Donna Patterson, Chef at the newly opened Singita Serengeti House, takes a break and spends a few days at one of the Singita Explore tented camps, helping out the team. We asked her to share her” insider” insights into the experience…and some of her favourite views.
The game drive expedition through Singita Grumeti in Tanzania, in between and alongside thousands of animals, is tremendous. Cohabitating with these beautiful beasts is something the tents of Singita Explore allow for. Every sense is brought alive, starting with the smell of the animals, and the sound of their calling and their mandibles chewing.
To distinguish between yourselves and the herds, and put into perspective the magnitude of the migration, I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest a balloon ride over the plains. In fact, any elevation above the plains puts it all into perspective! Wherever an Explore tented camp is set up, the camp staff like to find a spot for breakfast that is fit for kings. I am especially fond of the setting on Koria Hill that sets the stage for guests to see a spectacular 360 degree view of the wildebeest around them.
What a story to tell back home… “we’re eating breakfast with the gnus – which make up the majority of the world’s largest annual movement of animals on the planet.”
You can’t get much closer to the migration than camping at Singita Explore!
Tanzania is one incredible place! The vast spaces and dramatic settings absolutely blew our minds. The excitement levels grew as we flew over the Serengeti; we looked out of the small aeroplane and we could see the herds starting to make their way slowly NW towards the Singita Grumeti concession.
Our Singita Explore tented camp was set up in one of the more remote parts of the concession, giving one a feeling of freedom and genesis. On our arrival we were greeted by the notoriously friendly Swahili staff and greeting “Jambo!”. We tried to get our heads around the fact that we were in the middle of the Serengeti, with endless grasslands dotted with the familiar acacia species. Not only were we in this surreal place but also our accommodation was a tent fit for a king.
Although back-to-basics and in true camping-style, the tents are equipped with anything and everything one’s heart could desire; luxurious camp cots, hot showers and comfortable lounging wear and furniture. All is prepared within seconds upon request. The experience is hard to put into words; embraced by absolute luxury, yet at the same time feeling what it might have felt like to be the first people to set foot in Africa – exploring the unexplored.
I will never forget this experience – to feel so close to nature amongst herds of zebra, impala and giraffe; going to sleep with them and waking up with them. This is an experience that is truly life-changing – not just an opportunity to explore this amazing part of Africa but an opportunity to explore one’s self.
Written by James Suter, Guide from Singita Kruger National Park
James Suter and Marlon du Toit (AKA the Safari Brothers) are both professional guides and work in the heart of the Kruger National Park at Singita’s Lebombo and Sweni Lodges. This week they went up to experience Singita Explore in Tanzania and are now documenting the adventure through their eyes; the eyes of the Safari Brothers. Follow the entire adventure on Singita’s Facebook page.
You’ll be in awe of their astounding photography.
Whether sinking into a froth of bubbles surrounded by the elegance of a Sasakwa cottage or slipping into a sunken tub overlooking the riverine forest at Singita Sweni, all of the Singita lodges promise a bathtime ritual that induces one to unwind, enveloped by picture perfect panoramas.
The claw foot tub at Singita Sabora Tented Camp – Tanzania. There are so many layers to this 1920s-inspired explorers’ camp and the view from the tub is one of staggering beauty – savannah grasslands until the eye can see.
The bath tubs at the contemporary Singita Faru Faru Lodge in Tanzania, are positioned to maximize the opportunity to view the game that comes down to the Grumeti River to drink.
A bath soak at Singita Sasakwa Lodge – Tanzania – is an infinitely luxurious affair. At the end of an exciting day of game viewing there is nothing better than to settle into a candle-lit oasis with a breathtaking view of the plains.
Embracing and intimate, Singita Sweni Lodge – South Africa – is truly cosy. Imagine taking time to lie back in an enourmous bath of bubbles or salt crystals, watching the hippos wallowing around in the river beneath the open window.
What is the one thing most visitors to our country want to see in terms of their wildlife experience? You probably guessed it, the Big Five. But what are the Big Five? Is it really that important, and how did this all originate, you are probably asking yourself? Well, its origins stem way back to the days of hunting. They were seen to be the five most dangerous animals to hunt on foot specifically due to the nature of the beast as opposed to the actual physical size of the animal. But in my opinion there is actually so much more to the bush and the safari experience and I often find the smaller creatures much more interesting and thus I wanted to introduce you to the Little Five. “What?”, you may be asking yourself. Yes, the Little Five are unofficially named as such and have no relevance to hunting or danger but rather just a play on words.
1. Red-billed buffalo weaver – A black bird with a red bill and white wing fleck who often builds its nest on the north western side of the tree to benefit from the late afternoon sun, keeping the nest warm.
2. Rhinoceros beetle - A remarkable beetle, similar to the famous dung beetle in basic appearance, however, it has a very distinctive horn on its head. I wonder if this horn is as sought after as a real rhinoceros horn?
3. Ant lion – Also part of the insect world and a far cry from the king of beasts, but this small creature constructs a “v-shaped” trap to catch its prey, probably with better success than its lazy feline counterpart.
4. Leopard tortoise – Nothing quite compares to the real thing in this department. Stealth is a word associated with the spotted cat and somehow doesn’t go for a tortoise. It does however have a blotchy carapace but that’s where the comparison ends.
5. Elephant shrew – This is the one of the Little Five which would probably scare most people more than the original pachyderm itself. It slightly resembles a mouse in appearance. There is nothing more delightful to see in the bush than shrews participating in what is termed “caravanning” where they link head to tail holding on with their long “trunk-like” snout in perfect single file, scurrying through the vegetation.
So next time you are on safari, try and see if you can spot the Little Five. Just keep an eye out to ensure you don’t stumble onto one of the Big Five in the process.
Article written by Mark Broodryk, Singita Guide, Sabi Sand Reserve.
The last week at Singita Kruger National Park has been nothing short of sensational! Not only were we introduced to two leopard cubs – the first in the concession in over two years – but this Saturday we met the latest additions to the Singita family, two beautiful lion cubs.
These are the first of the new lion generation, in Singita Kruger National Park, and over the next few weeks and months we can look forward to being introduced to the remaining cubs.
The significant history and heritage of Singita can be traced back over 80 years.
In 1925 James Fawcett Bailes purchased a tract of pristine, untouched land in an area in South Africa known as the Lowveld. Throughout his life he dreamt of preserving this land and creating a haven for its exceptional wildlife.
85 years on and James Fawcett Bailes’ dream of preservation and protection continues to be realised on a daily basis. This patch of pristine, untouched Lowveld land is what we now call the Sabi Sand Reserve and it remains, to this day, a sanctuary for wildlife.
To view more wildlife photographs – from the Singita Sabi Sand – click here.