Close Encounters of the Big Five Kind

Trip Region: Africa
Country(ies): South Africa
Partners Trek? Yes
Cost: $2584
Airfare Estimate: $1950
Structure:   •   Lodging:   •   Nightlife: 3   •   Activity: 4

Trek Description:

Given that we’re literally traveling halfway around the world, we’re squeezing a lot of adventures and good times into one trip. We’ll start in Cape Town, where we’ll visit Robben Island, explore the city and its history, tour Cape Peninsula (translation: chill with penguins), and spend time in wine country. Mixed throughout the trip, get ready for outdoor adventures like trekking up Table Mountain, cage diving with great white sharks (!!!), and hiking in Blyde River Canyon (if you’ve never heard of it, Google it–it’s preeeeeeetty extraordinary). Oh, and did we mention safaris? How does four, half-day safaris sound? IN KRUGER NATIONAL PARK NO LESS. THEY FILMED PLANET EARTH THERE. That means elephants, giraffes, cape buffalo, rhinos, lions, leopards, zebras, a zillion other animals, and maybe even cheetahs. We had the option of choosing more convenient safaris, which would have traded off a degree of wildlife breadth and abundance, and we said no. We’re sending it.

While this trek is active, we’ve designed it to also be inclusive and balance structured activities with unstructured time. You do not need to be in peak physical condition, but heads up, we’re gonna sweat on the hikes. Separately, this is not a party-for-a-week-straight trek. Yes, we will enjoy the nightlife in Cape Town, but we’re not rushing to help you check the “I danced on a table during business school” checkbox–don’t fret, you’ll have ample opportunities over two years. Instead, we’re all about good vibes, and this trek’s vibes will be off the charts.

Day 1 — Tuesday, Aug 15

Andrew "giraffe" Haeger

Hometown: Seattle, WA
Undergrad: Bowdoin College (Go U Bears!)
Pre-MBA life: Finance, Startups, CPG Operations
Post-MBA plans: Climate Tech Venture Capital

Why should you join my trek?
“Memories that last a lifetime” is a cute cliché, but that’s what this trip is in a nutshell. Joining us will mean reimagining the ceiling of how great traveling can be. You’ll soon find out that business school features the highest concentration of type-A planners that you’ve ever experienced. We, your humble leaders, contribute to this statistic; we LOVE organizing activities and trips that bind this community and make business school the time of our lives. Over the course of one week in August, you’re going to validate every life decision you’ve ever made that led to your attending Ross. Buckle up.

About Me: Nourished on the fine water of the Pacific Northwest, I’ve grown (almost) as tall as the evergreen trees that give my birthplace its nickname. Though I’ve long since moved away to explore the world (43 states and counting!), my roots in the PNW still run deep. I love spending time exploring new cities, restaurants, and mountain ranges, whether fly-fishing, hiking, camping, skiing, or hanging out with MBA1s. I love to cook and throw dinner parties, so get ready for the friendships we make to last way longer than August. At Ross, I’m a co-president of the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital club and Ross Outdoor Club, on the board for MTrek and the Ski & Snowboard club, part of MCV (the student-run climate venture fund), involved in a variety of initiatives through ZLI and Sanger, and enjoy attending most of my classes. I’m terrible at making tradeoffs, so I usually just try to do everything (kind of like how we’re hitting **all** the highlights of South Africa).

Isabel "penguin" Bonnyman

Hometown: Washington DC / East TN / Northwest GA
Undergrad: Princeton University
Pre-MBA life: Conservation International: tropical marine conservation and sustainable blue economy
Post-MBA plans: Corporate Sustainability

Why should you join my trek?
I live and breathe for the sole purpose of exploring the many amazing places on this planet and I’m thrilled I get to visit South Africa with you. This trip is going to be insanely cool, from ocean depths to mountain tops… we’re literally going to go cage diving with great white sharks, chill on beaches with penguins, hike to one-of-a-kind views, and safari with elephants. I’m so excited about this trip that I literally forgot to do multiple problem sets for classes this semester because I was planning all the ways we’re going to have a blast in South Africa. We’re going to make this the most welcoming, enjoyable, and exciting MTrek possible, I can’t wait to meet you!

Janaki Balanchander

Hometown: Chennai, India
Undergrad: Madurai Kamaraj University
Pre-MBA life: Manufacturing Sailboats
Post-MBA plans: Brand Manager

Why should you join my trek?
We’ve got what might just be the coolest MTrek lineup ever, and we, the trek leaders, can’t wait to dive into (pun intended) the adventures waiting in South Africa. As someone who loves a good adrenaline rush, I’m super excited for cage diving and maybe even bungee jumping! This trip is all about breaking out from our business school bubbles and really getting to know each other in some of the most thrilling ways possible. We’re here to make sure this trip is one for the books, giving you awesome stories to share with your friends and light up your Instagram feed.