Just back from Singita Explore, Mark Witney, Chief Operating Officer at Singita, shares his musings about a night under canvas and the vast African sky.

If you have never spent a night in the African bush with nothing between you and the vast African night sky but a canvas tent, you have to put it on your ‘bucket list’!

Anthropologists are pretty certain that man originated in Africa and I have to believe that this accounts for the spiritual experience often described by first-time visitors to this continent. Africa is etched deeply in the DNA of all of mankind. The best way to experience this is to immerse yourself in the sights, smells, sounds and feel of the night, and what better way to do this than to lie in a comfy bed in a beautiful tent with a gentle breeze blowing.

An evening at Singita Explore starts with a gathering around the fire. Cocktails and campfire talk as you watch the fire throw sparks up into the dark sky, and above you a view of the Milky Way as you have never seen it before. Because there is no surrounding light pollution, each star in this huge galaxy is clearly visible. Satellites drift across the evening sky, distant reminders of the technological world that seems so irrelevant when you contemplate the universe. Nearly 14 billion years old and expanding at hundreds of kilometres per second, around a billion galaxies in the universe and approximately a billion stars per galaxy – the numbers are beyond comprehension. Our sun is just one of those billion x billion stars and our earth is just a tiny speck revolving around that tiny sun. How irrelevant we are and how full we are of our own self-importance!

Nearby a fiery necked nightjar calls its plaintive prayer ‘good Lord – deliver us’.  Far away a hyena whoops to announce that her night patrol has begun.

“Dinner’s ready” shakes you out of your reverie and to the table set just beyond the campfire. Hurricane lamps create a warm glow as you sit down to a simple but beautifully prepared meal. Potato and leek soup with bread freshly baked on the fire, grilled game meat with locally grown, organic vegetables and a good old fashioned malva pudding with cream for dessert.

Coffee is served around the fire and as the embers fade so too does the conversation.

Back to your tent and, in the silence of the camp as you snuggle between the sheets, you become aware of the fact that many of the nocturnal creatures are just beginning their ‘day’.  A spotted eagle owl hoots while the nightjars continue their repetitive call to the Lord. A lone hyena, closer now, whoops gently and sadly and in the distance you can just make out the roar of a territorial male lion announcing his dominance.

As you drift off to sleep you briefly contemplate how strangely familiar it all feels and yet how far away you are from the life you lead. You are hooked – and you’ll be back!

Take a minute to dream about a tented experience at Singita – watch our new video…. Singita Explore…Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania.


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