Guest blog: a family adventure to Singita Faru Faruin Lodges and Camps
Guest blog: a family adventure to Singita Faru Faru
Yvonne C Mtengwa, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the digital, Dubai-based Travel Essence Magazine, visited Singita Faru Faru Lodge with her family and discovered there the perfect intentional space for her family to reconnect, learn and find serenity in their surroundings.
I had clearly underestimated the excitement that would ensue upon telling our children that their Spring Break was going to encompass a wild adventure to Tanzania. Growing up as expat kids living in Dubai, the two are no strangers to showstopping hospitality, laying their heads on some of the plushest pillows about town.
As a travel writer, some of my fondest memories stem from taking my children along with me on remote working excursions, later asking them to reflect on the learnings from their experiences. And so, the mission for us as parents this time around was to go further in demonstrating how luxury travel exists in many of the parts of Africa they were yet to explore. The goal was to intertwine the call for more consciousness about how their future travel choices would impact their lives and those of others. And so, it had to be a stay at a Singita lodge to bring this holiday’s teachings to life…
Frantic, albeit exciting planning with the Singita team soon turned into reality the morning we headed out to get our mandatory vaccine for Yellow Fever to visit Tanzania. We were slated to depart at the tail end of March, making our way to Dubai International Airport to catch our 1am flight to Nairobi. Travel was seamless, bolstering our already curious imaginations as we drew closer to our final destination via the Kenyan capital, onto Mount Kilimanjaro Airport and into Arusha.
Another short flight onboard a Grumeti Air operated 12-seater charter aircraft was to take us into the Serengeti. Equipped with cool headsets for each passenger, and an iPad in hand, we soon discovered plenty about the terrain below as we watched and listened to videos, soaring over one of Tanzania’s active volcanoes – Ol Doinyo Lengai – which, when translated means 'Mountain of God'. Viewing the volcano from such a close distance was in itself hugely unexpected. A flight above Ol Doinyo Lengai provided intriguing talking points for the children as they proceeded to share with us that they had learned about volcano formation, subsurface magma, and tectonic movement. Seemed to me like we were off to a good start, as it was quite clear that the children’s antennae were piqued for their semi-educational adventure.
With our descent onto the Grumeti Airstrip heralding our imminent arrival at Singita Faru Faru, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to take my first trip ever to the Serengeti with my family. The soul and spirit of Africa is ever vibrant within us, and even more so having lived beyond the continent’s coastlines for more than a decade. No cultural excursion nor safari experience is ever the same; yet each carries a profound impact for us. It was time for our children to experience Africa through the lens of yet another tier-one experience so they too would be a part of proliferating a positive narrative on the continent where they were born.
A warm welcome (home) at Singita Faru Faru Lodge
A stellar exhibition of architectural mastery with respect for the natural surroundings in which it sits, Singita Faru Faru Lodge is a retreat located within a 350,000 acre private game reserve in Northern Tanzania. As we approached the welcoming entry way leading to the main lodge’s lounge area, a full view of what was seemingly an action-packed watering hole came to the fore. Earthy tones of browns, greys and tan embellished the space as the decor’s fabrics and eye-catching wall art shone through, contrasted by green foliage from the surrounding trees and shrubbery.
After the signature handwashing ritual, with refreshing mocktails in hand and curious minds abuzz, we embarked on our tour of the lodge, which includes an onsite gym, sparkling plunge pool at the main lodge, enclaves and vast decks from which to view wandering game from, a fire pit for pre- and post-dinner drinks, a small gift shop for one’s dose of Singita inspired souvenirs and more. A stunningly designed and decorated two-bedroomed family suite would be our home for five nights while in the Serengeti, and we couldn’t wait to immerse ourselves in its beauty.
Awakening the senses through sight & sound
Mornings were glorious as the sun’s warm rays and orange light penetrated the floor-to-ceiling windows of our contemporary suite, which seemed to stretch endlessly from one bedroom to the next. The interior provided a spacious yet intimate space to comfortably accommodate our family of four. A cozy lounge with only the plushest L-shaped couch became our meeting hub, where we would huddle to go over the day’s gourmet options, hold court over whether to stay indoors for a snooze or board games, or simply enjoy playful banter as we nibbled on sumptuous snacks from our perennially stocked mini bar.
The private infinity plunge pool as a centerpiece on the elevated exterior deck was exclusive to our suite, with the option to also go swimming at the main lodge area. This space, with pristine views of the vast expanse of land further than our eyes could see, epitomised every call for centeredness, rest, and an appreciation of Africa’s natural beauty. When we weren’t relaxing on our veranda, we took time out for a little frolick in our pool instead, much to the thrill of our 13 and 10 year old.
In the distance, varying species of antelope would often capture our attention, as they sauntered along the flat plains that flow into the Grumeti River, adjacent to where Singita Faru Faru sits. On occasion, a lion’s roar would interrupt the stillness of our afternoons not too far into the distance. You can imagine the trepidation, fused with excitement that overtook us on our third afternoon, when we caught a glimpse of one of the Big Five’s' imposing mane as he shook his head, as if to alert us of his position as the ultimate king of the breathtaking savannah.
Lessons from nature
What a rewardingly educational time it was for our little family as we eagerly took every opportunity to venture out on game drives. Ithai, our 10 year old son who often boasts of his ability to memorise facts on a multitude of topics, was particularly elated at the idea of adding more general knowledge on wildlife to his memory bank. Our Field Guide Jeremiah was just the man to take on the role of educator, making our drives unforgettable and truly informative. The coffee breaks with a mini picnic set up on the hood of our green safari vehicle were such a treat for the diva in our midst – Shalom, our 13 year old daughter, who often found comfort in the warmth nestled in the olive-green Singita ponchos and blankets during the crisp morning drives.
From numerous sightings of lionesses with their cubs, buffalo in their hundreds, and the considerable number of giraffes which really stand out, as well as hyenas, zebras, eland, wildebeest, impala, elephant, and various species of birdlife; the 350,000 acre reserve made for an unsurpassed classroom. One afternoon we witnessed a lion kill and subsequent fight between the lioness and big male lion that came to steal the spoils. This experience was exhilarating, notwithstanding the adrenaline coursing through each of us watching this magnificent display of nature in its rawest form.
Perfect settings for inspired farm-to-table food journeys
One of the highlights during our stay was undoubtedly the Singita Faru Faru dining experience. The decadent servings of beautifully plated food! Served from an open kitchen, with only a glass wall separating the chefs from the guests, the use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients was evident with each meal presented. We learned how produce is grown by local families who live near the lodge, with Singita purchasing supplies from these families as part its commitment to community upliftment and sustainability.
We always had the option of dining in the main area, taking our seats on an upper deck above the glass walled library after our morning game drives, or enjoying the view of the plunge pool and vast plains down below. Dinner was a mere few steps from a warm bonfire, a haven for that nightcap where we chatted with Jeremiah about life in Africa’s majestic Serengeti, animal behaviour, sightings from the day and how it was vastly different from life in the metropolitan desert city of Dubai.
Why Singita Faru Faru Lodge for your family safari?
A place that intuitively marries the restorative power of nature and the ability to reconnect its guests with the essence of an intentional existence, Singita Faru Faru encapsulates the spirit of Africa. Here, time is in no hurry and follows your own pace. As I sat down to watch the skies opening up and pouring light showers on the earth during our last afternoon at the lodge, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by an immense feeling of gratitude for the opportunity to experience undiluted serenity with my family. What made our peregrinations across the Serengeti particularly compelling were the unlimited touchpoints that awarded our foursome the ability to connect and share – be it laughter, curiosity, hearty nibbles, and all round adventure.
Singita Faru Faru is undoubtedly a family-friendly, and especially child-friendly luxury lodge, offering a host of activities that allow all members of the family to find that special something they love during their stay. The girls loved their pockets of nap time, while the boys were intent on finding the elusive leopard. Jeremiah our guide must have clocked many miles looking for this spotted big cat on morning and afternoon game drives! While we didn’t spot one on this round of safari, collectively we agreed just how much of a delight it was to see the four of the Big 5 and all of the Small and Ugly 5.
The transformational nature of multi-generational holidays across Africa’s wild plains is uncontested, and I for one can attest to how family travel provides a unique opportunity for each member to reconnect with self and their loved ones, collecting memories to be spoken of long after their return. And so, it goes without saying that for our family, the Singita safari experience ranks as one of our absolute favourites over the years and we look forward to yet another opportunity to venture into another part of the continent for a new dose of #OurSingita moments.