Category Archives: Experience

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 Mobile Tented Camp,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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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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