For our first Cool Hunting Edition travel experience we brought 24 friends and readers on safari in Zambia. Over the course of eight days CH Zambia guests experienced the wonders and wildlife of Africa with a few surprises from our brand partners. More stories and videos here.
As editors we have the privilege of being able to experience new things and places all over the world. When traveling, we always look to see what types of products we can test out—gear, clothing, accessories, tech. Frequently our trips include access to people and environments that are out of reach for most travelers. When we had the chance to visit The Bushcamp Company in Zambia we realized it would be the perfect opportunity to let our readers travel the way that we often get to.
We have a long history of collaborating with brands to create limited edition products (we call these Cool Hunting Editions). In crafting this travel experience we felt it was worthy of the CH Edition name.
The first thing we wanted to ensure was that we were able to take great photographs while in Africa. We needed binoculars and a lot of camera equipment, but more importantly we wanted to have a professional photographer along with us to help us get the most out of our gear and to learn how to take the best pictures possible under these special conditions (shooting at dusk and dawn and often with long zoom lenses). Pentax was a perfect partner for us because their cameras and lenses are easy to use and create high quality images. They sent Kerrick James, a nature photographer, to join us for the trip. The photographic experience became core to our safari, and Pentax graciously offered the camera of choice to everyone on the trip.
Packing was a challenge. Our well-worn suitcases wouldn't work—too big, the wrong shape, and too heavy for the 25lb weight limit we had to work with. We called our friends at Tumi to see if they had the right bag for the trip. They didn't, but they graciously offered to create the Tumi + Cool Hunting Safari Duffel for us so everyone on the trip could travel in style with a purpose-built bag.
We started collecting vintage safari jackets when we began planning the trip. When our friend Geren Lockhart, the LA-based designer behind Geren Ford, decided to join us on the trip we started talking about creating an awesome safari jacket. Realizing that creating a new jacket for both men and women in so many sizes in such a small run was going to cost a small fortune, Geren came up with the brilliant idea of making custom jackets for everyone from repurposed vintage safari gear, each tailored to a fellow traveler and one-of-a-kind.
One of the reasons we chose to work with The Bushcamp Company was because they offered walking safaris. This meant that we needed the right boots for the hot, dry, and dusty climate. Vintage Shoe Company was up for the challenge. We based our boot on a stock military desert tank boot—the same ones that the U.S. Army uses—but added a bit of style to them by replacing some of the suede with distressed leather. We did get a few stares at the airport with all of our matching boots, but they performed beautifully and allowed us to trek in style.
What better complement to this amazing adventure than a nearly endless flow of Veuve Clicquot? The Bushcamp Company staff donned their yellow aprons and popped more bottles than we could count. Each day was a celebration made even more memorable.
Capturing all of our thoughts was made a bit easier thanks to Moleskine, who provided sketchbooks, pencils and carnets.
Giving back is an important part of our lives, and another reason we selected The Bushcamp Company as our travel partner was their connection to the local village school, Mfuwe Day Secondary School, which educates more than 600 students of all ages. In addition to the $10 daily donation for all Bushcamp guests, we added an additional $250 per person to help outfit one of the school's new classroom blocks with desks and dormitories with beds. We also were able to spend some time with the students, and guests were able to teach workshops. Pentax graciously offered to donate cameras for the students to learn photography. We were able to donate a MacBook Pro to help archive and edit their work, as well as four iPads packed with books and apps for the students to use. Some of our guests have already sponsored students for the rest of the school year, and we're committed to helping the school on an ongoing basis. You can read more about our visit in our dedicated story.
We created this trip as an experiment, attempting to live up to our promise of "a trip of a lifetime." Very little connectivity helped us step away from our email and Instagram feeds and forced us to connect to the people and animals around us and deep friendships were made. Nature reminded us of her majesty, beauty and brutality, offering a bit of self discovery for some of us who think they've seen and done it all. Memories were made and some really good photos too, allowing us to relive the experience and share it with our friends. I'd say we did pretty well on our first organized and hosted travel experience, and we've certainly set the bar pretty high for the next trip. We'd like to thank our 24 readers who trusted us with their summer holiday, to our brand partners for making it even more memorable, and Andy and the team at The Bushcamp Company for not only providing us with the trip of a lifetime but for also being part of it.
Images by Josh Rubin