Category Archives: Experience

Close to Nature with Singita Explore

November 21, 2014 - Experience,Lodges and Camps,Singita Explore,Singita Grumeti

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Singita Explore, Tanzania

Experiencing the Serengeti’s acacia-dotted open plains filled with game, eating meals cooked over an open fire, and sleeping under canvas beneath star-studded skies is part of the allure of an African safari. Derived from a Swahili word with Arabic origins, the word ‘safari’ refers to a journey or voyage. The spirit of adventure and thrill of discovery encapsulated in that evocative word is the inspiration behind Singita Explore, our tented camps set up in remote, handpicked locations within Singita Grumeti’s 350,000 acres in Tanzania. As close to nature as you can get, Singita Explore places high value on today’s ultimate luxuries – space, solitude, quiet and freedom.

Singita Explore, Tanzania

Booked on a private-use basis to ensure complete exclusivity, Singita Explore meets a growing demand for tailor-made safaris that allow guests the flexibility to do what they want when they want, without having to share anything or see anyone else. Because the vast Singita Grumeti concession is private, it is unlikely that guests will see another vehicle or hear anything other than the sounds of the wild carried on the wind as it whispers through the grass.

Singita Explore, Tanzania

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Each camp site is chosen to maximise game viewing, depending on the time of year, the weather and the special interests of the guests. The vast herds of game that lend the Serengeti its iconic status are constantly moving around depending on the annual rains and the availability of water and grazing. During the migration, tents are pitched directly in the path of vast herds of grazing wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle. At other times of the year, guests have access to an abundance of game, which may include breeding herds of elephant and the predators.

Singita Explore, Tanzania

There are a total of six guest tents and two mess tents for dining and relaxation, which means that Singita Explore is well suited to multi-generational parties of up to 12 people but can just as easily be set up for as few as two guests. As romantic as they are practical, each khaki tent has an en suite bathroom with a bucket shower and a flush toilet. The Cecile & Boyd-designed interiors, characteristically layered and detailed with every creature comfort, offer easy living and encourage true relaxation. Everything about the camp is designed for minimal energy consumption with little environmental impact. Completely off the grid, the camp is run on solar power.

Singita Explore, Tanzania

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Singita Explore offers the same attentive service that is intrinsic to any Singita safari, coupled with the intimacy of being in a private tented camp. There is time to truly engage with staff so that, after a couple of days, it feels as if they are part of the family. A private guide takes you to the centre of all the game-viewing action, is available to lead an interpretative bush walk in the cool of the early morning, teach tracking skills or play football with the kids after breakfast.

A private chef and camp staff turn every mealtime into an occasion, whether it’s an impromptu picnic beneath a shady tree or a lantern-lit dinner cooked over an open fire with only the yelping of hyenas or the roar of nearby lion breaking the silence. In keeping with the relaxed setting, mealtimes are interactive, sociable and enlivened by unforgettable stories about Africa, usually told around the campfire. The food is rustic, uncomplicated and healthy with lots of generous salads, wholesome soups, bread cooked on sticks over the coals, barbecued meats, and decadent teatime cakes.

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In the early morning, you can lie in bed with your tent flaps open to witness the rising sun while enjoying a cup of Tanzanian coffee brewed the old-fashioned way on the fire. At night, safely tucked up between luxurious sheets, the sounds and smells of the surroundings are there to remind you of the day’s adventures.

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Singita Explore is a breathtaking private use camp on the plains of the Serengeti, that combines an authentic camping experience with comfortable elegance and modern convenience. You can find out more by visiting our website or reading the digital brochure

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One Day at Singita Kruger National Park

November 10, 2014 - Experience,Kruger National Park

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

We recently received this wonderful piece of writing from a guest at Singita Lebombo Lodge who wanted to share her special experience with us. It describes her arrival at the air strip, her first game drive, the details of her suite and the most treasured memories of her trip. We thought you might like to read it too:

Lebombo Day 2

My bush experience begins as I wait for my transfer from the air strip to the lodge. Where else in the world do you get greeted under an open-sided thatched airport “arrivals lounge” by someone with the charming name of Evidence presenting you with a warm, scented cloth with which to clean your hands? The build-up continues on the ride to the lodge in the open-topped land rover as I hear the field guide talking on his radio to a colleague about a lion kill he has just witnessed and I notice that the guide’s eyes are never still, constantly scanning his surroundings as he drives.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

A further warm welcome awaits me at the lodge when I meet my personal “banakeli” (hostess) who will take care of me during my stay. It feels surreal eating lunch on the deck overlooking the river whilst watching a baby elephant mischievously cavorting in the water below.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Heading to my room, I am thrilled to see nyala antelope grazing alongside the wooden walkways that lead to the private suites that are scattered above the river that runs below the Lodge. My suite is stunning; beautifully appointed and tastefully furnished, and it is only upon closer inspection that I fully appreciate that every element is not only aesthetically pleasing but is also designed to be fully functional, exceptionally comfortable and totally luxurious.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

I notice many unique and brilliant touches: the internal tree trunk in the hallway that looks like it is holding up the ceiling but whose boughs serve as a key holder; a handwoven basket into which I can place all my paraphernalia when going for a game drive; a string of tiny red beads placed around the hot water tap; a cabinet filled with delicious snacks, drinks, a coffee machine, fresh milk, and every other conceivable luxury that one could imagine. I wish that I could spend a week in this haven of hedonism but a late afternoon game drive beckons and so I hurry to the main reception area where a sumptuous tea awaits me before setting off.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

As with the various staff who attend to my comforts and needs, the field guide assigned to me will be responsible for my game viewing and any extra activities that I may wish to experience; be it a game walk or a bush bike ride, star gazing or archery. He will tailor-make any activity to suit me and I am struck that the key element that drives Singita and contributes to the unique experience that it offers, is all about the relationships that one forms; with the wonderful staff, with the environment and the elements, and with the wildlife that forms the integral core of one’s stay.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

I see four of the Big 5 on that first, magical drive, the most poignant of which was the sighting of a two-year-old leopard, the only one of three cubs to survive under the protection of his watchful mother, who herself was subsequently attacked and killed by lions. Stopping for drinks at sunset, crystal glasses and bowls of snacks were laid out on the hood of the vehicle, and we listened to our guide and tracker telling bush tales with the sounds of the wild in the background.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

If my senses weren’t sufficiently awakened by a few hours in the bush, then they certainly were by the food which was to follow! To say I was wined and dined like a queen is an understatement. From my own personal menu designed to include all of my favourite foods, to a selection of wines from one of the finest cellars in the world, I was amazed that the quality, quantity and selection of ingredients is possible, given the remote location and difficulty of accessibility.

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After one of the best night’s sleep for years and a delightful personal wake up call, I make the decision to forego the early morning game drive. Instead I watch from the deck of my suite as a huge herd of elephants slowly make their way along the banks of the river, eating and drinking with all the grace and majesty that befits these magnificent beasts. On my walk up to the main lodge for breakfast, I am accompanied by an amusing troop of vervet monkeys and even see a brazen youngster grabbing a selection of dried fruit from the breakfast table before being chased away by an incensed member of staff. This does nothing to shatter my peace and the opportunity to enjoy some alone time in camp without other guests around.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Later, sipping a coffee made by the lodge’s barista, I reflect upon a day where I felt that every part of me had been touched and was connected to both myself and my surroundings. I ponder the welcome card I found on my pillow that simply states: Singita. Pause/Experience/Remember. I did, I have done and I always shall.

Belinda Lemkus grew up in South Africa and is now based in the UK, where she lives in London with her husband and two daughters. This was her second visit to Singita.

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Tanzania’s Serengeti – A Year-Round Destination

October 22, 2014 - Experience,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Explore,Singita Faru Faru Lodge,Singita Grumeti,Singita Mara River Tented Camp,Singita Sabora Tented Camp,Singita Sasakwa Lodge,Singita Serengeti House,Wildlife

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

The Serengeti in Tanzania is inextricably associated with the annual wildebeest migration in the imagination of most travellers in search of the ultimate African safari. However, once the wildebeest have moved on in their perpetual search for grazing, the Serengeti offers diverse and fascinating game viewing, from big predators to prolific prey, on its vast open plains and along its river banks.

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

Warm and fairly dry, January to March is a great time to visit the region with large herds of topi, zebra, eland, giraffe and Thompson’s gazelle starting to gather on the open plains. This is also the calving season and thousands of these animals, including big herds of wildebeest that stay behind, give birth over a period of a few weeks.

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

The concentrated herds attract the attention of predators, especially the big cats, and sightings of leopard and lion are common. Scattered rain showers freshen up warm days and produce bright green landscapes and crisp, clear skies conducive to beautiful photography. As it’s the end of the dry season, the Mara and Grumeti rivers start to recede forcing the animals to congregate close to available water sources which makes them easier to find.

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

The months of April and May are known as the season of the long rains, transforming the landscape as lush, longer grasses grow and rivers, lakes and pans start to fill up with water again. Large herds of herbivores, including significant breeding herds of elephant and buffalo, are common sightings. During this time, throughout the Serengeti there is greater exclusivity at wildlife sightings and increased flexibility when it comes to planning itineraries.

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

By May there is a sense of anticipation in the Serengeti as the migration could arrive at any time to seek dependable water sources and start grazing on the long, golden grasslands. Industry insiders consider it to be the most underrated month to visit with fewer people, prolific game sightings and mild, sunny days ideal for bush walks and picnics.

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

The dry season commences again in June and continues until the end of October. Considered high season in Tanzania, it is characterised by pleasantly warm, sunny days and easy game viewing due to the short grasses. September and October are fantastic months in the Lamai, with multiple daily Mara River migration crossings, increased predator action and excellent crocodile, hippo and hyena sightings.

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

In September and October, diverse game congregates along the Grumeti River and in pans, while river crossings by thousands of wildebeest and other migratory plains game are always a thrilling sight. October is Singita head guide Ryan Schmitt’s best time of the year in the Serengeti, due to the all-round excellent game viewing.

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

Tanazina's Serengeti - A Year-Round Destination

The short rains in November and December are characterised by brief, spectacular thunderstorms that give way to clear skies and amazing colour contrasts for photography. Awesome cheetah and lion sightings are common, there are large numbers of babies and youngsters amongst both predator and prey species, and migratory birds return to the newly green landscapes.

Discover the Serengeti through our monthly Wildlife Reports, which are written by the field guides themselves, and describe thrilling wildlife sightings, beautiful landscapes and unusual species. Please contact our Reservations team to find out more about visiting our six lodges and camps in Tanzania.

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The Story of Eksoni Ndlovu

October 14, 2014 - Did You Know?,Experience,Kruger National Park,People of Singita,Wildlife

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Like many of the trackers who work at Singita, Eksoni Ndlovu grew up in a small rural community near the Kruger National Park. He learned the basics of tracking and animal interaction as a young man, while tending his family’s cattle and keeping them safe from wild animals. He has since spent more than 23 years honing his craft as an expert tracker and is respected the world over for his skill and perseverance.

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“Tracking is an art, not everyone can do it. You need to be patient and you need to be persistent… A good tracker needs to think like an animal. They need to listen, keep quiet and always be aware.”

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Eksoni’s passion for wildlife conservation is apparent to all those around him. He spends a considerable amount of time passing on his knowledge and experience to apprentice bush rangers so they too can help to preserve this beautiful wilderness. “I’m giving my skills to the community because I want them to learn and follow in my footsteps”.

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Guests also play an important role in protecting, maintaining and enhancing the land. Enos, one of the guides, observes: “We are giving back to conservation by educating our guests about the animals and how we take care of them for future generations.” Singita not only preserves large tracts of land but also works to ensure that people like Eksoni pass on their knowledge to others and in so doing preserve this ancient skill.

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Watch this short video to learn more about Eksoni’s story:

Find out more about Singita’s conservation efforts on our website. You can also share this and other #singitastories via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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Recipe: Mango and Caramel Swiss Roll

September 29, 2014 - Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Mango and Caramel Swiss Roll | Singita

Did you know that the Swiss Roll isn’t even from Switzerland? The first references to this teat-time favourite are in fact British, and variations now abound as far afield as Hong Kong, India, Portugal and Spain. Each region has its own twist on the original, including Singita Kruger National Park‘s mango-and-caramel-flavoured one. Chef de Partie and pastry queen extraordinaire, Christien Schrecker, shares her recipe for this delicious sponge cake roll:

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
For the yellow sponge:
5 egg yolks
1 egg
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
yellow food colouring
45g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
20g melted butter

For the chocolate sponge:
5 egg yolks
1 egg
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
30g self-raising flour
15g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
20g melted butter

For the filling:
1 cup whipped cream
¼ cup Caramel Treat or dulce de leche
2 cups diced fresh mango

Method – what to do:
1. Whisk the egg yolks, whole eggs, sugar and vanilla together until white and fluffy.
2. Add the yellow colouring a little at a time until the desired colour is achieved. (We use 2-3 drops of a concentrated colouring gel)
3. Gently fold in the flour and xanthan gum and then fold in the melted butter.
4. Spread the batter onto a Swiss roll tray (2cm thick) and bake at 160˚C for 10 minutes.
5. As soon as the sponge comes out of the oven, turn it out onto a clean, dry tea towel.
6. Roll the sponge up tightly while still warm, and keep aside until cool.
7. Repeat steps 1-6 with the ingredients for the chocolate sponge.
8. Unroll the yellow sponge and spread the caramel over it then sandwich the chocolate sponge on top. Spread the cream over the chocolate sponge and scatter with mango.
9. Roll the cake up tightly and trim the edges for serving.

Here’s a handy online volume converter if you need help with the metric measurements and you can find more great recipe ideas here.

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Recent Facebook Highlights

September 19, 2014 - Experience,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

Singita’s Facebook community has always been an active space where guests and fans share their thoughts and memories alongside beautiful snapshots by our rangers in the bush. In particular, there have been a number of stunning wildlife photos posted by field guide Ross Couper from Singita Sabi Sand recently that have been shared far and wide. Here is a brief selection:

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A pack of wild dog entertained each other, whilst guests watched in awe at the social interactions taking place. A perfect spring morning.

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A tender moment of an elephant calf that was deserted and shortly afterwards adopted by another female elephant.

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Confident, self assured, tranquil – a few words that come to mind whilst watching the Nyeleti male leopard grooming himself.

Facebook Highlights - Singita - Copyright Ross Couper

A young male leopard keeps attentive to his surroundings as the afternoon light fades to darkness.

You can see more of Singita Sabi Sand’s wildlife and landscapes in this “week in the life” video, shot by another of our talented field guides, Dylan Brandt:

Follow us on Facebook and join 13 000 other wildlife lovers who get regular updates from all twelve lodges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. One such example is this incredible face-off between a hippo and a pride of lions, captured by a guest.

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Creatures Great & Small: The Giant Snail

September 09, 2014 - Did You Know?,Experience,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

Giant snail

With the green vegetation sprouting along the roadsides and over the grasslands, creatures from large to small are on the move. A few days ago, and within minutes of leaving the lodge, we noticed movement on the road. A giant African land snail glistened in the morning light.

Like almost all pulmonate gastropods, these snails are hermaphrodites, having male and female sex organs. Although giant African land snails primarily mate with one another, in more isolated regions they are capable of reproducing on their own. Giant African land snails lay around six clutches of eggs every year, laying an average of 200 eggs per clutch – that amounts to about 1 200 eggs per year! What is really incredible is that around 90% of snail hatchings survive.

Giant African land snails are active during the night and spend the daytime hours safely buried underground. They reach their adult size by the time they are six months old and although their growth rate slows at this point, they never stop growing. Most reach between five and six years of age but some individuals have been known to be more than ten years old. The giant African land snail seals itself inside its shell to retain water. They do this about three times a year, depending on the areas which they inhabit. During periods of extreme drought, they practice aestivation which is a type of ‘summer sleep’.

Singita Sabi Sand, South Africa

Driving along looking in various directions for a twitch of an ear or a flicking tail, your eyes scan through the bush up and down, left and right. Often when looking for something large and obvious you miss the smaller treasures, without even realising it.

This description of an encounter with a giant snail by Ross Couper first appeared in the November 2013 Wildlife Report from Singita Sabi Sand. The monthly ranger diaries are written by the field guides themselves and contain plenty of delightful stories and stunning photographs from the bush. You can catch up on the Wildlife Reports from all the Singita lodges and camps here.

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Cocktail Recipe: The Sabora Special

September 04, 2014 - Cuisine,Experience,Singita Grumeti,Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Singita Sabora Tented Camp

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It’s often the simple things in life that are the most rewarding; a good book, soft, fluffy towels and a quiet afternoon by the pool. At Singita Sabora Tented Camp in Tanzania, moments like these are easy to come by, as guests unwind in the peaceful seclusion of 350,000 acres of untouched wilderness. Simple pleasures also come in the form of the camp’s signature non-alcoholic cocktail, the recipe for which is shared with us by Lodge Manager, Wilson Owino:

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
Equal parts:
* Fresh passionfruit juice
* Fresh mango juice
* Fresh lime juice
And then:
* A drizzle of honey
* A splash of grenadine syrup

Method – how it is made:
The fresh juices are all shaken together with ice, with a small drizzle of honey for sweetness. The concoction is then poured into a hurricane glass in front of the guest at check-in along with a splash of grenadine to give a feeling of a sunrise in the glass.

Cocktail Recipe: The Sabora Special

You can spike the Sabora Special with vodka or rum for some extra zing, or add pomegranate seeds for a fruity twist. Share your version with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and check out our other delicious recipes here.

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What to Pack: Singita Pamushana Lodge

September 02, 2014 - Did You Know?,Experience,General,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe, Zimbabwe

Packing for a safari in the African bush can be a little bit daunting for the uninitiated. What shoes do I bring? Are shorts appropriate? Do I need a long-sleeved shirt? Does it get cold enough for a jacket? Should I bring my own binoculars? We’ve answered these and many other questions in the “Tips for Travellers” section for each lodge but we thought a quick refresher might be in order.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe, Zimbabwe

The gear and clothing required for each lodge is relatively similar, but this time we’ll focus on Singita Pamushana Lodge, situated in the beautiful and mostly untouched Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe. The area is home to hundreds of baobab trees and an unrivalled gathering of birds with more than 500 species, including many raptors. During a stay at Singita Pamushana Lodge, you are likely to spot a great variety of wildlife, including species such as black rhino, white rhino, Lichtenstein hartebeest, sable, nyala, klipspringer, cheetah, wild dog, lion and leopard.

Singita's essential safari gear

Singita's essential safari gear

CLOTHING
Lodge Manager, Emily Capon, says that layers are the most important thing to consider when packing for the bush. In summer (October to April), the weather is warm during the day and cooler in the morning and evenings. She recommends casual summer clothes (shorts and cool shirts) and a warm sweater for the cooler times of day. During the fall and winter (May to September), the temperature during the day is usually fairly mild, with plenty of sunshine, but colder in the mornings and evenings. In these cooler months, casual light clothing and a very warm parka or jacket is recommended for the extremely chilly mornings and nights. It is suggested that you stick to a tonal, neutral colour palette (khaki, beige, light brown) and avoid dark colours as they absorb heat, and bright colours as they can attract bugs.

Fishing at Singita Pamushana lodge in Zimbabwe

Other essential items of clothing include comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots for walks; sandals to wear around the lodge, a sturdy cap or sun hat, and a swimming costume or bathing suit so that you can enjoy the stunning infinity pool that overlooks the dam. Please note that in the event of rain during a game drive, waterproof ponchos will be provided for your comfort.

The pool at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

ACCESSORIES & EQUIPMENT
It’s a good idea to pack your favourite sun block, lip balm and mosquito repellent, as although all of these items are provided at the lodges, you might want to bring along your preferred brand. Sunglasses are also essential, along with an extra pair of correction glasses (if required), contact lens solution, an extra set of contact lenses (if required) as well as a sufficient supply of any prescription medication.

You’ll no doubt want to capture those precious memories with your camera and/or video camera, and don’t forget spare memory cards, your tripod and lenses, and any charging equipment (220V although we do have international adapters in all the rooms). The lodge does have a number of pairs of binoculars that guests are welcome to use on game drives or when bird-watching from the lodge. Your own pair of compact, high quality binoculars will greatly enhance your game-spotting ability however, and offer the best possible close-up of the local wildlife.

Game drives at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Emily Capon has worked at Singita for just over five years. She says: “Zimbabwe is home for me, I grew up here and there are so many reasons to love it! The most common comment from guests is about how friendly all the people are and that is definitely true. I love Singita Pamushana Lodge as it is so different to anything else and so vibrant and happy!” You can get in touch with our reservations team to find out more.

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Wonderful Wildlife Videos with James Suter

August 26, 2014 - Experience,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Explore,Singita Faru Faru Lodge,Singita Grumeti,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you will no doubt have seen field guide James Suter’s incredible series of reports from our twelve lodges and camps in Africa. His stories from the bush were accompanied by spectacular photographs and expert descriptions of the animals and landscapes that he saw. Highlights included a run-in with a black rhino, getting reacquainted with an old friend, a mother cheetah defending her cubs and some stunning shots of the iconic baobab trees of southern Zimbabwe.

These special moments in the wilderness have now been brought to life in a series of videos from his year-long journey through each of Singita’s private reserves and concessions. We hope you enjoy these and encourage you to share them with others who might enjoy a taste of our Africa:

WALKING WITH ELEPHANTS AT SINGITA PAMUSHANA LODGE, ZIMBABWE

A CHEETAH FAMILY AT SINGITA PAMUSHANA LODGE, ZIMBABWE

ELEPHANT HERD AT SINGITA FARU FARU LODGE, TANZANIA

MAGNIFICENT PLAINS GAME AT SINGITA GRUMETI, TANZANIA

MIGRATING WILDEBEEST AT SINGITA GRUMETI, TANZANIA

All videos shot on location by Oliver Caldow with James Suter, an independent field guide who works with us from time to time. If you enjoyed reading about James’ adventures on the blog, you may also enjoy our monthly Wildlife Reports, written by our other Singita field guides. You can also follow our new Vimeo channel to see the latest Singita videos.

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