Marrying her best friend on the slopes of Ngorongoro Crater had always been a fantasy for Thomson staffer Angela. She dreamed of the joy she’d feel exchanging vows under wide Tanzanian skies and blooming jacarandas.
This fall, her dream came true when she and her fiancé Brendan combined their wedding with a Thomson safari and Zanzibar honeymoon!
“Every moment felt magical,” Angela said. “From the first moment in the Eastern Serengeti to the last sunset on the Indian Ocean, it was like this magical safari sandwich.”
Here’s their story!
Making the Dream Happen
Angela’s dream was born in the Tanzanian wilderness during her Thomson training safari. She loved the wildlife, but it was Gibb’s Farm that captured her imagination. She couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect the rustic eco-lodge might be for a wedding.
Angela enjoying the Gibb’s Farms gardens
When the pandemic upended her original plan for a wedding at home, she wondered, “Why can’t we make this dream a reality?”
So, she did! After months of scheduling, sizing, reserving and excitement, she and Brendan flew to East Africa and set out on their fantasy safari.
November in the Serengeti is quiet. Coming down from the summer rush and before the busy December season, the plains enter a peaceful lull. For Angela and Brendan, fewer travelers meant tranquil golden grasslands and a more immersive experience of the bush.
The Serengeti’s residents greeted them at every turn. Even though it wasn’t the calving season, Angela said she saw “baby everything.”
“Zebra foals, lion cubs—it was overwhelming! But baby warthogs were my absolute favorite—I must have drove Brendan bonkers, pointing out every one I saw.”
In central Serengeti, Angela and Brendan were captivated by a lion stalking a group of zebras–at the same time, a family of elephants meandered by, toward a pool of water already occupied by bathing hippos. With so much wildlife all around them, Angela asked herself, “Where do we even look!?”
Eventually, the lion lunged for the zebra, and a chase ensued. She didn’t catch her meal, but Angela and Brendan got a full course of safari magic in a single moment–and all of it, just for them.
“We had the Serengeti to ourselves,” Angela said. “November is such an amazing time to go. It’s like a little secret.”
Camping in Comfort
As a safari novice, what about Tanzania impressed Brendan most? Of course, the lions, leopards, elephants and landscapes.
But also, the camps.
Evening at Thomson’s Ngorongoro Nyumba Camp
Despite hearing about Thomson’s tents from Angela, he was still impressed by the high thread-count sheets, private bathroom and hot water showers. Friendly Thomson staff said hi at every new camp and the service was the best he had ever experienced.
“I’ve never been glamping, so from the very first campsite, I thought it was amazing,” Brendan said. “Amazing to the point I was flabbergasted.”
Lounge tent at Thomson’s Central Serengeti Nyumba Camp
Angela’s morning yoga practice in the Serengeti
Angela had fond memories of her previous stay at the camps, so she knew what to expect. Yet, she was impressed all over again. She practiced yoga on the camp yoga platforms, played board games with her fellow travelers and chatted with Thomson staff around the campfire.
“Seeing the wildlife from your tent door and smelling the Serengeti earth…you’re just so deep in nature,” she said.
Nasibu and the Leopard
Angela and Brendan’s guide, Nasibu, made the safari magic happen. He had an infectious, fun-loving personality, singing and joking with Angela’s travel group on long drives.
“He was the kindest soul,” Angela said. “Such a gem. I feel like he’s part of our family now.”
Guide Nasibu with Angela, Brendan and fellow travelers, Rachel and Andrew
Having led Thomson photo safaris before, Nasibu was well-versed in the Serengeti’s nuances of lighting and character. He often angled their vehicle with consideration for the sunshine and how it fell on the wildlife, allowing Angela and Brendan to take better photos. He always reminded the group about the importance of being patient and staying positive, which resulted in some very special moments on the trip.
“I felt like we had a mini photo safari,” Angela said.
Case in point: Nasibu once noticed a leopard laying on a tree branch, splayed in a way that made only the back of his head visible. Other safari guides parked their cars to show their guests this hard-to-see side. But not Nasibu.
He drove Angela and Brendan to the tree’s opposite side for a better view. Soon after, the leopard sat up, yawned, and looked directly at Angela and Brendan.
“The cars on the other side of the tree definitely did not get the shot we got,” Brendan said.
Tying the Knot in Tanzania
With an incredible safari under their belts, it was time to put the elope in antelope. Angela and Brendan prepared to wed at Gibb’s Farm, an eco-lodge on the forested slopes of Ngorongoro Crater.
Indulgence is the guiding philosophy of this gentle paradise, home to old-growth trees and sweeping valley vistas. Every cottage boasts vintage farmhouse charm, and bushes gush onto the walkways, blanketing everything in bounties of green.
“Driving up the road is like coming into an oasis,” Brendan said. “The colors are bright, the flowers are beautiful, as were the farms and the vegetables and the crops, the animals. To me it felt so much like home.”
Nuptials at Gibb’s Farm are fully customized affairs. Gibb’s organized the officiant and Angela’s hairdresser and makeup artists. Angela worked with the chefs to craft a personalized dinner menu that included “Marry Me Chicken” and grilled prawns served with saffron risotto. She also asked them to secretly make Brendan’s favorite cake: Baked Alaska, and the chef executed this delicious surprise perfectly.
After ten years of dating and three of engagement, Angela and Brendan married under the wide Tanzanian sky, in front of a wedding arch with farm fresh flowers. Jacaranda petals adorned the grassy aisle. Family and friends attended a livestream of the ceremony, and some surprise guests attended in person–Thomson staffers from Arusha, Tanzania!
Angela and Brendan greeting all of their virtual guests back home
Sharon, Shamim, Mize, Tom and Patrick–colleagues and longtime friends of Angela’s–made the trip out to celebrate her and Brendan. Angela said this sense of community is one of her favorite parts about working for Thomson.
“You come here, and you’re family to everybody,” she said. “Having the Thomson staff there, I thought, ‘Oh, we’re home.’”
Thomson staffers join Angela for her wedding
From Zebras to Zanzibar
Angela and Brendan had an adventurous safari. Gibb’s Farm had been beautiful, but they spent most of their time there in wedding mode. Honeymooning in Zanzibar was the perfect finale to the trip.
“Finally, we could sit back, relax and enjoy a lovely cocktail as we watched the sunset,” Angela said. “It was the perfect end to our adventure.”
During their time at this tropical paradise, Angela and Brendan snorkeled under the turquoise waves of Tumbatu Island, played ping pong on sandy beaches and strolled the island’s famous spice gardens. Their favorite part was exploring historic Stone Town with their guide, noting the diverse influence of Arabic and Indian cultures.
“You go for the beautiful beaches, palm trees and drinks by the pool,” Brendan said. “But I found the parts away from that, exploring Stone Town and the spice farms, to be so interesting.”
As reluctant as they were to leave, Angela and Brendan were happy–the first chapter of their new lives began in peace, joy and fulfillment.
“We both came out of it with this sense of gratitude,” Angela said. “What an amazing way to start our lives together.”