Nestled on the northern banks of the world-renowned Mara River in the Lamai triangle in Tanzania, Singita Mara River Tented Camp is the epitome of sustainable tourism. It was was built “off-the-grid”, seeking to eliminate the unnecessary use of energy and non-biodegradable materials, and relies on a custom designed solar power system and the use of only recycled and natural materials.
Singita Lamai, an area celebrated for its annual wildebeest migration crossings, covers 98,000 acres of the northern-most tip of the Serengeti National Park. This area boasts one of the highest year-round concentrations of wildlife in the Serengeti National Park, thanks to its distinctive soil composition. This includes resident plains game, big cats and elephant, in addition to enormous populations of crocodile and hippo in the Mara River.
Today we are thrilled to bring you the latest photos from the area, where Singita Field Guide Marlon du Toit is currently adventuring. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates over the next few days, as Marlon explores Singita’s lodges and camps in Tanzania.
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.
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.
The Great Migration Diaries 2013: Part Two
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.
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.
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.
Read Part One and Part Two of this year’s Great Migration Diaries, and find out more about Singita Lamai.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
It’s always a special time of year for our staff and guests at Singita Grumeti in Tanzania, when the dull rumble of hooves echoes across the savannah as the Great Wildebeest Migration begins. Over the next few weeks, more than one million animals will travel through the area and up through Singita Lamai, home of Singita Mara River Tented Camp. This year’s event is now in full swing, as the bearded creatures began arriving en masse from the southeast on the 1st of June, passing first alongside Singita Faru Faru Lodge.
A few days later, thousands of wildebeest flooded the Nyati plains, with the herds extending southwards into the Serengeti National Park, as far as the eye could see. By Wednesday the 5th, the herds that remained on Nyati plains were growing slowly more and more dense, spreading west and north towards Singita Sabora Tented Camp and the Sasakwa Plains. By Friday evening there was an incessant hum on Sasakwa Hill that originated from the thousands of animals murring on the plains below; a sound similar to that of flowing water.
On the morning of Monday, June 10th, the herds extended throughout Singita Grumeti, surrounding the lodges entirely. As it is also currently rutting season, it has been fascinating to watch the bulls running back and forth to protect their cows and calves from other bulls, while simultaneously having to continue the migration.
Although these herds are completely unpredictable, we expect that they will stay with us at least another two weeks, probably longer! We look forward to watching their antics and sharing more amazing photographs of them with you.
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 1200-mile-long journey.
The memories of a trip to Africa and an unforgettable visit to Singita are some of the most precious that a traveller can experience. And while it can be very difficult to recreate that feeling when a guest is back home, they often have spectacular photos to remind them of the unique landscape and wildlife of our continent. We are always thrilled when these photos are shared with us, along with the wonderful stories behind them.
One such visitor to Singita in September 2012 was Mary Robbins, from Lynn, Massachusetts. She travelled to Tanzania and stayed at Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp, Singita Sasakwa Lodge and Singita Sabora Tented Camp. Although an enthusiastic safari-lover, this was her first trip with us and she was especially keen to see a leopard and was rewarded with an amazing sighting during her time at the lodges, as well as spotting plenty of other big cats.
Looking back, she writes: “What a fabulous time Frances, my driver, and I had! We drove around the Serengeti and saw wonderful things. We watched the animals for hours on end and that is the only way to really come to an understanding of the way the animals are – by watching the way they move and interact with one another and with other species and with their environment. This was a true safari – a journey into another world – rather than a quick drive across the plain to fill up the time and make a tourist happy. Of course we saw all manner of animal and my personal favorites were:
- The time we came upon a pride of lions lounging on a river bank – then one by one we watched them get up, go to the top of a rock, and splash down into the water and walk/swim across the river to the other side.
- Watching three 3-month old cheetah cubs jumble and play around their mama.
- Admiring a fine, big, male leopard in a tree.
- Watching a pride of lions lounge around a tree and then jump up into it. Watching lion prides and little cubs is always wonderful.
Thank you for visiting us Mary, we hope to see you again soon.
You can see other guest photos on our blog from Stephen Saugestad (Canada) and Jeff Thompson (USA). Don’t forget to catch up on our monthly Wildlife Reports too.
I was fortunate enough to have a number of different leopard sightings during my stay at Singita Grumeti. Most of these encounters were brief and had taken place in the lush vegetation along the Grumeti River, where the shy cats are easily able to camouflage themselves.
One morning during our visit, I was delighted to hear that a large male leopard had been located in the south western parts of the concession; just a stone’s throw from Singita Sabora Tented Camp. This region is known for its vast, open plains and I hoped to have a sighting of the handsome cat within such a unique habitat.
As we approached the area where the leopard had last been seen, we were quickly able to identify the characteristic figure of the large cat while he lay resting in an isolated acacia tree. We approached slowly, making sure not to scare the animal away but he seemed more comfortable than most of the leopards in the reserve who offered us just fleeting glimpses of their spotted hide. This healthy male appeared completely relaxed as he sat guarding a warthog that he had killed and dragged up into the tree, away from other opportunistic predators.
I was amazed at the scene of this massive cat perched in a rather small tree in the middle of the Serengeti. After observing him for some time, we noticed a large burrow directly beneath the acacia, which appeared to be active, as indicated by the presence of flies around the entrance. It became clear that this burrow belonged to the unfortunate warthog that was now neatly placed in the upper branches of the tree, a victim of the leopard’s hunting skill and experience.
James Suter is an expert Field Guide and talented photographer who is exploring Singita Grumeti in Tanzania and reporting on the wildlife he finds there. You can read more of James’ journey with Singita through Southern Africa on the blog.
Talented photographer and experienced Field Guide, James Suter, spent the better part of a year exploring Singita’s lodges and camps in Southern Africa. Towards the end of 2012, he visited Singita Grumeti in Tanzania and was lucky enough to experience part of the world-famous animal migration through the Serengeti.
One of the most popular attractions for visitors to East Africa is the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of zebra and over a million wildebeest and other plains game who follow the rains for more than 1800 miles. Witnessing this natural phenomenon as the animals move through the Serengeti is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially since Singita Grumeti offers the perfect vantage point from which to view “The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth”.
From December to March, Northern Tanzania is home to massive herds of wildebeest who give birth to roughly 500 000 calves over a period of just three weeks in a remarkable, synchronised event. The main reason for this is that very young calves are more noticeable to predators when mixed with older calves and therefore make for easier prey.
The month of July is the ideal time to visit Singita Grumeti, as this is roughly when the herds reach their first major obstacle and are forced to navigate across the Grumeti River. The western corridor of the Serengeti National Park – Africa’s No. 1 World Heritage Site - is where the action takes place and is the best place to watch the migration unfold.
We spent some time at Singita Grumeti in September and were blown away by the sheer numbers of game and the large herds of wildebeest. We drove out onto the vast plains and watched while a hundred thousand of the animals advanced slowly towards the game vehicle. The sights, sounds and smells were mesmerising and completely unforgettable.
There are six Singita lodges and camps to visit in Tanzania, including the brand new Singita Serengeti House, an exclusive-use retreat on the slopes of Sasakwa Hill. To learn more about Singita Grumeti and Lamai, read more on our blog or catch up on the monthly wildlife journals from the region.
Spoiling our guests with delicious food has always been a key element of the Singita experience. From gourmet feasts and grassland picnics, to delectable bakes and alfresco breakfasts, we aim to make every meal something to remember. We asked chef Donna Patterson at Singita Grumeti to tell us about one of her favourite tea-time treats to serve at Singita’s lodges, and she kindly shared the simple steps for putting together her world famous Apple Caramel Cake.
This cake recipe is a favourite among all our guests, far and wide. It is baked time and again at all the Singita lodges throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, and is by far the most requested recipe by guests! It’s absolutely delicious and easy to make, as you’ll see:
1 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup cream
2 Tblsp melted butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
For the cake:
Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric beater until it doubles in size. Add the cream and melted butter and continue to mix.
Sift the flour and baking powder onto the surface of the egg mixture and fold through lightly with a metal spoon.
Thinly slice your apple and arrange in a spiral around the top of the cake mixture in your prepared baking tin.
Bake at 160°C until golden brown.
For the glaze:
In a pot boil together, 100g brown sugar, 100g butter and 100ml cream.
Pour this sauce over the top of the cake when it comes out of the oven. Allow to cool in the tin before serving.
Here’s a handy online volume converter you can use to adjust the metric measurements if necessary.
Mtori is a traditional Swahili dish prepared from the unusual combination of green bananas and stewing beef. Guests at Singita Sasakwa Lodge in Tanzania were recently treated to an expert cooking demonstration of this local speciality by chef Donna Patterson.
The tennis pavilion became a stage for what could have turned into a Masterchef class. While the children challenged each other to a game on the court, I carefully shared the recipe with the adults, that had been taught to me by one of the local chefs in our kitchen.
Traditionally the soup is served to Swahili mothers when they are pregnant and breastfeeding as it is a rich source of nutrients for the diet. It has evolved into a dish for the whole family, with the recipe being handed down from generation to generation.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbls vegetable oil
6 green bananas, peeled and chopped
300g stewing beef, cubed (off the bone)
salt and pepper
Fry the onions and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes over a medium heat in a heavy based pot.
Add the cubed beef and stir to brown all sides of the meat.
Add the peeled and chopped green bananas and stir for a further 3 minutes.
Cover the mixture with water, reduce the heat and allow to simmer until the bananas become soft.
Traditionally the soup is mashed together with a wooden spoon and served as is. I tend to remove the meat, shred it and keep it aside and then blend the banana part of the soup in an electric blender.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the meat back to the soup. Enjoy the tastes of Tanzania!