This past summer, Dan (my husband) and I got to experience a serious bucket list experience… we ventured all the way to Tanzania and went on a safari! Like… A REAL SAFARI. I literally still cannot put into words how amazing this entire trip was. Just thinking about it makes my heart grow about triple in size. The energy and happiness I felt while in Tanzania was so surreal, that I want everyone to experience this same feeling. So, that is why I’m completing an in-depth review on the amazing safari camp we stayed with… and really, this camp and the people there are what made this trip one for the books. Here we go… why you MUST do your African safari with Asilia Africa, and what a safari with them looks like!
HOW WE DECIDED TO BOOK WITH ASILIA AFRICA
The first step to booking any vacation is deciding where to go and who to stay with! This can sometimes be a daunting task, but it wasn’t for this safari experience. My husband and I are huge National Geographic lovers. LIKE HUGE. I was paging through a magazine and saw a page solely dedicated to Asilia Africa. And at the bottom of the page, there was a little section talking about how the Asilia Africa camps were recommended by National Geographic… with one camp in particular: Asilia Africa Sayari Camp. So, I quick popped online to browse the Asilia Africa site and was immediately sold. Again, specifically on the Sayari Camp, which is located in the heart of The Serengeti. I just knew that Dan and I had to make a visit here.
WHAT THE BOOKING PROCESS WAS LIKE
Literally within minutes of falling in love with all the information on Asilia Africa’s website, I emailed the link that inquired about booking a safari. By time I clicked refresh on my web browser, I had already received an email back from an amazing woman named, Lieze. She went into such depth about what the whole safari process would be like, the associated costs, how to book, and seriously everything I needed to know. She put together some quotes for me, and once I decided on the best fit for Dan and I, she booked the safari for us! Lieze was honestly our complimentary travel assistant for the whole trip! She helped with flights, lodging before arriving to The Serengeti, visas, vaccinations, payment plans, and everything (and then some more) under the sun. If Lieze wasn’t a part of this process, I don’t know what I would have done!!! All our communication was done via email, so it was so easy and efficient talking with her. She was beyond pleasant and SO helpful. Thank you, Lieze!!
HOW WE GOT TO ASILIA AFRICA SAYARI CAMP
So, this was a whole trip in itself!! Hehehe! For our specific safari in The Serengeti (Tanzania), we flew into Kilimanjaro. Side note: Dan and I really want to come back here to climb Mount Kilimanjaro!! And do another safari, of course! Kilimanjaro is a tiny airport, but right as we landed, we felt so welcomed!! Another side note: Dan and I LOVED the people of Tanzania. Everyone we came into contact with was so pleasant, helpful and amazing. This honestly was one of the main reasons we loved Tanzania so much! Moving on… one of the most important aspects of visiting Tanzania is that you need a visa!! Lieze helped us immensely with this, and we applied for our visa online! I would seriously recommend doing this as it saves a lot of hassle and stress. But as we entered the airport, we were directed to go to the visa line first. After we showed them our visas, we were then directed to go through customs. The whole process took about 20 minutes. So, it was very efficient. Since we only carried on our bags, we were all set to go now!!
One aspect of taking a safari trip is that you typically have to stay in a hotel at least one night before you fly out to “the bush”. There are very few flights going out to the safari camps each day, and sometimes you have a day in between depending on your flights and what not. We did this and actually really loved it! It was nice to simply relax at a lovely resort after a really long flight. Lieze helped us plan our stay at a beautiful oasis called, Lake Daluti Lodge. I will be talking about this resort in a whole separate blog post… but it was a gorgeous African paradise. All transportation was arranged between the airports and the resort.
Fast forward to the morning we fly out to The Serengeti!!! The day had finally come and we were so excited!! Again, transportation was arranged to the airport. This time, we flew out of a tiny airport in Arusha. And when I mean tiny, I MEAN IT. And that wasn’t the only thing that was tiny… the plane we flew on was so tiny! It literally was like a plane they fly out to Jurassic Park. Hehehe! A few families boarded the plane, and we were all headed to different camps. So, we dropped these families off before we landed at our destination. The entire trip was about 2 hours. But this aspect was one of my favorite parts of the whole safari experience! Why? When we were flying close enough to the ground, we could see so many animals from above!! My favorite? THE ELEPHANTS. It was so amazing to see herds of elephants from the sky!!
When we landed in The Serengeti, our safari team was already there waiting for us! They came with an open-air SUV (think the most intense SUV you have ever seen) and greeted us so warmly! The names of our guides were Holle and Baraka. I will talk more about them later! As our guides drove us to Sayari Camp, they were able to take us on a quick safari, as it was on the way to camp! In just this short time, we saw elephants, zebra, giraffes, multiple kinds of antelope, and more! We were off to a great start!
THE ACCOMMODATIONS OF SAYARI CAMP
I really want to break down every aspect of Sayari Camp, and there’s no better section to start off with than the accommodations! So, when you think glamping in The Serengeti… YOU HAVE NO IDEA. This was absolute luxury!! I sincerely struggle putting the beauty of this camp into words. It was just beyond magnificent. But to give a general picture… you are greeted at the main guesthouse. This is composed of a lounge/living room, the dining area, and a few bathrooms. Right next store is the pool area, and there is also a spa!! To the other side is a little gift shop and common area, with games and such. And then throughout the rest of the property are the guest tents.
Let’s just start from the beginning. The second we arrived at Sayari Camp, we were greeted with smiles and singing!! Like, for real. Almost the entire staff was at the front entrance dancing and singing for us! It’s like, talk about a warm welcome!! All the staff members introduced themselves and assisted with our luggage. They brought us inside the main guesthouse and offered us some delicious treats and something to drink. I just want to say right now, ALL food and drink are included in your stay at Sayari Camp. And YES, that does include alcohol. So, don’t hold back!! Eat and drink all you want because it’s there for you! Another thing I must say… ALL the food is so delicious!! Like, I can’t even!!
After having a little snack and drink, we were given a tour of all the facilities and a typical safari day was explained to us. I’ll talk more about the safari days later on in this post! We were escorted to our tent, which was mouth-dropping stunning. There was a front porch that looked out onto the savanna, which was an amazing location to drink your morning coffee or tea. Quick side note, you can choose to get coffee or tea delivered to your front door every morning!! What?! And little cookies would be delivered too! Our cookies were heart shaped! So cute! Then inside the tent… holy gorgeous!! The interior was decorated with all the African vibes, and truly put you in the heart of Africa. There was warm water, wi-fi, and even a fridge filled with drinks! It was a dream come true! And the bed… SO COMFY.
Now to talk about meal times… one of my favorite times!! Breakfast was served every morning in a buffet style. It was accompanied by delicious fruits, pastries, juices, an omelette station and so much more. I sincerely mean it when I say you will never go hungry here! Lunch would be taken when you came back from your morning safari, and it would always be under the trees! I loved this so much. This was more of a family style, where staff would bring you a lot of dishes to choose from. And then dinner was so romantic! Dinner would be inside amongst multiple dimly lit candles. Every meal time we were at our own table, except for one night where we were seated family style with everyone. This was fun because we got to talk to other travelers and our guides!! And again… the food was so delicious!! My favorite? Green banana soup!!
THE STAFF OF SAYARI CAMP
Cue the waterworks! I miss the staff of Sayari Camp so much!! They honestly became friends and family by the end of our trip. The one thing I will always remember? Their smiles!! I LOVED their smiles! But really… we could not have asked for better people to be surrounded by during our trip. From the second we arrived to the second we left, we were treated like royalty. The staff knew our names right away, knew our favorite drink (and would have it waiting for us when we got back from a safari), and even knew secrets about us we didn’t know! Hehehe! For example, Dan was obsessed with these certain cashews the chef made. I’ll admit, they were delish! And on more than a single occasion, the staff would sneak them into our safari truck or have them waiting for Dan around every corner. It was the cutest thing!! And the staff were genuinely interested in what we saw on our safari, and would get so excited with us as we told them about the day’s adventures! I could go on and on about the staff, but I’m assuming there’s a word limit to this blog post…?
Next up, the safari guides! WOAH. I have never met such cool guys! But for real! These guys eat, breathe and live the safari life! They specifically went to school for this occupation and are so very knowledgable. There honestly was never a question they didn’t know the answer to! If you’re worried about not seeing animals on your safari… DO NOT WORRY. The safari guides know the land so well! They know where to look and they know the behaviors and lifestyles of the animals. They WILL take you to the right place! Not only are the safari guides educated in their field of work, but they are so polite, kind and funny! Yes!! They had all the safari jokes! One of my favorites… we were riding along and saw so many giraffes! Like so many. One of our safari guides then said, “Woah. It looks like they should name this area Giraffic Park!” Get it?! A play on Jurassic Park?! HA. HILARIOUS. But really, the one thing Dan and I will always remember… our guides led us to see some of the most mystifying sights we have ever seen in life. I’ll share about those next!
WHAT A TYPICAL SAFARI DAY LOOKED LIKE
What does an actual safari day look like? Well, it’s awesome! It starts pretty early, because that’s when the animals are most active. We were on the truck by around 6:30 AM every morning. You would either have breakfast at the guest house or have a “bush breakfast”. I’ll explain more about what that means later! And then honestly, for the next couple of hours, you look for animals!! Every day is unique because you never know what you will see or what will surprise you! Also, the guides drive around to various areas in The Serengeti because different animals live in different areas… and they want you to see a variety of animals! When the guides (OR YOU) see something, they’ll follow it or stop to observe it. One of the VERY important aspects of going on a safari is that these are WILD animals. You cannot get out of the truck or do anything that would put you or the animal in danger. Our guides would always say that we are entering the living area of these animals, and we must be respectful of that. If we respect them and don’t give them a reason to fear us, they will respect us in return. But after a morning of being out in the savanna, we would come back for lunch and for a time of relaxation. This time of relaxation could be spent at the spa, at the pool, or in your tent taking a nap.
When 4:00 PM rolls around, it’s time to go back out again!! The animals start to become more active around dusk. And it’s essentially the same routine as the morning!! We are out looking for all the animals we can see! I’m going to share about some of the truly special experiences we had, but for animals we saw… giraffes, zebra, elephants, baboons, multiple types of antelope, leopards, lions, hyenas, various types of monkeys, wildebeest, crocodiles, hippos, a plethora of different birds, mongoose, buffalo, fox, and so many more! Another aspect about the safari days I wanted to mention… the guides will bring all sorts of drinks and snacks on the truck! They want to make you comfortable!! There’s also bird books, binoculars, fly swatters, bug spray, sunscreen, blankets, and even heat packs for the cooler mornings.
Once the safaris are completed for the day, it’s time for a camp fire and dinner! There’s a big campfire right by the guest house where the staff will pass out snacks and drinks, and everyone can talk about their day and what they saw! Then onto a scrumptious dinner to end the night. Once dinner is done, a staff member will escort you back to your tent. It is strictly forbidden to walk by yourself at night. Remember, we are in the wild landscapes of The Serengeti. Animals can freely come and go as they please. For guest safety, they must always be escorted anywhere at night. Fun little story… I heard hyenas laughing once in the middle of the night!! It’s true… they do laugh when they find food to eat! Hehehe!
Now, for a few really special moments of our safari experience. We’ll start off with the main reason we came to Tanzania during the time we did… to see The Great Migration. The Great Migration is one of natures most glorious and extraordinary events!! I’m not going to go into too much detail about the whole process, but it is a very rare sight to see. But when you see it, it’s so powerful! Essentially, due to migration reasons, the wildebeest need to cross the river in order to keep feeding and living. This is the only way… to cross the river. And it’s not easy, as the river is quite strong and has a few hungry tenants waiting for a feast… CROCODILES. To see The Great Migration, you truly need to be in the right place at the right time… and we were! I remember we were driving along the river and Dan saw hundreds (even thousands) of wildebeest standing along the shoreline. Our guides said they were getting ready to cross, but that the pre-process can take hours, or even days. The wildebeest need to “test out” the waters and deem it the best time to cross the river. They’ll sometimes even go to the river, looking like they’re going to cross, but then change their mind. So, we parked the truck and just watched for a little bit. I would say about 15 minutes in, I was looking through the binoculars and I saw a single wildebeest jump in the river. Then another… and another… and another… and then it was on! This was the real thing! I started yelling to the guides, “They’re going!! They’re going!!”, and the guides literally punched the gas and raced down to a closer and better view! By this time, hundreds of wildebeest were leaping into the river and trying their hardest to make the cross! A handful of wildebeest gotten taken down by the crocodiles, but the majority came out on the other side, huffing and puffing to victory! I remember I almost started crying because this was honestly one of those “once in a lifetime” scenarios, and I was just feeling so blessed to see it!
Another truly special (and exhilarating) experience for Dan and I was our encounter with a male lion. And I don’t use the word “encounter” lightly… and you’ll see what I mean by that soon. This morning, we were on the hunt for lions!! So, we were driving around a bunch of boulders and rocks, as lions like to lounge up there. Dan had actually spotted a lion far off in the distance and we were driving off to see that lion when we LITERALLY almost ran over Mufasa right in front of us!! About 10 feet in front of the truck was a large, male lion. He was just resting and it didn’t even seem like he saw us. Our guide told us to be extremely still and quiet. We sat in the truck for about 15 minutes and watched the lion… and then… IT GOT UP… and started walking right towards us!! I kid you not, it walked right along the side of the truck (Dan’s side), where Dan could have reached out and touched it. I don’t think my heart has ever pounded that fast. I mean, the lion probably heard my heart pounding. This was probably my all time favorite experience of the whole trip!
SAYARI CAMP SPECIAL TOUCHES
On top of everything Sayari Camp had already done for us, they threw in a few extra, special touches! Remember how I mentioned earlier about our “bush breakfast”? Well, now I’m going to explain what that is! Our safari guides had told us the day before that we would be having a “bush breakfast” the next morning. I sincerely thought that meant throwing some yogurts in a cooler and just eating as we go. NO. They literally set up a whole table and spread for us in the middle of the savanna!! It was honestly like a dream date! How could it get better than this?! Let me tell you… IT COULDN’T.
Another one of the special touches Sayari Camp did… we were driving back to camp after our evening safari, and I looked over by the river and saw some people seting up chairs and a table full of drinks. I was thinking to myself that someone was getting engaged or there was an anniversary… or just something big!! NOPE. It was for us and some of the other Sayari Camp guests! There was literally an open bar in the middle of The Serengeti! What?!?! We were handed mimosas, once we stepped off the truck, and were directed to go stand by the river. When we got by the river there were so many hippos just playing in the water!! It was seriously such a surreal experience! Like, how could that even be real life?!
WOULD WE RECOMMEND ASILIA AFRICA
If there was ever a dumb question in the history of questions, this would be it. We would 150% (and then some more) recommend ANY Asilia Africa safari camp to anyone and everyone!!! There’s no hesitation in this answer. And if you’re still questioning it… read this post again. Hehehe!
Okay…have I convinced you to book a safari yet with Asilia Africa? If not, please get ahold of me because I NEED TO CONVINCE YOU. In all seriousness, my friends… this adventure changed my life. Weekly, I talk about going back to Tanzania and going on another safari with Asilia. I miss it everyday, and I know I’ll be back someday. But in the mean time, I have memories like this that will truly last a lifetime…
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