COWGIRLS & PIRATES
Travel to Africa and Beyond
exploring the world's best places
meeting conservation pioneers
finding different ways to live
Our Pledge: No Lion Jams
Our Story: Dirtbag Deluxe
There are no new stories, just new ways of telling them
Cowgirls & Pirates was inspired by stories. One was the life of Sierra Club founder John Muir, a farm boy who arrived in California in the late 1800s, planning to spend a few months before heading to the Amazon. Now we'd affectionately call him a Dirt Bag, the sort of scruffy, highly intelligent, mildly maladjusted young man you meet in Joshua Tree or Missoula.
Muir never made it to the Amazon. Instead, as his biographer Michael Cohen writes, he found his “method of study” in California's Yosemite Valley.
"I have run wild," he wrote. "As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.”
The Difference: People
Cowgirls & Pirates was founded by environmental writer Susan Zakin. In 2001, she applied for a fellowship to train journalists in Madagascar, and to her surprise, she got it. Her French was almost nonexistent and the only Malagasy she knew came from a guidebook describing broken-down buses and strange diseases. It took a long night of tequila and karaoke, but she said OK.
Madagascar changed her life. A decade later, she founded Cowgirls & Pirates to share those mind-expanding experiences.
Now, more than ever, we need a global context for our ideas.
Conservation Pioneer: Garth Owen-Smith
The winner of Prince William's 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award talks about his work in Namibia's rugged Kaokoveld desert
Walking Our Walk
As members of One Percent for the Planet, started by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, we donate 1% of pretax revenues to environmental organizations that fit our strict criteria: low overhead, community support, and actions based on valid science.