Cue the Lion King Theme Song
Let me start by saying this was the best trip I have ever taken.
Safari was something I had always thought about but, never prioritized.
So when I found direct flights (from JFK) my credit card points could cover, I booked it. We did have to take another two puddle jumpers once we got to Johannesburg, but being as far out as possible is worth it!
The most beautiful airport lounge pictured above…
I choose Kruger Park since it was a nice launching pad into the Safari world where you can see the ‘Big 5’. I was a little anxious since so many people had opinions on other areas they loved more, however I quickly realized- any type of safari would be incredible. With the help of Personal Africa we came up with a plan.
What you need to know and no one tells you:
- You don’t need any dinner outfits, you wear your safari outfits to dinner.
- You can get all the fancy outfits you want, or you can wear joggers and sneakers like I did.
- What you wear each day depends on where you are and the time of year- but dress in layers and neutrals.
- The temperature drops significantly at night. Bring warm clothes unless you are going in the peak of their summer.
- Suitecases, some of the small airlines to fly to the lodges do not allow hard shelled suitecases. Double check.
- Talk to your doctor about medication for the location you are visiting.
- Your life will be changed forever.
Where we stayed: SINGITA. We stayed at two lodges here, Lebombo and Sweni, each incredible and very different.
To be honest, we hit the jackpot. It rained a TON the week before we arrived so the grass and vegetation grew much more than normal. Making for a very green landscape. As seen in the photos.
Singita takes great pride in taking care of the land, people and animals. The photo below is of the back tour I did of their property.
“Singita is a conservation company. We’ve been preserving African wilderness for the past two decades. Through an exceptional safari experience with 12 award-winning lodges and camps across South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, Singita is able to partially fund the protection and preservation of pristine land and existing wildlife populations, not to mention help create economic independence within local communities surrounding the reserves.”
I spent one of my days doing a back office tour of the property to see how this sustainable lodge runs. They have partnered with companies like Tesla to enable their lodge to be as sustainable as possible. They also have a process around waste management which gives back to the community. They cut back on large spreads of food and have changed to small portions in glass jars to reduce waste. It’s these small, well-thought out considerations which have increased their sustainability and exhibits their care for the world and environment. Want more info, check it out here. LINK
- Lebombo Lodge is built high up like an eagles nest, with beautiful modern cool tones giving it a chic look. The upbeat lodge has a social scene with the most beautiful bar area where you can watch the sunrise and enjoy an afternoon cocktail. Specifically, a beautiful variety of mastered G&Ts made by their skillful and jovial bartender, Daniel.
- Sweni is meant to embody a birds feathers- with stunning pops of color. It is quite tranquil and private escape with a stunning pool overlooking the river where hippos and elephants roam. We were lucky enough to stay in the pool villa which was an incredible experience.
Pictured above, Mark and Quentin having a moment during our walking safari to watch the Hippos at sunset.
At the end of every ride you enjoy a nice drink and appetizer while watching the sunset. A surprise dinner under the stars was prepared for us upon return… the food is outstanding!
Sweni Lodge you can see the colors below and how different and beautiful this lodge is. Our private pool villa featured below. And yes a lion, elephant, giraffe etc could walk on by… The DETAILS. The bathroom is open, beautiful and colorfulThe lobby entrance to the Sweni LodgeThere are Hippos in that river! Living our best lives. Below is a picture of the pride of 15 lions we hung out with. If you look hard enough you will see there are 5 lions in this picture. The Range Rovers Singita use are heavy duty, you can drive through just about anything. Our balcony in our bedroom at the Lebombo lodge overlooking the river.Sunrise at Lebombo To sunset Do you see those Cheetahs!
Going to Singita, you get the opportunity to meet people who have a passion for travel and life. We luckily got teamed up with these two amazing South Africans who we spent time with on safari, wine tasting and dinner. These two have, dated, broken up, remained best friends and traveled the world together. They are currently planning a 40th birthday to Palawan…gotta step up my birthday plans. The lobby at Lebombo This lobby sunrise will forever be my happy place.
Fun Fact: My Husband, Mark, didn’t want to go on Safari. Now he says it was the best experience of his life. Our beautiful room in Lebombo
What do you do on Safari?
5:00 AM Wake up call to do your morning drive. Meet your guide and spotter at the lobby bar to watch the sunrise over a delicious iced cappuccino. We lucked out with one of the top guides, Quentin, who was basically our own David Attenborough (the narrator from Planet Earth) I never realized the level or training, education, and experience is involved in becoming a certified guide until I had the opportunity to experience it first hand with Quentin – Ladies he’s single!Below (this is clearly 5am )This was the first morning of our safari and I cried.
10:30AM- 4:00PM is yours for the day where you can do simply anything your heart desires; eat, spa, gym, wine tasting, local community visits, etc.
How basic am I in this photo?
4:00PM Night drive, start your drive with a G&T and then head out for the night. The animals you see are outstanding.
I have had a hard time wrapping my mind around why I felt so touched leaving Singita (I cried a lot) and the more I think about it the more I realize it was the people. The people were down to earth, warm, welcoming and felt more like friends than staff. I hope one day I can top this trip. Until then, I will have the memories.
Planning a safari can be complicated, let us help.