This time of year at Singita Grumeti is always very exciting for guests and staff alike, as millions of wildebeest and other plains game move through the Serengeti on their annual migration. The low rumble of hooves started very early this year, beginning in early May; six weeks before it was expected. Field Guide Elizabeth Hamrick reports from Tanzania:
“The 2014 ‘long rains’ saw little precipitation at Singita Grumeti, but while our location in the Northwestern Serengeti had very little rain, the central Serengeti saw almost none. The result of the extreme lack of rain was a lack of suitable grasses so when the wildebeest left Ndutu in the southern Serengeti at the end of March, the 80km trip through to Singita Grumeti (which usually takes about three months) only took one month. By the first of the month, the Ikorongo Game Reserve was full of at least 50,000 wildebeest. Within the next two days, wildebeest in the multiple hundreds of thousands engulfed Singita Grumeti; the Great Migration had arrived.
By the end of the month the herds started forming long lines, marching eastwards out of the reserve and by about the 5th of June only the weak and the wounded remained.
There are currently herds scattered about 1.5km south of Singita Mara River Tented Camp in the Lamai Triangle, and we have also received reports that a big chunk of the migration has turned south again, and are hanging out in the central Serengeti. 2014 continues to prove how unpredictable this phenomenon can be, and we wait in anticipation to see what happens next.”
Guests at Singita Mara River Tented Camp were also lucky enough to witness the first crossing this week from start to finish. It occurred a short way from the camp near the Kogatende airstrip and lasted close to an hour!
Elizabeth compiles a monthly Wildlife Report from Singita Grumeti, which is situated adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. You san see Instagram photos from our guests who visit the region with the hashtag #singitagrumeti and follow us on Instagram here.
We are delighted to share with you yesterday’s announcement of the Travel+Leisure World’s Best Hotels 2014, in which Singita Sabi Sand placed 7th and Singita Kruger National Park at no. 19! We are thrilled that Singita Sabi Sand was also voted Best Safari Location in the world.
Singita has always performed consistently well in these awards, determined by T+L readers who vote for their favourite hotels and resorts, evaluating them in categories such as value, food, service, rooms and location. We are extremely proud of this result and extend our congratulations to the rest of the Top 50. Our heartfelt thanks to the lodge and head office teams for their hard work and dedication to Singita’s mission, which is to share a unique part of the world, while maintaining respect for the natural environment and challenging accepted notions of luxury.
If you have been an avid reader of our blog and monthly Wildlife Reports, then the name Saitoti Ole Kuwai won’t be new to you. He is a regular contributor to the bush ranger diaries from Singita Grumeti, where he works as a field guide, and his photographs often feature in our Highlights posts.
Saitoti is a proud Masai and grew up in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania, where he took his first steps towards his future profession by learning how to track animals from other tribesmen. He was inspired to follow a career in wildlife conservation after seeing the effects of poaching first hand, and pursued his formal training before joining Singita in 2005.
He describes his work in the Serengeti as “an honour and a big privilege” and is completely dedicated to the protection and conservation of African wildlife for future generations. “My day starts in the dark; I always wake up at 4 o’clock. It’s early in the morning but you can still hear things like hyena and jackal calling and that tells me that the bush is awake.”
To Saitoti, game drives are like fishing, where the vast plains are an endless sea and you never know what you’re going to catch. He says: “What’s needed for you is the passion, the passion to wait.”
“I love to tell guests about the traditions, culture, customs and lifestyle of my tribe. The best thing about my job is being involved in ensuring the health and growth of the area’s wildlife. Living in close harmony with animals is important because through them we learn so much.” Watch the video to learn more about this dedicated conservationist:
This is the second in our #singitastories series, introducing you to some of Singita’s team members. We previously featured Time Mutema, a field guide at Singita Pamsushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. Browse our Vimeo channel for more about the people of Singita, interesting wildlife sightings and to see the inspiration behind all our lodges and camps.
If you are fortunate enough to have visited Singita Kruger National Park, then you will have enjoyed the wonderful afternoon tea that takes place before every evening game drive. Responsible for this sweet spread is Chef de Partie Christien Schrecker, who has previously shared many of her delectable recipes on our blog, including our personal favourite, giraffe-shaped cinnamon doughnuts!
Today she is showing us how to make a real crowd pleaser; chocolate and mint macarons. These meringue-based confections are sandwiched with an Amarula-spiked ganache to give them some uniquely African flavour but you can substitute this for Irish cream if you prefer. Also, here’s a handy online volume converter if you need help with the metric measurements.
Ingredients – what you will need:
100g egg whites
150g caster sugar
150g ground almonds (weigh after being sifted twice)
150g icing sugar
150g dark chocolate
2 drops peppermint essence
Method – what to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 135˚C.
2. Combine the ground almonds with the icing sugar, but mix only briefly so that the almonds do not exude their oil.
3. Place half the egg whites (50g) in the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
4. To prepare the Italian meringue, cook the caster sugar with the water to 110˚C. While the mixture is heating, start whisking the egg whites to soft peaks. When the syrup has reached the right temperature, pour it gradually over the whisked egg whites, whisking as you do so.
5. Continue beating until the mixture cools to 45˚C. Then pour in the other half of the egg whites (50g), add the colouring if using, and the ground almonds combined with the icing sugar.
6. Whisk until the batter is liquid and forms a ribbon when drizzled on the surface.
7. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe it out onto the baking sheet or mat.
8. Bake for 20 minutes, depending on the size of your macarons. They are done when you can lift them of the sheet without any batter staying behind. Leave to cool at room temperature.
FILLING & ASSEMBLY:
1. Bring the Amarula cream to a boil.
2. Pour over the chopped chocolate, and the essence. Whisk to combine, finish with a hand blender.
3. Spoon into a piping bag and leave to cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.
4. Pipe onto macarons and sandwich together
5. Place macarons in the fridge for 20 minutes to set the filling before serving.
Share your homemade macarons with us on Instagram by tagging @Singita_ and follow Christien for more mouth-watering photos from the kitchen at Singita Kruger National Park. You can also find more great recipe ideas here.
The lives of the people who work at Singita are inevitably entwined with the unspoiled wilderness in which our 12 lodges and camps can be found. Their stories weave through forests, over endless landscapes, and along flowing rivers, touching the lives of our guests and travellers along the way.
In this series of #singitastories, we’ll introduce you to some of Singita’s team members; people who dedicate their lives to sharing their passion for Africa. Each tell their story through film – bringing their experiences to life. Follow as we unfold these #singitastories over the next few months and we hope your hearts will be captured as much as ours.
First is this series is Time Mutema, a fully certified, professional field guide working at Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. He grew up fishing and birding with his friends, and knew from a very young age that he belonged outdoors. He has a lifelong devotion to the bush and all that it inspires. Watch this short film to learn more about Time:
For more of our film and video clips, browse our Vimeo channel for inspiration. You can also stay up-to-date with the latest #singitastories by subscribing to our newsletter using the short form on the right.
These pictures hardly need a caption – we would be surprised if you could tear your eyes away from their little furry faces long enough to read it! If you are interested however, you may like to know that these gorgeous young lions are offspring of the Butamtam pride at Singita Grumeti in Tanzania. These lions are healthy breeders; over the past two years one of the major prides got so big that it split into two, and two of the other prides seem to be heading in the same direction. In addition, all of their cubs have higher than usual survival rates which is wonderful to hear.
Photos by Field Guide Ryan Schmitt. Ryan regularly posts snapshots from his adventures in the bush on our Facebook and Instagram feeds so follow us there to see more!
Just in! Field Guide Ross Couper from Singita Sabi Sand sent through this incredible snapshot from Thursday afternoon’s game drive. In it, a serval faces off with a pair of cheetahs:
“Upon a approaching a cheetah sighting, a serval and two cubs were seen moving through the grass within meters of the cheetah. The serval’s movement caught the attention of the cheetah after the adult serval attempted to catch a rodent in the grass. A chase ensued and the adult serval was surrounded by the two cheetah. A moment of sheer aggression from the serval saved its life and several tense minutes were felt amongst the guests viewing the interaction. As dusk settled we returned back to the lodge, the fate of the serval unknown. It was a true privilege to witness this interaction in the wild.”
Ross regularly shares his stunning wildlife photos with our Facebook community, so follow us there for the latest sightings, direct from the bush!
Chameleons really are funny little creatures! Did you know that, besides being masterful at camouflage and having tongues roughly 1½ times their body length, chameleons can rotate each eye in a different direction and go through life without the benefit of ears? There are 156 different species concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and many of them can be found at Singita’s lodges and camps throughout the region.
In this gorgeous photo, Singita Grumeti Guide Manager, Ryan Schmitt, carries this female flap-necked chameleon from the middle of the road to the safety of the grass. This particular reptile is a real crowd pleaser with guests and staff alike, and can often be found stalking their favourite snacks of grasshoppers and butterflies.
See more of the unique and fascinating wildlife to be found at Singita by reading our monthly field reports, written by the guides themselves.
Over the past few years, Singita has collaborated with some extremely talented filmmakers to produce stunning videos that showcase our twelve lodges and camps in Africa. These include breathtaking snapshots of the people and surroundings that define all our lodges and camps, as well as interesting wildlife sightings from our guides in the bush.
We are thrilled to bring you the latest footage from Tanzania that captures the spirit and design of Singita Serengeti House and Singita Mara River Tented Camp. We have also launched a brand new Vimeo channel where you can follow us and browse through our entire collection of videos and short films.
Singita Serengeti House
Singita Mara River Tented Camp
Another highlight of our Vimeo channel is the story of Joyful Nghala, who graduated from the Singita School of Cooking (SSC) at the end of last year. The SSC, located on site at the Singita Kruger National Park staff village, was established to encourage the development of culinary skills and job potential among local youth. Read more about our community development projects here.
It’s that time of year again! The wildebeest have started arriving on the Sasakwa Plains of the Serengeti and the herds seem to be multiplying at an astonishing rate with each passing day. Overnight, the grassland below Singita Sasakwa Lodge has been flooded by tens of thousands of wildebeest, making for some very exciting horseback game-spotting for our lucky guests.
Singita Grumeti, situated adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, is an integral part of the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, the home of the Great Migration. Singita manages 350,000 acres of this land, and generates the funds necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the reserve via low impact tourism. Visit our website to find out more about our conservation and community development projects in the area.