Category Archives: Experience

Globetrotter Guide Interview with Singita COO Mark Witney

August 14, 2014 - Did You Know?,Experience,Lodges and Camps

Mark Witney, COO at Singita

Singita COO Mark Witney has always loved the wilderness in all its forms. His great thirst for adventure has led him from flying light aircraft across the Atlantic to scuba diving in Mexico and tracking wild animals through the African bush. In 1994, he helped to open Singita Ebony Lodge, the first Singita property, and ran it for many years before moving into his head office role. With over 20 years of history with the company, he is uniquely qualified to explain what makes Singita unique and, in this excerpt from an interview with ShopLatitude’s Wanderlust blog, he does just that:

Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Q: Describe Singita and its mission.
A: Singita’s mission is to secure and protect pristine wilderness in Africa for future generations. We achieve this by creating a balance between sustainable tourism operations, a complete commitment to conservation and sound community projects. When we find opportunities to create conservation projects our basic goal is to restore or maintain the land in as near as possible to its original state of biodiversity before the interference of man.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Q: Which location is your favourite Singita Lodge and why?
A: That is a very difficult question. Each of our locations is so different and each has its own unique features, species and landscapes. I love the wide open spaces and abundant herds of Singita Serengeti, the wildness of our Kruger Park property with its unspoiled landscape and large lion prides, the leopard and cheetah sightings at Singita Sabi Sand are unrivalled and Singita Pamushana is one of the most bio-diverse areas under conservation, rich with species that we do not see on any of our other properties.

Singita Serengeti House, Tanzania

Q: What are the three things you never leave home without?
A: My Zeiss binoculars, a supply of strong painkillers (for that unexpected injury in the middle of nowhere) and a good guide book of the birds, mammals and trees of the destination.

Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Tanzania

The Globetrotter column on the Wanderlust blog profiles stylish jet-setters and well-known world-travellers. Mark has also recently been featured in a piece on Jacanda Travel, where he elaborates on what makes the Singita experience so special.

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Design Details: Singita Lebombo Lodge

August 12, 2014 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

In a recent blog post, we shared how Head Chef Archie Maclean interprets the architecture and design of Singita Lebombo Lodge on each exquisite plate of food. The plating style reflects both the contemporary décor of the lodge and it’s rugged location overlooking the N’wanetsi River:

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

The architectural and interior design of Singita Lebombo Lodge was informed profoundly by its location on a craggy cliff-face. The challenge for the design team was to provide a heightened experience of this dramatic, panoramic position and seamless views of the bush. Taking cues from nature’s finest engineers, the design concept was inspired by the position and structure of nests, dens, eyries and lairs.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Many animals and birds, particularly the Black Eagle, create secure shelter for themselves on raised ground using forms that, though exposed and sometimes precarious in position, are expertly merged with landscape. With this in mind, the design team translated the concept of the animal-made shelter to the form of a man-made shelter, by imagining how nomadic man would set up camp on the African plain; on a high point and under a tree for shade. This dynamic allows one to instinctively experience the psychological assurance of enclosure on the one hand, and the exhilaration of exposure and proximity to the elements on the other.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

The design consequently became a physical interpretation of primal, yet human, home-making instincts, but with an association between technology and craft, the abstract and the organic. Further to the design direction was the ecologically sensitive notion to “touch the ground lightly”, meaning that no aspect of the construction should impose on the site now or in twenty years time when the concession comes to an end.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

It is this respectful approach to the natural habitat that has set the aesthetic tone for the environment in which our guests find themselves. Even when indoors, you have the sensation of always being close to the elements. Here, walls are not barriers; instead each villa is a translucent glass tent with a roof a canopy of branches that allows dappled sunlight and rays of the moon to shine through.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

The interior of each room is designed to enable simple and ergonomic interaction with the large, open living space which can also be broken down into easily transformable zones for lying down, bathing, sitting, sleeping and sunning. Each area is also versatile; the outdoor sun beds are tented at night to allow guests to sleep under the stars, while the desk transforms into a kitchenette at a whim.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Imaginative wood, steel and organic interiors, all encased in glass, create a stylishly contemporary feel in the suites and make the most of the astonishing views overlooking the river.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

This boldly dramatic lodge, home to fifteen loft-style suites, is situated on Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park and was created by the team at Cécile & Boyd. The exclusive concession is a richly diverse habitat, teeming with game, beneath endless African skies. You can find out more about Singita Lebombo Lodge by completing our enquiry form, or contacting enquiries@singita.com

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A Visit from Matador Network

July 22, 2014 - Accommodation,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

The lodges at Singita Kruger National Park recently received a visit from Ross Borden and Scott Sporleder of Matador Network, an independent online travel community. They documented their stay in this article on the site, accompanied by some gorgeous photographs we wanted to share with you:

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

The rooms at the Lebombo lodge are spread across a ridge that runs right down to a major river in the park. We stayed at one of the suites pictured here, which looks out directly over the river. Although it’s a longer walk to and from reception, the sights and sounds of wildlife at the river made it feel like we were out on a game drive even during downtime at the room.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

One of the many dozens of elephants we saw in our four days at Singita Kruger National Park.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Although every guide at Singita carries a rifle in each Land Rover and wears a belt full of bullets, they’re never used. Each guide brings a wealth of knowledge to the table regarding animal behaviour and how to stay safe in the bush.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

A roof of one of the suites at Singita Lebombo Lodge looking out on the river below.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Like the common spaces at every Singita property, the suites are all super stylish, but the real genius of these rooms is their isolation from each other and the privacy guests enjoy.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Somehow they’ve spaced each room out from the next so that each guest room has complete privacy from other guests and staff, as well as an individual and intimate connection to the surrounding nature.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Singita guests wait for a female cheetah to show them the speed and grace of an evening hunt.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Between each game drive you’ll be treated to an amazing lunch, and if you get too hot by the pool you can read a book in the shade or take a dip.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

And just when you thought the luxury service couldn’t get any better, your guide and tracker will stop the vehicle during each evening game drive and set up a cocktail bar right there in the middle of the bush. Snacks and cocktails surrounded by wildlife… magic.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Did you know a large group of zebras is called a “dazzle”?

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Making eye contact with one of the young, hungry-looking male lions only a few feet away from your open-top vehicle can be quite a moment.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Scott and Ross with Field Guide, Enos, and tracker, Sunday

Matador is an independent media company that launched in 2006 with the vision for a travel site and community based on the the real cultures, people, and places they encounter. You can see their photos from Singita Sabi Sand on the site and watch a beautiful video of their experience on their YouTube channel.

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Art on a Plate: Food Styling at Singita Lebombo Lodge

July 18, 2014 - Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Archie Maclean is Head Chef at Singita Kruger National Park and is responsible for managing the kitchen team that produces edible delights for our guests on a daily basis. As with all Singita’s lodges and camps, the food and plating style at Singita Lebombo Lodge is designed to reflect the ambience and décor of the fifteen loft-style suites in this boldly dramatic lodge.

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge

The main focus at Singita Lebombo Lodge is always on fresh food, interesting flavour combinations and a “contemporary informal” visual element. The ingredients of each dish are also considered in terms of their environmental sustainability, with a strong preference for incorporating local produce. The composition of each dish is a little more modern to reflect the style of the lodge, and this is carried through to the cooking methods employed, such as sous-vide, smoking and curing. These also happen to be very healthy ways to prepare food, and lend an elemental feeling to the menu; sous-vide being water, smoking being fire and curing being earth. This modernity is balanced out with open fire and spit cooking which takes things back to basics, while being quintessentially African.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Meal times at Singita Lebombo Lodge should be relaxed and guests are encouraged to eat what they like, to avoid the kitchen being too prescriptive. Formal dinners with suit and tie are not the norm – guests can choose when they eat and what they wear to dinner. The menu is full of healthy options and portions are generous but never excessive. The chef is also very happy to provide plenty of choices for those with special dietary requirements or preferences.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

The strategy for plating each dish is to remain innovative without being over-the-top, and avoid crowding the plate so that the eye has space in which to rest. This is a classic example of negative space theory which is key to aesthetic composition.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

The contemporary style of the lodge serves as inspiration for alternative dining experiences, like sharing meals “family style”, where large dishes are placed on the table and passed around by the guests to serve themselves. Tapas and tasting plates are also a popular way for guests to enjoy their food, allowing them to sample a greater variety of menu options.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Food will always be an important part of the Singita experience, with guests having seven “official” opportunities to eat throughout the day. We of course encourage them to take advantage of all of these, so main meals are kept at a reasonable size and snacks are fresh and light; just enough to whet your appetite!

The first photo in this post is from the Matador Network, an independent online travel community, whose founders recently visited Singita Kruger National Park. You can see more of their gorgeous photos here and watch a wonderful video of their trip.

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Update: The Great Migration 2014

July 04, 2014 - Experience,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Wildlife

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

This time of year at Singita Grumeti is always very exciting for guests and staff alike, as millions of wildebeest and other plains game move through the Serengeti on their annual migration. The low rumble of hooves started very early this year, beginning in early May; six weeks before it was expected. Field Guide Elizabeth Hamrick reports from Tanzania:

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

“The 2014 ‘long rains’ saw little precipitation at Singita Grumeti, but while our location in the Northwestern Serengeti had very little rain, the central Serengeti saw almost none. The result of the extreme lack of rain was a lack of suitable grasses so when the wildebeest left Ndutu in the southern Serengeti at the end of March, the 80km trip through to Singita Grumeti (which usually takes about three months) only took one month. By the first of the month, the Ikorongo Game Reserve was full of at least 50,000 wildebeest. Within the next two days, wildebeest in the multiple hundreds of thousands engulfed Singita Grumeti; the Great Migration had arrived.

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

By the end of the month the herds started forming long lines, marching eastwards out of the reserve and by about the 5th of June only the weak and the wounded remained.

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

There are currently herds scattered about 1.5km south of Singita Mara River Tented Camp in the Lamai Triangle, and we have also received reports that a big chunk of the migration has turned south again, and are hanging out in the central Serengeti. 2014 continues to prove how unpredictable this phenomenon can be, and we wait in anticipation to see what happens next.”

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

Guests at Singita Mara River Tented Camp were also lucky enough to witness the first crossing this week from start to finish. It occurred a short way from the camp near the Kogatende airstrip and lasted close to an hour!

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Elizabeth compiles a monthly Wildlife Report from Singita Grumeti, which is situated adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. You san see Instagram photos from our guests who visit the region with the hashtag #singitagrumeti and follow us on Instagram here.

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The Story of Saitoti Ole Kuwai

June 27, 2014 - Experience,People of Singita,Singita Grumeti

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

If you have been an avid reader of our blog and monthly Wildlife Reports, then the name Saitoti Ole Kuwai won’t be new to you. He is a regular contributor to the bush ranger diaries from Singita Grumeti, where he works as a field guide, and his photographs often feature in our Highlights posts.

Zebra at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Saitoti is a proud Masai and grew up in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania, where he took his first steps towards his future profession by learning how to track animals from other tribesmen. He was inspired to follow a career in wildlife conservation after seeing the effects of poaching first hand, and pursued his formal training before joining Singita in 2005.

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Leopard at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

He describes his work in the Serengeti as “an honour and a big privilege” and is completely dedicated to the protection and conservation of African wildlife for future generations. “My day starts in the dark; I always wake up at 4 o’clock. It’s early in the morning but you can still hear things like hyena and jackal calling and that tells me that the bush is awake.”

Cheetah at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

To Saitoti, game drives are like fishing, where the vast plains are an endless sea and you never know what you’re going to catch. He says: “What’s needed for you is the passion, the passion to wait.”

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

“I love to tell guests about the traditions, culture, customs and lifestyle of my tribe. The best thing about my job is being involved in ensuring the health and growth of the area’s wildlife. Living in close harmony with animals is important because through them we learn so much.” Watch the video to learn more about this dedicated conservationist:

This is the second in our #singitastories series, introducing you to some of Singita’s team members. We previously featured Time Mutema, a field guide at Singita Pamsushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. Browse our Vimeo channel for more about the people of Singita, interesting wildlife sightings and to see the inspiration behind all our lodges and camps.

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The Story of Time Mutema

June 17, 2014 - Experience,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,People of Singita,Singita Pamushana Lodge

The lives of the people who work at Singita are inevitably entwined with the unspoiled wilderness in which our 12 lodges and camps can be found. Their stories weave through forests, over endless landscapes, and along flowing rivers, touching the lives of our guests and travellers along the way.

Time Mutema, Field Guide at Singita Pamushana Lodge

In this series of #singitastories, we’ll introduce you to some of Singita’s team members; people who dedicate their lives to sharing their passion for Africa. Each tell their story through film – bringing their experiences to life. Follow as we unfold these #singitastories over the next few months and we hope your hearts will be captured as much as ours.

Singita Pamushana Lodge

First is this series is Time Mutema, a fully certified, professional field guide working at Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. He grew up fishing and birding with his friends, and knew from a very young age that he belonged outdoors. He has a lifelong devotion to the bush and all that it inspires. Watch this short film to learn more about Time:

For more of our film and video clips, browse our Vimeo channel for inspiration. You can also stay up-to-date with the latest #singitastories by subscribing to our newsletter using the short form on the right.

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Say Hello to the Butamtam Lion Cubs!

June 13, 2014 - Conservation,Experience,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Wildlife

These pictures hardly need a caption – we would be surprised if you could tear your eyes away from their little furry faces long enough to read it! If you are interested however, you may like to know that these gorgeous young lions are offspring of the Butamtam pride at Singita Grumeti in Tanzania. These lions are healthy breeders; over the past two years one of the major prides got so big that it split into two, and two of the other prides seem to be heading in the same direction. In addition, all of their cubs have higher than usual survival rates which is wonderful to hear.

The Butamtam lion cubs at Singita Grumeti by Ryan Schmitt

The Butamtam lion cubs at Singita Grumeti by Ryan Schmitt

butamtam_cubs_3

Photos by Field Guide Ryan Schmitt. Ryan regularly posts snapshots from his adventures in the bush on our Facebook and Instagram feeds so follow us there to see more!

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Visual Inspiration

May 27, 2014 - Experience,Lodges and Camps,Singita Grumeti,Singita Mara River Tented Camp,Singita Serengeti House

Over the past few years, Singita has collaborated with some extremely talented filmmakers to produce stunning videos that showcase our twelve lodges and camps in Africa. These include breathtaking snapshots of the people and surroundings that define all our lodges and camps, as well as interesting wildlife sightings from our guides in the bush.

We are thrilled to bring you the latest footage from Tanzania that captures the spirit and design of Singita Serengeti House and Singita Mara River Tented Camp. We have also launched a brand new Vimeo channel where you can follow us and browse through our entire collection of videos and short films.

Singita Serengeti House

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Another highlight of our Vimeo channel is the story of Joyful Nghala, who graduated from the Singita School of Cooking (SSC) at the end of last year. The SSC, located on site at the Singita Kruger National Park staff village, was established to encourage the development of culinary skills and job potential among local youth. Read more about our community development projects here.

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The Migration 2014 Arrives at Singita Grumeti

May 20, 2014 - Community Development,Conservation,Experience,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Singita Sasakwa Lodge,Wildlife

It’s that time of year again! The wildebeest have started arriving on the Sasakwa Plains of the Serengeti and the herds seem to be multiplying at an astonishing rate with each passing day. Overnight, the grassland below Singita Sasakwa Lodge has been flooded by tens of thousands of wildebeest, making for some very exciting horseback game-spotting for our lucky guests.

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

Singita Grumeti, situated adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, is an integral part of the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, the home of the Great Migration. Singita manages 350,000 acres of this land, and generates the funds necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the reserve via low impact tourism. Visit our website to find out more about our conservation and community development projects in the area.

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