Everyone has their own unique vision for how they will get engaged and what that day will look like. For some, it’s a private moment at home and for others it’s an intrinsically planned orchestra – for us it was a perfect day spent at Tanda Tula.
A safari is a magical experience on so many levels, witnessing Mother Nature at her most pure. For our visit that included watching a baby elephant take what seemed to be her first steps, an entire pack of baby lions napping in a pasture, and two male leopards jockeying for the same watering home, and this is only naming a few. Although for us, and Tanda Tula, the magic doesn’t stop with the animals – what moves the experience from magical to divine is the staff & accommodations. When I say their team is 10/10, I mean it, it was far beyond anything we’ve ever experienced and makes a Ritz Carlton seem like a Holiday Inn. The entire camp quickly becomes a first name community environment with a positive energy and ‘aura’ that I struggle to articulate. In lieu let me describe the day we got engaged and hope it conveys the ‘Tanda Tula Experience’.
It started before the sun, as safaris do, but for us it was a bright and early Espresso Martini to start the day with some caffeine and fun (I should note we were the first to ever request this – but Tristin laughed with a smile and more then happily complied). Our morning drive featured nearly the entire Big 5, with the highlight being a mating pair of Lions. For anyone who may struggle in the morning, let me just say an espresso and having a Lion ROAR 10 meters away all before 6:30am will have you wide awake for the day ahead.
Morning drive concludes with breakfast in the bush made over a wood burning fire in a beautiful setting. Featuring eggs, bacon, french toast, mimosas, and more – a breakfast that would be right at home in a high end Paris hotel. A brief nap followed by a plunge in our private heated pool to shake off the post nap blues had us ready for the afternoon, although my pre-proposal nerves were starting to stir!
We decided to eat lunch sitting at the bar while playing some cards, enjoying the homemade ice tea during the highest heat of the day. We spent this hour chatting away with Harry, Smiling, Vusi and more of the staff – with some even joining in on our game of cards, something that brought us great joy and laughter. Although as lunch started to come to a close I had to sneak away to ‘look in the gift shop’, aka chat with one of the owners and a few of the staff about the rapidly approaching proposal. Each and every employee from the wait staff to the owners take such pride in their work and guest experiences, that the proposal had become a camp wide operation! And for this, I’m immensely thankful.
As we headed out on our afternoon game drive, the nerves were stirring and heart rate was accelerating. This was further exacerbated when we crossed paths with a Leopard protecting a fresh kill – if you want to test your heart health I’d suggest being growled at by a leopard 5m away 30 minutes before you propose (talk about having a unique story!).
As the sun began to set, our guide – Chad, suggested we go check out an old lion skull down in a river bank by some beautiful fig trees. Although I believed him and almost didn’t bring my bag with the ring!!! What greeted us at the bottom of the bank was an absolutely stunning sundowners setup with drinks, snacks, lanterns and most importantly the chalk board with ‘Will you marry me’. With Innocent and Dale tending ‘bar’ we sprayed a bottle of bubbles and enjoyed a sunset that will forever be remembered.
With the nerves settling and the ring securely located on her finger we started our drive back to the lodge. Upon our return a private lantern light dinner was waiting in the ‘bird house’, and finally I could share all the hidden details of the ring, planning, and enjoy that first meal as an engaged couple! As we concluded and returned to our room, the turn down service had set out Champaign, flowers, and most touching the coffee table photo book created by our guide, Chad, had been signed by the staff with well wishes – concluding an exceptional day.
When I say Tanda Tula goes above and beyond delivering on the guest experience – it’s the truth. I couldn’t say thank you enough to their wonderful team & owners for crafting our stay into one of a lifetime and regardless of what you may be celebrating or just simply taking a trip. I whole heartily recommended Tanda Tula.
We can’t wait to see them all again and celebrate our future honeymoon!
Kevin & Olivia
A special thanks to Dale, Nina, Chad, Glen, Vusi, Monique, Smiley, Innocent, Harry, Tristin and the many more staff that made our stay one of a kind.