How to Recreate Taylor Swift’s ‘Wildest Dreams’ Video on Your Next Safari
Before the release of Taylor Swift’s latest video, Wildest Dreams, all we knew was that it starred the dreamy Scott Eastwood, son (and lookalike) of actor Clint Eastwood. In true Taylor fashion, there were a ton more surprises once the video was unveiled at the VMAs. Directed by Joseph Kahn, Wildest Dreams recreates an Old Hollywood film shoot in Sub-Saharan Africa. It celebrates the beauty of a safari, and all proceeds will go to the African Parks Foundation of America. “We just found out over the weekend we were beneficiaries, and of course we are thrilled,” a spokesperson said via e-mail.
Related: 10 Amazing Affordable Safaris
We spoke to T+L’s A-List Agents and other experts on how to recreate the safari of Taylor’s dreams. Do read on.
Best Place to See Giraffes
The Giraffe Manor in Kenya has become an icon for a reason. Go the insider route and ask for the Karen Blixen suite, where you can feed the black-tongued mammals from your bedroom window, says Cunningham (who loves giraffes so much, she named her first daughter after one). We recommend opting for something less formal than a yellow ball gown.
The dramatic Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must-visit on any southern African itinerary. To maximize your time there, spend the night at the historic (and recently renovated) Victoria Falls Hotel, a 10-minute walk away. Between May and October, the daring can hire a guide to hike the mile-wide waterfall, and make their way to the Devil’s Pool—a spot at the edge on the Zambian side, where you can stand, sit, or swim in a rock lip overlooking a 100-meter drop. Have a little more time? A-List agent Sandy Cunningham recommends booking the Dog House at Tongabezi, a sprawling villa that (despite its name) offers one of the most coveted vantages in the area—its three decks open up onto the Zambezi, with nothing but a few feet of elevation between you and the snoring hippos below.
Best Place to See Elephants
The great, sweeping landscapes of the Serengeti offer the perfect backdrop for elephant-spotting. Stay at the new Roving Bushtops, the second property in the region by luxury-minded Bushtop Camps—its six-butler-appointed, futuristic-looking tents can literally relocate to offer the best possible views of the pachyderm herds.
Get a Tricked-Out Tent
The completely secluded tented River Camp, by the Njageteck River in the Masai Mara, is casually furnished with owners Richard Roberts and Liz Fusco’s collectibles—in a picture-perfect way that looks just like Taylor’s film set. There’s a resident lion pride that’s known to frequent the area, so there is a good chance of seeing them up close.
The year-old Mwiba Lodge, right next to the southern Serengeti, is slightly less casual but has all the amenities a pop star would expect. Set among stone boulders, near the Arugusinyai River, the 10 tented suites (which can be connected) each have a private pool, a roaring fireplace, day beds for sunning, a soaking bath, and insane views of the Great Migration.
Charter a Plane
Lisa Lindblad, one of T+L’s Super Agents and an overall Africa expert, recommends a small company called Boskovic Air Charters for sky-high views of the Big Five throughout Eastern Africa. There’s also Tropic Air, a company based of of Nanyuki, Kenya, for helicopter tours, she says. Their Cessna 182 has the old-school feel of Taylor’s plane, and is ideal for just one or two passengers. Both offer unparalleled views of the savannah—often dotted with herds of wildebeest, buffalo, zebras, and more.
See the Great Migration
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no single time of year to catch the Great Migration in action. Says Lindblad: “Herds take a circular migratory route from Southern Tanzania up into Kenya and back down again,” which means that you can spot them 12 months of the year if you’re strategic about location. Her top choice: the Masai Mara in July.
Best Place to See Lions
A-List Africa specialist Mark Nolting sends his clients to Tanzania’s Tarangire, Ngorongoro, and the Serengeti if lion sightings are what they’re after. These areas are so dense with cats that one of his recent clients counted 133 lion sightings over the course of 10 days (he also checked off 10 sightings each of the even more elusive leopard and cheetahs). Maximize your odds of a similarly successful trip by scheduling your safari between June and March.
Here’s an epic itinerary for a safari on horseback, courtesy of Sandy Cunningham. “Start at Campi Ya Kanzi, a gorgeous camp with some of the best food in Africa. Then ride up through Hemingway's hills, all lush green and filled with absolutely amazing views. Camp up here two nights and then head down onto the plains, where you can overnight at my favorite plains camp, the Ol Donyo Lodge, for a dose of five-star comfort to round out your adventure.”
Another approach: make your home base at the Singita Sasakwa Lodge, and you can spend each day exploring a different section of the property’s 350,000-acre reserve in the Serengeti—all on horseback. Why simply spot zebras and giraffes when you can ride the open plains right alongside them?
Stargazing in Africa
At Jack’s Camp, in Botswana, guests can have their sleeping bags unfurled directly on the salt flats, says Lindblad. There, they can gaze up at some of the world’s darkest skies, where the total absence of light pollution creates spectacular overhead displays. The experience, according to Lindblad, is practically like being on the moon.
The less daring option? Spotting constellations like the Southern Cross from powerful telescopes at the Belmond Khwai River Lodge. (Fun fact: the lodge also keeps night vision goggles on hand for guests who want to take moonlit safari drives.)
Best Place to See Cheetah
Nolting says you can see the spotted species year-round if you know where to go. The Serengeti offers reliable sightings all year and may be your best bet, he says, but the Central Kalahari, in Botswana, offers a stunning backdrop of grassy flats and sand dunes that makes for extra-scenic cheetah-grams. (Stay at Wilderness Safari’s Kalahari Plains lodge for some of the most plush accommodations in the region, and the company will also coordinate a few days in the nearby Okavango Delta for a true dream trip.)
Everyone who has been to Africa, without exception, can go on at length about their favorite African sunset. (Can you blame them?) “There’s nothing like a sunset in the Serengeti, when a storm rages on one horizon and the sun sets on the other,” says Lindblad. “During dry season, the dust has a magical effect on the light…” Nolting votes for Zimbabwe—specifically citing the impressive vantage over Lake Kariba, where fish eagles congregate in the trees and create an unparalleled soundtrack of squawks and caws. Cunningham prefers Pride Rock, in Kenya’s Borana ranch. “It’s the exact place that Disney used as inspiration for the Lion King—and it’s every bit as incredible as they made it look. I took my kids there when they were 5 and 7 for an unforgettable experience.”
Best Place to See Cape Buffalo
“Katavi National Park in Southern Tanzania is completely unspoiled, with very few crowds—it’s a true connoisseur’s park,” says Cunningham. Stay at the timeless six tent Chada Katavi Tented Camp, and you’ll spot enormous herds of buffalo on unforgettable walking safaris—especially if you go between the months of June and October.
How to DIY a Home Video
Can’t make it to Africa? Buy your own green screen kit for as little as $60 on Amazon. Add a little help from a video editing app like Final Cut Pro, and you can Instagram yourself on safari without stepping a foot onto foreign soil—just like Taylor did. Scott Eastwood not included in kit.