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Weekend TODAY goes on an African safari

Winners of the National Geographic Kids essay contest and Weekend TODAY host Lester Holt will explore the continent this summer.
/ Source: Weekend Today

This year, kids from across the United States will become junior explorers for National Geographic. They are the winners of “National Geographic Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge.” In August, these kids will answer the call of the wild by going on a real African safari. Weekend TODAY will be checking in with some of the kids in the months ahead, and bringing you their stories from Africa this summer. Check out the winners and information about the adventure below:

The August 2007 trip will include visits to Sabi Sabi, a private game reserve; Grootbos, a private nature reserve; and a local school.

The Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve will take the Expedition Team on a one-of-a-kind safari, introducing team members to Africa's fabled wildlife in its natural habitat. They will learn about 300 bird species and 200 animal species, including the “big five,” the term used to describe South Africa's most popular and exciting animals — elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, lion and Cape buffalo.

At the Grootbos Nature Reserve, the Expedition Team will discover the fascinating relationships among the insects, birds, mammals and flowering plants of South Africa's diverse ecosystem. The Reserve boasts more than 650 species of indigenous plants and conserves 1,700 hectares of pristine fynbos, the Cape's unique vegetation type. The Reserve is also home to the awesome great white shark.

WinnersThe winning students are Madeleine, 13, of Theodore, Ala.; Charles, 11, of Wayzata, Minn.; Katie, 11, of Las Cruces, N.M.; Aric, 13, of Edmond, Okla.; Maggie, 13, of Elk Rapids, Mich.; Caitlyn, 10, of Plandome, N.Y.; Meghan, 10, of Manhattan Beach, Calif.; William, 12, of Franklin, Va.; Gary, 13, of Fairfield, Conn.; Luke, 13, of Highlands Ranch, Colo.; Brian, 12, of Olivette, Mo.; Douglas, 11, of Lockport, N.Y.; Jocelyn, 12, of Saratoga, Calif.; Maria, 10, of San Marcos, Texas; and AJ, 9, of Versailles, KY.

The winning teachers are Lisbeth Uribe, a third- and fourth-grade science, robotics and geography instructor in New York City, and Joan Romine, teacher/coordinator of first through sixth grade in Lake Oswego, Ore.

To read the winning entries and select photos, visit .