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:
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.
One of the many dozens of elephants we saw in our four days at 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.
A roof of one of the suites at Singita Lebombo Lodge looking out on the river below.
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.
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.
Singita guests wait for a female cheetah to show them the speed and grace of an evening hunt.
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.
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.
Did you know a large group of zebras is called a “dazzle”?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Last week was a very special one for visitors to Singita Sabi Sand, as the brand new Hlabankunzi leopard cubs made their public debut! The female has moved into the territory of the Ravenscourt female, who was killed roughly a year ago, and now patrols a prize piece of Singita’s 45,000 acre concession. Briefly before the cubs were spotted for the first time, Head Field Guide Mark Broodryk sent us this report:
“We suspect that she has her cubs under the deck of Room 11 at Singita Ebony Lodge and is as comfortable around the lodge as the Ravenscourt female was. Field guides Dylan, Ruel and I saw Mobeni’s new cubs for the first time yesterday morning, still very tiny and not exactly sure of numbers just yet. She has them close to the Khosa pan area in the Ximobanyane drainage. She seems to be a different leopard now that the Ravenscourt female has gone, she is not nearly as nervous as she used to be and we are able to view her fairly regularly. Her son has become independent and if approached correctly, also provides good viewing. Just yesterday we followed him for about 1½ hours and he curled up to sleep about 10m from the vehicle! Overall we seem to have come out on top with our leopard viewing and looks like the legacy of the leopard viewing for this reserve will continue.”
Keep your eyes on our Instagram and Facebook accounts to see the latest photos of the cubs, straight from our field guides.
One story from our latest Wildlife Report from Singita Sabi Sand got plenty of attention this week and was shared on various news and social media networks worldwide. It’s easy to see why when you look at this amusing series of photos by field guides Leon van Wyk and Ross Couper – they certainly gave us the giggles!
Time has once again flown by, and yet another marula season has come and gone. February 2014 saw a real bumper crop of these delicious fruit being produced by the many hundreds of marula trees that are to be found at Singita Sabi Sand. Various animals were seen tucking into this fruity feast with great gusto! Not only the elephants, who are so famous for enjoying these smooth-skinned, large-stoned fruits, but also monkeys, baboons, impala, kudu, warthogs, zebra… and, of course, humans.
There has long been an African myth about the marula fruit intoxicating large mammals that have consumed huge amounts of the fallen fruit. This bush legend played in my mind recently when we had a sighting of an elephant herd moving through the bush, feeding on the fermenting marula fruit. The younger elephants walked behind the older siblings, picking up and eating the fruit as they moved – the older elephants seemed to be ‘teaching’ the youngsters what was safe to eat. An adult cow had forcefully shaken a nearby marula tree, knocking off lots of the fruit, which a few younger elephants passed by our vehicle to eat. We watched in awe because the youngsters definitely seemed to display signs of being rather tipsy!
As amusing as the idea may be, it is in fact extremely unlikely. In reality, an elephant eating only marulas may consume roughly 30kg in one day or approximately 714 individual fruits. This is less than half of the marulas needed to produce intoxication. There have been reports of elephant behaviour that resembles an intoxicated state, but research shows that this is unlikely to occur only from eating marulas.
It has been speculated that the behaviour may be the result of the elephants eating beetle pupae that live in the bark of marula trees. These pupae have traditionally been used by the San people to poison their arrow tips, and this toxin could lead to behavioural changes in animals that consume it. Another explanation is that bull elephants, who are particularly fond of marula fruit, are simply defending their favourite food resource.
The beautiful elephants of Singita Sabi Sand feature regularly in our monthly Wildlife Reports and on our social media pages. Spanning more than 45,000 acres, this concession is also renowned for high concentrations of big game and frequent leopard sightings.