The Singita Blog

Al Fresco Dining: Banana and Date Loaf

August 22, 2013 - Cuisine, Experience, Singita Grumeti, Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Dining Al Fresco at Singita Grumeti | Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Serengeti is a vast and precious wilderness, spanning 12 000 square miles of seemingly endless grassland. The Great Migration makes its way across these plains, passing through Singita Grumeti, a private wildlife reserve established to protect the indigenous biodiversity of this important ecosystem.

Dining Al Fresco at Singita Grumeti | Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Singita Sabora Tented Camp is one of five Singita properties in the reserve and is designed as a nostalgic, 1920s-style explorer’s camp. The accommodation is full of character, offering a surprisingly luxurious and enchanting safari in the rugged terrain of the surrounding savannah. The elegant simplicity and laid-back romance of the camp is apparent in every moment of our guest’s experience, including meal times which often take place in the open.

Dining Al Fresco at Singita Grumeti | Singita Sabora Tented Camp

It’s difficult to describe the feeling of being seated at a dining table in the shade of an acacia tree in the middle of the Serengeti. The whir of nearby grasshoppers vibrates in the air as the sun rises through the African sky, and you’re handed a cooling glass of homemade iced tea while a herd of zebra casually graze in the distance. Executive Chef, Frank Louw, and his team help to make such moments at Singita Grumeti possible and here he shares a popular recipe for banana and date loaf.

Dining Al Fresco at Singita Grumeti | Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Dining Al Fresco at Singita Grumeti | Singita Sabora Tented Camp

BANANA AND DATE LOAF RECIPE

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g pitted dates, chopped (substitute with dark chocolate if you like)
1/2 cup (115g) caster sugar
1 cup (250ml) milk
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large, or three small)
80g cinnamon sugar (optional)
Butter, to serve (optional)

Method – what to do:
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 24 x 13.5cm loaf pan with non-stick baking paper.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and nutmeg into a large bowl.
Stir through the dates and sugar.
Combine the milk, eggs and banana in a separate bowl.
Fold into the date mixture until well combined and pour into the loaf pan.
Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
Cool for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Slice and serve with butter if desired.

Check back soon for more snapshots of al fresco dining at Singita’s lodges and camps. If you need to adjust the metric measurements, here’s a handy online volume converter.

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Highlights from our Wildlife Reports

August 20, 2013 - Africa, Experience, Kruger National Park, Lamai, Sabi Sand, Singita Pamushana Lodge, Wildlife

Every month, field guides from the five regions in which Singita has lodges and camps, send us first-hand reports from the bushveld. These delightful wildlife journals describe the recent animal activities, unusual game-spotting, local birdlife  and seasonal shifts in the landscape, accompanied by spectacular photographs. Here is a selection of snaps from some recent diaries for you to enjoy:

Singita Kruger National Park

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Over the last month we had a total of 29 leopard sightings, but what was impressive was not the number of sightings, but rather the quality of sightings that we experienced. One sighting that stands out in particular of the Sticky Thorn female and her two cubs was when they were feeding off an African rock python that she had caught and hoisted into a large leadwood tree. It made for outstanding viewing!

Report by Nick du Plessis. Photos by Nick du Plessis and Ross Couper.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report July 2013

Singita Sabi Sand

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After months of huge anticipation and many attempts at getting a glimpse at these young cubs, the day finally arrived, and boy did I soak in all the goodness! To see eight little bundles of lion fluff bounding towards your vehicle across the white beach-like sand of the aptly named Sand River is an absolute dream come true. These lion cubs remained well hidden within the thickets along the banks of the river for many weeks, a useful method of protecting them, especially in the absence of their mothers. We would get a glimpse of a cub every now and then, but to see all of them right there in the open was incredible.

Report and photos by Marlon du Toit.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report July 2013

Singita Pamushana

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We were watching a small bachelor group of elephants when we noticed one of the bulls had a most impressive set of tusks. He was not a big elephant but his ivory was magnificent. He seemed to know that he needed to be cautious and made a hopeless and very funny attempt to hide behind a bush. As we were watching him a large shadow loomed to our right. A much larger bull with small tusks came to act as a buffer and make sure we meant no harm to him or his ‘brother’.

Report and photos by Jenny Hishin.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report July 2013

Singita Grumeti

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The arrival of The Great Migration on the 1st of June kicked off what would prove to be a very exciting month for viewing wildlife at Singita Grumeti. On the first day, thousands of wildebeest began arriving from the southeast, making their way north and west. They surrounded Faru Faru Lodge and the Nyati plains, and after about ten days were spread across nearly all of Singita Grumeti, from Faru Faru Lodge in the east, to the central Sasakwa plains below Sasakwa Lodge, and all the way west past Sabora Tented Camp. They milled about grazing for about four or five days and then they began to move, forming never ending lines heading back east again and then north through Ikorongo.

Report and photos by Ryan Schmitt and Lizzie Hamrick. This photo by Saitoti Ole Kuwai.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report June 2013

Singita Lamai

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The rains have held off this month, giving the area a chance to dry up a bit and colours to change. This, combined with a hot easterly wind, has turned the palette from all shades of green to burnt amber, ochre and dark browns with just a pale under-shading of green to remind us of what was, and what is, to come. The plains east of us have been exceptionally productive over the month, with regular sightings of elephants, buffalos, rhinos, lions and plains game. Hyenas pass the heat of the day lying in the little pools of water in the now almost dry drainage lines, and cheetahs stalk the plains on their long legs, cubs in tow, as they search for something to chase down and eat.

Report and photos by Lee Bennett.
See more wildlife reports from Singita Lamai.

Visit the Wildlife Reports section on our website to catch up on more recent reports, and keep in touch with us by subscribing to our newsletter using the box on the right.

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Guest Photos from 2013: Tony Goldman

August 07, 2013 - Africa, Experience, Singita Boulders Lodge, Wildlife

Earlier this year we shared some beautiful guest photos from international travellers who visited Singita last year. Jeff Thompson (Atlanta, Georgia), Mary Robbins (Lynn, Massachusetts) and Stephen Saugestad (Vancouver, Canada) all shared their spectacular photographs with our readers and offered an inside look at their unique safari experience with Singita.

Continuing on that theme, we have kindly been sent some lovely photographs from Tony Goldman from Tampa, Florida, who visited Singita Boulders Lodge with his wife in February. We were especially impressed with his beautiful shots of the local birdlife and here are the highlights. 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.

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© All photographs copyright Anthony Goldman 2013

Follow our monthly Wildlife Reports from our lodges and camps in Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe for more amazing animal photographs.

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The People of Singita: Michael Matera

August 01, 2013 - Cuisine, Experience, Singita Grumeti, Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Michael Matera, sous chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Michael Matera, sous chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

You would be correct in assuming that some of the most memorable experiences for guests visiting Singita involve exhilarating wildlife sightings on early morning game drives, the spectacular local cuisine put together by our talented kitchen teams and the breathtaking landscapes in which our lodges and camps are situated. While this is certainly true, what guests remark on most often is the warm and attentive manner of our friendly staff members. The people of Singita are its most valuable asset, as they quietly go about ensuring that each of our visitors experience the most sophisticated luxury safari experience on earth.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of some of Singita’s most interesting characters, from field guides and trackers to lodge managers and chefs, many of whom have overcome enormous personal challenges along the way. First up is Michael Matera, who is now a chef at Singita Grumeti:

Michael Matera and Frank Louw

Michael Matera and Frank Louw

How did you get started at Singita?
As the oldest son, it was always very important to have a career in order to support the rest of the family. I was working at VIP Safari Club when I applied for work at Singita Sabora Tented Camp, where I was accepted as a grounds attendant. Every day I would clean the pool, look after the camp grounds, fill kerosene lanterns and fulfil any other small duties the manager would give me.

The chef there at the time was called Andy Clay, he noticed my hard work and determination and soon I started helping in the kitchen. Initially I was responsible for cooking the staff meals, as I could not speak English and had limited cooking skills. Andy noticed that I would always work in the kitchen after hours and was very keen to learn, so he very kindly sent me to English classes in Arusha. I gave the short two-week course my all, and on my return was told that I could start working in the main guest kitchen. I was so happy and that is how my cheffing career began.

Michael Matera tending the kitchen garden

Michael Matera tending the kitchen garden

What inspired you to be a chef?
I was intrigued with all the interesting produce that use to come into the kitchen. I had never seen things like lobster, prawns and other exotic seafood before and I found their shapes, smells and flavours fascinating. That is what inspired me to learn more.

What would be the highlight of your career so far?
Definitely being awarded the title of Tanzanian Chef of the Year last year. Nothing can replace that feeling!

Michael Matera tending the kitchen garden

Who is your favourite chef and why?
Gordon Ramsay. He is a very strict chef so when you see him on the TV you know you should always be careful in the kitchen.

What country would you love to travel to for cooking inspiration?
Italy! I love pasta and pizza and all the other Italian food.

The cuisine at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

The cuisine at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

What is your favourite ingredient to cook with?
Coriander, you either love it or hate it. I LOVE it.

What do you love about Singita?
I love Singita for so many different reasons but I think I love it the most because it made me the person I am today. The training, teaching, opportunities, development and love for the staff is hard to find in any other company.

Michael currently works as Senior Sous Chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge under Executive Chef, Frank Louw. Frank says: “It’s amazing how you can learn so much from someone you are supposed to be mentor to. Michael has the wonderful talent of making every task seem effortless while still achieving extraordinary results. His calm demeanor and ability to listen has taught me a side of humanity that every person should embrace and carry with them. He has proven to not only be a phenomenal chef, student, teacher and friend but an inspiration to so many other young Tanzanians wanting to make a change in their lives.”

Catch up on all food-related posts by reading through the Cuisine category on the blog, including some delicious locally-inspired recipes!

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Unexpected Visitors at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

July 26, 2013 - Accommodation, Africa, Experience, Singita Grumeti, Wildlife

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

One of the wonderful benefits of being in the path of the annual migration through the Serengeti is getting to observe this natural phenomenon at close range. This was especially true for our guests at Singita Sabora Tented Camp in Singita Grumeti a few weeks ago, when the herds of zebra and wildebeest joined them for lunch! These unexpected visitors were photographed by lodge manager, Wilson Owino, grazing quietly on the doorstep of the intimate, 1920s-style explorer’s camp. These beautiful shots illustrate the truly immersive safari experience at Singita, with the added thrill of knowing there isn’t much separating the comfort inside from the elements and wildlife outside.

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

We’ve been covering this year’s migration in a series of blog posts (read part one, part two and part three) and also tracking the animals’ movements in our monthly Wildlife Reports.

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Unique Safaris: See the Serengeti on Horseback

July 16, 2013 - Africa, Experience, Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp, Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Singita Grumeti, Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Wildlife

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

For equestrian enthusiasts, there must be no more thrilling adventure than experiencing the great wildebeest migration on horseback. With this year’s event now in full swing, the stables at Singita Sasakwa Lodge have been extremely busy preparing our horses for daily outrides with guests to witness the influx of animals. These rides are completely tailored to guests’ needs and skill level, usually lasting several hours. In addition to the herds of plains game, it is not uncommon to spot giraffe, eland, buffalo, zebra and elephant on these rides.

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

For the more experienced riders, our tailored Equestrian Safaris combine long rides exploring remote areas of Grumeti Reserves with wonderfully relaxing afternoons. The exclusivity of the concession means that your experience is sure to be unique and private; just you, your magnificent horse, expert guide and the enchanting Serengeti all around you.

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

Moving on horseback allows you to penetrate herds of zebra and giraffe, travelling among them as if part of the group. Combine Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp with a stay at one of our permanent lodges, Sasakwa or Faru Faru, to gain the ultimate Serengeti horseback experience. Singita Explore is the perfect base for days of remote exploration and a truly immersive bush adventure, while the luxury of Sasakwa and Faru Faru offer the heights of style and relaxation.

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

The pace is moderate with the opportunity for faster paced canters in places, and a choice of English, Western or South African trail saddles. The magnificent herd, mainly comprising Thoroughbreds and Boerperds from South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, have been carefully selected for their temperament and range between 15.1 and 16.3 hands in height.

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

The equestrian manager and guide will be happy to discuss any further horse riding related details; please e-mail enquires@singita.com or visit our website for more.

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The Great Migration Diaries 2013: Part Three

July 11, 2013 - Experience, Lamai, Safari, Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Wildlife

The Great Migration at Singita Lamai

If you’ve been following the blog for the past few weeks, you will have seen that we’ve been tracking the progress of this year’s wildebeest migration. Singita’s lodges in Tanzania are perfectly situated in the path of this epic annual event where over one million wildebeest and other plains game travel over 200 miles of grasslands, following the rains in search of better grazing.

The Great Migration at Singita Lamai

The Great Migration at Singita Lamai

Having passed by Singita Faru Faru Lodge in early June, and then moving through the Serengeti to surround Singita Sabora Tented Camp and Singita Sasakwa Lodge, the herds have now reached Singita Lamai. As you will see from these amazing photographs, which were taken earlier this week, huge numbers of wildebeest have started gathering across the river from Singita Mara River Tented Camp.

The Great Migration at Singita Lamai

The Great Migration at Singita Lamai

They began by crossing the river in small groups, but soon larger herds began to traverse the water, all the while threatened by waiting crocodiles. Greater numbers are expected to cross over the coming weeks, eventually crossing back over multiple times, possibly even into September. The annual migration will draw to a close at the end of the year, until only a few stragglers remain.

The Great Migration at Singita Lamai

The Great Migration at Singita Lamai

The Great Migration at Singita Lamai

Read Part One and Part Two of this year’s Great Migration Diaries, and find out more about Singita Lamai.

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Special Species at Singita

July 09, 2013 - Africa, Conservation, Experience, Singita Pamushana Lodge, Wildlife

Field guide James Suter has spent a year travelling between Singita’s lodges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania and reporting on the wildlife population of each reserve. He recently visited Singita Pamushana Lodge and discovered some unusual local inhabitants.

James Suter at Singita Pamushana Lodge
The diversity of wildlife to be found at Singita Pamushana Lodge is unmatched in Southern Africa. It is home not only to the well-known “Big Five” but also  the “Little Six,” a group of small antelope which includes klipspringer, suni, grey duiker, steenbokgrysbok and oribi. The Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve also provides a sanctuary for three very uncommon antelope: the sable, roan and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. These shy animals are rarely seen and this area provides a fantastic opportunity to spot them.

Little Six at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Sable antelope live in savanna woodlands and inhabit grassland areas during the dry season. Their remarkable, scimitar-shaped horns, while beautiful, have unfortunately led to a sharp decline in the species as they are hunted for this highly prized trophy. They are unmistakable and luckily for us, sightings are relatively common in the concession. We were even lucky enough to see a large breeding herd of fifteen recently, as they made their way through the Mopane forests.

Little Six at Singita Pamushana Lodge

The roan antelope, named for their reddish-brown colouring, are similar in appearance to the sable and are one of the largest species of antelope found in Africa, exceeded in size only by the African buffalo and eland. There has also been a substantial reduction in both numbers and range of these animals, largely as a result of illegal poaching and the destruction of their natural habitat. Roan antelope are also heavily reliant on tall grasses and are vulnerable to lack of rainfall, making extended dry seasons and drought a serious threat to their survival.

Little Six at Singita Pamushana Lodge

The Lichtenstein’s hartebeest is the rarest mammal in Zimbabwe. They can run up to 60 km per hour and the males are highly territorial. The herd is generally led by an adult male, who often takes up watch on a patch of elevated ground, usually in the form of a termite mound. This male defends a territory of about 2.5 square kilometers year-round and during the rut, a male with a territory will try to round up as many females as possible. At this time, fights between rival males are common, and can last for extended periods of time.

Little Six at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Little Six at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Visit our website to find out more about the conservation programmes at Singita Pamushana Lodge and don’t forget to read our monthly Wildlife Reports from the region. 

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Travel + Leisure World’s Best Hotels 2013

July 04, 2013 - Awards, Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand, Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Ebony Lodge, Singita Lebombo Lodge

Travel + Leisure World's Best Hotel Awards 2013

Singita has a proud history with the annual Travel + Leisure Magazine World’s Best Hotels Awards, consistently placing multiple lodges in the top ten, thanks to the votes from their discerning readers. We are thrilled to announce that this year is no different! For T+L’s 18th poll, Singita Kruger National Park was awarded third place, with its sister property, Singita Sabi Sand coming in at number ten.

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita’s concession in the Kruger National Park features two beautiful lodges with treetop suites and riverside rooms. Our mission in this area is to create and maintain a balance between conservation, community development, and ecotourism. Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge have been built with this ideal in mind and both integrate the ‘touch the earth lightly’ philosophy into every aspect of their daily operations.

Singita Sweni Lodge

Singita Sweni Lodge

Singita Sweni Lodge

Glass-walled Lebombo overlooks the plains and the Lebombo Mountain Range, while Sweni is nestled among trees along the Sweni River. Join the twice-daily game drives and request a guided walk for a good chance of sighting lions, zebras, giraffes and impalas.

Singita Ebony Lodge

Singita Ebony Lodge

Spanning more than 45 000 acres, Singita Sabi Sand is renowned for high concentrations of big game and frequent leopard sightings. As the first jewel in Singita’s crown, Singita Ebony Lodge stands steadfast amongst enormous trees on the banks of the Sand River. A blend of European heritage and African boldness welcomes visitors with the down-to-earth warmth of a much-loved family home. Spacious interiors are styled with a varied mix of rich colours, and inviting textures and layers, making Singita Ebony Lodge an idyllic retreat.

Singita Boulders Lodge

Singita Boulders Lodge

Nearby Singita Boulders Lodge is a celebration of the tranquility, space, and light which flows throughout this incredibly vast area. Inspired by the geometry of the boulders on which it rests, the lodge is an inviting oasis where organic interiors integrate seamlessly with the raw African beauty outside. Singita Boulders Lodge is perfectly at home in its pristine setting and whether through walls of glass or open-air areas, the surrounding landscape and animals can be seen and enjoyed from every angle, making for a truly immersive safari experience.

Please visit the Press section of our website for more detail on recent awards.

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The Great Migration Diaries 2013: Part Two

July 01, 2013 - Africa, Conservation, Environment, Experience, Safari, Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Singita Grumeti, Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Wildlife

As you will have read in Part One of this year’s Migration Diaries, the epic journey of over a million animals began in earnest a few weeks ago. The nomadic wildebeest began arriving right on time at the beginning of June and soon covered the savannah surrounding Singita’s lodges and camps in Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania.

The Great Migration at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration at Singita Grumeti

They were expected to move on relatively quickly (not surprising, considering they have 1200 miles to cover!) and landed up spending only a week on the plains, in full view of our lucky guests staying at Singita Faru Faru Lodge in the east, and all the way to Singita Sabora Tented Camp in the west.

The Great Migration at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration at Singita Grumeti

After seven days, having had their fill of the lush grasslands, they began to move and the view from Singita Sasakwa Lodge changed overnight. Where, just the previous day there had been thousands of wildebeest scattered across the plains, we awoke to the sight of long, organised lines of animals marching due east. This lasted four days and by the 20th of June, only a few small groups of stragglers were left. The bulk of the herds had successfully traveled to the the Ikorongo region and were making their way back into the Serengeti National Park, towards Singita Mara River Tented Camp in the remote Lamai triangle.

The Great Migration at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration at Singita Grumeti

If they follow their projected route, the wildebeest could arrive at the camp in the next few weeks, readying themselves anxiously for the crossing of the crocodile-filled Mara River. The unique location of Singita’s newest camp provides spectacular opportunities to view these crossings and we look forward to reporting again for you from this next leg of the wildebeests’ annual journey.

The Great Migration at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration is an annual event in the Serengeti in which 1.5 million wildebeest (and 200 000 zebra) travel from the Ngorongoro region of Tanzania up to Kenya’s Maasai Mara game reserve and beyond, following the rains in search of better grazing. This natural phenomenon passes right through Singita Grumeti and Singita Lamai, making our lodges the ideal vantage point from which to observe this epic journey.

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