The Singita Blog

Touching the Earth Lightly: Celebrating Earth Day 2014

April 22, 2014 - Conservation, Conservation, Did You Know?, Environment, Experience, Lamai, Lodges and Camps, Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Earth Day is honoured every year on April 22, in a worldwide show of support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. Singita’s lodges and camps are committed to “touching the earth lightly”, and this is manifested in the way the lodges are constructed; how they operate today; and how guests experience the wildlife and the natural habitat around them.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Singita Mara River Tented Camp is the epitome of sustainable tourism and consciously seeks to eliminate the unnecessary use of energy. In keeping with this philosophy, the camp operates “off-the-grid” and relies on a custom designed solar power system, with an inverter battery bank that ensures an uninterrupted power source at night or on rainy days. The photo voltaic solar panels used to harvest energy from the sun supply electricity to the camp’s energy-saving LEDs lights, pool pump, and washing machines, among other things.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

The camp’s potable water comes from a borehole near the site and is, in turn, heated by solar geysers. Although this water is drinkable, Singita is also planning an additional filtering system which will be in place before the end of the year, eliminating the need to use any plastic bottled water at this location.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

The camp has been purpose-built to be environmentally conscious, and as a result has a clean and efficient recycling programme that is leading the way for the rest of Singita’s lodges. Waste management is extremely important to this process. For example, fresh produce is transported and wrapped using traditional methods, such as recycled wooden boxes and wood chips or sawdust for packing. These boxes are then returned to the local supplier for the following week so that no plastic or modern packaging is used, eliminating unnecessary waste going into the country’s landfills.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

To limit the construction footprint, Singita Mara River Tented Camp makes use of a series of open-air decks instead of separate buildings for the gym and spa. Energetic guests have access to yoga mats, kettle bells and jump ropes, while the spa offers treatments on the decks or in the tents, without using any electrical equipment. Toiletries used in the lodge are also all organic.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Singita’s achievements with the efficient and environmentally-friendly construction and operations of Singita Mara River Tented Camp are significant in light of our planet’s ongoing struggle to maintain balance and fight climate change. The wonderful “lightness” of this property will serve as a template for all future lodge designs, setting a benchmark for responsible but luxurious travel.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Conservation lives hand-in-hand with ecotourism and community development at Singita. We believe it’s the responsible way to maintain and extend the sustainability of our wildlife reserves. Read more about our conservation efforts on our website.

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Heri kwa sikukuu ya Pasaka!

April 18, 2014 - General

No, that isn’t a typo; that’s how you say Happy Easter in Swahili! For the people of Tanzania, where you will find Singita Grumeti and its five lodges and camps, Swahili is their mother tongue, and a language they share with 140 million other people in East Africa.

From our Singita family in the Serengeti, Singita Pamushana Lodge in Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe and our concessions in Sabi Sand and Kruger National Park, we wish you a very peaceful Easter with your loved ones.

Happy Easter from Singita

Why not catch up on our latest Wildlife Reports over the weekend? They’re written by our field guides and published monthly to bring you first-hand sighting reports from the bush. Want more regular updates? Follow us on Facebook.

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Highlights from Instagram

April 11, 2014 - General

Follow Singita on Instagram

One of the many wonderful benefits of visiting one of our 12 lodges and camps in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, is that there is never a shortage of photo opportunities. From big game, baby animals, unusual birds and other unique wildlife, to stunning landscapes, beautiful food, designer interiors and exquisite sunsets; it’s a shutterbug’s paradise. Our Instagram account gives followers a daily taste of life in the bush with gorgeous photos from our managers, guides, chefs, sommeliers, community projects, conservation teams and, of course, our guests.

Follow Singita on Instagram

Follow us on Instagram at @Singita_ and see our other social feeds here.

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Beekeeping for Biodiversity

April 04, 2014 - Community Development, Conservation, Did You Know?, Singita Grumeti, The Grumeti Fund, Wildlife

Beekeeping in Tanzania | Singita Grumeti Fund

Singita Grumeti

There has been much written about the plight of bees on a global scale, and the disastrous impact their dwindling populations could have on commercial agriculture and food production. Looking closer to home, the conservation of bees in particular is critical to the survival of local plant life; a crucial element of sustainable environmental conservation and biodiversity enrichment.

At Singita Grumeti in Tanzania, through the Grumeti Fund and the local outreach programme, beekeeping projects have been promoted in local communities since 2010, who in turn earn an income from the sale of honey. This way, the community is supported while the bees’ natural habitat is preserved, and serves as a great example of how conservation and community development are integrally connected.

Beekeeping in Tanzania | Singita Grumeti Fund

To date, seven beekeeping groups and various individuals and families have become involved in the project, and are now responsible for 744 beehives. Among the most successful groups is the Bonchugu Community, under the thoughtful leadership of Amos Matiku. He is described as an energetic, enthusiastic and a results-oriented person who never gives up.

“I first heard about the beekeeping project from a Community Outreach officer in 2011 and although skeptical at first, eventually myself and nine others in the community applied to join the project,” Amos says.

Beekeeping in Tanzania | Singita Grumeti Fund

It started with 20 hives, and members had to contribute 33% of the cost of running each hive, with the Grumeti Fund providing all necessary support needed for the project. In a very short time, the hives were stocked with bees and the members were able to see the fruits of their labour. In June 2012, the group celebrated their first harvest, and just 2 days laters were able to sell all the honey. The income generated covered the initial contribution of each member and they decided as a group to reinvest the profits in order to grow the project.

33 more hives were added, and in 2013, their harvest was the most successful in the whole Serengeti, which afforded them to opportunity to attend an international exhibition in Dar es Salaam. Their organic acacia honey was the show’s bestseller and allowed them to raise additional funds for the project. The group was also invited to attend another regional exhibition and are deservedly proud of their achievements so far.

Beekeeping in Tanzania | Singita Grumeti Fund

The Grumeti Fund also facilitates training for the group, helping them to stay abreast of the latest in beekeeping technology. Amos says: “Through this programme, we have realised the impact conservation can have on all our lives. The acacia forests which were previously degraded are now flourishing with new growth. Beekeeping has created employment and income for local families, while helping to conserve our land and its wildlife.”

Beekeeping in Tanzania | Singita Grumeti Fund

The keeping of beehives helps to maintain riparian zones, natural springs, and remnant forest and bush areas as these are the the optimal habitat for the bees. The presence of the hives also prevents timber and firewood harvesting in those areas, and discourages elephants (they don’t like bees!) from trampling the nearby farmland and destroying the crops.

In 2002, the Grumeti Community and Wildlife Conservation Fund, a not-for-profit organisation, was granted the right to manage and conserve 350,000 acres, for the benefit of Tanzania, Africa and the world. Four years later, Singita took over the management of the property, at the request of the concessionaire and began the task of generating, via low impact tourism, the funds necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the reserve through conservation and community partnerships.

 If you would like more information, please contact Pam Richardson, Singita’s Group HR and Community Development Manager.

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A Love for Leopards

April 02, 2014 - Experience, Sabi Sand, Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Ebony Lodge, Wildlife

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

As with many South Africans, I grew up visiting game reserves fairly regularly, and going on camping trips in remote locations with my family during school holidays. I completely took for granted that, at a fairly young age, I had seen such incredible creatures as lions and elephants at close proximity, and in their natural habitat.

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

It was only a couple of years ago when I visited the Kruger National Park for the first time that I realised that for all my childhood game-spotting, I had never seen a leopard in the wild. Their feline grace, exquisite colouring and enigmatic nature totally captivate me, and we spent a week scouring the bushes for these elusive spotted cats but to no avail.

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

In January I was lucky enough to visit Singita Sabi Sand for the first time and was determined to track down a leopard. James and Leon, my tracking-and-guiding team, were duly briefed and we set off into the wakening bush on the first morning game drive in search of one of the area’s resident leopards. There are a number of handsome males with territories that traverse Singita’s concession in the Sabi Sand; Nyaleti, Ravenscourt and Khashane among them. They are regularly featured in the guides’ Wildlife Reports from the region and have even been spotted in and around the lodges themselves!

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

It was an absolute thrill an hour later to discover a male leopard walking casually through the bush in front of our vehicle. We followed him through the undergrowth for a short while, and watched him leap silently into a nearby ebony tree, where he used the height of the branches to get a better view of the surrounding area. We sat in the vehicle and watched him quietly for a few moments, astounded by his beauty.

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

I was lucky enough to have two more leopard sightings in as many days at Singita Sabi Sand; both equally breathtaking. It was an experience that rendered me quite speechless and something I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

All photos by field guide Ross Couper. Text by blog manager Julia da Silva.

Singita Sabi Sand is a privately owned game reserve in the Sabi Sand Reserve, adjacent to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Spanning more than 45,000 acres, Singita Sabi Sand is renowned for high concentrations of big game and frequent leopard sightings.

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Design Details: Singita Mara River Tented Camp

March 24, 2014 - Accommodation, Experience, Lamai, Lodges and Camps, Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

In the design of Singita Mara River Tented Camp the focus was on creating an immersive experience at the famed river crossing point for the annual migration. The look and feel, conceptualised by Cécile & Boyd, is a profound celebration of contemporary African design and offers a sense of laid back luxury.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

The camp draws inspiration from its East African location, but with a feeling of bohemian glamour that seeks to balance form and function in a non-traditional way. This creates an visual ambience that is elegant but relaxed, with an industrial metal frame work in black hammorite, hung with beige tents and then lined inside in cool white cotton canvas walls and ceilings. Wooden decks and basket walls and roofs tie the camp to the site in a delicate and respectful way, ensuring that it touches the earth lightly.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

As part of their interpretation of the vision for the camp, GAPP Architects & Urban Designers created generous ‘fitto’ screens that provide shade for the outdoor dining and lounge areas, and suspended sapling walls are strategically placed the define the space and offering privacy for our guests. The tents are positioned on the edge of ‘hovering’ decks, so that one is slightly elevated, maximising the views and creating separate living areas on different levels. Fly sheets allow guests to enjoy the space and also to sleep with the main tent flaps open, while protected from inquisitive insects.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Strong contemporary design puts a fresh spin on local creativity, with inspiration coming from traditional, everyday African objects like baskets, beads and pots. There has been a distinct focus on sourcing the talented work of young inspiring African designers. The camp’s signature colour palette of camel, red, grey and charcoal has been incorporated into various decor items and furniture pieces, and live alongside timber sculptures carved from single pieces of wood. Similarly, wooden turned lights, whose shapes are derived from African pots and then extruded to form the various shapes, are expressed in a contemporary form. The lights are manufactured from sustainable jacaranda wood, while others are made of papier-mâché.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Deep, low-slung sofas and beds are layered in hand spun natural fabrics, throws and cushions of differing weights from heavy sack to sheer muslin voiles. ‘Campaign’ inspired retro travel chests in canvas and raw leather with polished metal detailing create desks, trousseaux and side tables. The relaxed atmosphere is further enhanced with bamboo cutlery, wonky crockery and wobbly glass, wood raffia and huge linen napkins bound in plaited rings.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Extensive use of sustainably sourced, hand crafted African basket ware lends a contemporary but tactile element to the design. For example the wire baskets on the screen near the pool are the exact shape and design of grain sorting baskets, but constructed in wire so that they evolve into a purely decorative element. Baskets used for filtering traditional beer have been painted and hung in a group to form an art work.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

The culture and heritage of neighbouring Masai and local Kuria tribes inspired the jewel-like colours of red, black and blue, while their use of pattern and natural materials heavily influenced the design. Throughout the interior there are items of interest to inspire the guests to see this creativity in a new way and invite the staff to share stories of how African culture and design has been interpreted in a new way.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Internal bathrooms with generous open shower areas and vanity units offer incredible views through a folded-back tent flap towards the river. In the outdoor bathroom, the tub is perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the gorgeous river view while offering total privacy. Beds face eastwards so that the rising sun acts as a natural alarm clock in the early morning, and refreshments are taken on the decks to catch the cooling breeze… the experience is designed to allow the guest to fully engage in this indescribable location.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp is the epitome of sustainable tourism and consciously seeks to eliminate the unnecessary use of energy and non-biodegradable materials. In keeping with this philosophy, the camp operates “off-the-grid” and relies entirely on a custom designed solar system for its power and the use of recycled and natural materials wherever possible. Contact our reservations team to find out more about visiting this untouched wilderness.

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Guest Feedback: Seeing the Serengeti on Horseback

March 19, 2014 - Experience, Lodges and Camps, Safari, Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp, Singita Grumeti

Horse riding safari in the Serengeti | Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp

There can be few more thrilling experiences in life than discovering the vast plains of the Serengeti on horseback; the surreal romance and excitement of exploring the exquisite wilderness of this unique area at eye level with the wildlife. Singita’s day rides and longer equestrian safaris allow guests to journey across the open plains with a herd of zebra or giraffe, bringing them truly in touch with the pulse of Africa. A recent regulation passed by the Tanzanian government now allows Singita’s equestrian safaris to traverse the full breadth and width of the concession, adding even more opportunities for unique game spotting and the discovery of more remote areas of the reserve.

Horse riding safari in the Serengeti | Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp

David and Paula Evans traveled to Singita Grumeti from the United States last year and were so moved by the experience that they sent this kind note of thanks to Jason Trollip, Singita’s Tourism Manager for the region.

Horse riding safari in the Serengeti | Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp

David writes:

The purpose of this e-mail is two-fold.

First, to compliment Singita on what my wife, Paula, and I could only describe as a holiday of lifetime – made possible largely by the unstinting professionalism, charm and dedication of your on-site teams.

Horse riding safari in the Serengeti | Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp

Whilst not wanting to decry the unbelievable quality and attention to detail in all that Singita Sasakwa Lodge and Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp we stayed at displayed in abundance, for us it was the people on the ground that made all the difference.

I would particularly single out Ali and Martin (at the Equestrian Centre) and Nick (at Explore).

Horse riding safari in the Serengeti | Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp

Our four-day horseback safari provided us with a series of unforgettable and quite unique moments. From the unquestionable quality of the horses, to the professionalism, skill and knowledge of Martin and Ali, these were four days we will never forget. All this topped off with Martin and Ali’s entertaining and witty company. It was also an unexpected honour to be the first guests to enter one of the reserves on horseback following the new permission recently issued by the government. For advanced riders and repeat guests, having these extra areas to explore is important we feel, given the amount of ground that can be covered on horseback. To us this is an added incentive to return!

Horse riding safari in the Serengeti | Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp

Sheer bliss – an experience we are desperate to repeat.

And now to Singita Explore. Paula and I have been very fortunate in life to stay at some of the best hotels/resorts in the world – we haven’t held back! But I can safely say that what Nick and the team provided us with rivalled the best – all with the challenges of being in the depths of the Serengeti. Quite remarkable. Nick was an incredible host and you could see he would do just anything to ensure your every need is catered for. A real star.

Horse riding safari in the Serengeti | Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp

So – we thank you all; we will be back.

I would close by saying that never before have we felt the urge to send an e-mail in such glowing terms following a holiday. You should all be very proud of what you have accomplished at Singita Grumeti.

Regards
David and Paula Evans

Our sincere thanks to David and Paula for taking the time to write this letter of appreciation. We very much look forward to welcoming you both back to Singita Grumeti!

All photos © 2013 David Evans

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Highlights from our Wildlife Reports

February 13, 2014 - Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand, Singita Grumeti, Singita Pamushana Lodge, Wildlife

One of the most popular features of our website is the monthly Wildlife Reports, penned by Singita’s field guides and including many of their incredible photos from twice-daily game drives with guests. These journals cover recent wildlife sightings, seasonal changes in the local flora, birding highlights and stunning landscape shots from all five regions in which Singita has lodges and camps. Here is a selection of photos from some recent entries for you to enjoy:

Wildlife Reports Highlights | Singita

Singita Kruger National Park
Elephants in the Kruger National Park must be some of the most dynamic landscapers to this environment and a safari would simply not be complete without seeing one of these colossal giants strutting its stuff. These giants move prodigious distances over a large home range area rather than marking and protecting a territory, – and this makes sightings of them unpredictable and erratic. Over the past month we had an extraordinary total of 89 sightings, with at least two sightings per day. Even with the huge number of elephants scattered throughout the park and with years of research, theories and estimates on these mythical beasts, so much is still unknown about the species.

Report by Deirdre Opie, Danie Vermeulen, Jani Lourens & Nick du Plessis. Photo by Nick du Plessis. Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report December 2013

Wildlife Reports Highlights | Singita

Singita Sabi Sand
The Nyaleti male had made his way up the bank of the river and appeared in front of us. He casually walked along the bank until he reached a couple of big boulders. Instead of walking around them, he promptly hopped from boulder to boulder all the way across the river to the other side. (Watch the video – http://youtu.be/jMxeZEZGjdQ) We followed him slowly for about five minutes
before a herd of impala struck his interest. We stopped and watched from a distance as he stalked the herd.

Report by Dylan Brandt, Ross Couper, Daniella Kueck, Leon Van Wyk, Jon Morgan and François Fourie. Photographs on location by Ross Couper, François Fourie and Jon Morgan. Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report January 2014

Wildlife Reports Highlights | Singita

Singita Pamushana
This first photograph was taken during mid 2011, of a very young rhino calf, that kept charging an old rubbing post, in a very funny case of mistaken identity – the calf seemed to think the stump was a challenging intruder. White rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) have a long gestation of 16 months. Calves stay with their mother for 2 – 3 years. It’s now 2.5 years since the first photo was taken and you can see how much the calf has grown – its mother is on the right in the second photo, and the calf dominates the third photo.

Report written and photographed by Jenny Hishin. Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report January 2014

Wildlife Reports Highlights | Singita

Singita Grumeti
By early to mid December, the migratory herds would normally be nearing the short grass plains of Ndutu in the southern-most part of the Serengeti. Ndutu is the calving site for the wildebeest and they will typically spend a few months in the area, giving time for the new babies to build up their strength before they begin their arduous journey north. Calves can be expected anywhere from late December to early February, but, like with all things, some babies come earlier! Two early babies were spotted amongst the herds here, and it’s hard to say at such a young age whether they will survive the southern trek to Ndutu.

Report by Lizzie Hamrick with photographs by Ryan Schmitt and Saitoti Ole Kuwai. Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report December 2013

Wildlife Reports Highlights | Singita

Singita Lamai
This mountainous horizon marking the border between Kenya and Tanzania is one of the most recognizable features of the Lamai area. It also provides a beautiful background for wildlife photos taken by our field guides.

Report by By Lizzie Hamrick with photographs by Mishi Mtili, Saitoti Ole Kuwai and Eugen Shao. Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report December 2013

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Bringing a Touch of Safari to Singapore

February 11, 2014 - Africa, Experience, General, Safari, Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lifestyle Event in Singapore

Art and design form an essential part of the experience at Singita, as each lodge elegantly combines the practicalities of life in the bush with a rich palette of African-inspired colours, shapes and textures. This understated “safari chic” aesthetic was recently celebrated at an event in Singapore where likeminded creatives in the world of art, fashion, design and gastronomy came together to share in their appreciation for good style.

Singita Lifestyle Event in Singapore

The venue was transformed into a tented safari camp and pop-up boutique, showcasing international tradespeople, art, contemporary lifestyle products and fashion. Stimulating installations and collectible artworks were displayed alongside wearable art and handmade furnishings, creating a treasure trove of African craftsmanship in the middle of a bustling Asian metropolis.

Singita Lifestyle Event in Singapore

A portion of the sale proceeds in-store and online directly benefited local community and conservation programs, including Singita’s own anti-poaching canine unit operating in the Sabi Sand Reserve. In addition, Singita and Asia to Africa Safaris co-sponsored a fantastic two-night stay for two at Singita Lebombo Lodge which was raffled off at the opening gala.

Singita Lifestyle Event in Singapore

The boutiques and galleries at Singita’s lodges allow guests the opportunity to take home a memento that not only reminds them of their safari adventure with us, but adds a unique and stylish touch of Africa to their homes. A range of collectable sculptures, home-ware and furnishings will allow you to recreate ‘the safari dream’ within your own home. Find out more on the blog.

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Field Guide Favourites: Best of 2013

January 28, 2014 - Africa, Conservation, Environment, Experience, Safari, Wildlife

The African continent is captivating for many reasons; exotic landscapes, diverse cultures and astounding natural beauty among them. A rich and varied wildlife population is no doubt the highlight for many visitors to Africa, with many unique and mysterious species inhabiting our jungles and grasslands. It is critical that the bio-diversity of this land is protected and conserved, which is why Singita’s core vision is to preserve large tracts of wilderness in Africa for future generations with hands-on conservation teams on each property.

The experienced and highly-skilled Singita field guides play a critical role in this process by educating guests about the importance of conservation and instilling in them a deep sense of appreciation for our natural environment. Their beautiful photos from twice-daily game drives have become an extremely popular feature of the social media accounts and are an inspiration to all members of the Singita family. Here, they have selected their favourites from 2013 for you to enjoy:

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

bestof2013new_11

Catch up on our monthly Wildlife Reports and like our Facebook page for first-hand ranger reports straight from the bushveld.

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