WOMEN ON THE RUN
June is when we find ourselves at the tail end of WOOD’s spring fever and tantalizingly close to the start of summer and FIRE’s heat and chutzpah. Adventure this time of year includes all kinds of outdoor activities, ranging from soft and sublime to bold and potentially punishing.
Nowadays, many sophisticated travelers seek heart-racing action on their trips – from whitewater rafting to mountain biking to scuba diving with sharks. Pushing one’s physical limits not only recharges the personal batteries, but also comes complete with drop-dead-gorgeous scenery, new friends and memories to last a lifetime. Luckily, when it comes to all of the above, Africa’s cup runneth over.
Which is why we are thrilled to hear that eco-elegant outfit Singita has just announced that entries for the 2019 Serengeti Girls Run are officially open! The exclusive, purpose-driven experience is aimed at raising funds for empowerment programs for girls and women in Tanzania that are focused on providing opportunities for women to become leaders in conservation.
Taking place October 25-30, 2019, the philanthropic adventure includes five all-inclusive days at Singita Sabora Tented Camp and a run that will see participants complete 13 miles daily over three days, traversing some of the most iconic wilderness areas in Africa. The multi-stage event invites runners of all levels to cross the vast plains in Singita’s private concession in the western corridor of the Serengeti, where they’ll encounter an abundance of wildlife and breathtaking scenery at every turn.
Known as a dedicated conservation brand, Singita has been preserving African wilderness for the past 25 years, with 14 luxury, award-winning lodges and camps across five regions. Its Singita Sabora Tented Camp is an intimate 1920s-inspired explorers camp that embodies the magic of a bygone era. Featuring opulent chandeliers, Persian rugs and bowls filled with fresh roses, it provides a space for the runners to rest and recuperate at the end of every day.
The all-women Serengeti Girls Run is part of Singita’s signature collection of conservation safaris called “Safaris with a Purpose,” and is held in partnership with the Grumeti Fund to support the empowerment of girls and women in rural Tanzania. Each runner’s participation includes a donation designed to assist in funding numerous nonprofit initiatives, including scholarships for local girls in secondary school, vocational studies and university; training girl mentors and providing life skills and internships; as well as enterprise development training for women and environmental education for girls from local secondary schools.
Runners are accompanied by expertly trained, experienced anti-poaching scouts from the Grumeti Fund, who’ll keep an eye out for curious animals, while a support team in a shadow vehicle will be on hand to take care of their safety and comfort. The Grumeti Fund is a nonprofit organization carrying out wildlife conservation and community development work in the western corridor of the Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania.
More than just luxury by night and the run of a lifetime during the day, the Serengeti Girls Run offers participants various opportunities to engage with the women who benefit from these programs. The day after their arrival, guests can join girls from the local community on a short 2-mile fun run, followed by a career fair where they can share their own inspiring stories with hundreds of girls from neighboring villages.
five-night itinerary, the participants will also visit the Grumeti
Fund’s Environmental Education Center, which hosts week-long courses for
local students on conservation and minimizing our impact on the Earth, as well
as an opportunity to meet the Fund’s anti-poaching team to find out how they
preserve and protect the region’s critical ecosystem.
This year’s event will take place from October 25-30, 2019. To book your place, email Katherine Cunliffe, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: https://spark.adobe.com/page/Vjz62315LRb1I/.
“Conscious travel is a catalyst for social change.” So declares the website for Sweet Bocas, a luxury eco-retreat in Panama that puts serving its surrounding community on par with serving its well-heeled guests.
Set off the shore of its own private island in the pristine Bocas Del Toro archipelago on Panama’s Caribbean coast, Sweet Bocas offers a 15-acre all-inclusive retreat that pays homage to nature, sustainability, relaxation and style. The 20,000-square-foot, 7-bedroom, 3-story handcrafted overwater villa is the vision of former Montreal restaurateur Annick Belanger, who blended first-class amenities with unbeatable seclusion. The villa houses seven suites, a fully-equipped kitchen with culinary team, an espresso bar, entertainment-driven den, living and lounging areas, state-of-the-art gym, infinity pool and yoga studio. Additionally, two lakeside bamboo accommodations provide a tropical “glamping” experience under the stars.
An exclusive-use property available for one party at a time, it is ideal for those seeking a place to unwind with a group of family or friends. With virtually no neighbors in sight, guests of all ages can experience this private paradise independently or with assistance by the house concierge. That includes getting acquainted with the surrounding marine environment with full use of the 30-foot motor yacht and boats, as well as premium experiences like surfing with world-renowned pro Terry Simms. Of course, there’s plenty to do away from the water as well, including bat cave explorations, indigenous tribe encounters, shaman healing, and more. Speaking of the fruits of the land, the island’s own sustainable gardens, orchards and farms provide the bulk of the ingredients for meals prepared by a world-class in-house chef.[
Born in Canada and raised in Africa, Annick Belanger created this eco-paradise in order to provide a space for socially conscious travelers to truly engage. Sweet Bocas is a self-sustaining natural ecosystem, known as a permaculture, where sustainability is not just a buzzword. Commitment to guests is matched only by the commitment to the natural environment that envelops every aspect of guests’ stay, from the crystalline water, to the handcrafted teak house, to the farm’s handpicked produce and pure rainwater that guests consume.
That includes opportunities to visit local communities, participate in culturally immersive activities and leave a positive imprint on those that have called these sacred lands home since the beginning of time. Following the footsteps of her father, a pioneer and founder of trade schools and educational vocational programs that impacted many lives, Belanger believes education to be at the core of the mission at Sweet Bocas.
Under Belanger’s direction, Sweet Bocas operates its own Dreamcatcher Foundation, which works in partnership with local nonprofit Give & Surf to support education and sustainable empowerment for the indigenous community in Bocas del Toro. Prior to 2011, there was just one small primary school offering inadequate education in unsatisfactory facilities in the Bahia Honda region of Bocas del Toro.
Today, Give & Surf serves over 1,000 students per week in five indigenous and two local communities. The organization builds schools, staffs teachers, provides transportation to school (especially helpful as kids live in remote mangroves) and funds secondary education and university. More than 40 community development projects have been completed to benefit the communities of Bocas del Toro, with upgrades that include enhanced school buildings and a new community center.
In addition to letting guests shadow Give & Surf professionals during their stay, a stay at Sweet Bocas automatically includes a donation to the Dreamcatcher Foundation. Through the Foundation, the property is able to donate a percentage of every booking directly to Give & Surf.
All told, Sweet Bocas offers an out-of-this-world escape that packs a punch when it comes to positive social and environmental impact. Heaven? You bet!
Sources: Sweet Bocas; Give & Surf
Photos: Many thanks to: Sweet Bocas; Give & Surf; Nicholas Giombi For Photographers Without Borders 2015