Bobbi Brown in the Wild: Safari Diaries
The legendary American make-up artist Bobbi Brown embarks on an exhilarating 12-day African safari
In July 2013, I travelled to South Africa and Botswana for a 12-day trip with my extended family. We were 14 travellers including my husband and three sons. It had been my dream to go on safari, and it didn’t disappoint. We explored Cape Town and Johannesburg along with wild game reserves and national parks. We travelled with a company called Backroads (I travelled to Morocco and Southern France with them, too) on a multisport adventure—this meant that every day there was a sport component to the trip: hiking, biking, and a lot more. It was the perfect trip to stay active, catch up with my family, explore and get inspired.
It was my first trip to South Africa, so I couldn’t leave without visiting my local Bobbi Brown artists. The energy and openness of each makeup artist was incredible. A couple of hours after landing (my flight from NY was really delayed) I showed up to meet the team. The greeting I received was enthusiastic, happy, and loud—in the best way. I loved hearing their stories and learning about their backgrounds. After an hour of question-and-answer session with my artists (my best market research), we chatted and took a lot of photos together. It was a long day for sure, but a great one. What an inspiring team.
We started the trip in Cape Town. First, we visited Table Mountain, which offers stunning views of the city and its mountains, and hiked along the forested flanks of the mountain to Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens. We stopped for a picnic lunch in the garden surrounded by some of the most exotic flowers from the region. Back at the hotel, the family could choose from a variety of activities—golfing, tennis, swimming, and more. We spent the night in Constantia at The Cellars-Hohenorts, a historic manor house located in the vineyards. It was an awesome place to stay, and our room had a great view of Table Mountain. We had delicious dinner at the Greenhouse Restaurant that serves a seasonal menu using local produce.
Photo: Shutterstock Denis Mironov
We shuttled over to Cape Point for a walk along the cliffs. We reached Cape Point, one of the highest sea cliffs in the world at more than 200 metres. It’s said to have the freshest air—straight from Antarctica. There were really impressive views of the lighthouse and sea, and we even spotted a couple of whales and penguins out in the ocean. We then set out for a biking trip in Table Mountain National Park, along a beautiful road that follows the sea. That night we had dinner with a man who spent time at Robben Island prison with Nelson Mandela.
Day 4 & 5
We travelled four hours by car to Bushmans Kloof Reserve & Retreat, a wilderness reserve in the Western Cape. Our hotel was set in a desert-like plain and has great views of the river and dramatic rock formations. During the day, we went out on a safari where we saw plenty of animals—mountain zebras, antelopes, ostriches. I have to admit it took me a few days to totally relax in the Land Rover—the animals were literally right in front of us and they seemed to be looking into our eyes. It was unbelievable. That evening, we enjoyed a tasting of local wines before dinner. The food was deliciously fresh, being organic produce from the Bushman Kloof's garden.
We jumped on a plane to Bostwana where we checked in to the Mashatu Game Reserve, a remote luxury camp built around a waterhole where elephant herds hang out. I was incredibly excited to arrive as I had been told that this location was great for animal sightings thanks to the local conservation efforts. Mashatu provides refuge for more than 500 elephants and is also home to hundreds of bird species, cheetahs, and lions. We enjoyed lunch outdoors in the shade of the trees and then took a guided game walk where we sawhordes of animals, including giraffes and cheetahs. That evening, we took it easy at the camp and played board games.
Today was an adventure. We set out early and mountain biked (slowly) along elephant paths—it was pretty nerve-racking. After a leisurely breakfast of organic eggs and fresh local fruit we hung out by the pool. Early in the evening, we took a jeep into the wild to look for more animals. We even saw a cheetah catch an impala while a leopard waited patiently to steal his meal. Our guides found the perfect place to watch the sunset, then proceeded to prepare delicious cocktails and snacks for us to enjoy in the middle of the bush. I felt like I was in the movie Out of Africa.
Day 8 & 9
We spent a couple of days at Mpumalanga, which means ‘place where the sun rises.’ We arrived at Cybele Forest Lodge & Health Spa, a beautiful farmhouse set amid a lush forest and banana plantations. The gang split up to enjoy walks by a waterfall, go on guided walks to see animals, enjoy the spa, visit the local artist community, or shop for local crafts.
Day 10 & 11
We slept in and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast at the hotel. That afternoon, we arrived at the Londolozi Private Game Reserve—my favourite part of the trip—where we spent a couple of nights. The setting was spectacular. The hotel is situated on an immense privately owned reserve, so the animals are literally at your doorstep. The staff was warm and attentive, the rooms were beautifully designed, and the food tasted amazing. But above all, what I loved about Londolozi was that it has a strong commitment to conservation and it gives back to the community. The hotel staff is predominantly comprised of local villagers. Londolozi leads many grassroots education initiatives to create a focused, achievable and digitally-powered education model for rural Africa with the Good Work Foundation. We had a chance to witness its involvement in the community, as we went around visiting emerging schools and community gardens where we got to spend time with the locals. Some members of the staff had invited us into their homes where we learned about the local culture and rituals and how education helps empower them.
Photo: Shutterstock/Dudarev Mikhail
After lunch, we started the long journey back to New York. On the way, we looked at our photos and shared our favourite experiences. Back in the office, I couldn’t wait to share all the inspiration pieces—the camouflage jackets, the star-studded skies, the animals, and the local food—that made the trip so awe-inspiring. The memories and experiences from that trip inspired my Sterling Nights Collection that was launched last fall.