Category Archives: Safari

A Bit About the Buffalo

February 12, 2013 - Environment,Experience,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

James Suter in front of a buffalo herd

It’s not an uncommon sight to see massive herds of African buffalo in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve surrounding Singita Pamushana Lodge, often exceeding four hundred in a single group. These animals are active throughout the day and night with, on average, around eighteen hours of the day being spent feeding and moving.

African buffalo are found in a variety of habitats, including open savannah, grasslands and woodlands. They occupy a stable home range, usually based near water holes as they need to drink on a daily basis in order to survive. Their grazing fodder of choice is tall, coarse grass which they effectively mow down to make way for more selective grazers.

Buffalo herd

Although they may resemble a harmless cow, buffalo are in fact very dangerous animals on account of their large size and temperamental behavior, especially the bulls. If injured or threatened they have been known to attack humans but on the whole, if left in peace, they are placid creatures with a sociable nature.

Viewing these large herds is a marvelous spectacle and we enjoyed their company on a number of occasions, with the vehicle often being completely engulfed by hundreds of buffalo. Watching and listening to them while they feed is an almost therapeutic experience, although often interrupted by the screech of an oxpecker, the gregarious birds that dine on the buffalo’s ticks.

African buffalo at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

African buffalo drinking at the water hole

One particular sighting that stands out occurred near a beautiful pan. It was dusk and four massive bulls were approaching the water. We strategically positioned ourselves downwind and waited for them to approach in the beautiful light of an African sunset, which gave me the opportunity to photograph them closely without being detected. Watching them quench their thirst in this small, isolated pan, with the sun ablaze in the distance, was a moment I will not forget.

Lone African buffalo

Field guide James Suter is documenting the fauna and flora of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve so check back regularly to see his latest photos and read about his most recent adventure. You can catch up on his earlier posts from the region here.

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Safari Stories: A Fantastic Family Adventure

February 06, 2013 - Accommodation,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Lebombo Lodge

It is a universal truth that joy is doubled when shared, and the same is true of the experience of visiting Singita with your loved ones. A previous guest who traveled to Singita Kruger National Park last year with his wife and two teenage daughters describes the feeling of sharing this unforgettable destination with his family.

Family safari at Singita Kruger National Park

Our lives are full of countless distractions which interfere with opportunities for good family time. It is challenging to find meaningful, trans-generational experiences that bring a family together and create wonderful memories.

We spent three nights with our two daughters at Singita Lebombo Lodge, and in this beautiful environment we shared the most perfect times together. We did special things apart from the more obvious routine of game drives in open vehicles. Most memorable was a walk at dawn that started along the top of a ridge that extends from the edges of the Lebombo mountain range, from there a clamber down the rocks to the N’wanetsi River bank and then under the canopy of the riverine forest beside the river. With the early morning sun rising over the trees and under the expert direction of our accompanying guide and tracker, we saw signs of the nocturnal activities of the night before. The track of a civet, the hop marks of a grey tree frog, fresh elephant dung and the distinctive shuffle tracks of hippo.

The rocky outcrops near Singita Lemombo Lodge

Mark's daughter surveying the scene

We had the excitement of seeing two uncommon species of bird and listened to many different bird calls in the fresh morning air. Our walk took us past caves in the cliffs along the river where white-rumped swifts were returning from their annual intra-African migration and we watched them swoop in and out the caves as they check out and lay claim to last year’s nests. While we were watching the swifts we realised that there was a constant humming noise in the background and further investigation revealed no less than three wild bee hives in cracks in the cliff face. There was a natural spring nearby where fresh water bubbles directly from the earth and flows down to create a life sustaining pool in the otherwise dry river bed.

The view from Singita Lebombo Lodge

Numerous stone age artefacts litter the area and one can imagine how, with the caves for protection and the spring for a reliable water supply, stone age man must have inhabited this gorge in harmony with nature for thousands of years. The girls held the pieces of worked flint in their hands and speculated that the last person to hold that piece of rock may have done so more than ten thousand years ago! We paused and took it all in, nothing had changed except that ancient man was no longer there. Mankind has largely given up this beautiful, simple existence, living with and from nature, in exchange for cities with their noise and stress. Progress? Not so sure.

The game drives were wonderful (we saw herds of elephant, a pride of 28 lion, male lion on a waterbuck kill, lots of rhino and many more) but walking opened up a whole world of interesting things that you miss from the vehicle. We went mountain biking and came across fresh lion tracks (which caused some consternation), we ate dinner under the stars, we breathed the fresh air, we saw sunsets and sunrises and we talked, laughed and loved our time together. It could not have been better.

A walkway at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita is extremely family-friendly, with a number of dedicated lodges and camps particularly suited to those travelling in groups and/or with children, including the spectacular new Singita Serengeti House. To find out more about planning a family trip to Singita, please contact enquiries@singita.com or visit our website for lodge availability.

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Introducing Singita Serengeti House

January 31, 2013 - Accommodation,Africa,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Serengeti House

Singita Serengeti House

Singita Serengeti House, an exclusive-use retreat designed for families and friends, has opened in the 350,000-acre Grumeti Reserves in the heart of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania. Located on the slopes of Sasakwa Hill with breathtaking vistas of the endless, open plains of the Serengeti, the house is Singita’s response to a growing demand from discerning travellers for privacy and flexibility. Itineraries, activities and meals are tailor made and tweaked as guests dictate the day-to-day pace and rhythm of their vacation according to their interests and needs.

Singita Serengeti House pool deck

Early morning and late-afternoon game drives may be interspersed with vigorous swims or lazing around the pool with a good book, a game of tennis, a cooking lesson in the private kitchen from the resident chef, spa treatments or mountain biking. Making it up as one goes along is part of the magic of taking up residence at Singita Serengeti House. There is a waterhole right in front of the house, which is a favourite drinking spot for general plains game as well as a breeding herd of elephant.

Singita Serengeti House veranda

Singita Serengeti House lounge

The house accommodates eight people in two suites in the main house and two further guest suites on either side of the main house, connected by pathways from a central pool deck with a 25-metre rim-flow lap pool. There is also a private tennis court, mountain biking and archery.

Singita Serengeti House bedroom

Singita Serengeti House bathroom

Refined yet comfortable interiors by Cécile & Boyd’s are complemented by a relaxed, unpretentious ambience and warm-hearted service, adding up to a luxurious home environment in the bush. It is a place that encourages a wealth of shared experiences – thrilling game viewing, memorable outdoor feasts, storytelling and impromptu celebrations – from which to shape priceless memories.

Singita Serengeti House wildlife - zebras

Singita Serengeti House wildlife - giraffe

The house may only be booked on an exclusive-use basis and includes all staff, a private vehicle and a safari guide. Besides guided game drives in an open-sided 4×4 vehicle, guests can also do guided walks and horseback safaris. At Singita Sasakwa Lodge, situated an easy 1.5km drive away, there is also a fully equipped gym, yoga room, spa and Boutique & Gallery.

Singita Serengeti House wildlife - cheetah cub

We’ll soon be posting some more photographs of Cécile & Boyd’s stunning interiors at Singita Serengeti House so be sure to subscribe to the blog to avoid missing out! You can also read the online brochure to see more.

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The Tree of Life

January 28, 2013 - Environment,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Baobab tree at Singita Pamushana Lodge

The majestic baobab tree is a common landmark found within the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in which Singita Pamushana Lodge is nestled. It is known as the “tree of life” as it provides food, water and shelter to both human and animal inhabitants of the African savannah.

Dwarfing the surrounding vegetation, the tree is shrouded in a heady mixture of mystique and legend. Zimbabweans have long told the charming story of how God planted the trees on their heads, with many local tribes believing that the baobab tree grows upside-down, due to the massive trunk which gives rise to thick tapering branches resembling a root system.

Baobab tree at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Adinsonia digitata can grow to a height of thirty metres and some are estimated to be thousands of years old. This cannot be verified however, as baobabs produce no annual growth rings, making it impossible to accurately measure their age. Their trunks can hold up to one hundred and twenty thousand litres of water, an amount which sustains them throughout the dry season when water is scarce.

People have used these enormous trees with their hollow trunks for various purposes including houses, prisons, storage facilities and even shops. In Zimbabwe the fruit is used in traditional food preparations, being crushed into a pulp and mixed into porridge and drinks containing high levels of vitamin C. The tree provides a source of water, fiber, dye and fuel for the people of Zimbabwe and has been used for centuries.

While driving through the land surrounding Singita Pamushana Lodge, one never tires of seeing these mighty trees dotted throughout the grassland, lending this incredible place an even more magical atmosphere.

Baobab tree at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Baobab tree at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Visit us again soon for a new update from James Suter’s exploration of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve and his beautiful photographs of the fauna and flora of this unique area. You can catch up on his earlier posts from the region here.

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Great Guest Photos from 2012: Jeff Thompson

January 21, 2013 - Accommodation,Africa,Environment,Experience,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

Elephants at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Visiting Singita is always an unforgettable experience and for many guests, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Africa in a very special way. It is especially gratifying for us when guests stay in touch with the lodge teams once they have returned home and share their astounding photographs of the trip.

Jeff Thompson and his wife Julie visited Singita Pamushana Lodge from Atlanta twice last year with a keen eye for unusual photo opportunities. Here is a selection of his gorgeous wildlife pictures, taken throughout the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve surrounding the lodge. We hope you enjoy these photos and would love for you to share your own shots of Singita with us by visiting our Facebook page or getting in touch on the website.

Elephants at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Elephants at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Painted dogs at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Game spotting at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Cheetah at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Rhino at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Lioness at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Lions at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Lions at Singita Pamushana Lodge

© All photographs copyright Jeff Thompson 2013

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Black Rhino Encounter

January 09, 2013 - Environment,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

Black rhino at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Tracking the temperamental black rhino has to be one of the most exciting and challenging activities for a field guide. Black rhino are notoriously aggressive, and will not hesitate to charge, even when one is in the confines of a vehicle. Singita Pamushana Lodge is home to a healthy population of these animals, which offered me a fantastic opportunity to learn more about them.

Our mission was to locate the fresh spoor of a black rhino and continue to follow the tracks until we finally located the animal. In order to optimise our chances of seeing one, we decided to set off early in the morning when the day is still cool and rhinos are the most active.

James Suter tracking the black rhino

James Suter tracking the black rhino

They mainly drink at night or early in the morning, so the logical place to start was at one of the larger pans. It was a challenging task, as we had to select one particular track that seemed the most promising. It had to be the freshest track and not only would we have to distinguish this spoor from the hundreds of others surrounding the waterhole, but we would also have to make sure we continued trailing the same one. After circling the pan a number of times we selected the tracks of a single bull and set off with our noses to the ground.

James Suter tracking the black rhino

We were headed south, straight into the thick Mopane forest. I noted the fresh dung as well as the broken branches the rhino had left as clues. As we went deeper into the scrub, I felt my heart rate quicken and my ears and eyes sharpen, all the while considering the black rhino’s fearsome reputation.

Black rhino charging the group

The startled oxpeckers alerted us to the proximity of our quarry when they took to the air as we approached, pricking the ears of the large figures below them in the undergrowth. We kept silent and still, wary of giving away our position. Suddenly the wind changed against us and the rhino caught our scent, lumbering straight for our hiding place. The best response when being charged by a rhino is to find a tree to climb or hide behind (since rhino have bad eyesight, they usually can’t distinguish between a large tree trunk and the perceived threat of a person). We promptly found a thicket to hide behind, hearts pounding, and quietly watched the rhino retreat into the shadows of the forest, feeling great respect for these massive but agile beasts.

Black rhino charging the group

James Suter is an experienced Singita field guide with a passion for photography. Check back regularly for more of James’ stories from Singita’s private reserves in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

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Looking Back: Great Guest Photos from 2012

December 28, 2012 - Accommodation,Africa,Environment,Experience,Kruger National Park,Safari,Wildlife

We are always delighted to hear from past guests who have visited Singita, especially when they share their memories of their trip with us by way of some spectacular holiday snaps. It is so special to see the lodges and their surroundings through the eyes of our visitors and some of them have been generous enough to allow us to share these photographs with you.

Stephen Saugestad traveled to Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Ebony Lodge from Vancouver, Canada and was particularly taken with the variety of wildlife they spotted on their daily game drives. We hope you enjoy these lovely pictures and we encourage you to share your own photographs of Singita with us by visiting our Facebook page or getting in touch on the website.

Singita Boulders Lodge

Mandla, our Singita Sabi Sand Community Development Officer

Early morning game drive

Early morning game drive

Elephant

Leopard

Giraffe

Sunset in the Kruger National Park

© All photographs copyright Stephen Saugestad 2012

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The Hyena Clans of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

December 27, 2012 - Environment,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

Hyena

One of the most interesting observations I made while visiting Singita Pamushana Lodge was the incredibly high population of hyena that inhabit the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. We spotted these unusual-looking and highly entertaining characters on nearly every excursion. Game numbers are high in this area, providing an abundant source of food, while the lion prides that compete for similar prey are small and widely dispersed.

Hyena feeding on wildebeest carcass

The spotted hyena is one of the most gregarious of all carnivores and their clans function within a strict dominance hierarchy essential to the success of their society. I am fascinated by hyenas and enjoy observing them so I was determined to find a den site and spend time with these intriguing creatures. Their social life is centred on a communal den, with some clans using the same one for years, while others may use several different sites throughout the year.

Hyena

An opportunity arose when we located a large clan that had recently killed a young wildebeest. They had separated the individual from the herd and used their strength and cooperation to overpower the animal. Once they began to feed we could clearly see the strict hierarchy structure being enforced, with even the lowest ranking female being more dominant than the highest ranking male. It was captivating to watch the low ranking males giggling in submission, accepting their lower status and biding their time, waiting patiently for the females and higher ranking males to finish feeding.

We spent the morning watching the clan feast as the heat set in and the carcass slowly got picked clean. The clan then led us to their den site where we were given a rare and intimate opportunity to enjoy their company for the rest of the day.

Hyena sunset

Follow the adventures of field guide James Suter as he explores the wilderness surrounding Singita Pamushana Lodge and its fascinating inhabitants.

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Sibling Rivalry: A Tense Moment

December 24, 2012 - Environment,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

Field guide James Suter

Early one morning we set out to locate a female cheetah and her young cubs, who had been spotted hunting the previous afternoon. Cheetah territories are often located in areas where there is a rich supply of game, such as the open areas south of Singita Pamushana Lodge where game congregates around the Banyini Pan, a constant supply of water.

Field guide James Suter

Female cheetah

Traveling towards the pan, we soon discovered her resting near a large acacia accompanied by her two cubs. We sat there quietly, savouring the moment, and watching these beautiful animals who were totally at ease with the presence of the vehicle.

A tense moment

Then I noticed something in the distance – the vague shape of two figures, much larger than the female and approaching at great speed. I held my breath as the two large male cheetahs pounced on both of the youngsters who immediately assumed a submissive posture and were yelping in fear. It was a tense moment after what had been such a peaceful sighting, and had now turned into a life or death situation for the cubs.

Cheetah fighting

Cheetah fighting

The female desperately tried to protect her cubs; she was extremely distressed and afraid. Fierce fights like this one between adult cheetahs, usually in the defence of territories, can result in serious injury or death.

As quickly as the commotion had started however, the males appeared to both lose interest and calmly joined the female and her cubs in the shade of the acacia. It was a somewhat bizarre sight – we were now sitting with five cheetahs who had been fighting tooth and claw not moments before, but now seemed comfortable and familiar with one another.

Cheetah fighting

Nature is often full of surprises and after speaking to one of the local guides, we managed to piece it all together. The two males were from the female’s previous litter and whom she had left as usual at the age of eighteen months. These two brothers had subsequently formed a coalition, surviving as a team and appeared to be in very good shape. The reunion with their mother, while tense at first, became a touching family portrait as they sought refuge from the heat together with their younger siblings.

Field guide James Suter is exploring the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve that surrounds Singita Pamushana Lodge. Check back next week to learn about the local hyena population, accompanied by more of James’ stunning photography.

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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.

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