February 2022

Running the Serengeti - a journey of self discovery

in Community

Running the Serengeti - a journey of self discovery

The Serengeti Girls Run - an athletic event that is so much more than a physical feat - sees women from all around the world gather to traverse the plains of the Serengeti, while contributing to crucial and impactful women and girls’ empowerment programmes in Tanzania. A joint initiative between Singita and the Grumeti Fund, it celebrates community, collaboration and conservation while setting the scene for the most picturesque run on the planet. 

Over five days, the group of women, who start as strangers and part as friends, will experience this iconic destination in various ways. From running the plains of the Serengeti, supported and protected by Scouts from Grumeti Fund and surrounded by Africa’s most beautiful landscapes and roaming wildlife, and learning about the work Grumeti Fund does in the region through meeting the women and girls who will benefit from the event, to simply soaking up the very best of safari, it’s a trip that answers the need for adventure and purpose in travel. 

The Serengeti Girls Run brings women from all over the world together around a common goal - to run the plains of Tanzania while raising funds for women's empowerment

A personal journey 

Its meaning and impact is best told though, by someone who’s experienced it themself – and even better, someone who has experienced it not once, but four times. Rhonda Vetere, a long-time friend and multi repeat guest of Singita is the only participant to have done all four of the runs to date, making her one of its greatest supporters.  

One of the many reasons Rhonda returns yearly to Tanzania, is the sheer spectacle. “Running with the animals is an adventure within itself and being out in the open, in the bush alongside the wild life,” she says.  

Rhonda Vetere is the only Singita guest to have taken part in every Serengeti Girls Run so far, making her one of its greatest supporters

Calling Singita Sabora – the very pinnacle of contemporary tented safari in East Africa - home during their stay and absorbing the beauty, atmosphere and warmth of the Singita experience enveloped in nature, the women who take part will enjoy a one-of-a-kind, soul-fulfilling and moving experience that remains embedded in memory for a lifetime. 

Singita Sabora Tented Camp is home for the women taking part in the race, and is the perfect place to relax and soak in the setting and get to know each other better

Big hearts & bigger impact 

But it’s really the impact that it makes that brings Rhonda back to this beautiful corner of the continent. “I get this question all of the time - why Africa? What has brought me back year after year is knowing the difference it makes. To raise money for the girls and seeing the impact first hand. Their smiles light my heart,” she says.  

This programme has set the tone for ongoing, lasting growth and development for women in Tanzania, through the various education, health and career initiatives spearheaded by the Grumeti Fund, all of which are supported by funds from the Serengeti Girls Run. “This experience enables impact. I come back year after year to ensure that these girls see a constant denominator in their life. Life is not a transaction and I believe in that,” she adds. 

Over the years, Rhonda has watched the girls she's met grow, and looks forward to returning each year to see their progress

Friendships for life

The physical endeavour is significant in itself, too. Despite the scenic terrain, it requires endurance, and pushes the runners to persevere. And for the runners taking part in the Serengeti Girls Run, it’s often the camaraderie that carries them. “The physical part of the run is hard, make no mistake. And while I usually love to run alone, running with the guards that are now my friends is so special. The group from the first year was bonded for life through running together – we all still get together and are all in contact on WhatsApp,” she says. 

A tough physical feat, the run is made easier through the support of fellow runners and Scouts from the Grumeti Fund

It’s clear that it’s not just a physical or mental feat, but an emotional one too, which remains with the runners long after they’ve completed the journey. “The part I take away each year is how special the people are in Africa – how genuine, and how grateful they are for everything. I leave with my heart so full of love,” she says. 

These lasting relationships span countries and continents – and exemplify the spirit of connection and camaraderie that sets this run apart. Over the years Rhonda has made friendships with women from all over the world, joined by this once-in-a-lifetime experience and the sense of purpose it gives. “The friendships made during this run last forever. When you are out in the bush running in the open with the wildlife and surrounded by the Big 5, you bond quickly with the team – you become instant friends.”   

Lasting friendships formed in the iconic surroundings of the African bush are made that much more meaningful for having shared this experience

A personal touch second to none 

It’s not only the participants, but also the teams at Singita who have become like family to Rhonda, and she says that it’s also the people in Tanzania that give it such a special place in her heart. This personal touch, from the kitchen team who know her favourite dishes, to the friends she returns to, has stayed with Rhonda even as she sits on the other side of the world. 

 Click here to learn more about this life-changing run and how to take part. 

Strangers, who become friends - the bonds made during this once-in-a-lifetime trip are enduring


By Julia Freemantle

Related Stories

March 2024

Guest Blog: Donah Mbabazi meets Theodore Kagame, an artisan keeping Rwandan craft alive