The Singita Blog

Conservation for Kids: Education Through Exploration

October 05, 2015 - Community Development, Conservation, Did You Know?, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Singita Pamushana Lodge, Sustainable Conservation

As part of its ongoing commitment to the surrounding communities, Singita Pamushana (Zimbabwe) partners with the Malilangwe Trust which runs regular courses in conservation education for pupils at local schools. The four-day courses are held at nearby Hakamela Camp for students in Grade 6 and 7 who come from eleven local schools.

Conservation education at Singita Pamushana

The courses are designed to teach students the value of conserving the environment and the wildlife for both their own future and that of their communities. The courses consist of classroom lessons at Hakamela, game drives in the reserve, and visits to the Malilangwe Dam to learn about aquatic conservation.

“Young people are the future,” says Tendai Nhunzwi, Director of Malilangwe’s Neighbour Outreach Program. “If we involve them in conservation at a tender age, it will help make wildlife and the environment sustainable. When they have been on these courses, the children become ambassadors to the local communities and we have seen some very positive results.”

Conservation education at Singita Pamushana

“Parents tell us that the children chide them when they are doing things wrong, whether it’s causing erosion through over-ploughing or cutting down trees. Poaching has also been reduced and the local communities have begun to report suspected poachers. The plays that the children create and then act out at the end of the course often show the dangers of poaching and why it so destructive.”

Shepherd Mawire, Projects Co-ordinator for the Malilangwe Trust and the man who designs and runs the Conservation Education programme, agrees. “The results are very positive,” say Shepherd. “When they come on the course, many of the children have never even used cutlery before so they have to learn quickly.”

Conservation education at Singita Pamushana

“We teach them about all aspects of the environment from explaining how wildlife is identified and categorised, the diets of the animals, to how all the creatures in the ecosystem depend on one another and what happens if the cycle of nature is disturbed.”

“The children understand how looking after the wildlife and the environment can benefit them in the long-term,” concludes Shepherd. “Singita Pamushana is a source of jobs for them and their families and the benefits are long-term. Even telling the children that they will not be able to go on the course if they have a bad attendance record has improved the present registers at the schools.”

Conservation education at Singita Pamushana

“And when we ask them at the end of each course what they would like to do when they grow up, it’s amazing to see how much their horizons have expanded from just a few days before. At the beginning most want to be teachers, nurses or to join the police which are the jobs they see around them every day. But by the end of the course, they realise that there are other options open to them and they want to be guides, game scouts or part of the research team. Their mind-set has already changed and they want to be part of a good thing that’s happening.”

Richard and Sarah Madden are freelance travel writers and filmmakers who were based in the Malilangwe Reserve at Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. Their series of short films from the region is entitled “Bush Tales” and explores Singita’s community development, ecotourism and conservation work in Southern Africa. 

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Singita opens new School of Cooking in the Serengeti

October 01, 2015 - Community Development, Cuisine, Singita Grumeti


After the success of its cooking school in the Kruger National Park, Singita has announced that it has opened a second school in the Serengeti, Tanzania. The Serengeti School of Cooking, which opened in July, promises to give students the best education in the art of food (and wine).

As the hospitality and tourism industries in Tanzania continue to grow, so too does the demand for qualified chefs. The aim of the cooking school is not only to bridge this widening gap, but also to promote cheffing as a highly skilled occupation that offers great prospects for employment.

Sabora Day 2

The course load will cover topics such as professional cookery, food production, catering, as well as communication skills, customer care and computer literacy. It will also offer practical training, with students getting the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test as members of the staff canteen and lodge kitchen teams.


Pioneering this exciting project is Singita Serengeti Executive Chef, Frank Louw, who has been with the company for nearly 10 years. “I’m eager to not only share my passion for food with the students, but do my bit to positively impact the lives of the communities within the Serengeti and surrounding Bunda districts”, Louw says. “I hope that what we’ve started here will make a real difference in the lives of the students and their families”.

Graduates from the Serengeti School of Cooking will gain a nationally recognised Professional Cookery qualification, after which they can commence work at a Commis Chef level within a Singita lodge kitchen, or any other lodge or hotel within Tanzania.

Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania

Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania

Along with environmental sustainability, the support and upliftment of local communities is a key part of Singita’s role in preserving the wilderness areas of which it is a guardian. Other projects at Singita Grumeti in Tanzania include an Environmental Education Centre, a scholarship fund for local students and small business development programmes that teach agricultural skills.

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Get to Know Us: Singita’s Female Field Guides

September 25, 2015 - Did You Know?, People of Singita, Wildlife

Singita’s success is built on the collective strength and vision of deeply committed people, all passionate about Africa and linked by a common purpose to protect and preserve the world’s last remaining wilderness areas through conservation, community development and hospitality. The highly-trained field guides at each of our 12 lodges are a critical part of the guest experience, and we are proud to employ a large number of women in this traditionally male-dominated role.

Female field guides at Singita Kruger National Park

Three of these dynamic and passionate women can be found leading twice-daily game drives for guests at Singita Kruger National Park in South Africa. Chantelle Venter, Jani Lourens and Deirdre Opie are part of the team responsible for conducting unique guided safari experiences, whether on foot, by bike or in state-of-the-art Land Rovers.

Female field guides at Singita Kruger National Park

Head Guide Deirdre loves to wow guests with “those once in a lifetime situations where you as a guide know that what you have just experienced is a unique and special moment, your excitement becomes infectious and the guests feel like they have really seen something extraordinary.” Growing up on a farm instilled a fierce love of animals in Deirdre, who volunteered at the Johannesburg Zoo during her school years, looking after the farmyard animals, birds and primates. She studied Nature Conservation at university and later completed a guiding course which allowed her to share her love and knowledge of the outdoors with others.

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Chantelle also fondly remembers growing up outdoors: “My childhood was spent running around, climbing and falling out of trees, riding horses, falling off skateboards and getting bloody noses in the karate class. I realised after two years in the corporate world that I was not cut out to sit behind a desk.” All three guides share a common distaste for traditional office jobs, preferring instead to be in the bush and far away from “high heels and pantyhose”! As Jani astutely remarks; “There is always something new to discover. Not only within nature but also within myself, one can learn so much by just observing what goes on around you. And that is what keeps the continuous inspiration burning.”

Female field guides at Singita Kruger National Park

Singita’s guiding experience is designed to be delivered with humility, professionalism and flexibility, with the end result being an educational experience for all. This attitude, along with an uncompromising sensitivity towards the environment, is embodied in all our field guides and trackers. Guests are often impressed by their ability to read the signs of nature, track animals and wield an enormous game vehicle across unforgiving terrain. Jani tends to make a big impression in this regard, as her diminutive size can be misleading. “I am not one of the tallest people out there and I sometimes have to elevate myself from the seat to check where I’m driving when off-road. I always get positive comments from guests after they experienced my mad 4×4 skills though!”

Singita_Mar 05 2015_0236

When asked about the most memorable moments in their time at Singita, all three guides have an interesting wildlife story to tell. For Deirdre it was a rare encounter with a pangolin, Jani got between a lioness and her cubs while on foot one day, and Chantelle was chased around the staff laundry building by a honey-badger! “This is the simple life where one does not need to own a lot of things because the environment around us is what makes us rich,” says Jani.

Female field guides at Singita Kruger National Park

They also have good advice for aspiring female field guides or any women following an unconventional career path. Chantelle believes that “you create your own opportunities. Aim to be the best so that nobody can question your ability. Never complain and always remain humble and compassionate. Start doing push-ups.” Deirdre says that focus is also important: “You have to decide where you want to go, how you are going to get there, and then stick to it. In careers that are unusual for women, you will have to work far harder and prove to be far more competent in order to be treated as an equal. I would like to think that by being one of a few female Head Guides it shows other women that with hard work and determination you can be a leader in any industry of your choice.”

Female field guides at Singita Kruger National Park

Please visit our website to find out about career opportunities at Singita, and learn more about the experience of working in a “place of miracles”.

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A Serengeti Safari Fondly Remembered

September 23, 2015 - Experience, Singita Grumeti, Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Singita Sasakwa Lodge, located in the Grumeti Reserves in northern Tanzania, is a slice of heaven, if we say so ourselves! The majestic views of the Serengeti from its position atop a hill and the old-world elegance of the nostalgic manor house decor make this lodge a true celebration of comfort and luxury. Ms. Anna Lord, a recent guest from Singapore who visited Singita Grumeti with her family, is in agreement: “It was an extraordinarily comfortable, indulgent but fun experience, in the hands of knowledgable and extremely hard-working professionals who do everything to ensure that you have a holiday that you will never forget.”

What follows are some of Anna’s memories of Singita Sasakwa Lodge, along with a selection of the stunning photographs she took during her stay with us:

Image copyright Anna Lord

“From the moment that we touched down on the wonderful Sasakwa airstrip, we knew that we were in good hands… Our bags were whisked off to our cottage and we were immediately immersed in the indescribable beauty of the Serengeti.”

Image copyright Anna Lord

“Frankly, if our Singita experience had ended after that [first] game drive, the trip would have been worthwhile.”

Image copyright Anna Lord

“No matter how many excellent documentaries you have seen, nothing prepares you for the incredible spectacle of the plains filled with long lines of wildebeest and their calves, with a few zebra and topi tagging along. The sight, sound and scent of the phenomenon as they crossed the river meant that I could tick a major box on my bucket list.”

Image copyright Anna Lord

“We were travelling with our 4 children (aged 4, 7, 10 & 12) and immediately knew that our accommodation was beyond perfect. Beautifully appointed, vast living and dining spaces (indoor & out), with four slightly different, tastefully designed bedrooms, each with stunning views and impeccable bathrooms with views that are to die for!”

Image copyright Anna Lord

“I apologise in advance for the excessive use of superlatives that you are likely to have to endure if you manage to persevere to the end of this, but it is almost impossible to do justice to this fabulous lodge and the wonderful team that runs it, using words. ”

Image copyright Anna Lord

“The days continued along these lines; with meticulous attention to detail, no request was too much trouble and every bite that we ate was delicious.”


“No matter how amazing the lodge, the food and the service, no safari is complete without an incredible guide… Their passion for wildlife and professionalism in their work are very special indeed.”


“Matthew is now a hero in our house. All of our children sobbed saying goodbye to him and have talked about him to anyone who will listen. He had such an incredible impact on all of them and us. They learned so much from him, including stories about Masai life, learning how to make and use a bow and arrow, and lessons about traditional remedies.”

Image copyright Anna Lord

“For anyone who wants to visit the Serengeti without sacrificing an ounce of luxury, I wholeheartedly recommend Sasakwa. My only regret is that we didn’t stay for longer so that we could enjoy more of what the lodge itself had to offer.”

Image copyright Anna Lord

You can read Anna’s full review on TripAdvisor. Please contact our Reservations team to plan your own visit to this spectacular part of the world.

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Dear Diary: A Day at Singita Lebombo Lodge

September 22, 2015 - Experience, Kruger National Park, Lodges and Camps, Singita Lebombo Lodge

“Today I woke up in a glass room, on the banks of the N’wanetsi River. I breathed in the smell of a fresh new day in Africa, feeling inspired that places like this exist.”


So begins our latest short film, which follows a day in the life of a guest at Singita Kruger National Park. Inspired by a real journal entry, it is an emotive memoir that chronicles the unique Singita experience from sunrise to sunset. Marvel at sweeping views of the 33,000-acre concession, stunning wildlife and the rich details in every corner of Singita Lebombo Lodge.

Singita Kruger National Park’s mission is to create and maintain a balance between conservation, community development, and hospitality. Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge have been built with this ideal in mind and both integrate the ‘touch the earth lightly’ philosophy into every aspect of their daily operations. You can see the lodges come to life on our Vimeo channel and on our website.

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Pamushana Pups Caught on Camera

September 18, 2015 - Conservation, Did You Know?, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Singita Pamushana Lodge, Wildlife

It’s considered a very good day in the bush for most wildlife enthusiasts if they manage to spot a rare or elusive animal. It’s also very exciting to see babies in the wild, so to combine both into one sighting is a real highlight for our guides and guests. This is exactly what happened on a recent game drive in Singita Pamushana in Zimbabwe, when field guide Jenny Hishin came across a family of highly endangered African wild dogs and their pups.

Wild dogs at Singita Pamushana

The importance of a sighting like this is better understood when you learn that there are only an estimated 6 600 adults left in the wild. Habitat degradation, disease and human persecution threaten to wipe out these highly intelligent and social animals. The fact that they are breeding in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve and its surrounds is very encouraging. This litter was born during the winter to the alpha pair in the pack, in the shelter of a rocky area of a sandstone ridge, where they have then been safeguarded by the other members of the group.

Wild dogs at Singita Pamushana

The 130 000 acre reserve in southeastern Zimbabwe offers endangered animals like the African wild dog a pristine habitat in which to flourish. The role of Singita Pamushana Lodge is to help foster the sustainability of the wildlife and broader ecology in the region, while each guest who visits makes a positive impact to this incredibly beautiful land and dynamic community.

Wild dogs at Singita Pamushana

Our monthly Wildlife Reports are a source of delightful photos and anecdotes, and a great place to keep up to date with news of the wild dogs and other wildlife on Singita’s properties. You can also visit our site to find out more about conservation at the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, which is home to Singita Pamushana Lodge.

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Conservation at our Core

September 17, 2015 - Conservation, Environment, Sustainable Conservation, Wildlife

For most safari travellers, the first image that’ll spring to mind when they think of Singita is a luxury lodge parachuted effortlessly into the wilderness. It could also be the smiling face of the guide that took them deep into the bushveld, and returned them safely home that night. Perhaps it’s the crackling fire and star-spangled sky during a memorable boma dinner.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Tanzania

Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Tanzania

For Dave Wright, it’s more likely to be the image of water running freely across the cracked red earth as long-dry streams burst back to life, or elephants trundling through bushveld where wire fences once penned them in. “For many years the perception has been that we are a hospitality company,” says Wright, Environmental Manager at Singita Sabi Sand. “In fact we’re all about conservation.”

Unlike most safari operators, Singita is unique in taking full responsibility for the conservation of the land it operates on, ensuring eco-tourism and eco-systems work hand-in-hand. “Many companies contribute financially to conservation through lease and concession fees, but they don’t actively conserve the land,” explains Singita’s Chief Operating Officer Mark Witney. “Except for the Singita Kruger National Park concession, we do all the conservation work ourselves. Particularly in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, where specialists within the committee are responsible for the conservation of those areas.”

Zim_Pamushana - Elephant (88)

Underpinning and guiding the group’s work is the unique Conservation Committee, what Witney calls “Singita’s conservation brains trust”. The highly trained Environmental Managers – three of whom hold PhD qualifications in ecology – from each of Singita’s properties form the backbone of the group, bringing decades of scientific and conservation experience to the table. Witney and an outside ecologist provide further input and expertise and the Committee meets regularly through the year, travelling to one of the Singita properties to share research and conservation lessons.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in south-eastern Zimbabwe, home to Singita Pamushana Lodge, is a perfect example. This 50 000-hectare wilderness, previously an old cattle ranch, has been rehabilitated and transformed into “a successful conservation project that has been given back to wildlife,” says Witney. Before the establishment of the Reserve only a handful of common antelope were found on the land. Today, game is abundant across the property with healthy populations of endangered rhinoceros, as well as the rare sable which were successfully reintroduced to the region.

Likewise in Tanzania, the 150 000 hectares of land under Singita’s custodianship were once poorly managed and over-utilised hunting concessions.


Another significant success story is the dropping of fences between the privately-owned Sabi Sand Nature Reserve and the state-owned Kruger National Park in the mid-1990s. Within days the reserve changed from a fenced-off island of bushveld, to part of a wider ecosystem. “For the elephants it was like opening the gates of an ice-cream factory,” chuckles Wright. “Previously bush encroachment was a big issue and we had to introduce elephant. When the fence came down that changed completely, particularly in the winter when elephants follow the conduits of green vegetation along the Sand River. Now we have well over 1000 elephant on the property.”

While managing and restoring the land is key, ensuring the lodges touch the earth lightly is equally important. At each property the Environmental Manager ensures that the footprint of the lodge is kept to a minimum, with everything from waste disposal to power generation constantly assessed for ways to reduce any adverse impact on the environment. “Here at Singita Boulders Lodge we’ve moved all of our electrical power lines underground, and we’ve also improved the sourcing of water by tapping into underground aquifers adjacent to the river, so there’s a reliable water supply,” explains Wright.

Conservation at Singita

While guests may leave with a lifetime of wilderness memories, the luxury lodges and superlative game viewing is really just the tip of Singita’s conservation iceberg. And if you find yourself at Singita Boulders Lodge in the Sabi Sand; don’t forget to ask Dave about that fence…

You can find out more about Singita’s ongoing nature and wildlife conservation projects on our website. These include a rhino reintroduction programme in Zimbabwe, support for wildlife research in the Kruger National Park and a successful anti-poaching unit in the Serengeti. 

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Get to Know Us: Sommelier Q&A with Welma Beukes

September 11, 2015 - Did You Know?

Among Singita’s expert members staff are a number of certified sommeliers; professionals trained in the production, storage, service and pairing of wine. One such sommelier is Welma Beukes, who has the happy task of matching wines with guests at Singita Sabi Sand. Here she tells us a little more about her love of wine, her favourite varietals and what guests can expect from the “wine journey” at Singita:

Welma Beukes - Sommelier at Singita

1. Tell us about your journey during your wine career – how has your wine career progressed over the years?

My dream has always been to become a winemaker and create my own label. I studied viticulture and ended up at a well-known winery for two years, analysing and understanding the chemical structure of wine. Calibrating my palate towards the analysis really helped me to understand wine in a different way. There are so many aspects to be covered in the wine industry and I wanted to be involved in as many as possible before pursuing the creation of my own label. Being a sommelier interested me the most, so I completed the Singita training program as well as a professional qualification in Bordeaux, France. Continuing education in this industry is important and I love learning more about wine so I’m also currently broadening my knowledge with a specialist qualification in Wine and Spirits through WSET.

2. Where does your love for wine come from?

I grew up in Paarl, one of the major wine-making regions of the Cape. My best friend’s father was a winemaker at the time and this sparked an interest in the industry. Wine has just always fascinated me; how it constantly evolves, pairing it with food and creating wines for every occasion.

Wine at Singita

3. What are some of your favourites – wine styles?

I am, of course, biased towards South African wine and my favourites include interesting white Mediterranean-style blends with Chenin Blanc and Roussanne as the base. I love a well-balanced Chardonnay and some of the amazing reds that South Africa is creating at the moment. I also enjoy sweet dessert wines where the balance is right between sugar and acidity – they go perfectly with my favourite blue cheese!

Internationally, my favourite wine style is Champagne, and in particular the small producers that use a method where they close the bottle with a cork during the secondary fermentation, as suppose to a crown cap. This gives the Champagne extremely fine mousse and it really feels like you are tasting the stars, just like Dom Pérignon said.

Wine at Singita

4. What are some interesting trends taking place with wine – locally and internationally?

Cinsault has been the backbone of South Africa’s wine industry for many decades. It can offer delicate aromatics, sweet red fruit, good acidity and amazing longevity. This lighter wine is mostly used by producers as a blending partner but could well be the “next big thing” in the local industry, along with dark-skinned grape variety, Syrah.

5. What do Singita guests appreciate about the wine experience?

Mostly it’s getting an introduction to South Africa’s finest wines. Each one is selected with guest enjoyment in mind, and for specific environments and locations in and around the bush. The majority of our guests are used to drinking more mature red and, in some instances, white wine from all around the world. The Singita wine journey allows them to try South African wines in a similar style. Singita Premier Wine offers an extensive wine list for every palate, while the sommeliers on the floor help guests to discover different varietals and styles that will suit their preference.

Wine at Singita

Keep an eye out for Welma and our other sommeliers on your next visit to Singita Sabi Sand, and, if you’re a wine-lover, be sure to book a tasting in the wonderfully well-stocked cellar.

Singita Premier Wine is the department dedicated to sourcing and supplying wines for all the Singita properties. The wine list at each lodge offers an average of 180 different bottles, all of which need to be painstakingly selected, purchased, matured and distributed throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. You can read our blog to find out more about the process of stocking the cellars and how each wine list is designed.

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Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards 2015

September 02, 2015 - Awards, Lodges and Camps, Sabi Sand, Singita Grumeti

Yesterday saw the publication of Condé Nast Traveller magazine’s much-anticipated annual Readers’ Travel Awards; a list of accolades for the world’s best destinations, hotels, villas, airlines and more, as chosen by their readers. Singita is delighted to announce that Singita Grumeti, a 350,000 acre concession adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and home to five of our lodges and camps, was voted the Best Hotel in the World for Service. This gratifying distinction honours the hard work and dedication of all our staff – field guides, trackers, front of house, chefs, banakelis, sommeliers, housekeepers, groundsmen and more. All of them contribute to creating unforgettable memories for all of our guests.

Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards 2015

Singita Grumeti was also listed third in the Readers’ Travel Awards Top 100, a global index of excellence in hospitality, rated according to elements like design, food, location, atmosphere, facilities and service. In addition, the property was awarded second place in the list of best hotels in the Middle East, Africa & the Indian Ocean, while Singita Sabi Sand in South Africa came in at number nine.

Singita could not be more proud of these awards, especially given that they were voted for by previous guests and Condé Nast Traveller readers. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all members of staff who work tirelessly to make Singita truly a “place of miracles”.

Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards 2015

You can visit our website to see a list of all previous awards or read this blog post which highlights last year’s most significant achievements.

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Sharing the fun on Facebook

August 21, 2015 - Kruger National Park, Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Wildlife

Singita’s Facebook page is a treasure trove of gorgeous wildlife photography, shared stories from guests, snapshots from the lodges and real-time updates from our field guides. It’s a great way to see what happens out on game drive and behind the scenes at each of our 12 lodges and camps, and see stunning photos of your favourite African animals. In case you haven’t yet liked our page, here is a quick recap of the most recent posts:

Singita on Facebook

The Lilac-breasted Roller is one of the few species of birds that are adding colour to the dry bush veld during this season. These birds get their name from the aerial acrobatics they perform during courtship or territorial flights. Rollers are often spotted quite quickly in the bush as they often perch prominently whilst hunting, in search of insects on the ground.

Singita on Facebook

It is that time of year again, when guests at Singita Mara River Tented Camp are treated to one of the greatest shows on earth. Our Camp Manager, Robyn, just gave us the following update:
“The last few days we have seen the small oxbow of land in front of the camp embellished by a sea of black. Thousands of wildebeest have littered the plains in front of us each morning. As morning turns to afternoon, the cries of thousands crescendo as the wildebeest begin to plunge down the steep banks attempting to cross the Mara River. Our guests have been lucky enough to view crossings a mere 10 minutes drive from the lodge. We can hear and see them straight from the decks of the camp!”

Singita on Facebook

Agility perfected at a young age: A leopard dance of a different kind.

Singita on Facebook

The view from your veranda at Singita Sasakwa Lodge is simply breathtaking. With nothing but the vast expanse of the Serengeti before you, there is no better way to spend an afternoon!

Singita on Facebook

It’s almost that time of day in the bush – afternoon high tea. The pastry chefs are placing the last minute touches to some special items in honour of World Lion Day.

You can follow Singita on various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vimeo. All of these feeds can be seen together on the Social page of our website.

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