TYLER’S JOURNAL ENTRY
Heading out for what would be one of the last stops in our African adventure, we again, found ourselves taking flight in a small prop plane. We were off to the Serengeti National Park, located in northern Tanzania. We were headed to another beautiful property of Singita, and would be housed in their Explore Mobile Tented Camp. It was around two hours later that we landed on a grass airstrip with nothing but a porta john, 3 safari vehicles and 3 giraffes that appeared to be our welcome committee.
As soon as we stepped off the plane, we threw our bags into the Land Rover with Alfred, our guide for the next few days. We stopped several times during our drive to admire the animals and snap some photos. Hayley and I had been documenting each day through videos, pictures, (thanks to Hayley, my pro photographer) and writing in our journals. As luck would have it, we saw several animals that were on our bucket list that we hadn’t seen in Kruger, such as the African buffalo, which happens to be the most aggressive and dangerous animal in the bush and possibly the world. We also experienced a once in a lifetime sighting of a lioness who had climbed up a tree, just lounging above all those roaming the grounds below her. The power and agility of these huge cats was mind blowing. Even our guide, Alfred, had never seen a lioness actually climb a tree.
After the excitement had settled, we noticed a cluster of dark clouds rolling in and we knew it was time to head out. We still had a half an hour drive to the camp, but it wasn’t even ten minutes before the bottom fell out, and we were getting poured on. We quickly put on our ponchos to try and keep from getting soaked. Although the ponchos helped tremendously, we still got fairly wet and poor Alfred felt terrible, though we assured him that we didn’t mind and that we were just excited to be there. Despite the rain and our growing hunger, we stayed in great spirits, mainly thanks to Hayley, and soon enough we arrived at the camp.
The staff welcomed us with warm smiles and excited greetings, while quickly helping us get our bags out of the rain. As we dried off, trying to take everything in, the staff had graciously prepared hot chocolate that was waiting for us as we stepped out of the rain. Hayley and I were completely blown away by Singita’s Explore Mobile tent camp. This was glamping (glamorous camping) at its finest. We were shocked to find out that every 2-3 months they pack up, and move the tent location, depending on weather and the animals movement. Though mobile, we felt like we were in a five star tent resort, and in our eyes, we were. We had the most amazing staff who we instantly fell in love with.
Exhausted after our day of traveling and getting caught in the rain, we decided to take a quick power nap before our evening game drive with Alfred. Following our quick snooze, we enjoyed a quick cup of coffee before we headed out with Alfred. It wasn’t 45 minutes into the drive before we spotted a female cheetah and her two babies laying in the grass. We watched for about 30 minutes as she came close to the Land Rover, walking around us and laid down as if she were showing off for a photo shoot.
Following our wildly amazing and eventful two and half hour game drive, we headed back to camp for a quick shower before dinner. The staff had a roaring campfire with lanterns hanging from the trees waiting for us as we arrived for dinner. Hayley and I enjoyed one of the best meals yet while on our trip. We spent the evening getting to know our staff a little better while having a few cocktails, telling stories around the fire and playing the guitar, (somehow they found a guitar for me to get my fix). We had already fallen in love with this place, and the people. The joy, happiness and love that we’ve experienced is like none other and something we desired more of in our life.
The next day we woke early, around 5:45am in order to have a light breakfast and coffee before our morning safari. Along our morning drive, we pulled up to another Singita property called Sasakwa, where Jacqueline gave us a tour of the property before we indulged in our second breakfast of the day. I was pretty stoked to get my omelet and bacon to say the least. But I was even more surprised to find out that the server knew my favorite breakfast, and knew that I love my bacon crispy. One of the many things Singita excels at is communication. No matter what property we visited, whether it was in Kruger National Park or one of the properties in the Serengeti National Park, everyone knew our preferences about everything. Each location anticipated our every want and need – My morning dose of extra crispy bacon and an omelet “with all the flavors,” or Hayley’s love for green tea in the morning and chamomile at night. The list goes on and on with their level of perfection and thoughtfulness.
Upon our request, we headed down the hill and stopped in to visit another Singita cooking school. We wanted to check out as many of the projects that Singita has initiated as we could. We had been so impressed with the cooking school at Kruger, that we insisted to make a visit to this one. Hayley and I were blown away yet again with the opportunities that Singita has provided for the locals. We also visited the Black Rhino conservation area where we met Matt, who taught us all about this endangered species and what efforts Singita was doing to help. These projects that they have initiated are directed to empower the communities and provide education. This provides ex-poachers with jobs so that they don’t have to make their income by poaching wildlife.
After learning about all the amazing opportunities Singita has to offer, we headed back to camp for an amazing lunch. We opted out of our evening game drive due to the undesirable weather that was rolling in. Instead, we stayed back to learn how the whole camp worked. I was mesmerized at the intricate details and technique that made this camp run like it did. All of our questions were answered as we walked around and saw the ends and outs of the operation. I was truly inspired and slightly jealous of their set up. Just like my dad, I think it would be so neat to be completely self-sufficient and operate off of our natural resources.
Dinner that evening was nothing short of amazing, followed by sitting and enjoying a glowing fire. We were just about to head back to our tent to shower and get ready for bed, when we were surprised by a group of 15 or so native Africans who closed out our evening with singing and dancing. They put on quite the show, and before long without a worry in the world, Hayley and I were dancing along with them. We felt like we were a part of their culture as we learned new dances with our new friends.
Alfred once said, “Every day is a new day, a new chapter, full of different experiences.” This rings especially true for our Singita safari experience, as each day brought new excitement. Although we were exhausted from the night before, and our bodies were screaming for more sleep, we fought the urge remembering Albert’s inspirational words and headed out for our morning game drive. During our drive, we witnessed an indescribable sighting of a HUGE herd of elephants. We took countless photos while watching hundreds of elephants roam around the Sahaskwa dam. Upon request, we also had the privilege of meeting Katherine, who is the senior technical advisor for community outreach and sustainability. We exchanged contact information with the hopes of keeping in touch, and getting involved with the many opportunities Singita offers the local villages and areas of conservation.
After our visit with Katherine, we wanted to visit the village where Singita purchased the majority of their produce. By acquiring food items from the local villages, they provide jobs and opportunities for additional income for the locals. This allows them to be able to provide for themselves and their families without having to poach animals for money. Hayley and I were so impressed at how this village had developed over the last couple of years, simply because of the efforts and opportunities Singita has provided for more income.
Following our eventful and educational morning we headed out to our next stop where we would be staying for the night. The Singita Sabora tented camp was similar to the, Explore Mobile tented camp where we had stayed the last 2 nights, but with a few additional upgrades. It was a permanent tented camp that had the additional amenities such as a pool, small spa and a gym. We arrived just in time for lunch, and an afternoon spa treatment. After our wonderful massages we slipped on our robes and slippers and walked back to our tent in the rain. (Just the visual of Hayley and I walking through the middle of the Serengeti in robes and slippers got us giggling). We closed out our evening with a wonderful dinner, and after visiting the cooking schools, and where the food came from, we had a deeper appreciation for what we were eating. After dinner we couldn’t resist the staff’s sweet and excited request for me to play a few songs. They had brought the guitar over from the Explore camp in case I would sing to them, which I happily did.
Our last day at Sabora began around 7am as we jumped out of bed, got dressed and were ready to head out for our last safari of the trip. We headed out with positive attitudes with the hopes of finding lions on our final drive. After about an hour we stopped, as Albert had spotted two male lions in the distance. As we drove a little closer, Albert gave us the run down on their estimated age and state of health, noting that they had been injured in the past. Hayley and I were carried away with taking pictures when all of a sudden Alfred said, “Look, look, look… Over there,” with excitement in his voice. This was the moment we had been waiting for since we landed in Africa. There were two full-grown male lions, that Albert estimated were around 10 years old. Hayley and I couldn’t thank Alfred enough for all the once in a lifetime experiences that we had seen in the last few days.
We returned to camp to shower and pack our things before grabbing a quick lunch. We finished our last meal and said our goodbyes to all the staff, and with tears in our eyes we drove off and headed to the airstrip. Hayley and I have been blessed to travel the globe and stay at some of the nicest places with family and friends, but out of all the hotels and destinations, Singita properties tops them all. Not only does this company provide a service of pure excellence, but they give back in a way that we’ve never seen in another company first hand.
On our way to the airstrip, we stopped by Faru Faru, another Singita property. We wanted to check it out before leaving, so as to know where we wanted to stay the next time we came to Africa… Which seems to be sooner and sooner with every conversation. Africa officially had our hearts. We loved every person that we met, and with every new chapter, we fell more and more in love with this place. We arrived at the airstrip and loaded our bags onto the plane. We gave Alfred a hug, and said our goodbyes, knowing we would miss him greatly, but would see him again soon. As we told him earlier, he was a life long friend and this was just the beginning of our adventure together. We drove down the grass airstrip and took off towards Rwanda, our last destination in Africa.
To learn more about our Singita stay locations, click the links below.