May 2023

Reopening soon – new-look Mara River Tented Camp embraces its sense of place

in Lodges and Camps

Reopening soon – new-look Mara River Tented Camp embraces its sense of place

Singita Mara River Tented Camp has always held a unique place in our portfolio of special, unspoilt wilderness locations. Off the beaten track, and set on a spectacular riverbend in the Lamai Triangle in Tanzania, it’s intrepid safari at its most authentic and memorable.

Due to reopen in June 2023 after an interior redesign, this newly reimagined camp expresses this sense of adventure in every aspect – from the colours and textures woven through the spaces, to the updated and invigorated guest experience. Vibrant and infused with the spirit of adventure at the heart of a tented camp, it places the magnificent setting at the foreground. “When looking at the lodges, we felt we needed to instil a renewed sense of place into Mara,” says Georgina Pennington, Group Head of Creative Direction at Singita.

While the footprint of the camp remains the same, the interior concept has been completely refocused, but preserves the essence of Mara – its intimacy and simplicity. “It’s a small camp set within a vast landscape, and we didn’t ever want it to become something it wasn’t. But in redoing the interiors, we looked to the landscape to convey Mara’s unique character,” says Georgina.

The redesign of Singita Mara River Tented Camp retains its spirit while establishing a deeper connection to the setting

Celebrating local landscape & culture

The surrounding grasses, trees, river and rocks all provided inspiration for both the palette and material selection for Mara’s new incarnation. “The tonal variation, and sense of movement of the plains was integral to the concept and how that evolved.” From the rich browns of the earth – pulled through on a horizontal level throughout the camp to ground you – to the foliage inspired tones of the canvas (a canopy inspired by the prolific sycamore figs, shrubs, and plants), which holds you while gently ushering the outdoors in.

The team also drew on the local Masai tribes’ signature geometric patterns and bold primary colours, which have been woven through as occasional accents in artwork, accessories and lighting. These pops of primary and the foundation of earth tones hang together seamlessly, however. “Even here, the tones and textures are all derived from nature – blood red, deep blue. We made sure not to use anything contrived or artificial feeling in the palette.”

Inspired primarily by the surroundings, Mara's new incarnation seeks to create a seamless extension of the landscape

Local was important in terms of the origin of the design, as well as its inspiration. Given the remote nature of the camp, sourcing locally can be a challenge and while it isn’t feasible with every element of the design, where possible Singita’s design team worked with local suppliers, craftspeople and manufacturers. Celebrated African designers and makers like Sidai Designs, Jade Paton and Pichulik, and local craftspeople from the continent, many of them women, all feature prominently.

Touching on graphic and primary Masai motifs as well as the richness of the setting, the new interiors are dynamic, vibrant and quintessentially African
Custom created for Singita, this magnificent piece by Sidai Designs exemplifies the contemporary and vibrant take on African motifs and colours found at the updated Mara River Tented Camp

A new take on tradition

Another major driver of the redesign was the idea of impermanence and transience, apt for a tented camp and alluding to the notion of a journey. The thread of tent-inspired hardware and furniture throughout – rounded shapes merged with canvas – also has a modular element, and is sometimes mobile, but always streamlined for optimising space and storage.

Playful too, this new interpretation of the much-loved camp is contemporary in form and feeling, adventurous, exciting and youthful. But it maintains the sense of comfort so central to its previous iteration. “We wanted to maintain the spirit of comfort of the previous Mara – how it holds you after a long hot day out on the plains,” says Georgina. Texture was crucial here – introducing softness and layering – as was enhanced lighting.

Connecting indoors with out, and referencing the setting guests spend so much time exploring, the new design balances creative expression with practicality and ease

An enhanced experience

In our ongoing quest to consider every possible aspect of how our guests experience our spaces, we have also reconsidered and refreshed various elements of a stay at Mara to elevate the sense of flow, ease and accessibility. “In doing this, we have made sure guests have everything they need, but that there’s nothing superfluous – everything is intentional, and has a purpose and a place and has been considered from a practical point of view.”

The long days out that are typical at Mara River Tented Camp and a focus on spending time outdoors informed some of the practical changes – from a communal space to leave game-drive gear, to a maximised pool area with loungers and shade cloth to shield against the heat, and alfresco social spaces for easy dining. “We have streamlined the spaces and made them more informal so that they’re easier to use and spend time in,” summarises Georgina.

A playful sense of informality infuses every space at Mara, which is underpinned by the impermanence and sense of adventure that epitomise tented travel

The food and wellness offering too has evolved to embody this sense of ease. An extended deck and bar-deli and breakfast area make casual dining and coming and going at will seamless. Similarly, the updated menus reflect a refined but informal approach with light, refreshed dishes with a new African slant. In the same way the design of the lodge is intentional and purposeful, so is the food. Extended game drives have also prompted on-the-go options like bento boxes, and as always wholeness, health and flavour form the foundation of our food.

Wholeness and wellness through a connection to nature is embedded in all aspects of Mara's new identity, down to the Afri-centric menus

Venture into the wilderness

We are excited to share the dynamic new update of this special place. Contact our travel team to find out more about adding Mara River Tented Camp to your upcoming travel plans here >

Julia Freemantle
By Julia Freemantle

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