Our last full day at Singita Pamushana could not have been more magical – we woke up to an early morning game drive where we saw tons of groups: wildebeest, buffalo, impala, zebra and baboons.
Singita has truly been spectacular – not only for the animal viewing, but for the staff and service, as well. We love our guide, Fortune, and day by day, he’s opened up a little more. Tonight at dinner he admitted that he’s not used to such a talkative group (you don’t meet a quiet travel agent, for the record) – he usually just points out animals while on the drives. Today, we had him telling several stories – the best of which was about a rhino that charged a honeymoon couple. Apparently rhinos will do one of two things: fight or flight. For this particular honeymoon couple, a rhino chose to charge while they were out of their safari vehicle. The bride began to climb a nearby tree, at which point her husband literally “climbed her like a ladder,” according to Fortune. He stepped on her back and head to propel himself up the tree, leaving his bride to fend for herself. Luckily, the guide fired off a warning shot, which made the rhino stop in his tracks and turn in the other direction. However, as soon as the groom climbed down the tree, the bride decided to leave him to fend for himself – she gave him the ring back and ended the honeymoon right then and there.
Some of the other favorite safari stories include people asking to see animals that are not part of the African safari scene, like tigers and, a personal favorite, pandas. Had we encountered any of these people, we would’ve given them the stupidity boa for world’s worst question (today, Fortune looked inquisitively at Will and said, “What is your scarf made of?”). In case anyone was wondering, Jamo won the ignorance boa for quite a while, but Beth eventually snagged it by the end of the night. She’s now using it as an immunity idol – she can ask any stupid question since she already has the boa.
After our morning drive, we had some free time to hang in the villa, where we saw the most amazing showdown. A teenage male elephant waded into the lake outside of our villa, which is pretty far away – we are high up on a hill with sweeping views of the area beneath us. An entire pod of hippos surrounded the elephant, which made him frantically splash and make his trumpet sound over and over. We watched from viewfinders as the elephant chased multiple hippos onto land and, after asserting his dominance, went back into the water to enjoy his swim. This went on for over an hour, and I’ve got plenty of videos (with inappropriate commentary from my fellow agents) that I’ll upload once I’m back in the States. For now, here are some photos through the viewfinder:
We had the best game drive of our stay (except for the lion cub/leopard drive) this afternoon – which was technically just a transfer from the lodge to a nearby “museum.” Zimbabwe really is an incredible country – the topography changes so quickly from one season into another, from lush fall foliage to leafless, sandy landscapes. The afternoon sun was a perfect backdrop for the game viewing and my favorite moment was how close we were able to get to this elephant:
The “museum” that we went to was a living, breathing example of historical Zimbabwe. We learned about their weaponry, cooking, dancing, and more.
By the time we finished here, the sun had already set, so we had a night drive back to the lodge. Naturally, I kept falling asleep – I think it is extremely hazardous to fall asleep in a moving, open-air safari vehicle. Every time my head drops, I feel like I’m about to tumble out of the land cruiser. It’s so hard for me to stay awake when we’re just riding, though, especially when it’s night. I was just dreaming about falling out of the cruiser when I felt it come to a stop – as soon as I opened my eyes, it was as though I was still dreaming. Tons of lanterns filled the open field in front of us, complete with dining tables and the entire Singita staff. We ate under the clearest sky I’ve ever seen – we found the Southern Cross, Mars, and more stars than I knew the sky could hold.
What a wonderful goodbye dinner – Singita Pamushana has seriously spoiled us beyond belief. We’ll have a little more time here tomorrow – we’re planning on visiting the nearby community that Singita contributes to before jetting of to Johannesburg for the night. Right now, though, we’re moping in the villa since we’re not ready for it to be our last night.