The winning couple of SA Weddings' 2020 Bride of the Year Competition walked away with well-deserved prizes worth over R120 000, including an African safari honeymoon. This year’s coveted winners, Lindi & Smanga, embarked on an African honeymoon at the luxurious Tanda Tula Tented Safari, located in the Greater Kruger National Park. Dubbed as one of the most immersive and authentic safari experiences, guided by the rhythm of the people and wildlife of the region, Tanda Tula gifted our winning couple with an experience of a lifetime. We got the low-down of Lindi & Smanga’s unforgettable stay:
It felt like I was dreaming. I actually almost had to slap my own face on stage to try and wake up because at that moment, I didn’t even hear my name correctly when the MC announced it! It was honestly a dream come true. We were in total shock and disbelief especially since we were the first contestants to showcase to the judges. I remember my husband and I being so nervous. We actually wanted to go fourth in line instead of opening up the stage for all the finalists. Once reality had sunk in when our names were announced as the winners, we became overwhelmed with tears of joy whilst trying to digest that we were the winning couple in the whole of South Africa! We couldn’t help but to feel extra special, honoured, and incredibly blessed.
To top it off, both my hubby and I enjoy going to game reserves for the holidays but we’ve never been to a private game resort. It was something we’ve been longing to experience but due to the high rates at private game resorts, we opted to save this experience for when we go on retirement. Little did we know when entering the SA Weddings Bride of the Year Competition and subsequently winning it, that we were bringing our retirement closer with this experience of a lifetime gifted to us.
Three words are simply not enough to describe this incredible game reserve so I would say phenomenal; jubilant; euphoric; and exhilarating.
On our first morning, we had a scrumptious breakfast in bed at 06h00 in preparation for our early morning game drive, scheduled for 06h30. We arrived at our pick-up point where our guides warmly welcomed us and took us step-for-step through the game drive experience and rules. Waiting for us on our seats were hot water bottles and blankets as it is quite cold that time of the morning. Within the Tanda Tula complex, one can sight animals all around you, even around your tented camp and the dining area. During our game drive, we saw buffalos, hyenas...actually so many different wild animals. Our wish was to see a pride of lions, which the guides were trying their best to track for us to see. We then had a short break for some delicious tea and snacks in the bushveld. Our game drive resumed and our wish came true! We were able to witness a lioness and her cubs feasting on some wildebeest. That was truly a magnificent sight to witness.
At 10h30, we went for our main breakfast in the beautiful bushveld. Can you imagine dining like that? Our table was set up so nicely and the dining team were on post, ready to serve us. Having a breakfast buffet in the middle of the bush was an epic experience. Once we completed our breakfast feast, we drove back to the tent for some much-needed rest.
At 13h30, we went to lunch, which was set up in a different area to breakfast. Whilst eating, we could watch animals quench their thirst at the nearby watering hole. We saw giraffes, impala, and so many more animals that we couldn’t even recall all their names! After lunch, we explored the grounds and captured some photos because this was definitely an experience we would want to look back on in the future. We were scheduled for tea and snacks at 15h30 before our afternoon game drive but we had to politely tell the staff not to prepare anything for us as we were too full! We were definitely well-fed and taken care of throughout our stay!
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon game drive especially with our knowledgeable guides. We were so amazed to see how the safari car navigated its way in the bush. We actually became nervous as it trampled over trees and small bushes and drove up and down the steepest of hills. We had another snack break halfway through our game drive and continued with the drive until it was time to return to camp for supper. Supper was at 19h00 and wow, what a delight. We dined in a different area of the resort with the fire place going as it was quite cold. The food was out of this world. We literally had to roll back to our tents.
It is rather difficult to single out our favourite part because everything we got to experience was out of this world. However, our dining experience definitely made an impact on us. From the welcome juice and snacks on arrival, our breakfast buffet in the middle of the bushveld, to our carefully prepared table at lunch, the cuisine and service was just *chefs kiss*. We were waited on hand and foot by the friendly staff, who made us feel like a real King and Queen.
Definitely the game drives, the delicious spreads at meal times, and how romantic it is under the stars at night.
Appetising, delicious, mouth-watering, flavourful, healthy...I could go on and on. As I’m sure you can tell, the food was definitely the highlight of our stay. Every meal was cooked to perfection. The spreads at each meal time were mind-blowing. It was actually our first time experiencing such a large variety of food laid out in one place. There is literally something for everyone. Every bite was bursting in flavour - my mouth is actually watering right now!
We went on morning and afternoon game drives, had breakfast in the bush, dined under the stars at dinner time, strolled through the incredible grounds, spotted wild animals, and on our last night, we were treated to a romantic treat with roses on our bed, a bottle of wine and a gift basket with a lovely card.
Yes, we were fortunate to spot lionesses, lion cubs, elephants, giraffes, springbok, nyala, greater kudu, Burchell’s zebra, African wild cat, African buffalo, African wild dog, spotted hyena, white rhinoceros, blue wildebeest, side-striped jackal, African fish and a wide variety of birds. We were really spoiled with all our sightings.
The staff were so loving, caring, considerate towards our every need, and easy to get along with. They welcomed us up with open arms. Our game drive guides were also so knowledgeable about all the animals we sighted and expert trackers. We really felt the warmth of the Tanda Tula staff.
I would definitely recommend Tanda Tula and wouldn’t even mind going annually for a 5-7 night stay with my hubby!
Definitely sunrise. Nothing beats taking in the fresh, clean morning air whilst you watch the sun slowly light up the valley. It was truly such a majestic, awe-inspiring sight to witness. It was especially pleasant to have hot water bottles and blankets waiting for us before the early-morning game drive, which is just testament to how well looked after we were throughout our entire stay. The staff really know how to cater to your every need without even having to ask. However, there was also something so magical about sunset. We could hear all sorts of sounds coming from animals grazing in the bushes, not to mention seeing a pitch-black sky full of stars once the sun had set. It was an enriching experience to have the guides point out and name certain stars and constellations for us.
Tanda Tula is such an incredible resort. The experience was simply out of this world more so getting to witness such amazing animals up close and personal in their natural habitat. Our tent was so luxurious - probably the best sleep I have ever had. Our every need was catered to by the phenomenal and friendly staff. Thank you SA Weddings and Tanda Tula for gifting us this once-in-a-lifetime experience. We will definitely return and extend our stay in the future.
It sure sounds like Lindie and Smanga were treated to an experience of a lifetime at Tanda Tula Private Game Reserve. From world-class dining experiences in the bushveld and under the star, peaceful moments in tented luxury, to an immersive game drive excursions and tracking of various wildlife, Tanda Tula guarantees a holistic African safari experience to cherish for a lifetime! Thank you Tanda Tula and your incredible staff and facilities for gifting this phenomenal stay to our coveted 2020 Bride of the Year winners!