Tuesday, July 22, 2014

AFRICA PART 3: Singita Sabora Tented Camp

How many pictures is too many for a blog post!? Well I think {and hope} its relative, especially when you are choosing from over 700 photos, to go into 3 blog posts.  I hope you enjoy this wordy photographic blog post. 

Amazing! Life Enhancing! Amazing! Phenomenal! Amazing! 

While blogging and talking with people about my trip to Africa, I have really struggled to come up with the right words to truly describe my experience, and then I came across a Facebook post by Through A Guide's Lens with James Sutter; he said it perfectly:

The African bush veld-how does anyone live without it? It touches your heart, feeds your soul, it lifts your worries and grounds you in a way that nothing else can.  May we always nurture and protect the wild earth that we live in. 

WE SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST. The third and final place we stayed at was Singita Sabora Tented Camp:  "situated in an untouched wilderness area of Grumeti Reserves, spanning 350,000 acres in northern Tanzania.  The intimate 1920s-style explorer's camp is permeated by a sense of nostalgic adventure.  Steeped in character, Singita Sabora Tented Camp surprises guests with an opulence that is delightfully out-of-place with the rugged terrain of the surrounding Savannah plains." The tented camp is insanely luxurious while at the same time capturing the true African spirit.  

We arrived at the Singita airstrip and had about a 30 min drive to camp, where we were greeted by staff, cool towels, a hand wash, our private butler for our stay {Moses} and later our guide, Alan.  

I'm not sure any of my pictures do the tents justice, they are over the top...huge and feature every amenity any luxury safari traveler could imagine.

Tent decor is 1920s...leaving us feeling as if we were part of the Out of Africa cast.  

The bathrooms are gorgeous-featuring a clawfoot tub, outdoor shower, double sinks, closet space, bathrobes, safe, hairdryer, toiletry items, and more.  

THIS was my favorite part of the tent...until I had a visitor {a mouse}

The daybed is a wonderful place to relax in-between game drives. 

Just a few baboons making their way through camp. 

Fitness center? Yes.  Very impressive.  I was disappointed I didn't pack my running shoes.

Tennis anyone?

Pool? Yes. 

Drinks.  An all-inclusive hot-air-balloon-basket bar serves everything, including premium liquor, beer & wine, and liqueurs.  

Food. The food is top notch; not only is it delicious, but the presentation is gorgeous.  It was here that I fell in love with chilled soups and enjoyed a daily cheese platter.

A day on safari
6:00am: Wakeup Call
6:30am: Coffee, tea and light breakfast pastries
6:45-7am: Leave for morning safari
8:30am: Coffee and snacks are served in the bush during the safari
11:00am-12:00pm: Return from safari and have either lunch or breakfast 
3:30pm: Meet in the lobby for tea, coffee, and snacks before heading out for the afternoon/evening game drive.  
6:30pm: Sundowner out in the bush. Enjoy the sunset and some light snacks & beverages
7:30-8:00pm: Return to camp to freshen up & head to dinner

DAY 1:

When we met at the lobby around 4pm for high tea, we were greeted by our guide, Alan.  I feel as if we were completely blessed to have him as our guide.  He worked for Singita for years, but now does guide training and private guiding, and just happened to be in Tanzania,  filling in for a few days.  Lucky us! 

As we headed out on our game drive, in hopes of seeing a cat, the first animal we spotted was a cheetah with his fresh {gazelle} kill.  We sat and observed as he gnawed away at the gazelle, close enough to hear him breaking through the tissue.  Quite an amazing site, sound and experience. 

We then found a pride of lions... a couple lionesses and their cubs.  Several were up in the tree and came down as the sun began to set.  As the sun continued to set, the pride made their way into the bushes in hopes of finding food, and we followed...

They found the remains of a wildebeest and went to town; growling, being aggressive, and fighting for their fair share.  Umm...this kind of freaked me out, as we had almost cornered them in there and I was afraid of what they might do to us in the OPEN vehicle.  I just might of jumped on Michael's lap.  Alan did a great job of keeping us calm {after we all let out a little scream}, and ensuring us that we were safe.  It was truly remarkable.  

As we headed back to camp, the dark clouds were alive with lightning and the light showers turned into a full fledged storm; luckily we made it back prior to getting soaked.  The wind and rain slapped up against the tent, creating quite a dark and eerie feeling.   We waited a while to head to dinner, in hopes of the storm letting up, but we finally made our way to the dining hall, trudging through what seemed to be a couple inches of water.  

My sleep that night was restless, to say the least, as I felt as if I was sleeping amongst a pride of lions. Luckily, it was just a male gazelle "rutting." 

Nothing beats an African sunset.

Day 2:  

At 6:00am I received my wake-up call...an actual phone call! Yes, the tents have phones.  After enjoying coffee we headed out on our drive, setting out to find the pride of lions from the previous night.  We spotted a pregnant momma giraffe with her baby. 

Hanging out with lions never gets old. After spending a significant amount of time with this pride of lions, we heard of some baby lion cubs, so we made the long {but worth it} trek across the reserve.  

The male lions were so fascinating & majestic.

And led us to their cubs. 

For our afternoon drive we set out to find the leopard the other guests had spotted earlier that day.  The leopard was hard to see, and photograph, in the tree, but I was able to capture his kill. An 85-100lb gazelle, that he drug up into the tree.

That evening, prior to dinner, we played a game of speed scrabble with Alan {Swahili words were not allowed}.  Alan was in the lead, until he racked up 53pts the last round {the goals is to have the least amount of points}...such a fun evening.  During dinner that evening, Judy finalized her next trip to Africa...Rwanda and Botswana. 

Day 3: Lauren's Birthday


It seriously never gets old watching the lions roll around, paw each other, rub their noses together, etc.  

Our next mission was to find a leopard with her 2 baby pups.  Oh my, they were adorable...running around playing with one another.  

The main goal of our afternoon drive was to find the ellies...we had not seen any while in the Serengeti. As always, Alan knew exactly where to find them.  

7 Bulls

Another cheetah spotting.

Then our final sundowner.  This was one my favorite parts of the experience...a picnic complete with a mini bar offering anything you may desire and homemade goodies & snacks.  

Prior to dinner we enjoyed a {singing & dancing} performance around the campfire. Yes, I got up and danced! It was this evening that we truly fell in love with Jambo Bwana;  it made me so happy to hear Moses sing it for us. There was so much joy in his voice and facial expressions.  We dined poolside for Lauren's Birthday dinner, and then headed back to my tent for a little dance party {to Jambo Bwana, because yes, I downloaded it} and a fun time hanging out our last evening in Africa.  It was so wonderful to just hang out and chat...something the three of us don't get do much of anymore.  

Day 4:

The time had come to say good bye to Africa.  I was genuinely sad to be leaving, craving more time and adventures in Africa, and feeling like my life had truly been enhanced.   

A future BUFF.

Moses...his smile says it all. I will never forget him. 

Alan...one-of-a-kind, with a passion for life in the bush, love of photography, personable & genuine personality, sense of humor, amazing bartending skills,  {thanks for introducing me to Amarula}, and a compassionate heart. Not goodbye, rather, until next time...

Back in the states I am enamored with everything Africa, listen to this recording of Jambo Bwana almost daily, and suffer from Khaki Fever

Africa holds a piece of my heart.

I yearn for a life of more simplicity, fewer worries, and a heart that finds joy in the basic essentials of this life.  Until next time...