Rafiki Explorers: Give Your Kids a Pen Pal and a Life-changing Experience

Written by Thomson Safaris

Our guests have called Tanzania a “living classroom” – not just for the incredible variety of wildlife but because of the touching experiences they enjoy with the people.

This is especially true for families, largely because of our Rafiki Explorers program, which connects our guests’ children with a pen pal in Tanzania of the same age and gender.

We’re proud of all the safari activities designed specifically for children – tracker training with the guides, Basic Swahili lessons at camp, soccer and other sports played with camp crew or at a school visit. There are even organized bow and arrow lessons with members of the Ikoma tribe (sharp tips removed, of course).

The pen pal program is a particularly special activity to us because the connections are personal, insightful and – barring any conflicts with class schedules or absenteeism* – lead up to a meeting that makes a truly profound impact.


How to Get Your Pen Pal

writing to penpal in tanzania

Starting the pen pal program with your child is simple – in fact, we send a step-by-step explainer to each of our family safari goers in case they’re interested.

  1. Your child will write the first letter – an introduction explaining their hobbies, interests or anything else they’d like to share. You won’t know the name of your pen pal at this point, so we suggest addressing the letter with “Dear Pen Pal.”
  2. Email the letter to your Trip Manager with your child’s name and age in the subject line. You can add images to your email, but keep in mind they will be printed in black and white in Tanzania. We recommend two medium-sized, simple images at most.

That’s it! We share the letter with the Tanzania office, which prints and delivers it to the particular school you’re visiting during your trip. Then, your child’s pen pal writes a response.

The response process takes a minimum of one month. Responses are written by hand by students and, in the event they don’t speak English, a teacher helps write and translate. The letter is scanned, emailed back to us and then shared with you.

A response to the student’s letter is more than welcome – we simply repeat the process!

What Does it All Look Like in the End?

Meeting the children of Tanzania is an incredibly special experience – see for yourself.

tanzania penpal on safari


meeting penpal in tanzania


soccer football with tanzania children


penpals meet in tanzania


pen pals in tanzania school


*Class schedules and absenteeism do create uncertainty. We make every effort to facilitate pen pal meetings, but the interactions are not guaranteed.