Tag Archives: Wildlife

Wildlife – the News in Pictures

August 22, 2011 - Sabi Sand,Wildlife

Again it has been an action-packed month of great game sightings at Singita Sabi Sand.

“To share these wonderful moments with people who have a similar interest in and love of nature is for me the most rewarding aspect of my job. To immerse oneself into a world that holds such majesty and evokes such wonder in an unscripted and unexpected manner is what safari is all about.”  Dylan Brandt – Field Guide, Singita Sabi Sand.

The Singita Sabi Sand Guides’ Diary is compiled by James Crookes, Guide, Singita Sabi Sand.  For more astounding photography and wildlife updates read the full Guides’ Diary on Singita’s website.

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Teeming with Grey Giants

July 12, 2011 - Kruger National Park,Safari,Wildlife

Written by Marlon du Toit, Singita Guide, Singita Kruger National Park

Elephant, Cape buffalo, White Rhino and Hippo are plentiful on the concession. There are two prominent water sources within the concession during the dry season: the Nwanetsi River system and Gudzane Dam.  As the last remaining water holes dry up west of the concession, animals are forced to move east in order to quench their thirst.

Elephants can trek amazing distances in pursuit of water. They prefer to drink at least once a day and will cover up to or more than 12km in a single journey. We have a large resident hippo population. As the water evaporates under the heat and the pressure mounts, some sections of the river can house more than eighty hippos. This is not ideal for them as they are territorial animals that do not like to share, but they have no choice.  Battles between dominant male hippos are a common sight.

To read more of this month’s safari updates from Singita Guides, click here for recently published journal entries.  Also for up-to-date, out-of-this-world photography of the daily happenings at Singita Game Reserves, follow us on Facebook.

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The Wild Side of Singita Explore

May 25, 2011 - Safari,Singita Grumeti,Wildlife

Singita Explore (mobile tented camp set up on the plains of the Singita Grumeti Reserves), through the eyes of James Suter and Marlon du Toit (Safari Brothers), professional guides at Singita Kruger National Park.  A life-changing adventure!

(Photography by James and Marlon)

Game drives in the Grumeti concession differ from those in South Africa, and Marlon and I took some time before we realised this. Every time we head out onto the plains and our guide stops, we immediately grab our binoculars and start scanning the landscape. As we start spotting animals, which one always does every time one looks around, we start calling out the names of the different species.

This is really exciting as not only are a lot of these species new to us but the abundance of life is astounding. We managed to tick off many new species of birds, Aardwolf, and saw lions climbing trees, which we are told is a very common habit of the Butamtam pride.

Once again the wealth of game including massive herds of eland, topi, zebra, giraffe and elephants blew us away. One of the most enjoyable moments for me was getting out of the vehicle and watching the sun set over the Serengeti amongst hundreds of animals.

Keep up with stunning photography on the Singita Facebook page…more to come.

To book Singita Explore, please take a look at our introductory offer available through 15 December 2011.

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Safari Brothers Explore the Unexplored

May 23, 2011 - Accommodation,Experience,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Wildlife

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.


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Getting to know Malilangwe

March 28, 2011 - Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Sustainable Conservation,Wildlife

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, home to Singita Pamushana Lodge, presents a unique sanctuary for wildlife conservation in Africa.  The reserve’s core objective is to provide a naturally functioning ecosystem, where the full spectrum of wild species native to the area are protected, and where these species can live as they have for thousands of years.

Located adjacent to the Gonarezhou National Park in the south-eastern corner of Zimbabwe, Malilangwe occupies an area of 400 km2 of geologically and floristically diverse habitats. In all, 38 distinct plant communities are identified and early government prospectors described the area as ‘very wild broken country.

The rugged but breathtakingly beautiful sandstone hills, with their deep secret ravines and plateaus, likely earned the area this reputation. Weathered grey, sometimes cracked and sometimes smooth, they are adorned with lime, grey and orange lichen. White fig tree roots strangle then split the rock to reveal a myriad of sunset colours. These bewitching hills straddle the property and provide a refuge for mountain acacia and iron wood trees. Under their shade klipspringer and hyraxes hide themselves; wild dogs den and Black Eagles soar.  The hills are studded with fairytale springs and seeps which are favoured watering holes for black rhino, swimming pools for elephants and mud wallows for ‘dagga boys’ – the ill-tempered old buffalo bulls who have left the herd.  Numerous San rock art paintings, dating back to the Late Stone Age (more than 2000 years ago), bear witness to the historic diversity of animals that occupied this area, and whose descendents still roam free.

In the heart of the hills lies the Malilangwe lake, reputed in Zimbabwe for the excellent fishing opportunities it affords. The lake is also home to hippos and crocodiles, and an array of water birds. Few sites could offer a more spectacular fishing spot or sun-downer cruise.

To the south of the hills the soils are dark and rich – derived from basalt rock of the Jurassic period. In this semi-arid savanna, herds of plains species such as impala, zebra and wildebeest graze, and giraffe can be seen browsing Acacia trees. Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and sable also favour this area, but are more elusive. Woven through the mopane and Acacia trees are stream-like depressions that function as ‘vleis’ (open moist grasslands). These provide food for bulk grazers like white rhino and the herds of more than 500 buffalo.

North of the hills is black rhino and wild dog country. This densely wooded area makes game viewing difficult but extremely rewarding. Amongst the Grewia scrub grow giant baobab trees. Hollows in their gnarled branches trap water and their silvery limbs are home to Buffalo Weavers and honey bees. By-gone hunters used climbing pegs to scale the massive stems in search of honey and water. In some trees these climbing pegs are still evident while in others only swirling scars remain.

The Chiredzi River, a perennial source of water, forms the western boundary of Malilangwe. On it’s sandy banks grow tall ebony and sausage trees. They camouflage the rare and mysterious Pel’s Fishing Owl, and in the tangled ‘wait-a-bit’ undergrowth shy nyala feed, bushbuck bark and francolin call. Lions, leopards and hyenas traverse the entire property, and are often heard calling at night.

As a result of a healthy, functioning ecosystem, game has thrived at Malilangwe.  Population growth has soared to such an extent that Malilangwe has been able to restock other wildlife areas in Zimbabwe. Of particular pride are the black and white rhino populations which have grown so well over the past 10 years that Malilangwe is now able to restock other parts of Africa with these remarkable, endangered species.

Article contribution by Sarah Clegg, BSc, MSc – Consulting Ecologist at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve for the past 15 years.

To view the Malilangwe wildlife in their natural habitat, follow Kim Wolhuter’s extraordinary video footage published regularly on Singita’s Facebook page.  Kim is an internationally acclaimed, documentary film-maker residing on the Malilangwe Reserve recording footage for upcoming documentary projects.

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One hundred unique moments

March 07, 2011 - Experience,Lodges and Camps,Singita

A Singita stay is naturally wrapped up in hundreds of unique moments of thrill and awe.  Romance overflows from Africa’s most iconic locations outdone only, perhaps, by the sheer beauty of our exquisite properties and wildlife.

The sun dips slowly behind the distant hills as the Chiredzi River flows gently by….the perfect setting for an intimate evening, deep amongst the mopanes, illuminated only by the soft golden glow of lanterns set amongst the trees.

The local people will tell you fables about the stone walls found in the area around Singita Faru Faru; and they will also share with you the myths and legends of the bush, tales of great warriors and fearless wild animals.

Sabora Tented Camp is renowned for thrilling its guests with surprise venues – and menus – for dinner.  Imagine dining beneath the boughs of a large ‘Sausage’ tree (Kigelia africana) or under a lamp-lit acacia, or around the campfire with star-lit skies.

Venetian mirrors, chandeliers, crackling fires, fresh flowers, beautiful book collections, leather armchairs, collectors’ pieces and candelabra add to the elegance and grandness of Singita Sasakwa Lodge.

Creativity of special moments extends to dinner bomas at Singita Sweni and Lebombo, with the stars as your ceiling and the sounds of the bushveld as the background music.  Scores of lamps and the campfires illuminate the enclosure, setting a warm and unhurried tone bidding you to unwind and dream.

Singita Ebony is a place with time-worn attitudes, welcoming embraces and an indefinable aura of majesty, where serendipitous events unfold before your very eyes.  So much of the magic at Boulders is created by the sincerity of its people, who do their utmost to paint a vivid chapter in your life that you are certain to remember forever.

A solitary lion…a group of elephant…a lone rhinoceros…the menacing laughter from a skulking hyena…or the formidable glance from a stalking lion…there are countless moments that make you realise what drew you to the wilderness – moments that will stay with you forever, no matter how many times you share your stories with others.

For more information about the romantic experiences at Singita’s 9 lodges in 4 iconic destinations and in 3 countries in Africa, read more on our website.

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New Arrivals!

February 28, 2011 - Kruger National Park,Wildlife

Written by Singita Guide, Marlon du Toit – Singita Kruger National Park/ Lebombo and Sweni Lodges

So, as you have all heard, there are some new additions to the Mountain Pride.  A few months ago Glass (Singita Tracker) and I saw a lioness carrying a tiny, week old cub. Ever since then we have been waiting in anticipation for her to introduce the little cubs to the rest of the pride.  The day finally came three days ago when to our surprise we were introduced to, not only two little ones, but to another three cubs!  This now brings the number of the Mountain Pride up to twenty-three lions – incredible!

I spent the evening with the pride last night, and what an amazing experience. The cubs quickly got used to the presence of my vehicle, and I managed to capture some beautiful moments. The night ended on a high when the lionesses managed to kill two zebras.  It happened too quickly to capture on camera, but the experience was unforgettable.

For more photos of these special small additions to the Mountain Pride, take a look at our Facebook page.

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What Makes a Singita Guide Tick?

February 24, 2011 - Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

Written by Leon van Wyk, Assistant Head Guide, Singita Sabi Sand


It would not be difficult to write a whole book on the subject of what makes a guide tick. It is somewhat more challenging to write such an article in précis form, but a guide should always be up for a challenge. Having been a guide for almost two decades, perhaps I am in a good position to share with the reader a little of what it is that keeps me passionate about what I do.

It is always good to wake up a little earlier than really necessary. I’m not one who can leap out of bed twenty minutes before I’m due to meet my guests for a game drive. Setting my alarm for the seemingly indecent hour of 04h00 means that I’m not rushed. I can have an invigorating shower and enjoy the feeling of waking up with the birds. The dawn chorus of birds is something to be enjoyed and appreciated at every opportunity. Having had ample time to wake up and get ready at leisure, I believe a guide is much better prepared for the day, and in a more relaxed frame of mind, than if he/she stole an extra half an hour in bed and had to rush to be on time to meet guests.

As guides, we are all obviously passionate about the environment in which we are privileged to live and the game drive is rightly what we enjoy most about this line of work. Every guide who lasts a long time in this industry needs to also be genuinely passionate about people and sharing knowledge and experiences with his/her guests in such a way that the guide’s passion and enthusiasm is infectious. Not every game drive is an action-packed, adrenalin-charged sequence of events. There is no doubt that many guides and guests want to see predators in action, or get a kick out of seeing the so-called “Big Five” on one game drive. Being a guide who is no longer a novice, I still gain a huge thrill when I see guests enjoying themselves, particularly when they start taking a keen interest in the little things. Guests who were once not very interested in watching birds at all, have become avid birders. I love seeing them appreciate the things that I appreciate, whether it is a massive dead leadwood tree, a relaxed old elephant bull having a slow drink, a bee-eater feeding its mate or a nursery group of twenty baby impalas, all exuding freshness, innocence and curiosity.

The sounds and the smells are all very much part of the experience as well and it is so important to pause frequently to enjoy the sounds of the night, smell the damp grass and earth after a good rain and gaze at stars in sheer wonder at the enormity of it all. Finding fresh leopard tracks in wet sand is still a thrill to any guide and it is not difficult to involve the guests and encourage them to share in the excitement, hope and expectation.

There is just so much to share with guests, and once a guide has bonded with them and starts seeing everything through their eyes, the guide-guest relationship has the potential to become very meaningful indeed. There are often just not enough hours in the day to do everything you would like to do with your super-keen guests. For many, a trip to a game reserve is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and as guides we have the opportunity, the privilege and the responsibility of making it unforgettably special for our guests.

Very few careers can offer the variety that a guide enjoys. Sure, the hours can be long at times, but when you’re having fun, you hardly notice it. There is often an opportunity during the day to pull off the boots and take a half-hour cat nap. There has never yet been an occasion when I have not looked forward with eager anticipation to my next game drive. Of course it is not only the game drives that we look forward to, but the walks too, as they often offer better opportunities to focus on little treasures and allow time to become acquainted with guests a little better. Joining guests for the occasional drink or meal is also a privilege which we guides enjoy and it allows the guests and their guide a great opportunity to chat about the day that they’ve experienced, or the one that they look forward to experiencing, together.

I have hardly scratched the surface, but if I had to cut it even shorter, I would conclude that the most brief answer to the question “What makes a Singita guide tick?” is “A passion for people, a passion for the environment, an insatiable desire to learn and a willingness to share with others what we enjoy”. I sincerely hope that these attributes are still a part of my humble make-up and will continue to be for many more years. Guiding is, without a doubt, one of the most privileged careers.

To read more updates from our Singita Guides, follow the Guides’ Diaries posted every month on our website – exhilerating wildlife accounts that you won’t want to miss.

These photographs of Singita Sabi Sand Reserve were taken by Singita Guide, Leon van Wyk.

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Battle of the Beasts

January 26, 2011 - Wildlife

(Photography by James Suter)

Singita Guide, James Suter, knows the terrain of Singita’s 15 000 hectare, private concession in the Kruger National Park, like the back of his hand.  Not only does James specialise in uncovering the world of the African wild for our Singita guests but he regularly contributes to monthly issues of our Guides’ Diary.

Below is an excerpt from the upcoming December Diary from Singita Kruger National Park – the entire journal is co-written by Marlon du Toit and James Suter.

Battle of the Beasts (by James Suter)

The competition among different species is huge; in this case a lioness with a zebra kill attracted the ever-opportunistic hyena as well as scavengers from above, all three species competing for the same food source. The lioness was accompanied by three young cubs and defended her kill with valour.

I always enjoy the interaction between different species, especially predators. It is a humbling sight watching these beasts fight for survival on a daily basis.

To follow our Guides’ Diaries, they are published monthly on our website – read more.


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Viewing Nature Without Seeing It

January 17, 2011 - Experience,Safari,Wildlife

Written by Alan Yeowart, Singita Guide, Singita Sabi Sand

I think that any reasonable guide understands the value of, and is able to express the emphatic power of utilizing a full spectrum of sensory props to enhance a guest’s safari experience.

Up until yesterday I was of the opinion that, although backed up solidly by the other senses, a wildlife experience was primarily a visual one.

Throughout my career as a field guide I have looked after people with many physical disabilities that have challenged what the “normal” exposure may be, and have had enormous admiration for the individuals and how they overcome these challenges. I have recently been afforded the great pleasure of looking after a blind man on Safari over the period of two days.

Blindness, in my opinion, must be one of the most devastating and debilitating of disabilities, but I learnt that Nature is powerful enough to overcome even this in Her ability to deeply touch individuals. It was a hugely humbling experience indeed!!

I was really quite unsure how I was going to manage the safari experience with a blind person on my vehicle, and how to try and portray wildlife with the same degree of enormity that is so simple visually. But as it transpired, I needn’t have been even remotely concerned, as Nature would divulge Herself in a cacophony of sounds and non-visual prompts that left me bewildered.

We began by crossing the Sand River, an aural experience in itself, as the land rover waded through the crossing and the water cascaded around us and the tyres crunched over the rocky bed. Switching off the vehicle to listen to the soothing current – suddenly a large Nile Monitor Lizard scrambled from a rock where it had been sunning itself, its long, sharp claws grinding against the rock as they sought purchase; its gravelly belly and tail scales rasped across the surface portraying its size and serpentine swiftness. Had I heard this before?

Next we encountered a lone buffalo bull in the reed beds on the opposite side of the river – this I was certain was to be a “sighting” that would be only for the benefit of the sighted as there was little I could do to try and improve it for my blind guest. Just as I was about to start the vehicle (and get the diesel engine running, that was to become such an intrusive noise throughout the experience!!) this great General steered towards the water’s edge and proceeded to wade out into the river and across to the northern bank! Quite audibly depicting his huge bulk as he laboriously heaved himself, splashing and sloshing, across the River.

It was then the turn of the most silent and elusive of all, the leopard. Having undertaken some rather hairy off-road maneuvering, and navigating angles that gave the feeling that the vehicle may roll over at any moment! (Although this was far from the critical levels that can be safely negotiated, it was an experience in itself.) We came upon a sighting of a female leopard with a young impala kill deep within the sprawling branches of a river bushwillow. The visibility for the rest of us was fairly average, but she was feeding on the carcass as we located her. The ripping of flesh and skin and the cracking of bones, coupled with the olfactory element that accompanies sightings such as these, gave more than enough stimuli for the mind to paint a picture.

I was really starting to enjoy this. Already there was a relaxed and absorptive atmosphere amongst all on the vehicle and on we went.

The cards continued to fall perfectly as we came across a young male cheetah lying in fairly long grass. Again it began as a mediocre scene with little potential of improving for any of us, being especially enigmatic and challenging to try and describe this lithe feline who is significantly more famous for its high-speed chases than its vocal repertoire or raucousness. Just then the cheetah stood up and walked straight to a tree a few metres from us and proceeded to reach up the trunk and claw the bark audibly (with the very same partially-sheathed claws that I had described only seconds prior).  This was followed by a flurry of circular sprints in the fallen leaf-litter of the deciduous woodland that it had been lying in, which appeared to be completely for show, and provided another amazing display of aural tangibility.

It was then the turn of my favorites, the elephants; I would surely get some audio from these giants and felt quietly confident as I approached a herd that was just finishing a drink at a large waterpoint. “Elephants!” I announced somewhat unnecessarily as two fabulous bulls jousted one another mere metres away; clattering ivory, slapping trunks and ears, growling and bellowing, pushing and shoving through bushes which tore at their tough hide. Calves squealed in the background, others slurped audibly at the cool water and sprayed trunk-fulls over their bodies in a noisy, drenching shower. Then sand was kicked loose and hovered up with the trunk and blown with great exhalations across their sides.

Trunks wound around thorny acacia branches and slowly and purposefully stripped along the length of the branch to de-nature the lignified thorns, creating an almost “hissing” sound. Clatter again as ivory collided and deep, guttural rumblings that reverberated around us…..

Elephants, they certainly know how to come to the party!!

I disembarked the vehicle with my blind guest so that he could get a better cognizance of this experience away from the relative sanctuary of the land rover.  I too, closed my eyes to try and share in his perception, albeit from a different level. His grip was firm on my arm but not with fear, it was rigid with the power of the experience, formulating images and harnessing the sounds and smells.

Aromatic herbs released their scents as they were trampled beneath the great padded feet, and the dull thuds of dung bolus as they hit the ground emanating rich animal scents, not unpleasant.

We could have stayed all day with this group, sight or no sight it was a very special scene, but the pressures of a short safari determined that we continue to explore further.

A pride of 11 lions had dispossessed a leopard of its kill and now lay lazily at the base of a large Marula Tree whilst the disgruntled leopard wiled away the time high up in the branches above them, offering disapproving looks down to his fat relatives below. Visually this was an extraordinary scene. All the other creatures had performed so well to announce themselves to my blind guest. Rather dreamily I wished that one of the lions would stand up and unleash a mighty roar – the sound so encapsulating and powerful.  But deep down I really expected the lions to fail me, and I was spot on!! There were one or two grunts and a belch as they lazily flopped from one side of a fully-loaded belly to the other. The busy and excited narrative on the vehicle would have to suffice in this instance.

Hippos wheeze-honking; impala snorting in alarm and uttering their nasal bellowing in remembrance of the rut, rhino and herds of buffalo tore at tussocks of grass within touching distance, their heavy scents permeating the air around us. We kicked elephant dung balls and felt the giant circumference of the footprint of a great bull. We felt the length and rigidity of the scented-pod acacia thorns.

Once all was done out in the field it was time to tie up all the loose ends – décor around the lodge! Delicate and informative fingers roamed over the huge ostrich eggs and spiraled kudu horns.  The skulls of giraffe, rhino and hippo; the pitted bone, occluded canines and over-sized incisors. His face was a picture of amazement as he pieced together the final elements of his minds’ image.

Nature had been on show, but as I recollect the many hundreds of game drives I have taken, I cannot recall any being so loaded with non-visual stimuli, or maybe my vision had simply deafened me to it.

Do not underestimate the sounds,  the smells and the textures.


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