South Africa’s Travel Hot Spots: Ellerman House and Singita Pamushana, Virtuoso Properties
I’m usually a pretty responsible Baby Girl (my new nickname on this trip – every fam trip I go on I tend to earn a nickname)…but you’re only going to have a dance party in Ellerman Villa once in your life, I’d imagine, so I let loose a little and acted my age for the first time in 22 years. This made for somewhat of an epic night and for quite a few new Ellerman friends, but we only got about two hours of sleep before our early morning wakeup call. So, when we boarded our flight to Johannesberg, I lost all shame – I folded down the tray table and slept for the duration of the flight. Apparently, I gave some pretty awful looks to the people talking around me – I don’t play well with others on low amounts of sleep.
Plus, it was pretty hard to leave the stunning Ellerman Villa. I have never experienced such great service or accommodations – I mean, it was over the top in the best possible way. We got to the point where we kind of tried to test our kitchen staff to see if there was anything they didn’t have on hand – they always passed the test. The service always went above and beyond.
The travel day from Cape Town to Zimbabwe was a lengthy one: we had a layover in the JNB airport before boarding our chartered flight to Zimbabwe with our wonderful host, Allison Higgins. As with the earlier flight, this one was a prime napping opportunity.
Our driver and guide from Singita met us at the airport and less than a mile into Singita property, we’d already spotted three giraffes.
“This is the coolest moment of my life,” I announced to everyone.
“Giraffes? You really aren’t going to be hard to please, then,” Allison informed me.
True story. We went on our first game drive tonight and I was ecstatic – we saw buffalo, elephants, zebras, and even a hippo all in the dark, which sets a good precedent for animal viewing tomorrow (our wake up call is at 5, so those animals better be out and ready to be viewed). I had the Veggie Tales “Everybody Has a Water Buffalo” song stuck in my head the entire time but refrained from singing it.
What impressed me most about Singita today was not the wonderful night drive, the perfect hosts, friendly staff, excellent dinner, and gorgeous property. No, what really did it for me was the 5-bedroom private villa that they put the girls in. This is the accommodation that the multi-billionaire owner of the Singita properties stays in when he’s in town. It. Is. PHENOMENAL. Since we arrived kind of late, I didn’t get great photos of everything, but here are a couple of shots of my room and bathroom:
I didn’t realize that this trip would feature more than one villa stay – James Haigh, you outdid yourself in spoiling us. I am blown away by everything about Singita and I’ve barely even seen it in the daylight. I’m sure I will have much more to say tomorrow after a full day of game viewing (and villa living)!
As amazing as our villa is, I was very quickly brought to my senses about the wildlife. In my little perfect world, wild animals are not a threat to me on a luxury safari. I assumed they stay in their place and I stay in mine, then we meet in the middle for some photos. However, as I put down my bags in my room, I spotted this heinous thing on the ceiling:
A FREAKING TARANTULA IS ON THE CEILING OF OUR MILLION DOLLAR VILLA. THIS CANNOT BE POSSIBLE. CAN.NOT.BE.POSSIBLE. Where the heck do you think I am, the WILDERNESS OF ZIMBABWE?!
As expected, I instantly flipped my lid. Hysterics ensued. Everyone looked at me like I was CRAZY, but they are the crazy ones for not being totally freaked out by this. I mean I will be watching everywhere I walk so as to avoid any more run-ins with the native bugs. I hope the mosquito netting around my bed also wards off tarantulas and other creepy crawlers.
Along similar lines, while we were preparing to go on our game drive tonight, our guide, Fortune, gave us instructions for emergency situations. This is not the “your seat doubles as a flotation device” kind of advice. This is much more difficult advice, like, “If you happen to run into an African cat while unarmed and unprepared, do not turn your back to it or you’re toast,” and, “If an elephant charges the vehicle, please remain seated.”
How. In God’s name. Could I remain seated if an elephant was charging our vehicle.
Things just got real.