This Thursday: Animal Rights, Human Rights

A special opportunity to see Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching, a short documentary film about the impact of African game reserves and tourism on indigenous people, and meet with Emmy-nominated filmmaker John Antonelli.

Can wildlife conservation efforts go too far?  How about summary execution of suspected poachers without any judicial process?  Through the inspiring stories of two activists, Unfair Game explores the disastrous results when wildlife takes priority over indigenous people’s rights to land, due process, and life. The film also shows the positive potential when native people and animals are both valued and respected.

Thursday, April 24: 7:30-9:00 pm
3392 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703 (near Ashby BART)

The Human Connection: Engaging Difference in Southern Africa—April 10

Spend an evening in conversation with Marc Tognotti of the Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund and Institute of the Commons.  Marc will share stories about his travels to meet with community groups and conservation activists in southern Africa.  Join Marc in reflecting on his experiences in remote African villages, encountering members of one of the world’s most isolated tribes in northern Namibia, and spending time in Zambian and Zimbabwean communities without running water, electricity, or tourists.  His theme will be making human connection across differences of culture, race, education and wealth, as he discusses his efforts to break through preconceptions that often get in the way of meaningful personal exchange … and friendship.

Thursday, April 10: 7:30-9:00pm
Two Hats Consulting
3392 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703 (near Ashby BART)
Marc Tognotti, PhD, works as a consultant to government agencies and other organizations, designing and implementing participatory processes to help diverse stakeholders find agreement on complex issues.  He also serves as advisor to the southern Africa grantmaking program of the Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund, a small US-based foundation that seeks to partner with poor and disenfranchised communities around the world in their efforts to secure access to basic needs, and protect basic human rights. 
For more info, contact

IN LIKE A LION: Movement-Based Workshop

For those who can’t make it to Africa this summer, Open Heart Safari is pleased to present… 

A Movement-Based Workshop with Laura Paradise
Sunday, March 30: 2-4pm

Many of us are moved by animals.
Being in the presence of wild animals may stir the wild animal inside us.
We may have identified an animal ally or sense a kinship to specific animals.
Or, we may want to cultivate a greater sense of our own animal spirit.

“March comes in like a lion,” they say.  What better time to explore your relationship to some of Africa’s animals and touch your own animal spirit?  In Like a Lion is a studio-based event that integrates movement, play on two- and four-legs, sound, and drawing.  We will use the pulse and sounds of the African bush and the movements of African wildlife as the context for connecting with our own aliveness. 

Sunday March 30, 2-4 pm
East Bay Dance Center, 1318 Glenfield, Oakland
Suggested donation $20
To reserve your spot, email

Laura Paradise is a certified life coach who facilitates personal and professional growth with a unique approach that draws on expressive arts and Authentic Movement. With her husband Tom, she has been co-leading Open Heart Safari to Zambia for the past three years. 

“I still feel taller, more confident and quite peaceful from our movement session.”

“The movement workshop was very healing to me. The exercises that we did were enlightening and motivated me to take action. Since then, I’ve been stepping away, stepping out and stepping it up a notch.”

The best way to travel to Africa is with an Open Heart!
Join us to learn what touches you.
Please like us, share us, etc. on facebook:

Open Heart Safari Spring Events

In our third year of bringing folk to the animal wildness of Africa, Open Heart Safari is now bringing the animal wildness of Africa home to Oakland/Berkeley, CA.

Mark your calendar for our spring events:

Sunday, March 30, 2-4pm: In Like a Lion.  Led by Laura Paradise, this workshop uses movement, drawing, and other expressive arts to connect with your animal energies, and experience the pulse and spirit of Africa.

Thursday, April 10, 7:30-9pm: Engaging Difference in Southern Africa.  Marc Tognotti, Program Officer of Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund, speaks about his recent travels in Zimbabwe and Zambia to meet with community groups and conservation activists, and lessons learned.

Thursday, April 24, 7-9pm: Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching.  Viewing and discussion of short documentary exploring the ongoing conflict between white conservationists and indigenous people in Africa.

Sunday, May 18, all day: Open Heart Safari – Pt. Reyes.  Open your heart to the wildlife in our own backyard on a daytrip to beautiful Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Marin.  We’ll be featuring Open Heart practices to deepen your experience of the land, animals, and yourself.

For more information, email, or check back for postings about individual events.


Sable antelope

Male sable antelope, Kafue N. Park

I think the sable antelope may be the most beautiful of the many species of African antelope we’ve seen.  They’re seldom seen–they’re quite shy, and not so common.  We saw two good-size herds.

The photo again is courtesy of trip participant Jean Bruno.

Cool wildlife in Zambia

Male leopard, S. Luangwa Nat'l Park


Male lion, S. Luangwa


Lioness, Kafue Nat'l Park, by river bank


These photos were taken by Jean Bruno, one of our Open Heart Safari participants this year, who heard about it from her friend, whose husband and daughter came last year.  I’m sure the only reason her photos are so much better than mine is that she has a shiny new camera.  

More pics and stories to come soon (I hope).

South Luangwa Bound!

Why Zambia, you ask? South Luangwa National Park, not to mention that Zambia is the home of the walking safari and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Who wouldn’t want to track a lion on foot knowing that the guide is keeping you at a safe distance? And what about seeing the belly print of a crocodile (so much better than seeing the croc up close and all too personal?!). 

Take a look at this link for a preview of our where we’ll be starting our bush trekking.

We still have space left for our July trip to Zambia!

We are still looking for a few kindred spirits to share a truly special journey with us this July 17-31.  (Optional Botswana extension: July 31-Aug. 2.)

THIS IS NO ORDINARY SAFARI. We experience remote natural areas. We spend time in rural and urban communities. We meet with community groups and conservation activists. We learn about how national parks affect local people and how community folk are getting involved in wildlife conservation. We do yoga and meditation, just enough to take care of our bodies and be present for the amazing landscape, animals and people. We deepen our experience through regular group sharing circles. And we have fun! 

We choose Zambia for our safari, because it offers amazing wildlife without the crowds, as well as welcoming people, superior wildlife guides, and walking safaris. (Not to mention spectacular Victoria Falls.)


Three Slideshows in Bay Area Next Week!


We’re planning a banner week of 3 slideshows in 5 days, including our first ever showing in the North Bay, and what will probably our only showing this year in SF.


I hope you can join us to see some of the amazing wildlife, landscapes, and culture that Zambia has to offer, see pictures of our incredible Open Heart Safari last August, and learn more about our unique trip coming up July 17-31 (with optional Botswana extension July 31-Aug. 2).  

Open Heart Safari takes you to some of the densest wildlife areas in the world, where you can experience close up the amazing lions, leopard
s, elephants, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, antelope, etc. of Africa, as well as literally hundreds of species of birds.  Our trip is unlike the typical safari experience where you are surrounded by crowds of other tourists–we go to remote natural areas.  And we get out of the vehicle to track animals on foot.  And we spend meaningful time with rural and urban communities, meet inspirational leaders working for conservation and social justice, and visit spectacular Victoria Falls.  And we do it all in a small group, opening to the incredible experience with frequent short simple meditation, yoga, and group sharing circles.


San Francisco–Sun., Apr. 7, 4:30-6:00pm
Private home near Pacific Heights
RSVP for address to tom[at]


Marin–Mon., Apr. 8, 6:30-8:00pm
Coaches Training Inst.
4000 Civic Center Dr., Ste. 500 (5th floor)
San Rafael, CA 94903
RSVP for directions (it’s a little tricky) to tom[at]
Berkeley–Thurs., Apr. 11, 7:30-9:00pm
Private home near N. Berkeley BART
RSVP for address to tom[at]


Hope to see you there.  And please invite your friends!


A Once in a Lifetime Experience

One of our travelers from last year was asked her impressions by a woman considering joining our next trip.  Her response was so enthusiastic that I felt compelled to share it more widely:

I have so many good things to say about the Open Heart Safari with Tom – I’m not quite sure where to start!
I went with my dad, who is 72 (I’m 37). We did a lot of research ahead of time & were about to book a trip to Tanzania & Kenya & then a friend of mine told me about Tom’s trip. My dad & I were also wanting to do a little volunteer work in Africa, and we are both into meditation & I’m into yoga so we were trying to fit that in somehow too – and then it was perfect that Tom’s trip combined all of that! I worked at Harvard in global health & so had lots of friends & colleagues who had been on safari in Tanzania, and while they really enjoyed it, I heard a lot of stories about how they would be out driving & then see a huge group of jeeps all gathered around something & their jeep would zoom over & all the jeep drivers would be trying to cut in front of the other drivers so the people could get good photos. So going to Zambia really appealed to us, since you still get to see all the magnificent animals but without the big crowds. 
Zambia is referred to as the “Real Africa” and I can see why. It’s a lovely country, and very safe. I really liked the chance to meet with local people. The itinerary was a great mix of spending time with wildlife in beautiful national parks, and then spending time with local people in various settings. We got to stay overnight in a local village which was really incredible. A local guide took us around the village & we got to play with kids & see their school & meet a traditional medicine woman/healer, and eat a typical meal & sleep in a sweet little hut. Speaking of eating & sleeping – aside from one or 2 especially “authentic” meals (eating with your hands!), the rest of our meals were at the lodges where we stayed, and the food was incredible. I’m a vegetarian & my dad’s a meat eater & we both were really happy with all the food choices. I think I even gained a few pounds (which seems hard to believe in Africa!). The food & the lodging were both over & above what I expected. The place we stayed the longest was called Flat Dog’s & it was wonderful. Big comfortable beds with nice linens, hot showers, laundry, very clean & safe, really customer-service oriented staff, a swimming pool, etc. We also stayed at a lodge that was WAY out in the boonies & was such a unique experience. My dad & I had our own little house/bungalow (which they call “chalets” there), with a bathroom that was mostly open-air. Clean & nicely decorated, but really felt like we were out in the wilderness. One morning we woke up & there was elephant dung near our front porch 🙂 At that place we had 3-course meals, which was quite a surprise given how remote it was.
One of the biggest highlights of the trip was the relationships we developed with Tom & Laura & the other participant, David. From the first evening when we sat down to meet & chat, Tom really opened up & shared a lot & it opened the way for the rest of us to be really honest & upfront & really share a lot. And from there, the daily contemplative practices & sharing & yoga & drawing all really helped connect us. It’s such a crazy experience to see a wild leopard OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAjust a few feet from your jeep – it was so magnificent & moving, I almost cried. And spending a day in a slum in the capitol & seeing the way they lived & really feeling like we made a contribution & connecting with local people there – that was also very moving. It’s hard to know what to do with feelings like that – it’s so much more intense than my daily life here. So having a close group that I could process that stuff with & talk it over & share how we each experienced things & how we were feeling made a HUGE difference in my time there. I felt like I had a good amount of one on one time with my dad, and also appreciated the group dynamic. We are all still in contact & have even visited each other from across the country since the trip. 
That was actually one of the reasons we chose Tom’s trip over the other group in Tanzania. We thought the people that would be attracted to his trip (who would want to volunteer & be into the contemplative practices) would be more likely to be our kind of people. And it definitely worked out that way.
Tom (and Laura) did a wonderful job leading the group. Tom is incredibly knowledgable about that part of the world. He knew so much about the animals we were seeing & fielded all our questions (and the guides in the national parks were exceptional too). In general he’s a really smart guy, very interesting, a good storyteller. He’s a very honest person & makes himself vulnerable in a way that’s quite endearing. He isn’t afraid to tell you when he doesn’t know something, which I appreciated. It was a good blend of his leading the way, and also asking us if we had preferences for certain things. Laura is a great complement to Tom. I really enjoyed getting to know her, and the two of them make a great team.
Oh & Victoria Falls was great! My dad was especially excitedOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA about that part & he wasn’t disappointed. It was quite a sight! And we got to spend a whole day there & took a really cool trip to a little island right at the edge of the falls where we got to go right up close, and had a very high-end breakfast overlooking the falls. Very nice.
Sorry if this email has too much information… but if there’s anything else you’re still wondering about please feel free to ask, or you can give me a call ….
I hope it works for you to go! It really is a once in a lifetime experience, and I really think going with Tom is the best way to do it.