A night in the safari

THE Night Safari is putting a whole new spin to the term "creature comforts". People looking to satisfy their quest for the extraordinary without having to sacrifice the amenities need look no further afield than Mandai Lake Road.

Launched earlier this year, An Evening in the Wild is a concept that has been two to three years in the making.

Chief marketing officer of Wildlife Reserves Singapore Isabel Cheng says: "We know that aside from coming to our park to observe the nocturnal behaviour of animals, guests also like to soak in the ambience of the jungle after dark.

An Evening in the Wild offers a premium wildlife experience where guests can dine in a lavish tent and get up close to some of our most popular animals."

The experience kicks off with a cocktail reception at the Ankhole Terrace, located close to the park's entrance, followed by a chartered tram ride.

The tram ride is led by experienced guides, and while it is only 10 minutes or so to the "secret" location, it passes exhibits featuring Asiatic lions, striped hyenas and even flamingos.

The guides, clearly passionate about their job, are brimming with little-known facts.

For example, did you know that when flamingos are born, they're actually grey in colour and become pink over the years because of a steady diet of brine shrimp and blue-green algae? Neither did we.

The journey pauses at the tipi tent set up at the East Lodge, located near the Leopard Trail, where a 15-minute meet-and-greet session has been set up outside. Guests are able to get up close and personal with an owl, hedgehog, iguana and binturong (bear cat).

Ms Cheng says: "We had to be careful in curating the experience so our offering is different and yet one that guests will embrace. We chose a tipi tent because we wanted something that would look natural in a forest setting. Our key challenge was creating a lavish experience in the rustic environment of Night Safari."

And it's not just the furniture in the tent that creates a sense of luxury.

The tent is also air-conditioned so guests won't have to endure Singapore's infamous humidity while indulging in a gourmet dinner.

Our menu features lobster medallions, pumpkin soup, a choice between three main courses including Wagyu tenderloin, and ends with a dessert buffet.

House wine and soft drinks flow freely.

The flickering lights on our side of the tent, while not wholly intentional, creates an even more authentic experience - one you might expect if you were camping out in the wilds of Africa.

Designed to cater to up to 40 guests, the experience is created with corporate and private dining clients in mind. Ms Cheng explains: "Night Safari is a popular tourist park for people from all walks of life. With An Evening in the Wild, we had the opportunity to engage a different market segment - guests looking for something premium."

Guests can expect to shell out about S$199 per person for the full experience.

After dinner, guests will be treated to a private Thambuakar performance, where a group of tribal warriors perform a series of stunts using fire.

Our show features two talented women twirling an assortment of flaming torches, culminating with them dousing the fires with their mouths. One cheekily holds out a flame and asks: "Does anyone else want to try?" No, we certainly do not.

Once the performance is over, the chartered tram will then take you to complete the rest of the regular Night Safari tour.

That takes about 30 minutes, making the overall experience roughly three-and-a-half hours in duration.

While this experiential dinner will be limited to private bookings for most of the year, the Night Safari will also have one-off promotions, and will be open to the public for Valentine's Day this year.

Along with its Gourmet Safari Express programme which sees guests dining on the tram, An Evening in the Wild will join its stable of permanent offerings.

This probably won't be the last unusual experience the Night Safari will launch either. Ms Cheng says: "Tourism is a staple of Singapore's landscape and as a city that's always reinventing itself, experiential activities are good for both the tourism scene and local corporate companies looking for extraordinary activities for their clientele. We'll continue to dream up unique ideas to draw more guests to the park."

To book An Evening in the Wild or for more information, go to http://eventsales.wrs.com.sg/

This article was first published on January 22, 2016.
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