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Singita and other Private Reserves

Singita and other Private Reserves

Old Nov 16, 2021, 9:38 pm
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Singita Faru Faru Lodge

Singita Faru Faru Lodge

1 Review | 100% Recommended

Singita Faru Faru Lodge

Mawalla Park Tanapa Olasiti Road Arusha, TZ 00000

Singita Faru Faru Lodge (0 Photo)

Singita Faru Faru Lodge

I recently got back from Tanzania where I spent four nights with Singita spread across Faru Faru and Sasakwa lodges. Singita calls Faru Faru lodge a "relaxed approach to luxury" and I think that's a good way to describe it.

Faru Faru is located in the Grumeti Reserve; a private game reserve northwest-ish from the Serengeti National Park. Singita has their own airstrip for the Grumeti lodges that's located about a 45 minute drive from Faru Faru.

I'm running into issues adding photos right now, and I'll update the review when I am able to get it resolved.

 

Check In

Immediately upon arrival at Singita's airstrip, I was greated by a guide who would be taking me to Faru Faru. He was not my guide who I would be spending my safari drives with, but seems just sent to collect me and bring me to the lodge.

The airstrip has a nice lounge and I was offered a beverage and the ability to use the facilities before the drive to Faru Faru. 

Upon arrival at Faru Faru, there was a welcome committee waiting at the entrance consisting of two managers and my personal "server" for my time at the lodge. I'm not really sure how to describe them, but each party is assigned a single point of contact for your time in the public areas of the lodge.

Check in was quite simple, just needed to sign a piece of paper and then it was up to me to decide if I wanted to head to the room, grab a drink, eat, etc.

Room

One of the managers escorted me to my room and gave me a tour of everything. My bags were already in the room since I decided to grab lunch prior to settling in.

I would probably classify the room as a "junior suite". The room features a nice entryway with coat hooks and a bench to get ready for safari, along with a minibar that has a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and some snacks (they offered to swap in anything to the minibar if I wanted). Moving from the entryway is the main living area that has a chaise lounger, sitting chair, and desk, along with the bed. Then lastly, the bathroom area is partially split off from the living area by a wall of mirrors.

The bathroom area has a oversized bath tub, WC, twin vanities, and a door to the outdoor shower.

 

Dining

Each meal was generally taken in different areas of the main lodge. My pre-safari breakfast was usually taken at the bar where I was offered drinks of choice and then there were continental items setup nearby that were grab-and-go. These normally consisted of granola, yogurt, fruit, etc.

Depending on when you got back from your morning game drive, you'd then be offered breakfast or brunch. Additionally, one morning we had a bush bbq brunch, where they setup tables and some grills out near the river.

With brunch and dinner, there were a few choices for appetizer/salad and main course. They were also more than happy to take requests if you were not able to find something you like on the menu. I'm not too picky so went with on-menu items each meal, and they were good. 

Singita also has an impressive wine program. One of Singita's "traveling somelliers" was in residence during my stay and did an impressive job showing off South African wine and curating different bottles to try based on people's preferences. With lunch and dinner there would be several wine options on the menu, but he would always tell me that he's selected a few different bottles for me to try that were not listed. It was extremely impressive since I'd basically have an impromtu wine tasting each night and would select a red and white from those to have with dinner.

Service

Service was incredible. Everyone knew my name and I never once saw housekeeping. Preferences were remembered and followed throughout. It also felt incredibly personal, like they really wanted to get to know you. It was nice to have a single waitor throughout my stay since we got to know each other it almost makes things more comfortable. Additionally, the somellier was great. It was clear he was super passionate about wine (as am I) and it was fun to come back from the evening drive to a curated wine tasting!

Also, everything about the stay was customizable - it was completely up to me when I wanted to go out on the drives, what I wanted to see, etc. There was a menu with each meal, but as I mentioned, they were happy to take requests. And it was truly all inclusive too, I had no charges to settle even after having a Cuban cigar, plenty of off-menu wine, a walking safari, etc.

Game Viewing

The game viewing was incredible. Being a private reserve, you went offroad for pretty much the whole time. Also, walking safaris were available (I would highly recommend) and I think night safaris were available too (we'd come back after dark anyway on the evening drive). I had four drives while at Faru Faru and saw four of the big five, including three leopard. We followed one female leopard as she was hunting and it was incredible (she was successful too). All of the guides were talking about how special the viewing was those few days; after I left Faru Faru, there was maybe one leopard sightings the rest of the week across the reserve.

All the guides were super nice too. I had the same guide across my whole time at Singita and we got to know each other well. All the guides do a very good job of sharing information and sightings. They also make sure to keep the number of vehicles at a sighting to a minimum. I think four was the most at any sighting, but they made sure that each car had clear viewing angles.

Overall

Truly incredible experience. This was my first safari and I don't think I'll be able to go with anyone else. The game viewing, service, food, wine, etc. were all fantastic. Singita costs a lot, but it's clear to me that it's worth it.

Singita Faru Faru Lodge

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Old Nov 18, 2021, 9:40 am
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Singita and other Private Reserves

Let me preface this by saying this is not supposed to bash Singita (or other private game reserves). They are beautiful properties and do a lot of good for their local communities. While I have not stayed at one, I have interacted with them and their staff on a number of occasions and it has always been a enjoyable and professional experience. My question below is just something I have always wondered about and would appreciate more insight into. Please correct me if I am mistaken:

My question is this - people who stay at these properties rave about the game viewing experience. However, aren't these essentially large zoos since they are private, fenced in properties? Yes, they are ten's of thousands of acres, but of course you are going to see the "Big 5" and everything else in just a few days. Wouldn't a luxury tented safari throughout whichever country you are in be a much more genuine viewing experience? Of course the animals at a Singita or other private reserve are not treated like they are in a zoo, but at the end of the day they are in a closed, protected environment. I have done tented safaris and there is something to be said about heading out each day and following information and trackers to search for whatever animal it may be.

I look forward to seeing people's opinions on this!
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Old Nov 18, 2021, 10:04 am
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Singita Grumeti (where I was last week) was definitely not fenced. There was one small area that was a rhino sanctuary that was fenced in, but you didnt go in there.
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Last edited by United747; Nov 18, 2021 at 12:28 pm Reason: Typos
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Old Nov 18, 2021, 10:40 am
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We have stayed in a lot of reserves in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. We've also stayed at lodges in national parks in many of those countries. I am unaware of any of them being fenced. The animals are able to range freely.
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Old Nov 19, 2021, 9:35 am
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SIngita in South Africa are not really fenced... For Lebomobo and Sweni there is no fence between it and the rest of Kruger. There is a border fence with Mozambique that was supposed to come down. The Sabi Sands have a fence from the town to the west, but I don't think between it and Kruger.

The Grumerti is not fenced and they have tented options with Singita there. If you want a more smell the canvas, hear the roar trip you could look to Serian, but I am actually combing Serian with Singita and others for our next safari.

Most of Botswana is tented at varying levels of luxe and there are other tented options besides Serian in Kenya too.

Concessions will allow you to go off road and have night drives, something you cant do in the neighboring national parks. They are more private and would argue afford a more "authentic" African experience of how things used to be. Those who spend time in the parks will see other game vehicles and in Kruger private cars. If you want san open jeep and to feel the wilderness I would select top conservancies - singita or others.
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Old Nov 19, 2021, 12:45 pm
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Thank you all! That is very insightful. I don't remember where I read about fencing but I have thought most of them were for a while now, so I am really glad to clear that up. Thank you busy - I had a follow up question about the experience of traveling around a country in tents, versus heading back to the same lodge each evening. Would appreciate some more insight into which people prefer and why (as I mentioned, I've done tented safaris, just not lodges).
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Old Nov 19, 2021, 4:49 pm
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The fences between Kruger and the private reserves adjoining Kruger came down a long time ago. Don't remember exactly when but it was at least 20 years ago.

The fence between South Africa and Mozambique is not down, at least as of two months ago when I saw it. I do not believe it will come down as it is now part of the South African anti-poaching scheme (mainly to protect rhinos) .
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Old Nov 19, 2021, 7:29 pm
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The exception is Thornybush Game Reserve (home of Royal Malewane and a handful of other properties), which is fenced off from both Timbavati and Kruger N.P. This definitely diminishes the experience. However, part of the reason is to "protect" the large mammals there, including the rather healthy population of Black Rhinos.

There is supposedly a plan underway to take the fences down, but I've heard these rumors for several decades, so count me a skeptic on this front.

Originally Posted by RichardInSF
The fences between Kruger and the private reserves adjoining Kruger came down a long time ago. Don't remember exactly when but it was at least 20 years ago.

The fence between South Africa and Mozambique is not down, at least as of two months ago when I saw it. I do not believe it will come down as it is now part of the South African anti-poaching scheme (mainly to protect rhinos) .
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 9:22 pm
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Thank you for your review. I will be staying at Sasakwa Lodge in September 2022, so I was wondering when you'll be posting your review for that location? Would you prefer one over the other? I'll be in East Africa for three weeks and staying mainly in tented camps, so I thought Sasakwa Lodge would be a nice change of scene.
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Old Nov 22, 2021, 6:38 am
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Originally Posted by Chancensam
Thank you for your review. I will be staying at Sasakwa Lodge in September 2022, so I was wondering when you'll be posting your review for that location? Would you prefer one over the other? I'll be in East Africa for three weeks and staying mainly in tented camps, so I thought Sasakwa Lodge would be a nice change of scene.
Ill hopefully get to it this week. In the meantime, I preferred Sasakwa, but they were both truly amazing. I also had a chance to take a look at Sabora, which looked fantastic too (and Ill post some pics)

Im thinking about doing Sabora and Sasakwa next time
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Old Nov 25, 2021, 1:42 pm
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Originally Posted by KI-NRT
The exception is Thornybush Game Reserve (home of Royal Malewane and a handful of other properties), which is fenced off from both Timbavati and Kruger N.P. This definitely diminishes the experience. However, part of the reason is to "protect" the large mammals there, including the rather healthy population of Black Rhinos.

There is supposedly a plan underway to take the fences down, but I've heard these rumors for several decades, so count me a skeptic on this front.
and the adjacent Kapama, as well. (which also has two very well-reviewed lodges)
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Old Nov 25, 2021, 2:35 pm
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Sabora

Here are some pics from Sabora - we made a pit stop on one of our evening drives for a drink and they were nice enough to give me a full tour. It looks fantastic and is definitely on my short list for next time -



Dining area

Main tent

Pool

Bedroom

Bathroom
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Old Nov 29, 2021, 8:52 pm
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Singita Sasakwa Lodge

,

Singita Sasakwa Lodge (0 Photo)

Singita Sasakwa Lodge is considered by many to be their "crown jewel" in East Africa. I can definitely see that after spending a few nights!

After spending a couple nights at Faru Faru, my guide drove me over to Sasakwa around midday (he similarly continued as my guide while staying there, too).

Sasakwa is truly jaw-droping, it's a sprawling, 11 cottage estate built up on a big hill. The landscape views are incredible - each time I looked out over the Serengeti, I couldn't believe I was there.

Check In

Check-in was incredibly easy. Upon arrival at Sasakwa, I was greated by one of the managers along with my personal "butler" (basically my single point of contact for anything throughout my stay). After a tour of the main lodge(s), I was brought to my cottage for a tour. No papers to sign and, naturally, everyone knew who I was. Similarly, only thing I had to sign throughout my stay was the credit card receipt for a few things from the gift shop.

Room

The cottage was incredible (I'm running out of adjectives to describe things). I was in a one-bedroom cottage. At the entryway was a well-stocked minibar (all complimentary) and a guest bathroom with toilet and vanity. That leads into the living area with a couch, a few chairs, coffee table, writing desk, and fire place. Moving into the bedroom was another writing desk and the king-size bed. After that was the dressing/closet area. And lastly the oversized bathroom with dual vanity, free-standing tub, shower, and watercloset.

Additionally, the outdoor patio had two separate seating areas and two lounge chairs around the heated plunge pool.

The room (and Sasakwa as a whole) is designed as a "Edwardian Manor House" as such, the room featured several chandeliers, dark woods, African artifacts, etc. The room looked and felt quite nice (to me). It did show a bit of wear, but nothing that detracted from the experience (mainly scuffed wood floors and a scratch on one of the mirrors).

Service

As with Faru Faru, service was fantastic. I never had to wait for anything and my personal "butler" was super nice and got to know my preferences - for example, coffee and water preferences were remembered right away and food preferences were acknowledge from the start. The F&B manager/somellier was also ever-present and did a killer job serving wine each day. I had one impromptu wine tasting and one schedule wine tasting and they were both fantastic. As with Faru Faru, they had wines printed on the dinner menu, but the somellier would be like "I'm happy to pour you what's on the menu, but I selected a few other bottles that I want you to try" and they were all exceptional and tailored to my taste.

Additionally, I requested some local food one night and they put together a tasting menu of eight(!) dishes for me to try at dinner. It seems they were all super excited at that request and even my guide was getting involved in letting people know what to make! I also had some laundry done during my stay, and requested it done same-day (requested around noon) and I had it back less that two hours later.

Throughout the stay at Sasakwa (and Faru Faru) everything was entirely up to me - I got to choose when to go out and come back on my game drives, meal times were completely flexible, etc.

Dining

Overall, the food was good. The highlights being pastries at breakfast (Paris-quality croissants in the middle of the Serengeti was impressive), a couple different sandwiches I had at tea-time (not sure if they were actually on the menu or not, my "butler" just suggested them). And, of course, the local Swahili dinner.

Pre-morning drive was always continental breakfast with granola, fruit, yogurt, etc. After the morning drive, they offered full breakfast, then full lunch, and tea time prior to the afternoon drive, and naturally dinner after that.

Even I wasn't able to do breakfast, lunch, and tea all within about four hours, so did breakfast and tea time, skipping lunch.

Location

As I mentioned previously, Sasakwa is a ways up on a hill. Not much in the way of game viewing directly from the compound (except for plenty of monkeys, baboons, and some stray giraffe and zebra). But only a few minutes away and you're back on the plains of the private reserve with incredible viewing.

Overall

Sasakwa was mind-blowing. I though Faru Faru was incredible, but Sasakwa blew it away. I'm not sure that Sasakwa is for everyone, it is clearly more formal (in style) than Faru Faru (and Sabora) but they certainly didn't make me feel weird our out of place. Similar to Faru Faru, the service felt very comfortable and never stuffy. It was nice to get to know people on a personal level.

IMO, there's a lot of charm to the place - I loved coming back each night to the main lodge with a roaring fire and nice glass of wine. It reminded me a lot of a wilderness resort I would visit as a kid that features a huge log cabin as the main lodge - slightly creaky wood floors (in a good way) and the crackling fire brough me right back to those memories.

In addition to the fantastic hard product, the service continued to shine. I would have no issues returning and completely understand why it's such a magical place.

Singita Sasakwa Lodge

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Old Nov 29, 2021, 9:08 pm
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Here are some pictures from Faru Faru and Sasakwa-


Faru Faru bedroom

Faru Faru bath

Faru Faru restaurant

Sasakwa living room

Sasakwa bed

Sasakwa bath

Sasakwa plunge pool

Sasakwa bar
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Old Dec 4, 2022, 9:36 pm
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So I might have gone back... Back in November I did Sabora and Sasakwa this time. I won't add any new pictures (unless requested) but thought I'd add some info on Sabora -

Overall, I really liked the tented camp vibe of Sabora, and it pairs really well with Sasakwa. Sabora is literally right on the plains, which makes you feel really connected. Views are incredible, especially at the start of the rainy season - you could see storms off in the distance, and also follow them as the come towards the camp. One such afternoon storm was pretty severe and caused damage to the camp, but they were incredibly quick to fix it, and made sure all staff and guests were safe throughout.

The food and drink at the camp were up to Singita standards too - the camp has a "grab and go" area with different types of cold items that were all good, and especially the breads. There was always at least one hot option available, and dinner was entirely menu-based. Wine selection was pretty good, but not nearly as good as Sasakwa (I work in the wine industry, so I'm generally a but more "specific" in my requests). But they still had some incredible bottles, and were always more than happy to check in the back for specific labels that I was looking for.

Service was fantastic. As always with the other Tanzania camps, you get one "server" who you have the entire stay (I put that in quotes since they do so much more). Mine was great, and I got to know some of the others as well, and they were wonderful too.

The managers were also ever-present, and more than happy to stay out with guests late into the night.

Game viewing was fantastic too, I was worried that it would be repetitive considering I stayed at the exact same time last year. But it was entirely different. A more harsh dry season led to more concentrated game viewing, and the migration was making its way through, which was incredible to see. Some animal highlights -
  • Three leopard
  • 50+ lion
  • Black rhino
  • Two cheetah kills
  • Newborn zebra
Overall, another wonderful Safari and I'm already starting to plan another trip for 2023 (likely elsewhere this time for some variety)
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