Category Archives: Safari

Singita Pamushana Lodge: An African Gem

December 20, 2012 - Conservation,Environment,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

James Suter

Singita Pamushana Lodge is easily described as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Situated in the heart of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in south-eastern Zimbabwe, it is an oasis of beauty, thriving with both wildlife and a rich archaeological and cultural heritage. It is home to over four hundred species of birds, including fourteen species of eagle and ten different types of owls. The area is dotted with majestic baobabs and cathedral-like mopane forests, as well as impressive rocky outcrops littered with nearly a hundred rock painting sites dating back over two thousand years. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to discover all the wonders of this untouched wilderness area for myself.

Lion at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Rhino at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

The reserve was established back in 1994 in order to conserve forty thousand hectares of land, its environment and its wildlife. A strong focus was placed on safeguarding protected species such as the black and white rhino, the roan antelope, and Zimbabwe’s most rare antelope, the Lichtenstein’s hartebeest.

Cheetah at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Wildlife of Singita Pamushana Lodge

Malilangwe is also where I had my most memorable and unusual cheetah sighting. I saw my first ever pangolin here, a unique species with its shy and nocturnal habits making it almost impossible to observe in the wild. I came face to face with the ill-tempered black rhino and lived to tell the tale. I scaled the massive sandstone outcrops, embracing the scenic treasures and meandered along the Chiredzi River.

Baobab tree at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Wildlife of Singita Pamushana Lodge

I truly soaked up every minute and cherished every unique sighting, and I can’t wait to share all my experiences at Singita Pamushana Lodge with you over the next few weeks.

Find out more about the unique rock art that surrounds the lodge by reading our recent blog article. James Suter will be back next week with the extraordinary tale of an unfortgettable cheetah sighting.

Read More


Highlights from our Guides’ Diaries

December 04, 2012 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

The monthly wildlife journals penned by our field guides are always such a special treat! At this time of year, with summer approaching, the fauna and flora surrounding the lodges is especially abundant and breathtaking. We hope you enjoy these beautiful photos taken from October’s Guides’ Diaries.

Ammocharis coranica

With the phenomenal rainfall over the last few weeks, the grey and brown colours of winter have been replaced by the new flush of green that has sprouted up everywhere. The concession is in full bloom and it looks incredible. The bush transforms into new life and revitalises itself from seemingly dead plant material to flourishing green life. The light rainfall has also spurred the bloom of several wild flowers. This ground lily (Ammocharis coranica) grows in open grasslands and flowers from October to February.

by Ross Couper (Singita Kruger National Park). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Shishangaan lion cubs

We got our first look at the newest members of the Shishangaan lion pride! While watching several other pride members feasting on a buffalo carcass, we spotted a restless lioness rolling from one side to the other on her back. On closer inspection, we saw three small fur balls that had been nursing from her peering back at us from between the blades of grass.

Upon returning later in the afternoon, we saw that the buffalo carcass was completely devoured with only a few morsels remaining. The mother of the three cubs was seen feeding on the last of the meat, and the cubs seemed fascinated with the carcass. Even at this young age you could see their instinct kicking in as they fought amongst themselves for the small soft scraps that were left.

by Ross Couper (Singita Kruger National Park). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Scrub hare

We flushed this scrub hare from its daytime resting place in a patch of grass on the side of the road where it flattened and froze in defence. It didn’t so much as twitch a whisker while relying on its superb camouflage to keep it hidden in the surrounding scrub. Scrub hares live in savanna woodland and mixed grass habitat.

By Jenny Hishin (Singita Pamushana Lodge). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Cheetah cub

We’ve been following the progress of two female cheetah cubs since they were born 14 months ago and I’m thrilled to report that they are still doing well. It’s been so interesting to watch their characters develop. One is a real tomboy – inquisitive, daring and a bit of a bully – while the other female is more timid, cautious and shy. If all goes well, these two cheetah cubs should reach independence in the next few months. Let’s hope they choose to stay on our abundant wildlife reserve.

By Jenny Hishin (Singita Pamushana Lodge). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Wildebeest invasion

In the latter part of September we saw large groups of wildebeest filing into Ikorongo. This was just a preview of what was to be experienced throughout the month. Tens of thousands of the incessantly restless animals spent the entire month moving onto the property, invading the plains of the western corridor once more.

By Ryan Schmitt (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Lion

With the well-stocked wildlife buffet located on the Sasakwa plains, it wasn’t surprising that the Nyasirori lions found it unnecessary to move at all from the vicinity of Sasakwa Dam and its surrounds. It hasn’t been difficult to find lions lurking on the plains. While sipping coffee or tea from Sasakwa’s sprawling patios, all you need do is glance around the area with a pair of binoculars and you are bound to find the pale belly of a lion basking back at you.

By Ryan Schmitt (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Elephants

The elephant herds that frequented Sasakwa hill in September moved back down onto the plains and surrounding woodlands once again. On more than a few occasions groups of over 100 elephants were seen, and Sasakwa Dam still seemed to delight them on their visits. After a quick drink in the afternoon to top up their reserves, it seemed the best thing to do was for every mammoth to take the weight off its feet by getting into the water and have a jolly good time cavorting, splashing and spraying!

By Ryan Schmitt (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Read More


Not Your Average Camp Cuisine

December 03, 2012 - Cuisine,Experience,Lamai,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Mara River Tented Camp

One of the most remarkable things about Singita Mara River Tented Camp is the exceptional food that is whipped up in the kitchen by our resourceful team of expert chefs. In the Lamai’s hot climate guests are kept cool with light, healthy cuisine conducive to refreshing and re-energising the body. Restorative fresh fruit smoothies, iced Fair Trade coffees and teas, crunchy salads and ethically sourced ingredients, such as organic eggs and grass-fed meat, are the order of the day with luscious desserts and homemade ice-cream adding a touch of sweet decadence.

Chef Donna Patterson, who forms part of the kitchen team at Singita Grumeti, has kindly shared the recipe for her delicious chilled carrot and spicy mango soup. Its bright, zingy flavours and refreshing lightness epitomise the type of beautiful and surprising meals our guests enjoy.

Ingredients – what you need:
1 white onion
5 large carrots
1 red chilli (medium heat)
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tblsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 ripe mango
1L mango juice
Salt
White pepper
Mascarpone to garnish

Method – what to do:

Chop the onion, peeled carrots and chilli roughly into equal sizes.
In a medium saucepan fry the chopped carrots, onion and chilli for a couple of minutes.
Reduce the heat and add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick lastly cover with the mango juice. Allow the soup to simmer slowly until the carrots are soft.
Blend in an electric processor and strain through a sieve.
Season the soup to taste with salt and white pepper.
Place the soup in the fridge to cool down.
Lastly finely dice the fresh mango and keep refrigerated until serving.
To serve, place the diced mango into the soup and serve in bowls. I like to garnish it with a dollop of mascarpone.

Enjoy!

Chilled carrot and spicy mango soup

Like the sound of this soup? Why not browse more of Chef Donna’s delightful recipes on the blog. Here’s a handy online volume converter you can use to adjust the metric measurements if necessary.

Read More


Introducing Singita Mara River Tented Camp

November 27, 2012 - Accommodation,Africa,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Tent interior and deck

We are thrilled to share the first pictures from our brand new camp, Singita Mara River Tented Camp, situated in the Lamai triangle, the northernmost tip of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The camp offers a pared-down approach to the quintessential Singita safari without compromising on any creature comforts.

View of the Mara River

Singita’s philosophy of preserving iconic locations by offering ‘fewer beds in larger areas’ is epitomised by Mara River Tented Camp’s remote position in the Lamai triangle – with only 16 beds surrounded by 98,000 acres of untouched wilderness. It is a wildlife viewing area with abundant year-round concentrations of resident plains game, big cats and elephant in addition to the Mara River’s large populations of crocodile and hippo.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp tent decks

Remote and unspoilt, Singita Mara River Tented Camp has been designed with the growing need for our guests to make an authentic and meaningful connection with nature, that leaves behind a lighter footprint. Close to the ground and off the grid, the concept and design of the camp encourages constant engagement with the wild. Each of the six guest tents offers priceless solitude, peace and sheer luxury of space. Conceptualised and designed by Cécile & Boyd’s, the attention to detail in the camp is breathtaking – arguably our most beautiful interiors yet.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp splash pool

In keeping with the concept of sustainable living, the camp is built from natural and recycled materials including wood, stone, canvas and raw leather. It is 100% ‘off the grid’, relying entirely on a central, custom-designed solar power array using photovoltaic technology – a system that uses solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp lounge

There has been a conscious focus on sourcing original work from talented young designers and craftspeople, celebrating the best of contemporary African design and inspiring guests to see local creativity in a fresh, new way. Campaign-style retro travel chests made from pale wood; wooden turned lights fashioned from sustainable Jacaranda wood; decorative wire baskets the exact shape and design of traditional grain-sorting baskets; and splashes of primary red and blue with black in Masaai-inspired patterns. The ambience is pure boho-glamour – relaxed and cool, fun and functional – while retaining that elegant yet relaxed, feet-up style that defines the Singita brand.

Tent bedroom Singita Mara River Tented Camp lounge areas

Find out more by reading our online brochure, and check back later this week for a special foodie report from chef Donna Patterson on the unique cuisine of Singita Mara River Tented Camp.

Read More


Cat calls in the Kruger

November 21, 2012 - Conservation,Kruger National Park,Safari,Wildlife

Leopards are elusive cats and agile, stealthy predators. When I first arrived on the reserve, sightings were always fleeting, leaving the guide trying to convince the guest that the flash of rosettes had indeed been a leopard.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

It has taken some time for the leopards at Singita Kruger National Park to become relaxed enough in the presence of guides, guests and game vehicles to be spotted. Thankfully the animals seem to realize that the rumbling Land Rovers pose no threat and many no longer pay the vehicles any attention.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

New generations of animals are becoming accustomed to the vehicles from a young age and don’t develop a fear of these man-made objects. This allows us to spend time viewing them in their natural habitat without disturbing them in the process.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

Singita Kruger National Park has always had a very healthy population of leopards, and it is a joy for field guides and trackers to get to know some of the individual cats, following their movements and learning their personalities.

I am always surprised and excited when I realise that I am viewing a leopard that I have never seen before. In this case, they are usually incredibly shy and the sighting is often short-lived. This was not the case with the incredible experience we had on our last afternoon spent in the N’wanetsi concession.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

It was late afternoon and the light was golden; we were following up on a female that had been momentarily spotted heading towards the N’wanetsi River. We decided to cut the engine and listen, as there was no chance of spotting this cat in the thick vegetation. Suddenly we heard the distinctive contact call of a leopard – it was the female we were looking for and we knew by the type of call that she had cubs.

We started driving in the general direction of the sound; a section where the bush gave way to a beautiful open area. Poised on a fallen leadwood tree, perched like a princess, with the light falling on her as she called anxiously for her young, was a beautiful female leopard.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

We had not seen this particular leopard before and she was very striking, her coat almost glowing in the afternoon light. Her cubs responded to her call just as we approached and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching this entertaining family of cats, until the sun slipped away and we had to head home.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

Don’t forget to come back next week for another of field guide James Suter’s reports from Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park.

Read More


Ancient Art: Malilangwe’s primitive paintings

November 14, 2012 - Conservation,Did You Know?,History,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Singita Pamushana Lodge is located in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve; 130 000 acres of wilderness in the southern corner of Zimbabwe. It is a spectacularly diverse and beautiful piece of Africa, and is also home to nearly 100 rock art sites that date back more than 2 000 years. The careful protection of these sites is a key part of Singita’s conservation philosophy, and allows this ancient artwork to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Head Guide at Singita Pamushana, Brad Fouché, shares his knowledge on the subject.

The area around the lodge is known for its lush mopane forests and majestic baobab trees, as well as a range of magical sandstone outcrops where most of the San paintings are located.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve Rock Art 1

In Zimbabwe there are 15 000 known rock art and engraving sites, of which many are unique to the country, with little or no other examples found in the rest of Southern Africa. The three different groups of paintings found at the reserve are from San or Bushman hunter-gatherers, Iron Age farmers and Koi Koi/Khoekhoen people.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve Rock Art 2

In addition to professional research undertaken to locate Stone and Iron Age rock painting sites in the area, field staff and guides at Singita Pamushana have recorded a great many other examples. No less than five recording projects have been conducted on the reserve in the last decade, and a total of 87 sites being recorded, with surely many more as yet undiscovered.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve Rock Art 3

Some of the unique rock art that can be found here includes:

* Five extremely rare bi-cephalic (double-headed) animals, of which only two other examples have been discovered in Southern Africa.
* Fly whisks, which are relatively common in San rock art and were used only during the “curing” or “trance dance”.
* Two examples of formlings, a term coined by ethnologist and archaeologist Leo Frobenius to describe “large forms, shaped like galls or livers, into which human figures are painted”, and unique to the whole of Zimbabwe. Their meaning however remains poorly understood.
* Various animals, including elephant, rhino, hippo, buffalo, giraffe, hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra, roan antelope, sable, kudu, impala, wild dog, baboon, aardvark, ostrich and unidentified birds of prey.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve Rock Art 4

Find out more about the inspiration behind Singita Pamushana Lodge, one of Africa’s best-kept secrets, and read our latest Guides’ Diary from the area, written by field guide Jenny Hishin.

Read More


The Lion’s Share

November 13, 2012 - Conservation,Kruger National Park,Safari,Wildlife

Lion

The northern part of the N’wanetsi concession, in which Singita Lebombo Lodge is situated, is wonderfully isolated and bursting with undiscovered wonders. Heading up into these territories can be very rewarding, as the landscape changes dramatically, offering a variety of exciting game-viewing opportunities. The elusive black rhino, cheetah, sable antelope and nomadic lions are often encountered in this remote part of the bush.

Jackal

It was very cold on this particular morning, with the Lebombo Mountains engulfed in thick cloud cover. We set off along the Mozambique border, heading through the mountains, and noticed a number of vultures in the distance. The cooler weather meant they may just be resting, although there was also the possibility that they had located food, meaning there may also be predators in the area.

Hyena

We picked our way closer through the dense bush and began searching. The roads were narrow and the vegetation almost impenetrable. Suddenly we were confronted with the thick smell of death, indicating that there was indeed something lifeless nearby. A number of vultures swiftly flew up from a rotting acacia and I knew, judging by the smell, that it was a large animal.

Fresh kill

We eventually found what we were looking for; a large buffalo bull had been challenged by to two male lions. The odds were against the bull due to the sheer size of the predators and, judging by the scars that covered their faces, these lions had fought and won many an epic battle. The tracks showed that it had been a long and grueling clash, ending in a drainage line where the massive bull succumbed to these tenacious predators.

News of the dead buffalo had traveled, and though the vultures were first on the scene, we soon caught sight of hyena and jackal, all fighting for scraps and avoiding confrontation with the protective cats.

Hyena

Check back regularly for more stories from field guide James Suter as he explores Singita’s private reserve in the Kruger National Park.

Read More


A Haven for Hippo

November 08, 2012 - Conservation,Kruger National Park,Safari,Wildlife

The place to be in winter when looking for game in the bush is along a watercourse, as these areas are always teeming with a variety of wildlife who visit from miles around. We set out on foot on a lovely, cool morning with the hope of finding a large pod of hippo and some great photographic opportunities. I very quickly found a well-used hippo path which we jumped onto, making our way towards the river.

Hippo at Singita Kruger National Park

I was really interested to see the size of the hippo populations in the larger pools that normally remain filled until the summer rains come. There were plenty of indicators that many of these animals had now returned to the river. Being nocturnal feeders, they head back to the safety of the water as soon as day breaks and the sun’s rays strike the now harsh savannah. Following their huge tracks, we drew closer to the river, always mindful of our position as the last place one wants to be is between this massive beast and its water. Hippo, like most wild animals, are unpredictable so we approached quietly and vigilantly, ears pricked and eyes strained for any potential danger.

Hippo spotting at Singita Kruger National Park

Another factor I was considering was the abundance of predators, as well as elephants, which all made full use of these pools. We had come across fresh lion, leopard and rhino tracks just minutes into our walk and all this was evidence of this area being well used by these dangerous species.

Determined to find the hippo that were clearly in no shortage of supply, we proceeded towards the lush banks of the drainage that supplies water to the grateful beasts that are so dependent on this precious resource. Suddenly we had our first visual of a large bull leaving the water, fortunately on the other side of the bank and walking directly away from us. He was apparently completely unaware of our presence, even after the noisy baboons gave away our position. I was however happy to have them around, as in this thick area they would provide us with warning should a predator be approaching. Although the hippo in this area were usually to be found in abundance, this male was alone. He had obviously been ousted from the rest of the pod, and would have to settle for a shallow, muddy pool, which he would have to make the most of until the next rains.

James Suter, field guide at Singita

This meant we would have to head downstream and it also meant we would have to walk through very dense bush between a ridge and the water, keeping our wits about us.  Leaving the male to his business, and feeling slightly sorry for this lone creature, we made our way down the narrow hippo path and headed cautiously along the eastern bank of the river. A swish of movement caught my eye as an animal sped up the ridge; I was sure it was a leopard. This was confirmed minutes later as we found the tracks of a young female.

Female leopard tracks at Singita Kruger National Park

While examining the tracks, we heard the faint sound of a hippo calling in the distance, confirming we were headed in the right direction. After some time, we rounded a large bend in the river and were rewarded with the sight of a large pool, a gem, absolutely full of hippo. We approached slowly as they vocalized – a sound only hippos can make! It was amazing to soak up the spectacle of this fifty-strong pod, which included the dominant male, females and some youngsters. In the morning light, it was a magnificent scene.

A pod of hippo basking in the morning sun

Hippo at Singita Kruger National Park

Keep following the James Suter blog series as James explores Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park, tracking wildlife through a daily expedition of adrenalin.

Read More


Shooting in Monochrome – Rhino Road

November 05, 2012 - Conservation,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

There is a term photographers use called “leading lines”. This refers to a line cutting through an image, such as a road, fence or river. It draws the viewer into the image and, if done correctly, can tell a great story. This image has meaning to me because I feel it shows the hard road rhinos have ahead of them, fighting a lonely and difficult battle against poaching. This single rhino on a winding road portrays that to me.

Once again, the clarity slider came into effect here and it gives great texture to dark-skinned animals. I try to crop my images as little as possible as to not lose size and quality, and this is an important factor to consider. Always try and think about the final image you want as you take it, and avoid cropping as much as possible in post processing.

I lightened the road in the foreground to give more emphasis to the rhino, and decided not to darken the edges as I wanted to emphasize the sense of space and isolation of the subject. The motion in the front left leg is important as it shows the rhino is active and busy walking down the long and winding path. All these subtle elements combine to make a big, sometimes subconscious, difference in the end.

Rhino Road by Marlon du Toit

Marlon du Toit thrives on adventure and has a deep connection with Africa and its beauty. Growing up near the Kruger National Park he was immersed in nature from a young age and is now a professional field guide at Singita Sabi Sand.

His eye for capturing split-second moments on camera is astonishing, and after years behind the lens, we thought we would give our readers some of his ideas for taking the perfect wildlife photograph when out in the bush. This is the last post in this particular series, but please check back regularly for more of Marlon’s wonderful photographs and expert advice.

Read More


Making Memories

November 02, 2012 - Accommodation,Experience,Safari,Singita Grumeti

Spending time with family and treasured friends, and making memories for a lifetime, is what Singita Serengeti House is all about.  Comfortable furnishings and details, seamless inside-outside lounging, a tennis court dedicated to the house, a swimming pool that invites an afternoon dip for everyone, and a personal team of staff, all help to make this exclusive-use retreat a place for total relaxation.  But more than that, looking out over an expanse of the Serengeti wilderness and sharing those moments with people you care about, is priceless.

Eating at Serengeti House is designed to do the same thing – untangle the normal daily stresses of our city lives.  How wonderful to wake up to home-baked, gluten-free muffins – or enjoy a picnic on the veranda overlooking the elephants at the watering hole in front of the house – even stop for tea while the chef whips up a milk tart made right there in the kitchen.  And if you haven’t tried milk tart yet, then you’re in for a special surprise.  This is a South African tradition but steeped in Dutch influences, and until you plan your next trip to Tanzania, here’s a little something to help you think about us.

Donna Patterson, Singita Chef, Grumeti Reserves – sharing my favourite recipe for Milk Tart.

Ingredients – what you’ll need:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 pinch salt

4 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon butter

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The pie crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter or margarine and 1 cup sugar.

Add 1 egg and beat until mixture is smooth.

In a separate bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.

Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture just until ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Press mixture into bottom and sides of two 9-inch pie pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Putting it all together:

In a large saucepan, combine milk, vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon butter or margarine.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove from burner.

In a separate bowl, mix together 2 1/2 tablespoons flour, cornstarch, and 1/2 cup sugar.  Add beaten eggs to sugar mixture and whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk mixture into milk. Return pan to heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 5 minutes.

Pour half of mixture into each pastry shell.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Chill before serving – easy as that.

Hope you’ll leave a comment and tell me how your baking goes.

Read More


Sign up to receive the Singita newsletter

×