Category Archives: Environment

The Legendary Allure of Tanzania’s Serengeti

November 19, 2015 - Environment,Experience,Lamai,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Grumeti,The Grumeti Fund

The Serengeti’s storied plains are a thing of wondrous beauty; endless grasslands, winding rivers, rocky volcanic outcrops and thorny acacia forests. Renowned for its epic mammal migration which draws thousands of safari lovers every year, this pristine wilderness is also one of the best places in the world to see lions in their natural habitat, along with a host of other unique wildlife. Once the migration has moved on, visitors are able to experience an array of untamed wildlife, including giraffe, elephant and gazelle; further proof that the Serengeti offers diverse and fascinating game viewing all year round. Singita’s lodges and camps in two concessions in the region offer an intimate glimpse at this incredible ecosystem.

Singita Serengeti, Tanzania

Over the next two weeks we will be sharing the highlights of these vast conservation areas with you, from the lush, riverine landscape of Singita Lamai to the 350,000-acre Singita Grumeti reserve, ideally positioned on the migratory route which is home to an abundance of wildlife throughout the year. We’ll help you discover Singita Serengeti; a place where each season is as majestic as the last:

Singita is the trusted guardian of over half a million acres of land in Africa and responsible for making a tangible difference in the lives of the people living and working in and around its lodges through successful community development projects. The company proudly operates 6 lodges and camps in Tanzania, each a unique and thrilling safari experience in its own right. Find out more »

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Quick & Quirky: Wildlife Snippets on our Vimeo Channel

October 08, 2015 - Environment,Experience,Wildlife

Have you ever seen an elephant blowing bubbles? Or a very lucky wildebeest escaping the clutches of an apex predator? Or a leopard cub getting a bath from his mother? Singita’s Vimeo channel is a gold mine for wildlife lovers, and is full of great sightings just like those described. Most of the wildlife posts are short snippets filmed by field guides out on game drives with guests, and many contain unusual or exciting animal behaviour.

Leopard at Singita Kruger National Park

Here are some highlights of the most amusing and eye-catching wildlife sightings you can find on our channel:

Lioness vs. Porcupine

Singita Kruger National Park is well known for the large lion prides and ever changing dynamics within the family groups. Over the last few months especially, we have been spoilt with terrific sightings of the prides as they move through the concession and especially the phenomenal array of cubs. This sighting however was completely unique and very entertaining! Two lionesses taking on a porcupine? That is very brave considering the damage that those quills can cause.

A Feast for the Shishangaan Pride

Three adult lionesses with seven cubs from the Shishangaan pride were seen on a few occasions this month. The cubs gorged themselves and could hardly walk to keep up as their mothers led them away from the kill sites after feeding, in order to keep them safe. We also saw a total of thirty-two Shishangaan pride members feeding on the remains of a Cape buffalo a few weeks ago!

Leopard Cub Having a Bath

Singita Sabi Sand is renowned for a healthy leopard population, where guests are treated to daily sightings of these majestic animals. Our guides cam upon this incredible sighting on morning game drive today.

Lucky Gnu (Singita Kruger National Park)

We were lucky enough to witness this gripping encounter between a lone wildebeest and a lioness. Through true determination and possibly a bit of luck this wildebeest managed to fight off the lioness and gallop to freedom. Rare sightings like these are such a privilege to see!

Baby Hippo Going for a Dip (Singita Kruger National Park)

Newly born hippos are relatively small, weighing from 55 to 120 pounds, and are fiercly protected by their mothers. Young hippos can only stay under water for about half a minute, but adults can stay submerged up to six minutes.

Elephants Blowing Bubbles (Singita Sabi Sand)

Anywhere on the concession where there is water, there are elephants. Mid-morning at the water source is generally the best, as the herds come down to drink. There are often very good interactions between the elephants and the crocodiles and hippos wishing to bask in the sun on the riverbanks.

Singita’s social channels are a great place to get the latest news from our 12 lodges and camps. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and, of course, Vimeo.

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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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Conservation & Community: How Tourism Helps

June 24, 2015 - Community Development,Conservation,Did You Know?,Environment,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Sustainable Conservation

For more than two decades, Singita has been a “place of miracles”, offering guests a unique and extraordinary safari experience. Our 12 lodges and camps have been the recipient of numerous awards and the number of guests who return year after year speaks for itself. And while we are extremely proud of this, Singita’s enduring purpose, which is to preserve and protect the miraculous places of which we are custodians, remains our primary focus. Our concessions, reserves, and properties represent some of the most pristine wilderness areas on the continent and we are dedicated to maintaining these incredible pieces of earth for future generations. As well as our commitment to environmentally conscious hospitality, our core vision supports sustainable conservation and the empowerment of local communities.

Malilangwe Reserve, Zimbabwe

Malilangwe Reserve, Zimbabwe

Dr Bruce Clegg, Resident Ecologist at the Malilangwe Trust, Singita’s conservation partner in Zimbabwe, explains the extent to which tourism contributes to wildlife conservation and rural community development in Africa:

Dr Bruce Clegg

Dr Bruce Clegg

“Travel and tourism contributes only 3.6% of the total GDP in Africa, the majority of which is generated from just a handful of countries on the continent. Ecotourism accounts for only a fraction of this relatively small figure, putting wildlife conservation and development of rural communities at a considerable disadvantage.

Wildlife conservation at Singita

Tourism is a difficult business. Africa only attracts 5% of global travellers. The market is very competitive, overhead costs high and profit margins low. In addition the industry is sensitive to shocks caused by political instability, disease outbreaks, natural disasters etc. and it takes many years to develop a credible reputation. This means that little extra money is available for large-scale conservation efforts or community development. Strong competition between companies for bookings necessitates promotion of the charismatic animal species that underpin the industry (most notably lions and the other members of the Big Five) and more urgent conservation needs such as protection of critically endangered, but less captivating plants and animals are overlooked. For these reasons the hope placed in ecotourism as a solution to Africa’s poverty and conservation problems has not been fulfilled.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Child Supplementary Feeding Programme

However, a small light is beginning to shine at the end of the tunnel. A few progressive organisations have recognised these failings and instead of continuing to base their activities on wishful thinking have changed their approach and setup partnerships between their ecotourism ventures and charitable NGOs or generous philanthropists. These partnerships appear to work better. Ecotourism provides environmentally sensitive employment for locals thereby promoting community development, and the charitable partners provide the extra funds required to conduct meaningful conservation projects and additional community upliftment.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Singita Pamushana

Singita has taken this approach a step further and also included professional conservation and community development organisations in their partnerships to provide the technical input and experience required to run truly meaningful projects. This has the added advantage of giving the donors confidence that their funds will pay for best practice, and visiting tourists the assurance that their dollars will actually make a difference. A three-way partnership of this nature is very promising and may well be the industry standard of the future. If this approach becomes widely adopted, ecotourism’s role in conservation and community development may at long last reach its full potential.”

Wildlife conservation at Singita

Singita is the trusted guardian of a million acres of pristine land in Africa and responsible for many successful community development projects, making a tangible difference in the lives of the people living and working in and around our lodges. Please visit our website to find out more about the wonderful work of our conservation and community upliftment teams.

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Earth Day 2015

April 22, 2015 - Environment,Singita Mara River Tented Camp

April 22nd is always a special day in the Singita calendar, as we honour our environment and take the time to reconsider our role in it, both personally and as a company. The modern definition of “environment” has come to mean more than simply our natural world; it includes all issues that affect our health, our communities and our habitat.

Earth Day 2015 | Singita

Celebrating Earth Day at Singita Sasakwa Lodge today

This more holistic philosophy is perfectly encapsulated in Singita’s mission, which is to facilitate environmentally conscious hospitality, sustainable conservation and the empowerment of local communities. The symbiotic relationship between these three founding principles is what drives all of us at Singita to “touch the earth lightly” and ensure that every day is spent in honour and respect of our planet.

Read last year’s Earth Day post for all the details of how Singita Mara River Tented Camp in Tanzania operates “off-the-grid” as an environmentally conscious lodge. You can also visit the Earth Day Network website to find out more about their year-round mission to broaden, diversify and activate the environmental movement worldwide.

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Fascinating Flora: The Leadwood Tree

February 25, 2015 - Did You Know?,Environment,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

There is a classic, if slightly ominous, African image with which you’re probably familiar; it’s the scene of a colony of vultures huddled on the branches of a leafless leadwood tree, black rain clouds looming overhead. It is, in fact, a fairly common sight at Singita’s South African properties (albeit with more blue sky!), where the bush is studded with tall leadwoods that live up to their scientific name; combretum imberbe, meaning “hairless climber”.

Leaded trees at Singita Kruger National Park

The leadwood is one of the largest trees in Africa, and is so called because of the wood which is extremely dense and heavy. As such, it is impermeable to termites and is one of the only wood species that sinks when thrown into water. It’s hardiness also explains why, up to 80 years after a leadwood tree has died, its imposing skeleton will remain intact, and why it used to be the material of choice for railway sleepers. The species is protected in South Africa, although fallen branches and those left behind by marauding elephants are allowed to be used for furniture or ornamental work.

Leaded trees at Singita Kruger National Park

Although slow-growing, they can live to be thousands of years old and flourish in alluvial soil along river beds, like the Sweni and N’wanetsi Rivers that run through Singita Kruger National Park. The leaves are popular with herbivores and you will regularly see elephant, giraffe, kudu and impala munching on them during a game drive.

Leopard in a leadwood tree | All Dolled Up

Singita’s 33,000-acre private concession in the Kruger National Park is home to two of our lodges; Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge. This area is especially well-known for the remarkable concentration of the ‘Big 5’ and four particularly formidable prides of lions. Discover more on our website.

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Fascinating Flora: The Sickle Bush

October 28, 2014 - Did You Know?,Environment,Kruger National Park

Sickle Bush | Singita

The sickle bush (dichrostachys cinerea)

Sickle Bush | Singita

Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

The sickle bush (dichrostachys cinerea) is one of the many splashes of colour that our field guides associate with this time of year, as it generally flowers from October to February. It goes by many names; bell mimosa, Chinese lantern tree, Kalahari Christmas tree and, perhaps most curiously, ‘acacia puncture tyre’. While not in the acacia family at all, it happens to have extremely hard spines capable of puncturing a tyre. The spines are modified stems rather than modified leaves (which you would find in an acacia) and this makes them even harder to break.

Sickle Bush | Singita

Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

The name “sickle bush” stems from the seedpods which are packed close together and each single pod curves in the shape of a sickle. It is a tree that has a preference for brackish soils, and is a highly aggressive encroachment species. In Cuba, where it is known as ‘Marabou weed’, it has become a serious invasive species problem, occupying close to five million acres of agricultural land. It can, if not managed correctly, grow to the point of impenetrable thickets.

Sickle Bush | Singita

Singita Sweni Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

The sickle bush is one of the most widely used medicinal trees throughout Africa. Abdominal pains, eye ailments and snake bites can be treated using parts of a sickle bush. In fact, some of our guides have first-hand knowledge of this powerful natural anaesthetic! One of them reported chewing the leaves to help kill the pain of a toothache, for which it worked brilliantly. The only problem? Within minutes your tongue turns numb as well and then you can’t talk – not ideal for narrating a game drive!

Follow our monthly Wildlife Reports to learn more about the beautiful flora and fauna to be found at our 12 lodges and camps.

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Singita Boulders Lodge: A Sustainable Solution

July 11, 2014 - Accommodation,Conservation,Environment,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge

As the first guests start to experience the newly refurbished Singita Boulders Lodge, we celebrate the achievements of the talented people behind the stunning new look. Responsible for the vision, creative direction, interior architecture and design is Boyd Ferguson and his team from Cécile & Boyd. Drawing inspiration from the natural setting and environment and responsible for recreating the lodge’s physical spaces is architect Sally Tsiliyiannis from GAPP Architects & Urban Designers. Every effort has been made to reuse and recycle all the building materials, as Sally explained in a recent report from the site while the work was under way:

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

“Every door broken out has been repositioned somewhere else. Nearly all the new balustrading is actually just sections of the old balustrade removed from elsewhere and re-used.

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

By this time next week, literally 100% of the stones from demolished walls will have been reused. Natural features that were previously covered up have been uncovered and new decking has been carefully shaped around these so they are now main features within the design. Superfluous areas of decking have been cut back to make way for more foliage and where decks have been lowered the views of the river are less obstructed. Nearly all the building rubble is being used as backfill for the new gabion walls to minimise waste.”

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

This environmentally sensitive approach is an extension of Singita’s dedication to ecotourism and “touching the earth lightly”. Environmentally conscious hospitality, sustainable conservation and the empowerment of local communities is the guiding light for everything we do. You can find out more about our sustainable practices on the website, as well as a recent success story in Tanzania, where Singita Mara River Tented Camp has become our first “off the grid” property, setting a benchmark for responsible but luxurious travel.

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

Photos by Peter Browne, Associate Editor of Condé Nast Traveller who was lucky enough to get a sneak peek before the lodge formally reopened. You can see more photos of the newly refurbished lodge in our latest blog post and follow us on Instagram for more.

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Meet the Lebombo Euphorbia

May 06, 2014 - Did You Know?,Environment,Kruger National Park

Lebombo euphorbias growing along a ridge at Singita Kruger National Park

Singita is very fortunate to share its concession in the Kruger National Park with an astonishing variety of unique and interesting flora. The 33,000 acres of land in the southeastern reaches of the park lie between the red rhyolite-based Lebombo Mountains in the east and the flat grasslands with their extremely fertile basaltic soils in the west. This creates a beautiful and varied landscape filled with rich, verdant plant life.

Lebombo euphorbias growing along a ridge at Singita Kruger National Park

Flora, like fauna, has its own preferences in terms of habitat, and the differences in soil type and topography allow for a wonderful and flourishing spectrum to exist. One such example of this unique vegetation is the Lebombo euphorbia (Euphorbia confinalis), a cactus-like tree with a single trunk and a canopy of upward-growing branches. It is only found in the Lebombo mountain region, and, along with its cousin, the Transvaal candelabra euphorbia, is an incredibly picturesque and exotic part of the local landscape.

Transvaal candelabra euphorbias growing in the boma at Singita Lebombo Lodge

They are very drought resistant and are particularly beautiful from June to August, when they grow small, light-yellow flowers in groups of three along the spine of each cucumber-shaped lobe.

Transvaal candelabra euphorbias dot the ridge along which Singita Lebombo Lodge is situated

Trees of the euphorbia family are filled with a white, milky latex and are extremely toxic. As a result, the tree is not eaten by many animals. Despite this, the traditional uses are quite varied – they include using it to stun fish (making them easier to catch), for treating lesions and wounds on cattle, and as an effective poison for hunting arrows.

Find out more about the local flora of Singita Kruger National Park, as well as interesting game spotting and animal stores by catching up on the latest Wildlife Reports from the region.

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Touching the Earth Lightly: Celebrating Earth Day 2014

April 22, 2014 - Conservation,Conservation,Did You Know?,Environment,Experience,Lamai,Lodges and Camps,Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Earth Day is honoured every year on April 22, in a worldwide show of support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. Singita’s lodges and camps are committed to “touching the earth lightly”, and this is manifested in the way the lodges are constructed; how they operate today; and how guests experience the wildlife and the natural habitat around them.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Singita Mara River Tented Camp is the epitome of sustainable tourism and consciously seeks to eliminate the unnecessary use of energy. In keeping with this philosophy, the camp operates “off-the-grid” and relies on a custom designed solar power system, with an inverter battery bank that ensures an uninterrupted power source at night or on rainy days. The photo voltaic solar panels used to harvest energy from the sun supply electricity to the camp’s energy-saving LEDs lights, pool pump, and washing machines, among other things.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

The camp’s potable water comes from a borehole near the site and is, in turn, heated by solar geysers. Although this water is drinkable, Singita is also planning an additional filtering system which will be in place before the end of the year, eliminating the need to use any plastic bottled water at this location.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

The camp has been purpose-built to be environmentally conscious, and as a result has a clean and efficient recycling programme that is leading the way for the rest of Singita’s lodges. Waste management is extremely important to this process. For example, fresh produce is transported and wrapped using traditional methods, such as recycled wooden boxes and wood chips or sawdust for packing. These boxes are then returned to the local supplier for the following week so that no plastic or modern packaging is used, eliminating unnecessary waste going into the country’s landfills.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

To limit the construction footprint, Singita Mara River Tented Camp makes use of a series of open-air decks instead of separate buildings for the gym and spa. Energetic guests have access to yoga mats, kettle bells and jump ropes, while the spa offers treatments on the decks or in the tents, without using any electrical equipment. Toiletries used in the lodge are also all organic.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Singita’s achievements with the efficient and environmentally-friendly construction and operations of Singita Mara River Tented Camp are significant in light of our planet’s ongoing struggle to maintain balance and fight climate change. The wonderful “lightness” of this property will serve as a template for all future lodge designs, setting a benchmark for responsible but luxurious travel.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Conservation lives hand-in-hand with ecotourism and community development at Singita. We believe it’s the responsible way to maintain and extend the sustainability of our wildlife reserves. Read more about our conservation efforts on our website.

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