A Point of View
Do not leave your room/office/vehicle/pool,- in fact don’t attempt anything at all, without some binoculars and a camera!
We’re new on the scene in Serengeti and perhaps we will, in time, become blasé about such things but I seriously doubt it.
From a vantage point in this ecosystem, and it would not be idle boasting to say that Lamai puts a very big tick the “room with a view” box. The surrounding landscapes and the skies leave you speechless. How amazing that you have the opportunity to observe countless species interacting on a daily basis.
In the past week we’ve seen lots and lots of Wildebeests, Zebras, Lions, Buffalo, Elephants and even a Long Crested Eagle every day (just to mention a few!) - without even leaving the camp! Fantastic!
Singita Mara River Tented Camp – Mara River Tented Camp
For the month of September, Two Thousand and Thirteen
We can’t stop talking about the migration in this wildlife report, but it’s because the migrants are always here! After strong showings in July and August, the herds of wildebeest continued to impress throughout September.
River crossings were a daily occurrence and there were 35 crossings in the Mara River Tented Camp area, in the 30 days of the month.
What follows is a photo essay of the sights - I think you'll agree the images speak for themselves.
Singita Lamai is home to a high population of cheetahs, relatively speaking for these endangered animals.
The vast grass plains are the perfect habitat for the fastest land mammals, which need large expanses of flat ground to build up their speed.
The most prominent cheetahs we see are a coalition of two males, another coalition of three males, and scattered single females.
The cheetahs of Singita Lamai definitely lead a good life as far as hunting their prey from abundant herds is concerned, as they benefit from the migration during three to four months of the year.
Guide Braya Masunga and guests had front row seats this month as these two brothers successfully brought down a wildebeest.
Cheetahs are much smaller than lions and leopards, so a wildebeest is a big feat. More than one cheetah is usually required to dispatch an adult wildebeest.
We continue to get to know the lions of Mara River Tented Camp and our guides have estimated that there are about two or three prides in the area.
Cubs were also seen often, like the apprehensive ones hiding in the grass in this picture.
Serval south of Chaka Kubwa. Serval close to Black Bridge.
Five wildebeest crossings of +10 000 individuals.
Breeding herd of elephants (50) crossing the river, right in front of the camp. Clan of eight hyenas on the northern side of Mara River.
Two ostriches with 11 chicks, north of the camp.
Lamai’s Little Ones
We have had an exciting week around Lamai Camp where we have met the latest newcomers to our resident Dwarf Mongoose and Rock Hyrax family.
Whilst this Dwarf Mongoose pack has around 15 individuals it is only the dominant male and female mongoose that breed, though the other pack members help feed and care for the offspring.
Four baby Rock Hyraxes were discovered right next to one of the rooms where they are frequently seen playing on a rock formation. The Hyraxes are very entertaining to watch and often give us great amusement with their generally lazy behavior, short bursts of activity and at times peculiar social interactions (as depicted in last weeks blog). Watching these adorable babies play has definitely been a highlight of this week.
Sand Rivers Selous
Let’s face it - if it was easy it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting, and a leopard sighting from the boat at Stiegler’s Gorge is hands down, pant wetting - exciting!
That splash patterning is not only breathtakingly beautiful but it serves as an incredible camouflage just about anywhere (I’m told there are leopards living in Johannesburg – how’s that for adaptable?!).
There is a dappled, morning light coming through the forest canopy that cloaks the steep sided gorge, turning every rock and stump into a possible leopard sighting. It is they who choose whether or not they are seen.
What a privilege that we were on board for this particular sighting and managed to get some snaps of this remarkable cat.
Beho Beho Bushblog – Walter – 17th September
It was a magical month in August, with several leopard sightings, of which I had the opportunity of seeing 3 of them, and then another one within the first week of September, which was seen by Godlisten.
The last leopard sighting for August, we were on our way to the confluence of the Msini and Beho Beho River, to finish the evening off with some sundowners, watching the African sun setting with a gin and tonic in hand is one of those magical experiences. As we were about to reach the crossing, simultaneously Saning’O, Russell and myself said, “Leopard!”, and sprawled across a Tamarind trees horizontal branch, in beautiful late afternoon golden light, was a leopard resting. As relaxed as could be, she casually lifted her head to peer across at us, and then decided a nice change of position was acquired, before resting her weary eyes.
Unlike other parts in Africa where relaxed leopard sightings are a common occurrence, in places like the Selous we have leopard sightings, but usually more glimpses of them as they cross a road or disappear into some brush, however it is special none the less, and almost more magical, because it isn’t something seen all the time.
If we really knew how many leopards we missed, it would be depressing as their skillful camouflage allows them to blend in with their surroundings so well. A typical disruptive pelage made of rosette spots, which break up the contour of its body, making it difficult to see. As our eyes are conditioned to look for familiar outlines, when they are disrupted with stripes or spots, it takes one’s eyes time to readjust and see the animal we are looking at. Similar to looking at those 3D cards, where you need to stare at one point and slowly move it away from you, till you see the image.
This female was very relaxed and allowed for some great viewing, we even went around the corner to pour some much needed sundowners, and returned to still find her resting on the exact same branch. Sipping at our drinks, after some time she decided to slip down the tree and into the brush below, to begin her early evening prowls.
Besides sightings of these spotted cats, we re-sighted the Madagascar or Humblot’s Heron that was seen last season at Lake Tagalala. After disappearing towards the end of last season, we had our first sighting this season again. This for the birding community is a very big discovery as it is the only individual recorded on the African continent, and all sightings have been in the Selous.
This species of heron inhabits Madagascar which is the only place it breeds, but there have been sightings of it in the Comoro Islands and Mayotte. These birds have been described as having tendencies to go on long distance searches for adequate habitat requirements, but there is no evidence of it being a migratory species.
The estimated number of Madagascar Heron is currently at 1,500 individuals, which would mean only 1000 mature individuals, thus making this an endangered species. The major threat is wetland modification and conservation for human use, cultivation of rice systems, and then egg collection and nestling harvesting for food. These birds feed mainly on medium and large fish, and require nesting trees. So a very exciting bird to see.
Camp Zebra, which will be located on a special campsite in the Ndutu area of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area during the months of December 2013, January 2014, February 2014 and March 2014, will be ideally located for your clients who wish to view and enjoy the Great Wildebeest migration.
Buffalo Luxury Camp, which is located in the Ololosokwan area bordering the Serengeti National Park, is ideally located for your clients who wish to enjoy off-road game driving, night game drives, game walks, sundowner cocktails & bush dinners, balloon Safaris and cultural exchanges with the local Maasai people.
Combined, Camp Zebra and Buffalo Luxury Camp will be well placed to provide you and your clients with an extraordinary Safari experience on the Northern Safari circuit!
Intimate Places Tanzania are offering a special deal to all tour operators who book their clients to stay in both Camp Zebra and Buffalo Luxury Camp whilst on Safari during this period.
The package is extremely flexible in that you will be able to chose the actual number of nights which your clients spend in each location.
Furthermore, a free of charge upgrade - from a Chalet Tent to a Suite Tent - is offered at Buffalo Luxury Camp as part of this package, subject of course to availability.
Please contact AAC for details as to the accommodation rates which are offered as part of this special deal.
Congratulations to The Manor - No.1 in Ngorongoro
There is no better place to celebrate with a bottle of champagne than at The Manor at Ngorongoro. And corks are indeed a-popping within this famous and most striking of lodges that nestles seamlessly within the coffee plantations that roll down the slopes of the Ngorongoro crater.
The Manor, long thought of as the pre-eminent choice for luxury lodgings in the Ngorongoro area, has now achieved that same public acknowledgement courtesy of the reviews received by its guests on the global website Trip Advisor.
With an average satisfaction rating exceeding 98%, The Manor has become the No.1 choice for visitors seeking luxury specialty lodgings in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Congratulations to all at The Manor for this wonderful achievement.
Arusha Coffee Lodge’s Chefs Winning Our Hearts
The first ever ‘Chefs Challenge’ in the Northern Circuit was held on the 24th November at the VETA Hotel and Tourism Training Institute. The competition, judged by five industry professionals from within the Tourism sector in Tanzania, was won by Dominic Axweso, a chef at Arusha Coffee Lodge. Second place was taken by two more of Arusha Coffee Lodge’s culinary team, Edwin Martin and Joseph Sule. Another of Arusha Coffee Lodge’s chefs also placed fourth, ending a highly successful and enjoyable event.
The top four placed winners will now go to Dar es Salaam for the finals and we look forward to reporting on yet another successful event for the chefs from Arusha Coffee Lodge.
Kilindi & AfroChic – Stay Longer but Pay Less
Elewana’s jewels of the Indian Ocean, Kilindi Zanzibar and AfroChicDianiBeach, are both celebrating the New Year by extending their ‘Stay Longer - Pay Less’ special offers into 2013.
Kilindi Zanzibar is not only offering special 'Stay Longer, Pay Less Offers' for stays of 10 and 7 days, but now, due to popular demand, extending their short stay offer – ‘Stay 4 nights, Pay for only 3’ until December 15th 2013.
AfroChicDianiBeach is also offering a similar series of special rates including:
‘Stay 4 nights, Pay for 3 only’
‘Stay 8 days, Pay for 6 only’
‘Stay 16, pay for 12 only’
Lamai Serengeti – Serengeti
Heron VS Frog
With the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world, it is easy to overlook the smaller goings on in the Serengeti. Whilst crossing a small bridge over one of the many streams here, we noticed that a Striated Heron was poised for the kill.
It's always good to keep an eye on the smaller things, even stopping and waiting for things to unfold in front of you can be a great alternative to zooming round in the game viewers.
The Lamai Wedge
One of the most beautiful areas in the northern Serengeti is an area called the Lamai Wedge, this area is found in between the Masaai Mara over the Kenyan border and the MaraRiver.
The area has beautiful vast open plains, dotted with Desert date trees, good shade during the day for any predators in the area.
Most of the Wildebeest have crossed the MaraRiver into the Wedge, it is impossible to count the numbers that are currently there.
When much of the grass has been eaten, the Wildebeest will return and cross the Mara once again.
Here they can be seen practicing in a small pool in the Wedge, luckily no crocodiles in there.
A small herd crossed back over this side yesterday, we are expecting more today, the guests staying at Lamai Serengeti will be waiting for them cameras at the ready.
Exciting times in the northern Serengeti, we will keep you updated.
Rubondo Island Camp welcomed the first guests on the 15th of December - an exciting day for the camp crew.
Also remember a Special Opening Off er for Rubondo: 50% Discount for the 2nd night onwards Validity:
- All new bookings only - Booking from now - 19 Dec 2014 - Travel from 01st June 2013 – 19 Dec 2014
- 20th Dec 2013 - 5th Jan 2014 - Long stay discount does not apply to nights booked under this offer
1st November - 30th November 2013
Climbing Kopjes in Lamai – Serengeti
Lamai is placed on one of the most commanding Kopjes in the Serengeti overlooking vast plains and the Masaai Mara in the distance. The large granite boulders are great fun to explore, recently we took everyone up to the highest spot on the Lamai Kopje for a fun sundowner with breathtaking views.
This of course was after we had spent a morning with a Cheetah and her cubs, playing in the early morning light, it is truly a photographers paradise.
Cubs Update – Sand Rivers - Selous
It's two weeks on since our last blog on the cubs, we have been seeing them regularly in a long drainage line scattered with Doum plams and Long pod cassias, both providing good shade and hiding places f or the cubs. Yesterday after a big storm we found the adults out in the open enjoying lying in the cool water drenched sand. Under a little bush we spotted the cubs looking very tired but in good condition. It still looks like their mother is doing a good job of looking after them.
Leopard cub (s?)!!!
It is quite difficult to see the clear evidence in these photos and for that we apologise. There were very few of these prints remaining because their path crossed with the path of a supply boat being offloade d early this morning. It was then that we found the leopard tracks with accompanying tracks i.e. a cub!
The gestation period for leopards is 90 -105 days. These prints are pretty small; cubs can walk from two weeks but don't usually come out of the den to learn to hunt until 2 months. We think ther den must be very close!
It was impossible to tell if the tracks were from more than 1 cub (a litter is usually 2 or 3), but we sincerely hope so as fewer than 50% of leopard cubs reach the age of 1 year, therefore it would better the odds significantly!
You can see the cub print on the left above the word 'left', and the mamma cub's print on the right of this photo.We really hope to keep seeing this mamma leopard with accompanying tracks for some time to com e, and of course, not just the tracks - we recently had one guest who had a motion -detecting camera in use overnight. We knew the leopards were around thanks to the askari's nightwatch. Sadly the camera didn't'capture' any leopards, despite setting up the camera in the places where we thought it most likely to spot them. As soon as we have any evidence beyond prints, be sure you will hear about it!
BEHO BEHO - Special Offer
Experience the Selous Game Reserve in 'green season' and enjoy two FREE nights.
Designed for those seasoned safari travellers who appreciate the wildlife and bird life without having the hassle of packing and moving every second or third day. For travellers who appreciate getting to know their guides and hosts and enjoy settling into their safari home with their departure day a dim and distant date in the future.
Following the successful introduction of this offer in our 2011 -12 season we have decided to continue it for the 'Green Season' of 2013 - 14 so it will be valid from 1st November 2013 to 21st March 2014.
Pay for five nights and get two nights FREE.
We have an increasing number of guests who return to Beho Beho for longer stays AND an increasing number of guests who tell us that they would like to stay longer, but in these difficult times this is not always possible. So we have a solution always possible. So we have a solution: come and stay for seven nights and only pay for five!
Too many days in one camp? Obviously we don't think so. Our combination of walks, drives and boat safaris can easily fill in seven days with interesting and adventurous activities. But also we have found that some of our guests are happy to enjoy spending time in their banda or by the pool, enjoying some quality down time. So perhaps knowing that at least two days on this safari are with our compliments will add to the enjoyment and relaxation.
Singita Grumeti Reserves Category
Singita Serengeti House: Cécile & Boyd’s Interiors
Singita Serengeti House, in the vast Grumeti Reserves in Tanzania, was opened earlier this year as an exclusive-use retreat, and in response to a growing demand from discerning travellers for privacy and flexibility. Its unique position in the heart of the Serengeti, offers breathtaking vistas from the slopes of Sasakwa Hill across the endless, open plains of this untouched wilderness. Top South Africa design team, Cécile & Boyd’s, crafted the exquisite interiors and have been involved in the conceptualisation of every one of our lodges and camps since Singita Ebony Lodge opened in 1993.
While what lies outside is rather spectacular, the interiors of Singita Serengeti House are also something to behold. Throughout the house, ample indoor and outdoor lounging and dining areas, all with uninterrupted views, provide relaxing spaces for guests to truly immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding landscape while enjoying each other’s company. A cool neutral palette of subtle, sun - bleached colours mimics the Serengeti grass plains, bringing the outside in.
Mirror is used throughout the house to maximise light and space. Humble materials in natural fibres, rattan, grass matting, polished cement floors, bleached, raw timbers and local stones bring an honest, earthy feel to the understatedly glamorous, boldly proportioned, light -saturated rooms curated with a modern African art collection by Kurt Pio and Sarah Pratt, artefacts and objects, and anthropologically relevant tribal sculpture. All the decorative pieces were designed and commissioned or sourced by Cécile & Boyd’s, including witty eye-catching papier-mâché hunting trophies and leather thong chandeliers inspired by Masai skirts.
All the suites have spacious bathrooms designed as luxurious extensions to the bedroom and living areas, with outdoor showers and private terraces. The private kitchen and resident chef caters exclusively to the needs of the party staying in the house, taking into consideration everything from individual food allergies to favourite cooking styles and flavours. Delicious food and an excellent wine cellar always forms an integral part of the Singita experience, and meals are carefully planned and orchestrated from candle-lit gourmet dinners to informal picnics in the bush.
New arrivals – Sand Rivers Selous
One of the Lionesses from the Tagalala pride has had two cubs, they are around 3 months old now, the cubs provide excellent photo opportunities as they are so active compared to their tired mot her, biting her ears while she is trying to sleep.
The odds are stacked against their survival, only 80% of cubs will not make the first two years, Buffalo, Hyenas, Jackel, Martial Eagles, Snakes and Leopards are all enemies. If a new male takes over the pride, he will kill all the cubs.
We will be keeping a watchful eye on these two and keep you updated.
Dog Days of Selous
Even a mud cap will do stay cool in the afternoons!
Great white pelicans in the lake
Keeping hydrated , this fish eagle was enjoying a drink from the lake between fishing
The face looks familiar…wild dogs enjoying their reflections in the water
Slashing around in the local hot springs
With Sirius aka 'The Dog Star' directly above us in our night tim e sky we are well and truly into our 'dog days' of the season, hot days and nights bring the animals nearer to any dwelling of water.
Already in the water to keep cool this crocodile has even given himself a covering of mud to try and keep cool!
We found this wild dog with 5 other members of his pack around this small puddle of water the other day, as well as bathing in the puddle they were also mesmerized by their own reflections in the puddle.
It's not just the animals who enjoy the water, we like to have a dip ourselves and our local hot springs are a highlight of a safari here in the Selous, even though these are very hot springs they are remarkably refreshing! The swimming pool back at camp is also a great spot to cool off in the afternoons!
Sasakwa & Faru Faru Lodges
Sabora Tented Camp & Explore Mobile Tented Camp
|Temperature and Wind||Rainfall|
||32.8°C (91,0˚F)||Sasakwa||60.6 mm|
|Average minimum||15.8°C (60,4˚F)||Sabora||36.5 mm|
|Average mean||22.1°C (71,7˚F)||Faru Faru||51.0 mm|
|Average wind speed||0.2mps||Samaki||321.5 mm|
|Average high wind speed||7.6mps||Risiriba||183 mm|
|Predominant wind direction||SE||Sami-Sami||234 mm|
|January at Singita Grumeti was a month marked by change: The holiday festivities quieted down, the rains stopped, the sun came out and the short grass grew to extremely long lengths within a matter of days. But, the one thing that continued to be consistent was excellent game viewing.|
Singita Grumeti is cheetah country
28 Cheetah sightings in September, 25 in October, 35 in November and 44 in December.
Our cheetah sightings have been climbing recently and January was the best so far - 60 different cheetah sightings, and most of them consisting of more than one animal!
The usual suspects on the property have become more and more comfortable with the vehicles and are less afraid to be seen. Then there are multiple newcomers who continue to sporadically showup. They include two additional brothers and a few single females. All of the newcomers are still quite skittish.
We can't wait to see what the future has in store for our cheetah population at Singita Grumeti. Currently we are averaging two sightings a day and many guests have been lucky enough to witness a gazelle being hunted. We hope all of these world speed record holders are here to stay!
Over the past seven months we've had regular sightings of the female cheetah and her single cub, in the sequence of photographs that follow. Making it to adulthood is difficult in the bush, especially for cats, so it has been awesome to watch this cub continue to grow and survive.
Giraffes - you just can't get enough of them!
As usual, there were plenty of giraffes about in January, but one Sunday, while driving north on Grumeti West Road, we had the pleasure of meeting a herd that had lots of babies in tow. This group of little ones are a few weeks old.
It wasn't until I was looking at my pictures of them later that I noticed something slightly peculiar about one of these three. Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) are a subspecies of giraffe that live in eastern Africa. One thing that distinguishes them is that their markings are very rigid and cracked whereas southern African giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) have markings that are more rounded and the cracks less defined.
If you look at the above picture, the youngster in the middle has very soft and rounded markings - very interesting and atypical!
Less than 100 metres north from there we came across this little one who was only a few days old, sleeping at its mother's feet. She was an old looking female who was very calm, probably because this baby has come after many others, and she had grown confident with experience.
The tiny giraffe was very sleepy. Every now and then he would lift his long neck and look up, but it was never very long until his eyes would start to close and he would turn his head back around and snooze a little longer.
We couldn't get enough of his droopy ears and the black tufts of hair covering his horns, and were more than happy to sit with him for about 30 minutes until he finally decided it was time to wake up, stand up, and get a move-on.
Even more elephants!
In December we mentioned huge numbers of elephants roaming around Sabora, and the beginning of January continued to impress. After hearing reports of a massive herd, guides Lizzie, Alf, Alan and I went to check it out.
There were over 400 elephants. Combined, Alf, Alan, and I have over 40 years of guiding experience under our belts and we all agreed this was probably the best sighting of elephant we have ever seen.
We first spotted the huge herd on open plains and they were very skittish, stampeding in the other direction the second they saw us approaching. Cautiously we made our way towards them. They moved into a more covered area with trees and bushes and their attitude completely changed, from skittish to extremely calm and relaxed. We even had an elderly cow come right up to the vehicle, no more than three feet away, to investigate us.
Elephants are very social animals, and every now and then many different herds will come together like this to socialize. They will stay together for a period of time and eventually go their separate ways.
The case of the missing lions
The Butamtam Pride went 'off the radar' for January, and we did not see them the entire month. We believe this was due to a lack of plains game in their territory, combined with their continuing to avoid the five big Nyasirorimales.
We hope to see them again come February- AWOL lions are always rather disconcerting!
Sightings report - January 2013
|Lion:||53 sightings||5 up from December|
|Leopard:||9 sightings||10 down from December|
|Cheetah:||60 sightings||16 up from December|
|Elephant:||35 sightings||5 up from December|
|Rhino:||4 sightings||2 up from December|
|Buffalo:||Multiple sightings daily|
By Ryan Schmitt and Lizzie Hamrick
Singita Grumeti • Serengeti • Tanzania
Rubondo Island Camp welcomed the first guests on the 15th of December - an exciting day for the camp crew.
Also remember a Special Opening Offer for Rubondo: 50% Discount for the 2nd night onwards
- All new bookings only
- Booking from now- 31st Mar 2014
- Travel from 01st June 2013 - 31st Mar 2014
- 20th Dec 2013 - 5th Jan 2014
- Long stay discount does not apply to nights booked under this offer