Tag Archives: luxury safari in Zimbabwe

The Hyena Clans of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

December 27, 2012 - Environment,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

Hyena

One of the most interesting observations I made while visiting Singita Pamushana Lodge was the incredibly high population of hyena that inhabit the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. We spotted these unusual-looking and highly entertaining characters on nearly every excursion. Game numbers are high in this area, providing an abundant source of food, while the lion prides that compete for similar prey are small and widely dispersed.

Hyena feeding on wildebeest carcass

The spotted hyena is one of the most gregarious of all carnivores and their clans function within a strict dominance hierarchy essential to the success of their society. I am fascinated by hyenas and enjoy observing them so I was determined to find a den site and spend time with these intriguing creatures. Their social life is centred on a communal den, with some clans using the same one for years, while others may use several different sites throughout the year.

Hyena

An opportunity arose when we located a large clan that had recently killed a young wildebeest. They had separated the individual from the herd and used their strength and cooperation to overpower the animal. Once they began to feed we could clearly see the strict hierarchy structure being enforced, with even the lowest ranking female being more dominant than the highest ranking male. It was captivating to watch the low ranking males giggling in submission, accepting their lower status and biding their time, waiting patiently for the females and higher ranking males to finish feeding.

We spent the morning watching the clan feast as the heat set in and the carcass slowly got picked clean. The clan then led us to their den site where we were given a rare and intimate opportunity to enjoy their company for the rest of the day.

Hyena sunset

Follow the adventures of field guide James Suter as he explores the wilderness surrounding Singita Pamushana Lodge and its fascinating inhabitants.

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Sibling Rivalry: A Tense Moment

December 24, 2012 - Environment,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

Field guide James Suter

Early one morning we set out to locate a female cheetah and her young cubs, who had been spotted hunting the previous afternoon. Cheetah territories are often located in areas where there is a rich supply of game, such as the open areas south of Singita Pamushana Lodge where game congregates around the Banyini Pan, a constant supply of water.

Field guide James Suter

Female cheetah

Traveling towards the pan, we soon discovered her resting near a large acacia accompanied by her two cubs. We sat there quietly, savouring the moment, and watching these beautiful animals who were totally at ease with the presence of the vehicle.

A tense moment

Then I noticed something in the distance – the vague shape of two figures, much larger than the female and approaching at great speed. I held my breath as the two large male cheetahs pounced on both of the youngsters who immediately assumed a submissive posture and were yelping in fear. It was a tense moment after what had been such a peaceful sighting, and had now turned into a life or death situation for the cubs.

Cheetah fighting

Cheetah fighting

The female desperately tried to protect her cubs; she was extremely distressed and afraid. Fierce fights like this one between adult cheetahs, usually in the defence of territories, can result in serious injury or death.

As quickly as the commotion had started however, the males appeared to both lose interest and calmly joined the female and her cubs in the shade of the acacia. It was a somewhat bizarre sight – we were now sitting with five cheetahs who had been fighting tooth and claw not moments before, but now seemed comfortable and familiar with one another.

Cheetah fighting

Nature is often full of surprises and after speaking to one of the local guides, we managed to piece it all together. The two males were from the female’s previous litter and whom she had left as usual at the age of eighteen months. These two brothers had subsequently formed a coalition, surviving as a team and appeared to be in very good shape. The reunion with their mother, while tense at first, became a touching family portrait as they sought refuge from the heat together with their younger siblings.

Field guide James Suter is exploring the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve that surrounds Singita Pamushana Lodge. Check back next week to learn about the local hyena population, accompanied by more of James’ stunning photography.

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Singita Pamushana Lodge: An African Gem

December 20, 2012 - Conservation,Environment,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

James Suter

Singita Pamushana Lodge is easily described as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Situated in the heart of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in south-eastern Zimbabwe, it is an oasis of beauty, thriving with both wildlife and a rich archaeological and cultural heritage. It is home to over four hundred species of birds, including fourteen species of eagle and ten different types of owls. The area is dotted with majestic baobabs and cathedral-like mopane forests, as well as impressive rocky outcrops littered with nearly a hundred rock painting sites dating back over two thousand years. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to discover all the wonders of this untouched wilderness area for myself.

Lion at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Rhino at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

The reserve was established back in 1994 in order to conserve forty thousand hectares of land, its environment and its wildlife. A strong focus was placed on safeguarding protected species such as the black and white rhino, the roan antelope, and Zimbabwe’s most rare antelope, the Lichtenstein’s hartebeest.

Cheetah at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Wildlife of Singita Pamushana Lodge

Malilangwe is also where I had my most memorable and unusual cheetah sighting. I saw my first ever pangolin here, a unique species with its shy and nocturnal habits making it almost impossible to observe in the wild. I came face to face with the ill-tempered black rhino and lived to tell the tale. I scaled the massive sandstone outcrops, embracing the scenic treasures and meandered along the Chiredzi River.

Baobab tree at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Wildlife of Singita Pamushana Lodge

I truly soaked up every minute and cherished every unique sighting, and I can’t wait to share all my experiences at Singita Pamushana Lodge with you over the next few weeks.

Find out more about the unique rock art that surrounds the lodge by reading our recent blog article. James Suter will be back next week with the extraordinary tale of an unfortgettable cheetah sighting.

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A Private Retreat

September 17, 2012 - Accommodation,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge

If you’ve been reading our Singita Pamushana Guides’ Diaries over the past few years you’ll be well-acquainted with the insights and descriptive attention to detail provided by Field Guide, Jenny Hishin, who writes the diaries.  Recently we asked Jenny to write a few notes about a special corner of Singita Pamushana – the private villa.  You’ll love having an insider’s view of the various exclusive features of this private retreat.

If a secret had a secret it would be suite 7, the private villa at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe. A handful of the world’s most celebrated (be it in business, royalty or on the silver screen) have chosen this as their holiday destination, and it’s not hard to see why from the second you open the front door.

You step into a sumptuous lounge decorated in a forest of greens – from the beaded chandelier to the designer bamboo chair, but before you can absorb the details the room opens up onto the pool deck and the view seduces you. You’re gazing upon a vast wilderness for as far as the eye can see, and beyond. This is Africa at her wildest, most pristine and naturally beautiful – and it’s the reason this property achieved Global Winner in the Conservation category of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2011. It’s a true conservationist’s paradise.

On this elevated wrap-around deck daybeds beckon, a private pool sparkles turquoise and a Swarovski spotting scope awaits should you want to zoom in on any movement below and observe the wildlife.

The west wing is given over to the master bedroom in a monochromatic theme. The original artworks and design demand attention, yet you are handed a remote control.  Press the button on it and the surround glass panels slide down vertically and disappear into a recess, taking your breath along with them. The open-air bedroom leads to an en-suite bathroom and his and hers’ dressing rooms.

Past a double-sided fireplace is what has to be one of the most extraordinary studies ever built. It too has glass surround panels that drop away, air-conditioning, high-speed wireless internet and US telephones. Elsewhere in the suite you’ll find, discreetly placed, a satellite TV and home entertainment system.

In the central area is a private dining room and a fully equipped kitchen. Personal attention is guaranteed with your own banakeli (waiter) offering discreet service and making sure your every requirement is met.  Whether for a family or intimate group of friends travelling together, meals are prepared to be savoured in the villa at any time throughout the day or night – or dining can take place in the main lodge areas.

The east wing has four double bedrooms with king size beds and en-suite bathrooms. Each one is a feast for the eyes – jewel colours dominate yet impart an atmosphere of sumptuousness and reflection. You’ll also find a guest toilet leading to an outdoor shower which has unsurpassed views.

Everything about a stay in the private villa is governed by exclusivity and tranquillity. Guests can fly in and out on private charter flights and, for the duration of their stay, they’ll have the benefit of a private game viewing vehicle and dedicated guide. With hundreds of kilometres of the most pristine wilderness to explore the only other life you’ll see is wildlife. You could choose to explore this on foot with your guide, or in a more relaxed manner, sundowner in hand, aboard the luxury watercraft on the Malilangwe Dam.

The main lodge itself is also designed with privacy in mind, with many quiet reading nooks and relaxing lounges, dining areas and outdoor decks. There is a separate yoga studio and a fully equipped gym. The spa is tucked away and offers a host of relaxing treatments and massages – and guests are welcome to request these in the villa or out on their private decks.

The private villa is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown that is Singita Pamushana – a most rare and precious jewel – and you’ll be forgiven for falling in love…

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Winter’s Arrival

July 27, 2012 - Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Winter’s arrival was sudden and all too soon, transforming the bush by its Midas touch.  No sooner had we acclimatized to prepare ourselves for the cold, winter seemingly  checked out and left us with sunny days in the mid to late 20s (Celsius).  The Sabi stars have been out in full bloom in and around the lodge, adding a touch of finesse to the dry and dusty surroundings.

Our wildlife continues to dazzle and surprise us – from dusty elephant herds squandering water at a pan to fish eagles manoeuvring through the air as they defend their nests from other birds of prey. Lion and leopard cubs have poked their little faces out from the diminishing grassland to prove to us that there are hidden wonders still out there.

Shelley Mitchley, Lodge Manager – Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe


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