaka (calabash), Munkoyo, Mubuyu (baobab fruit), and Cassava meal.

From a chef’s point of view, what is special about the Royal Chundu experience?

The breakfast and lunch picnic with our signature canoeing trip, because we are the only lodge on the bank of the Zambezi river doing it.