Singita Mara River Tented Camp: Our full report
Singita Mara River Tented Camp is set in the wonderfully remote Lamai wedge, a 400km² area of land in the ...... northernmost tip of the Serengeti National Park. Opened in 2012, this small, luxury camp lies along a sweeping bend of the meandering Mara River. During the wildebeest migration, between July and October, it is not uncommon to see crossings right in front of camp.
Singita Mara is the first permanent safari camp within the Lamai wedge, which fits between the Mara River to the south and the southern border of Kenya's Maasai Mara National Park. Permission for the camp was granted,by TANAPA (Tanzania National Parks Authority) following Singita's success in the Singita Grumeti Reserve, in the western part of the Serengeti, where they have a number of excellent camps. These include Faru Faru, Sasakwa and Sabora.
Although Mara River Tented Camp is not in a private concession, it is comparable in style, design, and quality with its sister properties. It also – and perhaps most importantly – shares their commitment to giving visitors an authentic safari experience in a secluded location.
Singita Mara is the only camp in this area for most of the year, although a couple of small seasonal camps arrive during the wildebeest migration, between July and October. With permission from TANAPA, Singita's guides have created game-drive routes from scratch. This makes for a really offbeat safari experience, on relatively uncharted routes, with very few other visitors.
The whole camp is designed in the Bohemian-chic fashion with splashes of bold colour, that has become synonymous with Singita properties. Using natural and recycled materials wherever possible, Singita Mara was styled by South African interior design company Cécile & Boyd. A huge amount of thought has gone into the detail, from the modern African wall art, to the cushions, baskets and beadwork. We loved the combination of contemporary design and traditional materials.
The eight tents at Singita Mara make up six separate units. Closest to the main area are two family units, each comprising two tents, with a shared decking area, while a further four double tents are located slightly further along the river. All are set on wooden platforms about a metre off the ground, with a large veranda and seating area; and are sheltered by canvas fly-sheets. In the family units, the two tents – either double or twin – are joined by a covered walkway and a shared deck. All of the tents are made from canvas, have zip entrances and gauze windows which lets a nice cooling breeze through. There are also fans in the rooms to help with really hot nights.
Inside, the tents feel modern and bright, with white, perfectly pressed, sheets and matching mosquito nets draped over the bed. The furniture is very smart with matching, safari-style bedside tables, wardrobe and bureau, and a spotlight that wouldn't look out of place on a film set!
Athough Singita Mara is a tented camp, it provides the same sort of comforts you might expect from a modern hotel: hairdryers, electronic safes, phones for contacting the staff, plug sockets and fans. There has been an incredible level of thought that has gone into providing guests everything that they may need during their stay. Bathrobes, light weights, yoga mats, kettle bells, a set of Vortex binoculars, wildlife guides, water colour paints and pencils, playing cards, safari hats and bags, along with a well-stocked cool box – complete with a selection of soft drinks, spirits, beers, wine sweets and gourmet chocolates! – set Singita Mara apart from most tented camps.
Each of the tents has a well-designed en-suite bathroom with metal flush toilet, rain shower and basin with running hot and cold water. One of the best features is the open-air bath that overlooks the Mara River in front, yet remains completely private.
The views down the river from the tents, as from the main area, are maximised by the camp's setting on a sweeping bend of the Mara River.
In the main area itself, the lounge is beautifully decorated and a really sociable place to relax, with chaise-longues, sofas, board games and a viewing platform. Next to this is a small dining area and bar where breakfasts and lunches are often served. Dinner tends to be served in a variety of locations, often under the stars. In front of the dining area is a firepit, surrounded by chairs, ideal for a pre- dinner drink.
Nearby is a lovely swimming pool with a seating area and sundeck facing the Mara River. Almost reminiscent of a seascape this features ropes, hoops, pebble chairs, modern sunloungers and white sail canvas.
Activities at Mara River Tented Camp primarily focus on twice daily game drives in the surrounding area. In order to minimise environmental impact, private vehicles are not available at Singita Mara. Instead a maximum of six guests share brand new vehicles. Guided walks are also possible .
Singita Mara River Tented Camp provides an excellent opportunity to view river crossings in July, August and September. Although please bear in mind that with so much wildlife surrounding the camp, there can also be quite a distinctive smell of wildebeest! Guests visiting outside of these months will virtually have the whole Lamai wege to themselves and game viewing will be varied because of the permanent water source nearby.
After a game drive relax with a facial, manicure or massage in your tent or on your private deck. Massages from $120 per hour dependent on treatment.
Singita Mara River Tented Camp is one of the most stylish camps in the Serengeti, and we were particularly impressed by the attention to detail. The location is ideal for those wanting to experience the Serengeti without the crowds, and during July, August and September, it is hard to think of a camp that is better placed for the wildebeest migration. It certainly meets the need for the discerning traveller, however, the price tag is very high, and for people who prefer simple bush camps the style may be a bit too much.
Country manager: Tanzania
- Serengeti Migration Area, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- Stay here for 2–3 nights to enjoy the game viewing of the area.
- Singita Mara is about 1½ hours' game drive from Kogatende airstrip, or 45 minutes from Lamai airstrip. It is around a 2 hour flight from Arusha.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- When we last stayed at Singita Mara River Tented Camp in October 2018 the food was very good. There was a real variety on offer, with dishes deliciously prepared and beautifully presented.
There are no set meal times, and guests are encouraged to be as relaxed as they wish.
Breakfast at Singita Mara usually starts with a selection of granola, cornflakes and other cereals, followed by freshly baked pastries, yoghurt, and – for those who want it – a full cooked breakfast. Breakfast times can be flexible and for those who want to go on game drives early can also take a packed bush breakfast with them.
Lunch is usually something quite light like a fresh salad and homemade bread.
Dinner is either a three-course menu, or maybe a themed evening with multiple small dishes brought to your table. On our latest visit, the camp had a ‘Swahili evening’, where we were served plentiful amounts of barbequed beef, pilau, maharage (beans in coconut) ugali (maize meal) and kachumbari (tomato salad).
On a previous stay we enjoyed goats cheese prepared three different ways, beetroot salad, and an orange reduction to start; pan-fried duck breast, croquette potatoes, braised red cabbage and a thyme jus for main, and a malva pudding to finish. It was all superb.
Singita is one of Africa’s most influential collectors of wine, and so you can expect a good selection of well paired wine with lunch and dinner.
- Wildlife safaris
- Singita Mara River Tented Camp is perfectly located to view wildebeest crossing the Mara River in July, August and September. Often guests won’t even need to leave camp to see some of the action!
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- As well as making the most of its stunning location, Singita Mara River Camp pairs sumptuous natural fabrics with contemporary details in Bohemian-chic interiors. Incredible attention to detail results in a luxurious, stylish aesthetic with an authentic connection to nature.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Singita Mara accept children over the age of 10.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- There is a special children’s programme called ‘Watoto Pori‘ which teaches them a number of bush skills. Children are welcomed with an age-appropriate survival kit in a small satchel with to which they are encouraged to attach badges earned for the skills they learn. These can include tracking animals; frogging; butterfly capture and release; astronomy; bush survival techniques; flower-pressing; game-spotting competitions and nature quizzes.
- Generally recommended for children
- Singita Mara is a grown up camp and will cater best for older children.
- Singita Mara Tented Camp is an open camp without any fences and big game can, and frequently does, walk straight through camp. You should therefore take the upmost precaution.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Singita Mara River
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Singita Mara River Tented Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- The camp is proud of their state-of the-art solar panels, which provide energy even on cloudy days. There is a back-up generator, so power is available 24 hours a day. Both European and American plug adaptors are provided.
- There is free WiFi throughout the camp and internal phones in all of the tents. Mobile phone signal is very intermittent.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- There is running hot and cold water in the bathroom that can be used for washing, but filtered water is supplied for drinking. All the toilets have flush systems and are plumbed in.
New, creative uses for old African tools
Opened in 2012, Mara River Tented Camp is the perfect representation of Singita’s philosophy of preserving iconic locations by offering ‘fewer beds in larger areas’. With only 16 beds within 98,000 acres of wilderness, the camp is widely recognized for putting forward the concept of sustainable construction that creates an immersive African experience, and also minimizes the impact of the buildings on the environment.
To create a contemporary African design, the architects used traditional objects that have been converted for new uses. The camp has brought hand crafted African baskets from local designers, and used them as decorative elements. For example, baskets used for filtering traditional beer have been painted and act as a décor element. Similarly, wooden pendant lights, whose shapes are derived from African pots, are manufactured from sustainable jacaranda wood. When it comes to the building’s structure, wooden decks and basket walls and roofs have been used to minimize the pressure of the construction on the ground. The camp also uses custom-designed solar panels on which it relies entirely for electricity, making it 100% ‘off the grid’.
The predominant use of colours black, red and blue pays homage to the Masai culture and the heritage of local Kuria tribes. Guests have the opportunity to explore the interior and invite the staff to share stories of how African culture and design has been reinterpreted.
See more great sustainability projects in Tanzania
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There are first-aid kits in all of the tents, vehicles and main areas. The guides and managers are trained in first aid. In an emergency it would be a three-hour drive for a paramedic to reach the camp.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Traditionally dressed Maasai, armed with spears, will escort you to and from your room at night
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in all of the tents and the main area.
Hot air ballooning
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Full Laundry Service included. Machine washed and dried.
- There are electronic safes in all of the rooms.
- Accepted payment on location
- Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards are accepted without surcharge. Cash in US dollars and euros may also be used.
Other lodges in Serengeti Migration Area
Alternative places to stay in this same area.