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Singita was kind enough to have invited my colleague, Dee, and me to experience their Grumeti Reserve properties in Tanzania on the western corridor of the Serengeti a couple weeks ago and all I can say is W.O.W! Being my first time to East Africa, I was so excited to get a mere glimpse into this amazing part of our continent and visiting Singita was certainly doing it in only the best way possible.
We flew from Johannesburg to Kilimanjaro (via Dar es Salaam) and spent a necessary night in Arusha to enable the early connection the following morning to Singita. Dee and I spent some time on our arrival day exploring properties in Arusha under our own steam (read the blog here).
Singita put us up at the fantastic Legendary Lodge for our overnight stay. Superb! Based on a coffee plantation with beautiful gardens, great food, a tranquil setting and the most genial host in “Florida” who had in fact worked at Singita for many years prior to managing Legendary, so the continuity was perfect and it serves as the perfect base for a one night stay pre- or post-Singita. The staff here were wonderful and we were sad to leave after only the one night before we made our way to the nearby Arusha airstrip for our flight to Singita.
It must be said that there was on aspect that had me rather daunted regarding this trip… The 15kg per person luggage allowance (in soft sided bags)! Ladies, in particular I am sure you can empathise, but it had to be done and I am quite proud of the fact that I managed to pack only 13kg for the entire trip, which afforded me the luxury to bring back with me 2kg worth of the fabulous Arusha coffee for a colleague!
We flew in a light plane from Arusha to Singita’s own airstrip within their reserve via short stops at Lake Manyara Airstrip and Grumeti Airstrip to pick up and drop off other safari travellers. On arrival we were met by the absolutely fantastic Arnold and Frank who were to be our guides for the entire trip. Both were knowledgeable and friendly in the way that most in Tanzania seem to be.
James from Singita who was our enthusiastic host for the journey welcomed us with a refreshing towel, our luggage was whisked away and we were on route to Sasakwa Lodge.
It has to be said right from the start that October is not the most popular time to visit Singita as the “migration” has usually already moved north towards Kenya by this time of year, but all I can say is that this was in no way a deterrent AT ALL! The land is teaming with ample plains game, the grass was beautifully luminous green, which caught me by surprise as I had expected the brown, sparsely vegetated plains that one conjures in one’s mind when thinking of the Serengeti and the cherry on the top is that rates are reduced. Great news all round.
Sasakwa is the flagship lodge on their reserve and deservedly so in my opinion! It sits perched atop a hill with the most awe-inspiring views over the plains below. The Serengeti, which stretches as far as the eye can see, takes ones breath away. Mandy and Chris, the lodge managers, showed us around the ample grounds that accommodate the decadent and superbly decorated Edwardian manor house and the array of lodging options. You can stay in anything from one bedroom suites to the well appointed four bedroom private retreat. Of course the lodge would not be complete without a luxurious spa, curio shop, jewellery shop, gym (with a view) and even a tennis court for those who enjoy a spot of tennis whilst on safari…
This was to be our base for a night and Dee and I were checked into our two bedroom suite, complete with two master suites, two en suite bathrooms fit for a king, lounge area and the piece de resistance (for me at least, being a sun-worshipper and water-baby) – our own private plunge pool, teetering on the edge of the hilltop benefiting from the expansive views of the plains down below. I joyously dumped my bag, kicked off my shoes and made full use of the pool (admittedly not before making a G&T from our in-room minibar). We relaxed until we were served a most delicious lunch and then headed off on our first game drive.
I was expecting game viewing here to be more about the landscapes, vegetation, sunsets and plains game…. which it was with aplomb, but I was honestly and pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed the most wonderful game viewing of a great spectrum of beasts. Elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard in a tree with a kill, cheetah, hyena, roan antelope, bat-eared fox, colobus monkeys, topi (hartebeest family), wildebeest, giraffe and more zebra than I have ever seen in my increasingly large safari repertoire. The numbers in single species herds was incredible and seeing hundreds of Topi or Wildebeest run uniformly across the plains in front of the safari vehicles will stay with me forever, as will its respective sounds and smells.
Dinner at Sasakwa was preceded by a wine tasting of a couple of South Africa’s boutique wine estates offerings… strange to think I had to travel to Tanzania to taste some of my own countries finest for the first time. Our first night at Singita was drawing to a close and after the most succulent meal and some more glasses of SA’s finest, we retired to our suites, excited for what was to come the following day. We slept peacefully in our massive and most comfortable beds.
Watch out for the next two installments of this Singita safari. To go on your own East African adventure and stay at Singita’s incredible properties, contact us and we’ll help you plan a trip of a lifetime!
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Matt discovered a passion for writing in the six years he spent travelling abroad. He worked for a turtle sanctuary in Nicaragua, in an ice cream factory in Norway and on a camel safari in India. He was a door-to-door lightbulb-exchanger in Australia, a pub crawl guide in Amsterdam and a journalist in Colombia. Now, he writes and travels with us.
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Look out for Part 2 + 3 COMING SOON!
Great photos, Sam! You got skills.
Fantastic blog post – great thanks Samantha! What terrific photography – and can’t wait to see Parts 2 + 3!
Looks beautiful…maybe our destination in the future.
Read about Sam and Dee’s day trip to Arusha in Tanzania here: http://www.rhinoafrica.com/blog/2011/10/24/a-day-in-arusha/
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