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Following last’s week’s post on Singita Pamushana, this week I am taking a look at the lodge group’s amazing Grumeti Reserves. This enormous venture borders the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, with more than 100,000 hectares under protection.
With three outstanding accommodation options on offer – Sabora Plains tented camp, Faru Faru and Sasakwa – this vaste swathe of land is a true success story.
A mere decade ago this area was poached virtually “dry”, but in a short space of time pioneering environmental and community programmes have reversed the fortunes of the fauna and flora in the area, with unprecedented growth in numbers and, thanks to an ambitious black rhino reintroduction programme, the return of the ubiquitous Big Five.
The success of Singita Grumeti Reserves is founded in its unrivaled relationship with the communities which border the reserve, who are now benefiting directly from Eco-tourism, with former poachers now employed as game and anti-poaching scouts.
It’s an incredibly beautiful place, and the three lodges are equally special, and quite different to one another.
All enjoy unparalleled views – Faru Faru of the Grumeti river and its pristine riparian forests which are home to colobus monkeys, Sabora of the endless plains which make this part of Africa such a huge drawcard, and Sasakwa, from its position high on a range of hills, of forever!
Game is plentiful, particularly during the annual wildebeest migration – a natural phenomenon without equal – and thanks to an ambitious black rhino reintroduction programme, the ubiquitous Big Five are soon to be all present and correct. And when it comes to predators, you’ll most likely trip over the lion here, especially during the migration.
Faru Faru is perhaps the epitome of old meets new. The underlying theme of a 1950s botanists’ camp gives it a unique “old” feel, with laboratory beakers, sketches of plants and lots of earthy, back-to-nature features like packed stone walls and sandy floors.
The “new” comes from the amazing contemporary organic décor in varying shades of cream, brown and grey. The overall result is refreshingly original and rivals Singita’s other “nouveau” lodges – Lebombo and Sweni (both in the Kruger National Park).
Two perfectly azure swimming pools, nooks and crannies, salas, plump loungers and rooms packed with classy finishing touches make this an ultimate escape.
Sabora is to Faru Faru what chalk is to cheese. A tented camp, its furnishings and trappings evoke the era of Hemingway and Blixen, of a time when tents were so much more than two-man domes.
In fact, Sabora’s tents are more like canvas villas. Persian carpets, four-poster beds, plump cushions, genuine antique furniture and a bath-tub with a view of forever all add up to the quintessential safari experience.
Add to the mix a sea of wildebeest and you have heaven under an African sky which seems to stretch to infinity.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the wildebeest here is that being in a tent places them extremely close to you, especially when it comes to the loud “GNU!” which has given them their colloquial name (and which they seem powerless to stop making!).
Imagine a few thousand “GNU!”s in surround sound with the amp turned up to max! Mix in a few braying zebra and some random lion roars for good measure and you have the hip-hop track of a lifetime.
Sasakwa is modeled on a typical colonial farmhouse, with cool tiled corridors and open, airy rooms with ceiling fans and overstuffed couches.
A series of separate guest cottages on either side of the farmhouse pay tribute to the warmth and grace of the colonial style – it’s all croquet at tea time and crystal decanters. Marvelous!
At the end of the day, though, it’s people who make any safari experience perfect, and Singita Grumeti Reserves is no slouch in this respect, with service levels beyond compare. And the fact that it is making a real and lasting difference to the lives of local people, is, quite simply, outstanding.
It’s an ethic prevalent at all of Singita’s products, and proof of a deep-seated commitment to both the environment and the communities which so depend on it.