Have you ever thought of leaving the 9-5 life behind, to follow your fantasy dream life?
Meet Darryl and Shirley Peters, a Canadian couple who did just that and always dreamt of living a life they were passionate about, in Africa. Today, they are proud parents and the owners of Dashir Lodge & Safaris located in Tanzania, Africa. Dashir is more than four walls and a roof to the Peters’ and the guests and patrons who visit, it’s now known as one of the best African safari companies and resorts. Dashir allows you to embrace the African culture, land and people, sip your morning coffee with a view, and enjoy all the comforts of home during your stay. This luxurious African vacation spot will allow you to see Tanzania through the lens of the locals, while enjoying with elegant accommodations. The Peters’ journey has been filled with many obstacles and setbacks, but together, along with the community, they are achieving a life they never knew was possible.
The two lovebirds met many moons ago, and their famous tag line, “Shirley is the party and Darryl is the plan”, still rings true today. Shirley is the social butterfly and Darryl is the quiet musician, a little more reserved. They met in Bible school in Winnipeg, were married 6 months later and that was that. Like most other Canadians, Darryl and Shirley lived the typical Canadian life. Darryl was a teacher and Shirley worked at a local bank. As the years went by, the family expanded from 2 to 5, but Shirley often reminded Darryl that he still had to make good on his promise, to take her back to Africa.
Shirley first heard of Africa when she was in grade 5, and it has always held a special place in her heart. In 1999, the family of 5 temporarily relocated to Botswana for Darryl to teach in a local school. One evening during some heavy rain, a leaky roof would introduce Darryl to his future best African friend, Bakari. He and his wife Agnes offered a helping hand to patch up the roof and in that very moment the path for the Peters’ would dramatically change forever. As the friendship between the two couples and their families grew, they decided a group vacation was in order and traveled to Tanzania. Sometimes the worst trips bring out the best in people. This trip was no exception: their truck broke down (twice), they slept on cement beds, and showered in rusty water. Although the trip was what nightmares are made of, the couple laughed it off and said it was one of their most memorable trips together because of the people they spent it with and the beautiful land they explored.
When Darryl’s teaching contract was up in Botswana, they moved back to Winnipeg for 8 long years. Although life was good, their hearts always remained in Africa. After a long, fruitful career in teaching, Darryl came to his wife, and collectively they decided it was time to reinvent themselves. It was time to use some of the other skills they were blessed with and put them to good use in the hospitality sector. They were going to open a resort in Africa. What they had originally wanted was a 3-bedroom lodge in the traditional round hut style, on a small piece of land, maybe 3 to 5 acres of land. In January 2009, they reached out to their good African friends to put the word out that they were looking for a parcel of land to build their dream resort. Later that year in June, Darryl received a call that he would never forget, that forever changed their lives; there was property in Tanzania, Africa available. Without hesitation the Peters’ purchased the land, and just like that, they were now the owners of 12 acres of land just outside of the bustling city of Arusha. Their African safari dreams were coming true and Dashir Lodge & Safaris was born. They sold everything they owned, packed up 8 suitcases, kissed their grown children goodbye and have never looked back, in building their dream resort and TripAdvisor top rated lodge and safaris company.
Upon arrival to their new home country, they travelled down a horrible road, for what seemed like hours, eventually arriving to find a vast piece of land with little to no grass, ugly thorn bushes, and no easy access to water. Despite the overwhelming feelings they were experiencing, that picturesque vision they had once dreamed about was in sight. Shirley kneeled, kissed the ground and said, we are home. For the next three years, their blood, sweat, and tears were poured into the land. People said it was in the middle of nowhere; the Peters’ couldn’t help but wonder if they were making a mistake. Nevertheless, with the support of many villagers working for them, they chose to persevere. They began to clear the land, lay the foundation, and build proper access roads. As the couple reflects on that time, they remember when there were weeks where they did not know if they could pay their workers, for lack of funds. They were up front and honest with them, yet the laborers stuck by them. The community rallied around them.
Money wasn’t the only obstacle they faced. They also had to learn the language of Swahili, understand the culture, and more importantly ingrain themselves in the community. Despite the hardships, Shirley says, “it wasn’t about the money, it was about life.” One day when Shirley was clearing large rocks off the land, she looked up to see four birds right above her and at that moment she knew God was watching over them and they were on the right path. They had so much to be grateful for: the workers who were becoming like family, a roof over their heads, and a place of refuge and peace for future guests.
Today, the beautiful African Safaris Lodge, “Dashir Lodge and Safaris” has over 50 active staff members, many of whom have been there since the beginning, and most of whom come from less than 1 kilometer away. Dashir’s rugged past has evolved and grown into a beautifully manicured resort with 11 rooms: 8 chalet suites and 3 luxury tents. This eco-friendly lodge predominantly uses renewable solar and wind energy to generate most of its power. Each room was designed with a personal touch and comes complete with a modern ensuite washroom with all the amenities from back home in Canada, including an ample supply of daily renewed solar-powered hot water. The unbelievably comfortable beds are also draped with mosquito nets to ensure your sleep is uninterrupted. The Canadian couple designed every part of the African Lodge to include as many local touches as possible. Shirley wanted it to echo the way they felt about the village. She didn’t want a cookie cutter space that came in a box from China; she decided to locally source all the décor and materials to build the Lodge. The bricks, warm woods, furniture, bed posts, and linens are all made with love from people in the Arusha area.
La pièce de résistance is a big, beautiful thatched roof restaurant/bar and lounge area. This is where Dashir’s heart beats, it’s where you will find endless laughter, great conversations, and even better home cooked meals. The 4 course meals that come out of Shirley’s kitchen are nutritiously delicious and made fresh daily. Many ingredients come from the fruits of Dashir’s property. The eggs come from their own chickens, the limes picked off the lime trees and the herbs cut straight from their garden. Don’t worry about missing a meal while on excursion, Shirley and her kitchen staff prepare packed lunches to assure you have the healthy and delicious food to fuel your day. After your meal at the restaurant, grab a drink, head to the pool and take in the lush green spectacular views around you.
When it comes to planning your trip, Darryl is your guy. African Safari vacation packages can be very expensive and intimidating at first, however, Darryl will help you carefully plan every last detail of your African safari vacation – at a great value price because there are no agents in between. Their planning and hosting starts right from the moment you arrive in Tanzania to the moment you fly out. Careful consideration is always used when designing your personalized safari vacation. There are many options to consider, from a variety of day trips to nearby villages, customized safaris, a few days at the beach on the island of Zanzibar, hiking Mount Kilimanjaro and more.
All airport transfers, and transfers during your vacation stay are arranged by Dashir and included in your quote. While on your luxury African Safari vacation, the couple has taken extra steps to ensure your safety when they design your activities by always delivering a high standard of service. While enjoying your Safari, you will be in the company of seasoned Dashir drivers, who have been with the team for many years; they provide the highest level of due diligence and care for your safety. When exploring on your day trips, you will be escorted by well-vetted guides who will also ensure the best African experience Tanzania has to offer. All the details of your trip and all experiences planned throughout your trip are carefully planned and considered and are confirmed between you and Darryl prior to your arrival. Darryl personally takes time to join you for dessert the night before your safari and excursions to check in with you as to how you are enjoying your stay and to give you a detailed run down of the following day’s activities.
The couple is committed not only to the guests, but also to their staff and the surrounding community. Their future goals are to “bridge the gap between first- and third-world countries.” Alongside continuing to grow the Lodge, add more safari vehicles, hire more staff, and acquire some zebras and antelope, the dynamic duo would also like to help the village in achieving their goals. These goals include attaining a clean water source, building a medical centre with a maternity ward, and uplifting the education system. For them, a stronger community that has access to a certain standards of life can achieve anything.
The excellent, warm hospitality Darryl, Shirley, and their professional/local staff offer throughout your African trip of a lifetime, starts right from the moment you contact them to begin planning your safari vacation and ends when you are safely home.
Dashir Lodge and Safaris is more than a resort or experience, it’s a place to “Feel at home in Africa”, where the love that has been poured into it, can truly be felt by staff, guests and all who visit. Darryl & Shirley Peters have created something exceptional – an environment that allows you to kick off your shoes, slow down, and truly embrace the African way, so you too will fall in love with Africa, the people, the land and most certainly Dashir Lodge & Safaris.