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TravelSafari Tales: This Trip Needs To Be On Your Bucket List

Safari Tales: This Trip Needs To Be On Your Bucket List

Safari Tales: This Trip Needs To Be On Your Bucket List
By Isabel Martel Francisco
August 02, 2018
A vacation to a South African safari is nothing short of life-changing.
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita

From the moment the idea of taking a safari crawls its way into your dreams, to when you start ironing out the final details, the A2A group has got your back. Bringing your dream to life is their specialty, and they do it well. For almost two decades, A2A has skillfully been guiding clients with ease, sophistication and with the utmost to attention detail – all you need to do is pack your bags and hop onto the plane (well, kind of).

Each travel group is decked to an A2A travel consultant who crafts a bespoke safari itinerary to meet your every desire, and of course, budget. From finding the right hotel, transportation routes, to selecting unique experiences to immerse yourselves in, preparing for the trip of your life has never been more hassle-free.

(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita

It may seem like an imposition to have a suggested wardrobe colour palette to match the African bush, or to have certain rules and restrictions that you may not be used to on other vacations, but in the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t asking for all that much. Packing a tad bit lighter (20kg), having early wake-up calls, and potentially needing to use the bathroom in the wilderness is a tiny price to pay for the experience of a lifetime, don’t you think? Think about it this way, if you don’t currently have earth toned (aka, bush colours) outfit options in your existing closet, take it as a great excuse for a quick shopping session!

(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita

An exhausting 21-hour journey, which included a combination of long haul flights and lengthy car rides, led us from the Philippines into the arms of South Africa and to Singita’s properties, Boulders and Lebombo. Tired, dazed, slightly confused, but extremely excited, seven eager travellers made their way through a very well appointed and tastefully decorated small airport in Kruger National Park.

We found our guide and driver from the first lodge by the hotel group (Singita Boulders) in the Sabi Sands Reserve, and off we went. Driving through Sabi Sands, not even at lodge, we were warmly welcomed by a scattering of wild animals, much to our surprise and amazement.

(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita

Woody tones, warm touches, earthy hues, animal skins and stone are all part of the African rustic appeal that will welcome you to Singita Boulders. Contrastingly, the second lodge, Lebombo (Kruger National Park), has the complete opposite aesthetic. It is primarily, white, airy, modern, minimalistic and streamlined. However, each lodge is absolutely chic, sophisticated and inviting. Every nook and cranny of Singita Boulders and Lebombo was stylish and meticulously well attended too.

The properties are enveloped by nature and surrounded by wildlife – leaving you to feel completely immersed in this new, foreign environment. It was surreal, intriguing and incredibly peaceful; there was a strange and overwhelming feeling that was captivating and quite hard to explain.

 

(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita

What made this a 6-star experience was not Singita’s luxe amenities, design, and particularly exquisite food, but what shot Singita over and above the gold standard was their level of service.

At Singita Boulders and Lebombo, one unifying factor remained true ­-- all of our needs had already been anticipated and prepared for, while all our wants were eagerly satisfied. Singita had easily met, actually exceeded our expectations. The staff were warm, friendly, and not too intrusive. Everyone knew our names, and went out of their way to make each guest’s stay unique to him or her.

(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita

From surprise breakfast and sunset cocktail set-ups (complete with tables, chairs and a buffet) out in the middle of the bush, to traditional barbeque bonfires (known as a Braai), something smile-worthy seemed to be happening everyday!

We were already shocked that during every game drive, our ranger and tracker would find a spot in the bush for us to stretch our legs and grab some breakfast. Out of the Range Rover came well packed silver tins of granola, dried fruits, biscuits and bottles of hot chocolate, coffee, milk, tea and a local liquor called Amarula.

(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Boulders) Photo: Courtesy of Singita

During cocktail hour, on every afternoon game drive, they skillfully packed chips, nuts, beef jerky, and a complete bar with gin, tonic, beer, red and white wine, champagne and scotch! At first all we could think was…. “Is this for real? We’re eating, here? How do we know that there are no animals lurking around us!” It was very cool and always beautiful.

Every morning we would wake up at 6 am amidst the cold, crisp South African air, to climb into the decked out Range Rover (which drives through rivers and over some insane terrain covered with boulders, for your information.)

(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita

As the hours passed by while we drove through the bush, amongst the vast expanse, clear skies and bright sun, we noticed the huge temperature swings. Our mornings would start at around 12 degrees Celsius, but by noon it would be the perfect weather to pop on a bikini and tan. Packing with layering in mind is definitely a must.

Freezing, slightly nervous and totally excited, we listened and absorbed everything our incredible ranger and tracker shared with us. Their skill level was beyond impressive -- it was almost unnatural. Their eyes captured and analyzed the smallest changes in flora, fauna. Their ability to interpret subtle movements and behavioural changes in animals was astonishing. From tracking smudged, barely recognizable prints in the sand, dust or mud, to spotting vague figures from great distances -- their expertise never failed to amaze us and always led us into some of the most jaw dropping situations.

(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita
(Singita Lebombo) Photo: Courtesy of Singita

There are too many moments to choose from; life changing animal sightings that are imprinted into my memory. Some of which that I will never forget include: when 40-50 elephants surrounded our jeep to make their way across a grassy plane, when 400 water buffalos made their way to a watering hole, when 3 cheetahs lounged casually beside the car, and when 3 male lions were literally an arms length away from me. How can I not mention that 3 female lions and their cubs were munching on their kill (bones cracking oh so audibly) beside the jeep, or when a baby leopard fearfully clung, stranded atop a tree as two large male lions consumed their prey below, all in the pitch-black darkness of the bush.

Photo by Michaela Eduque
Photo by Michaela Eduque
Photo by Michaela Eduque
Photo by Michaela Eduque
Photo by Michaela Eduque
Photo by Michaela Eduque
Photo by Michaela Eduque
Photo by Michaela Eduque
Photo by Michaela Eduque
Photo by Michaela Eduque
Photo by Michaela Eduque
 

After all game drives, for lunch or dinner, each and every meal was prepared with care. The meats were so tender, succulent and were cooked just the way we liked it. We even got to try some Wildebeest and Kudu (local delicacies) – none of which were tough or gamey at all. Both lodges had flavours from around the globe, from Middle Eastern to Asian spices, paired with the most incredible local South African wines.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Singita
Photo: Courtesy of Singita
Photo: Courtesy of Singita
Photo: Courtesy of Singita
Photo: Courtesy of Singita
Photo: Courtesy of Singita
Photo: Courtesy of Singita
Photo: Courtesy of Singita

This unique journey provides travellers with a newfound appreciation for the Earth; it makes you truly understand the importance of conservation, and how little we actually need in our everyday lives. The African safari experience will keep you coming back for more, craving a connection with nature unlike any that you have experienced before.

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