The rumble of hooves across the Serengeti isn’t always the result of millions of animals moving across the plains during the annual migration; often it is our guests enjoying an outride from the stables at The Singita Equestrian Centre. The horseback safari at Singita Grumeti is an unrivalled adventure that combines long rides exploring remote areas of more than 350,000 acres of exclusive use concession with wonderfully relaxing afternoons. In this series of diary entries, Equestrian Manager Alison Mundy documents a few days taking guests on a journey of exploration to some of the Reserve’s most remote and romantic sites.
We headed out from Singita Sasakwa Lodge across the wide open plains that were teeming with wildlife after the early rains. Cantering with thousand of wildebeest and zebra was one of the highlights of today’s ride; the thrill of being at one with the herds is almost indescribable. Animals racing all around you, the thundering of thousands of hooves, the barking of the zebras and the “gnuuing” of the wildebeest rang in our ears.
Twenty minutes from camp we heard the ominous growl of an approaching thunder storm as the big, black clouds rolled in over the Serengeti. The clouds burst a short time later and the brief but torrential downpour left us all drenched but thankfully much cooler. A light rain continued though the afternoon and pre-dinner drinks were much enjoyed sitting around the camp fire under umbrellas while retelling the day’s adventures.
What a start to the day! The morning was heralded with a spectacular sunrise behind Bangwezi Hill while we had our breakfast, but it was soon interrupted by the spotting of what appeared to be some cheetah playing on the edge of the camp. Upon closer inspection we saw that it was a mother with her three cubs in the process of stalking a male reedbuck. After that bit of excitement we headed off on the horses to see what other adventures we could find.
Not long after leaving camp we came across a journey of approximately 20 giraffes, some eland and a small herd of zebra. With the wide open plains stretching out all around us we started to canter alongside the giraffe. They were very obliging and started to run alongside the horses for about 500m – what a magical memory to take away of these gentle giants running in slow motion meters away from your horse! Other game spotting throughout the day included a close encounter with a hyena and a herd of over a hundred elephants.
After exploring the Lion Rocks yesterday, we headed off towards Monchuli Hill this morning, mingling with more herds of zebra and giraffe along the way. The terrain today was more varied with open plains leading into areas that looked like large manicured parks dotted with with marula and apple leaf trees, following into acacia woodland and then onto more open plains.
Some mountaineering was required to cross a saddle between two hills while being watched by a troop of baboons. Manyara and Koroya had a couple of races on the open plains to see who was the fastest with Manyara surprising us all with a real burst of speed to beat Koroya by a length! Returning to camp we came across a large herd of curious buffalo who entertained us for some time, coming closer to the horses and then running away. Another delicious lunch accompanied by some hilarious stories and much laughter took up a couple of hours, followed by an afternoon wildlife walk.
Combine Singita Explore for a truly immersive bush adventure with a stay at Singita Sasakwa Lodge or Singita Faru Faru Lodge for the ultimate Serengeti horseback experience. Non-riders in a party are welcome and will be offered game drives plus all the facilities of the lodges. Equestrian safaris are available from 01 June – 31 October. Get in touch with our Reservations team to find out more.
Photographer and Singita Field Guide, Marlon du Toit, is traveling through Tanzania, visiting Singita’s lodges and camps in the area. Most recently, he has been at Singita Faru Faru Lodge where he was fortunate enough to spot a cheetah in action on the plains of the Serengeti:
“We spied this particular male cheetah reclining in the shade of a prominant Dhalbergia tree. He looked very comfortable so we weren’t sure whether we were in for any excitement, but we got far more than we hoped for!
The thought had hardly crossed my mind when he stood up, stretched and started with his afternoon patrol. He seemed focused on marking his territory which came as no surprise considering all the rain we have had here at Singita Grumeti and would have washed away previous scent-postings. He moved south and although he passed a few herds of gazelle, they were quite far away so he paid them little attention.
Then his whole body posture changed. His eyes opened wide and his head lowered. As I looked up towards where his eyes were fixed I spotted a herd of about twenty wildebeest. He wasted no time at all and within seconds his ambling gait turned into full velocity sprint as he opened up the after-burners in pursuit of the now fleeing wildebeest. Cheetah can achieve speeds of over 100km/h and I am pretty sure he was not far off his top speed. In a cloud of dust and flurry of legs he wrestled one sub-adult wildebeest to the ground and within in less than 10 seconds it was all over.
After subduing his prey, he sat up and scoured the surrounding area to see if there were any other larger predators attracted by all the commotion, but the coast was clear and after getting his breath back he began to feed.
What an amazing last day here on assignment at Singita Faru Faru Lodge.”
Singita Faru Faru Lodge is set in Grumeti in northern Tanzania, forming part of the Serengeti Mara ecosystem. Built on a gently sloping hill, the lodge is a mix of contemporary, organic style and the quirky practicality of a traditional botanist’s camp. With such close proximity to the river and plains, guests have the unique opportunity to experience a very close connection with the wilderness.
You can also read Marlon’s previous blog post from Singita Lamai. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more regular updates.
The Great Migration Diaries 2013: Part Two
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.
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.
Moving on horseback allows you to penetrate herds of zebra and giraffe, travelling among them as if part of the group. Combine Singita Explore 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.
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.
The equestrian manager and guide will be happy to discuss any further horse riding related details; please e-mail email@example.com or visit our website for more.
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.
The next time you bite into a decadently chocolate-filled brownie at Singita Faru Faru Lodge, you may be surprised to know that the Pastry Chef in the kitchen who makes these creations, has a very interesting past.
(Peter is standing with the bow.)
Peter Andrew was born in 1979 in Fort Ikoma village on the outskirts of Singita Grumeti Reserves. Peter’s mother died when he was 16 years old; his Dad remarried and thus Peter was forced to leave his home and village to fend for himself. At the time he had no options for employment but poaching. He learnt hunting and tracking skills from a man much older than him, named Matere Muita, a father figure who taught him everything he needed to know about the skills of the hunt. They hunted together on foot day and night to harvest bush meat, tusks from elephants and skins from Colobus monkeys. Peter remembers that they took pride in never being caught – “You were not a skilled poacher if a Wildlife Officer caught you”.
However everything turned a corner in 2003 when Peter learnt that a good-hearted man named Mr. Harris, was offering jobs to poachers in neighbouring villages. This was Peter’s chance to change his life and earn an honest wage without fear of being locked in jail or eaten by lion. So Peter started work at Singita Sasakwa Lodge as a temporary employee helping with construction. He was interested in cooking and in 2004 took the opportunity to become the staff cook at Singita Sabora Tented Camp. He excelled in this position and developed quickly, so much so that in 2005 Peter became a Commis Chef at Singita Sabora and then further moved to Singita Faru Faru in 2011 as a full-time Pastry Chef where he currently works.
Stories like that of Peter Andrew continue to provide encouragement for the investment made by Singita in valuable conservation efforts.
With over 500 000 acres of land under management, Singita offers luxury safari, tourism opportunities whilst pursuing a core vision: the protection of vast wilderness areas that are home to magnificent wildlife populations and sensitive landscapes, for future generations.
Controlling poaching in the area has been a key priority facing Singita Grumeti Reserves since 2002. This illegal industry threatened the dynamics and balance of the eco-system and undermined the potential of the commercial tourism venture, required to ensure the long-term sustainability of the area. With the establishment of an effective anti-poaching unit consisting of 120 game scouts and thanks to the support of the Tanzanian Wildlife Division, Singita Grumeti Reserves has to date been able to achieve an increase of game populations by up to 600% in some species. Now Singita Grumeti employs close to 600 members of staff (a large proportion from local villages) in its effort to conserve the enormous tract of land in its care, and to support special Singita-style service to the guests that visit Singita Grumeti Reserves.
To read more about Singita’s community development and conservation projects in four regions around Africa, please take a look at Singita’s website.
Looking for a different safari experience? If the idea of cantering across the plains of the Serengeti alongside herds of game, appeals to you then a Singita Grumeti Reserves riding safari is definitely just right for you. Enjoy the thrill and adventure of a three day riding safari, led by experienced guides, operating between the grand Singita Sasakwa Lodge and breathtaking Singita Faru Faru Lodge.
Choose from an exceptional herd of 18 well-schooled horses – consisting of South African Boerperds, Thoroughbreds and a variety of cross- breeds – ranging from 15hh to 17hh.
Tack made from top quality leather is included and English, Western or South African trail saddles are available. Riding equipment including breeches, Jodhpur boots, gloves, full and half-length chaps, riding hats and back supports are available for use.
The Singita Equestrian Centre offers a bush adventure with a difference and we’ve even designed this experience to ensure that non-riding partners can join in the adventure. Your partner may not ride but they can still experience the magic of the Serengeti through game drives and exceptional lodge facilities while you’re out on horseback.
Singita Faru Faru is located along the banks of the Grumeti River. In true Singita style the lodge is hardly visible from the road. It is so well disguised that you have no idea what to expect.
The surrounds at Singita Faru Faru Lodge are lush, far more tropical and overgrown than the surrounds at Singita Sasakwa Lodge or Singita Sabora Tented Camp.
Singita Faru Faru Lodge is the most modern of three Singita Grumeti Reserves lodges. Suites are spacious and they seem to breath by themselves, no doubt aided by the large electronic windows that open at the touch of a button (technology in the African bush is so much more impressive than technology in the city).
Singita Faru Faru Lodge décor is fresh and modern and it perfectly suits and amplifies the setting.
The food is sublime, the lodge is tranquil in that close-to-water kind of way, the spa is unbelievable – not because of its size but because of its location and its view – and then there is the feeling, the essence of the experience that is Singita Faru Faru Lodge. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what this essence is but it is the reason that Singita Faru Faru Lodge makes a guest feel like a child being introduced to the magic that is the African bush, for the very first time.
Just under 10 years ago Singita Grumeti Reserves was a gorgeous landscape but it was completely devoid of game. Illegal poaching and uncontrolled legal hunting had resulted in the collapse of the wildlife population.
The goal with establishing the Singita Grumeti Fund was to generate profit for use in two areas: wildlife conservation and community development.
From the onset of this initiative everyone involved understood that any wildlife conversation efforts would not succeed without the support of the surrounding communities. To be in a position to be able to provide this support the community required education and development; in other words Singita Grumeti Reserves needed to give the community an understanding of conservation and help the community to create a sustainable alternative to the hunting/poaching of game.
From the day the Singita Grumeti Fund was established and into the foreseeable future all profits, including profit generated through tourism, have been and will be used solely to support the Fund. This means that every guest who stays at Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Singita Faru Faru Lodge or Singita Sabora Tented Camp supports the Fund initiatives.
In just under a decade the Fund team, Singita Grumeti Reserve guests and others have – through their hard work, dedication and donations – helped restore the vast majority of Singita Grumeti Reserves resident wildlife population. Through additional and extensive education efforts and the creation of alternative employment opportunities – for those residing around the Serengeti ecosystem – the groundwork for sustainable conservation, in Singita Grumeti Reserves (and beyond), has been laid.
If you’ve stayed as a guest at Singita Grumeti Reserves, you can be proud of what your stay has helped us achieve.
For more information about the various Singita Grumeti Fund initiatives please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Singita Grumeti Reserves consists of two exceptional lodges and one unforgettable camp all situated on a 350 000 acre concession. The area covered by Singita Grumeti Reserves is as large as the Masai Mara but, even so, the number of beds has been limited to 76.
The focus here, as with all Singita properties, is to create the best private bush experience for guests. One way that this is achieved is through the coupling of low-density tourism with high-density game.
The two Grumeti Reserves Singita lodges and Singita camp are located along the famous Serengeti and Masai Mara annual migratory passage. To ensure a unique experience each lodge and camp has been thoughtfully positioned in completely different (and therefore unique) terrain.
Singita Sasakwa Lodge is elevated above the plains, Singita Sabora Tented Camp is located on the plains – in the heart of the Singita Grumeti Reserves – and Singita Faru Faru Lodge snakes unobtrusively along the Grumeti River.