2020 has been a strange year indeed. Well, at least since March anyway. Noone could have predicted in January, as we all celebrated the arrival of the year, what actually lay ahead. Since the end of March, not much has been ‘the usual’ and with all the unknowns that COVID-19 and the pandemic have brought, an opportunity to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary at Safari Plains was a welcome surprise. Aside from the fact that we were the only guests in the camp, it almost felt normal.
After being welcomed at the entrance by social distancing staff and management, we took a moment to enjoy this walkway that connects the main reception/shop area to the bar and public spaces that overlook the swimming pool and the waterhole.(More of the actual lodge and the public areas will be featured in another posting)
I will skip reporting on the hand sanitizing, COVID-19 form completion and other related paperwork and cut to our arrival in the bar. This is a return visit for me, but a first for my wife. Like the first time I set foot in this space back in March 2019, she too was blown away by the sheer size and elegance, as well as the leopard image, one of her favourite animals.
This is a portion of the public lounge that can be found in the same space as the bar and, little did we know, as we filled out the forms, that this bright and airy room would be converted into a secluded, romantically lit area where we would enjoy an unexpected anniversary dining experience.
Our accommodation for the duration of our stay. But not much time for room acclimatization as there was lunch to be enjoyed and a game drive to head out on.
While I got my camera gear prepped for the afternoon drive, my wife took the opportunity to relax on one of the loungers in this private sala (the word means living room) that was attached to our accommodation by a short wooden walkway. This became a favourite spot when we had time as it offered views out across the open plains, where a variety of game could be seen.
Aside from the whoop of a hyena, the iconic call of an African Fish Eagle and the roar of a lion in the darkness, nothing says ‘Africa’ like the grunting of a bull hippo as it guards its territory in one of the dams at Safari Plains.
Time to head back to camp as the sun started to disappear below the Western horizon.
Dinner is served! The public lounge had been transformed into a private dining area, and the table decorations were reminiscent of a fine dining restaurant that could be found in any major city in the world.
We were in for a treat at dinner as the lodge staff had gone out of their way to make our dinner a very special occasion. My wife looked wonderful in the combined glow of the candle-light on the table and the warm heat of the fire burning in the grate next to our table.
And what a meal it turned out to be! The starter was snails…something that I have NEVER eaten before and when the plate was set down in front of me, I looked at with trepidation and just a hint of suspicion. I always feel guilty when asked for dietary requirements as I am not an adventurous eater, that being said, I decided to give this ‘delicacy’ a try. “Just have one,” said my wife as she tucked into her portion. My wife does not eat snails often, but this was not her first plateful and she savoured each mouthful. If I am to be honest. I do believe that she was silently hoping that I would give up after my first mouthful so that she could enjoy my portion. Although I have never tasted snails before, I did have some sort of inkling as to what they might taste like and I was therefore not looking forward to trying even one. I could not have been more wrong about both the flavour and the taste that I was expecting as I slowly placed the first mollusc into my mouth. It was not at all what I thought it might be and I, to the amazement of my wife, slowly enjoyed the entire plateful. Obviously the superb sauce and tasty bread added to my overall first experience.
I do like soup…and not only as a winter dish. For me, I can enjoy a bowl of hot soup at any time of the year. Given that the start to my meal was unexpected, I had no reservations about tucking into this course. This masterpiece was White Truffle and Portabella Mushroom served with lodge-baked bread rolls.
Our delicious salmon main course. Prepared to perfection by the chef and his staff ensconced in the kitchen. Not only did I finish off the fish, but I also ate ALL the vegetables on the plate. Once again, both my wife and I enjoyed this perfectly sized main course.
And finally…a delicious dessert, the perfect ending to a memorable dining experience. Champagne & Cinnamon Poached Pear. with honeyed Mascarpone Cheese and meringue crumble. And with a large maraschino cherry to complete the presentation.
A short walk back to our tent helped with the digestion and in the darkness the tent took on a romantic ‘persona’, harking back to the early days of those pioneers who might have camped years centuries before us.
Candle-light and rose petals awaited us in the bathroom and the bedroom.
A glass of bubbly to end off a splendid day… enjoyed in the bath, of course.
And yet more towel sculptures (this time a pair of swans) and another message awaited us on our bed. It had been a long and wonderful day and an early morning game dive awaited, so the message was rather pertinent.
To find out how YOU can enjoy Your special occasion at Safari Plains, visit their website for all the information you need to make a reservation. Click on the logo to access their site.
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