Did you know that trees and plants carry 15% of the human genome while insects carry 40%, and that birds and crocodiles carry a staggering 88% and 85% respectively?

Or that those of us with Blood Group O and A could – technically speaking – receive a blood transfusion from our closest living relative, the chimpanzee with whom there is a 99% crossover of the human genome. These and many other facts are the marvelous ponderings that are revealed during time spent with wilderness guide, poet, writer, conservationist and psychiatrist, Dr Ian McCallum. His belief in the inherent connectedness of all sentient beings and his assertion that we are all living archives for the history of life on the planet is both powerful and compelling stuff. And particularly relevant in these polarized times.

And so when ROAR AFRICA’s founder Deborah Calmeyer first met fellow African Dr Ian McCallum some five years ago, their rapport was instant and their vision one. ‘He really ignited a sense of urgency in me,’ she recalls. ‘There is a bigger agenda to our work in luxury travel in Africa that isn’t just intellectual capital, it’s emotional too.’ And so while Deborah and her team at ROAR AFRICA strive to take their clients to places that they wouldn’t ordinarily experience, their aim is for their guests to return home enlightened in a way that benefits the planet and its wildlife. ‘I like to curate indelible moments inspired by spending time in the places I have loved all my life,’ says Deborah, who was brought up on a farm in Zimbabwe. ‘We like to get under the skin of a guest’s expectations, and in doing so create a trip like no other.’ It’s the kind of call to arms that is best summed up by a line in one of Ian’s poems that reads: ‘One day your soul will call to you with a holy rage. Unmask your unlived life. Unfasten your fist. Let loose the medicines from your own hands.’

The Wild Soul Safari was inspired by an epic five-month, 5,000 km journey that Ian undertook in 2012 when he walked, cycled and kayaked across six southern African countries. And so together with Ian, Deborah has created a bespoke learning journey that encapsulates the cornerstones of Ian’s philosophy. Since then they have embarked upon two Wild Soul Safari’s to pristine wilderness areas where guests shared experiences at a depth way beyond expectation. ‘Each trip is tailor-made to suit the client’s interests and levels of curiosity,’ says Deborah. ‘And with Ian’s poetry an ever present narrative.’ When seen as a language of protest, poetry becomes a powerful way to articulate some of the harsher things we can’t always say. But together Deborah and Ian have created a powerful multi-disciplinary experience where poetry is but a language of hope. For Ian, it’s: ‘a voice, a poetic instinct that is the untameable heartbeat of our souls’.

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a pattern of soul
where every tree, every bird and beast
is a soul maker?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a moving feast of stars,
footprints, scales and beginnings?

Since when
did we become afraid of the night
and that only the bright stars count?
Or that our moon is not a moon
unless it is full?

By whose command
were the animals
through groping fingers,
one for each hand,
reduced to the big and little five?

Have we forgotten
that every creature is within us
carried by tides
of Earthly blood
and that we named them?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a season
and that we are in its
final hour?

For more information on a Wild Soul Safari call us on +1 855 666 7627 or email us at welcome@roarafrica.com.

Dr Ian McCallum is the author of a novel Thorns to Kilimanjaro and Ecological Intelligence: Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature, he has also published two anthologies of wilderness poetry entitled Wild Gifts and Untamed.