How does a luxury African camping experience differ from a lodge?

LATTE chats with Singita's Lisa Carey to get an understanding of the differences

Getting “back to nature” takes on an entirely new level in Southern Africa, especially in game reserves where being so close to wildlife – including big cats, elephants and hippos – is a major part of the thrill. There’s no shortage of lodge and camp operators from which to choose, offering something for all budgets. African ecotourism and conservation brand, Singita has a stable of ultra-luxury properties in in South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, such as lodges, houses, villas and camps.

And it’s the latter that often has me wondering, how can a ‘camp’ be high-end? I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that camping is essentially roughing it, or going back to basics, yet Singita has three, the latest of which only reopened in June after an extensive refit – Singita Mara River Tented Camp. The other two are Singita Explore and Singita Sabora Tented Camp.

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I’m sure there are some frontline sellers out there who are reluctant to push the camping experience over the security of solid walls that a lodge, house or villa can offer.

With that in mind, LATTE chatted with Lisa Carey, PR & Communications Manager with Singita to get a better understanding of how the camp experience operates.

Lisa, fundamentally, how does a luxury camp – be it semi-permanent, permanent of relocatable – differ from a lodge? 

“All Singita’s tented lodges/camps reflect its signature levels of comfort and luxury, and guests have the freedom to enjoy unfiltered time and space. Although the products differ in location, décor, look/feel the service levels, exclusivity, food & wine, and wildlife experience remains consistently outstanding throughout.”

Singita Explore: An authentic “roughing-it in great style” experience in the Serengeti. Designed for private use, this quintessential wilderness experience includes dining under the stars, sleeping under canvas, and a level of closeness to nature that heightens the sights, sounds and smells of the bush. It’s the ideal escape for those yearning for an unfiltered African adventure, allowing them to connect with the Earth and wildlife in ways they’ve never done before.

A tailormade and exclusive-use tented camp – Set up based on the requirements of each individual booking, Explore offers up to six 1-bedroom custom-designed tents configured to suit the group. Functional luxury touches and campaign-style furniture, durable canvas, leather and chrome elements feature throughout.

    • Dedicated staff complement, vehicle and guide
    • A mobile plunge pool set-up
    • Dependent upon area coverage, there is mobile phone signal.
    • Electricity supply is 220V AC and is available in the main lounge tent only. This is suitable for charging electronic devices.
Grumeti Explore, Camp - main bedroom | Credit: Adriaan Louw

Sabora Tented Camp: Singita Sabora Tented Camp charts a visionary course for luxury adventures under canvas. It features mindfully created interiors with a rich combination of textures, forward-thinking and

functional aesthetics, and a modern interpretation of the quintessential elements of a romantic tented safari.
Situated in a permanent location. Each suite includes a private meditation deck, an outdoor sala with daybeds, a private fitness area, and a lifestyle unit with a perfectly curated in-room pantry and dining space.

    • A swimming pool in the main lodge area.
    • Each tented suite has a covered outdoor sala; and meditation deck
    • A television is situated in the lounge tent of the camp
    • Complementary internet access (WiFi) is available. Due to the remote location of the lodge, the wireless connection can be slow and intermittent at times.
    • Mobile phone signal is available dependent on area coverage.
    • Fine wines served with the help of an experienced sommelier
    • Yoga instructor & lessons on reques
    • Electricity supply is 220V AC. Hairdryers are supplied in each suite.
    • Massage treatments and small fitness area
Singita Sabora Tented Camp, aerial view

Mara River Tented Camp: Located on a dramatic riverbend in the remote Lamai triangle in the Serengeti, this permanent tented camp celebrates a unique sense of place & cultural inspiration. Created for travellers longing for rare adventures, the romance of tented luxury, and a remote location with heightened opportunities to experience Africa’s wilderness and wildlife in full, Singita

Mara River Tented Camp also vividly mirrors local culture. Eye-catching designs inspired by vibrant Maasai geometrics add pops of colour to the relaxed and unfussy atmosphere, while locally made furniture and accessories ensure comfort, an element of surprise, and the light-hearted style at the heart of Mara’s free spirit.

Mara’s six suites cater for every modern need– featuring utilitarian, lightweight and modular elements as well as clean, curved lines in spacious tented sanctuaries; and exude contemporary luxury while being light-filled, functional, and comfortable. Embracing new African flavours, Mara’s food journey emphasises dishes that contain locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, while also offering a taste of East African culinary traditions. With a focus on refreshing and light meals, mezze boards poolside, fireside snacks, and tapas align perfectly with the camp’s intimate atmosphere and playful spirit.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Swimming pool | Credit: Emma Jackson

This permanent tented camp is a modern take on the classic East African safari. Set close to the ground and operating off the grid, it encourages continuous engagements with nature, without compromising on any creature comforts. Mara relies entirely on a custom-designed solar system for its power, while LED lights throughout result in a lower load. The camp is set in 98,000 acres of untouched wilderness in northern Tanzania.

    • A plunge pool and pool sala with viewing deck in the main camp.
    • Massage treatments can be pre-arranged and enjoyed on the deck or in your tent.
    • Complimentary internet access (WiFi) is available
    • Electricity/power available: Camp is completely solar-powered, international plug points available in each guest tent.

By the very name, ‘camps’ tend to conjure up the thought of travelling on a shoestring. Can you elaborate on how a travel advisor can best describe a Singita camp, compared to pitching a tent at local caravan/holiday park?

“Without forfeiting Singita’s intuitive service and unrivalled levels of luxury and comfort, we offer guests an authentic wilderness experience under canvas that entails a complete escape from the distractions and every-day demands of the world.

Singita Explore, Main Lounge area of the camp Credit: Adriaan Louw

“These tented suites cater for every modern need and whim – featuring utilitarian, lightweight and modular elements as well as clean lines in spacious tented sanctuaries; and exude contemporary luxury and relaxed sophistication. The food experience is comparable to any Singita lodge, focussing on healthy, locally sourced ingredients, highlighting African dishes, complemented by fine South African wines and a knowledgeable sommelier. Guests can book wellness treatments and guided walks, yoga sessions, and experience Singita’s signature Wholeness activities. For example, there are also personal gym-in-a-bag kits, as well as tranquil long soaks in private bathtubs overlooking the Mara River below.”

Are the prices more or less on par with a free-standing lodge, or higher/lower? (lower may be due to the ‘high-end roughing it’ nature, or more expensive because of the exclusivity, remoteness, and locations?)

“The tented camps are not an inferior product and are not differentiated on price. Singita Explore, for example, is the ultimate exclusive-use luxury tented experience. Since the whole camp is booked for only one group at a time, guests can tailor-make the pace of their day – from game-drives, meals, activities, and wake-up. Rack rates at Singita Grumeti differ depending on seasonality only, and tented camps are priced the same.”

“Rates at Singita Mara River Tented Camp are based per person per night. Singita Explore is charged per night, structured differently as the camp can be booked for a minimum of two people.”

Leopard, Singita Grumeti Reserve | Credit: Ross Couper

What demographic is Singita’s camping experience targeted towards?

“Singita’s award-winning tented camps in Tanzania are perfect for travellers yearning for an African safari infused with Africa’s contemporary energy and creativity, enveloped in unrivalled levels of comfort with almost private access to exciting game viewing; with exceptional intuitive service.

  • Featuring a complete escape from modern-day distractions, these authentic tented camps combine the thrill of camping in the most coveted wilderness areas, without forfeiting any of the comforts or intuitive service inherent to the Singita guest experience.
  • It’s the ideal escape for those yearning for an unfiltered African adventure and sustainability in travel. On top of the conscious travel with a conservation brand to contribute to the 100-year conservation purpose and rewilding of natural landscapes
    – these camps have a lighter footprint and minimal impact on the land. Sabora and Mara River are solar powered.
  • Wildlife enthusiasts and photographers who want front-row seats to the annual migration or year-round game viewing, with very few vehicles in 350,000 acres.
  • Guests can visit Singita’s conservation partner, The Grumeti Fund, to learn more about reserve management, community partnerships and other conservation projects and contribute to the reserve’s protection.

“Three different camps would appeal to different demographics; however, we often have guests including one or two Grumeti properties in their itinerary, since moving between the lodges is simple.”

  • Sabora – Modern, sophisticated forward-thinking, guests seeking a romantic tented safari experience. Guests who enjoy creativity, design, modern food and a nature-based experience. Tents are close to the ground, and impala, giraffe or zebra can wander into camp, or drink from the nearby water hole. Honeymooners.
  • Mara – Younger, modern travellers seeking small, intimate safari experience, adventurous, active travellers with an interest in local African art, food and culture. Travellers who want uninterrupted immersion with the natural surroundings; the tents are close to the ground and overlook the Mara River, intensifying the sights and sounds of the bush. The river bend is one of the known crossings of the Great Migration – this is perfect for keen photographers and wildlife junkies. Adventurous couples or honeymooners. Repeat visitors to Africa.
  • Explore – guests seeking an authentic tented experience without paring back comfort/luxury. Families, young groups, adventures multi-gen families wanting exclusivity to craft their own days, activities etc and spend time together. Families with adventurous tweens/teens seeking a luxury camping experience off the grid, cooking on the fire etc; perhaps on their second or third safari in Africa. Any travellers truly interested in sustainability and travel with a light footprint. No electricity or wifi.

How many guests do the Singita camps allow?

Sabora: 9 x 1-bedroom tents (Children over 10)
Mara: 4 x 1-bedroom tents & 2 x 2-bedrooms tents (Children over 10)
Explore: 6 x 1-Bedroom Tents

Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Are the tents safe from wildlife at night?

“Guests are reminded that we are based in an unfenced nature reserve, which means wild animals can wander through camp. Guests need to seek the assistance of a guide/tracker/Amukeri to be escorted to/from their tents/suites. Our highly skilled team members will always ensure the safety of guests, but we do not encourage young children or guests wandering around before sunrise or after sunset.

“The highest safety standards are adhered to and guests are briefed on arrival and escorted every morning and evening. There are phones in each suite in case guests have to contact reception for any reason. Each tented suite has adequate lighting and torches.”

What is the bedding like in the camp?

“High-quality beds and linen throughout – the same standard throughout Singita.”

  • Sabora and Mara have single XL beds pushed together to make a king XL on upholstered
  • Explore also has single XL beds pushed together to make a king XL (exactly the same as Mara and Sabora). They have a metal frame – which means the headboard and base are metal as opposed to upholstered.
Singita Sabora Tented Suite, bedroom | Credit: Adriaan Louw

What are the other in-tent facilities like? Are they bush loos and holes in the ground and camp showers, or something much more?

“Absolutely no.”


  • Every suite includes an in-room pantry, as well as bespoke features like a bean-to-cup coffee machine and a juicer. Every guest tent has its own private outdoor sala with daybeds overlooking the plains. All our tented camps and lodges have ensuite bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers.
  • In-room amenities include a bespoke amenity range by Malēe
  • Bar-fridge with fresh milk and handmade cordials, still and sparkling water
  • Indoor and outdoor lounge furniture.
  • Meditation deck, yoga mat and painting supplies, binoculars, sun hat, safari bag, rain poncho, umbrella and warm poncho and kikois supplied to each guest.
  • Fine wine can be paired with your meal and introduced by a Singita sommelier.
  • Signature bar-deli fridges for guests to help themselves to healthy snacks all day.
  • Shower and bath


  • Every suite includes an in-room pantry, as well as bespoke features like a bean-to- cup coffee machine.
  • There is a refreshing plunge pool at the camp
  • Electricity/power available: 240 VAC in the main lounge tent only. This is suitable for charging electronic devices.
  • All our tented camps and lodges have ensuite bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers
  • In-room amenities include a bespoke toiletry range by Malēe
  • Fine wine can be paired with your meal
Singita Explore


  • Every suite includes an in-room pantry, as well as bespoke features like safe andvcoffee plunger; camping fridge with fresh milk; gin and tonic mix; fresh lemons
  • There is a plunge pool and pool sala at the main camp; al fresco lunches can bevserved here.
  • There is no television at this camp.
  • In-room amenities include a bespoke toiletry range by Malēe
  • All our tented camps and lodges have ensuite bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers. MRTC has an outdoor bathtub with views of the Mara River.
  • Wellness treatments can be booked
  • Outdoor furniture for leisurely afternoons
  • No aircon – only fans
  • Signature bar-deli fridges for guests to help themselves to healthy snacks all day.
  • Yoga mat, binoculars, sun hat, safari bag, rain poncho, umbrella and warm ponchoband kikois supplied to each guest.
  • Fine wine can be paired with your meal
Tent bathroom, Singita Mara River Tented Camp | Credit: Emma Jackson

What is the dining experience like at a camp? Communal with other guests, high-end fare?

  • Singita’s farm-to-table food philosophy embraces local flavours and seasonal ingredients with dishes that offer a contemporary and culturally relevant take on East African fare through light dishes designed for easy enjoyment.
  • All dietary requirements can be accommodated.
  • Less animal protein is served and more plant-based menu items
  • Focus on healthy, seasonal, sustainably sourced ingredients.
  • Introducing African ingredients and dishes
  • Swahili feast served at Sabora Tented Camp – tapas and sharing menu (it’s an extension of a guest experience that sees loved ones appreciate the luxury of togetherness, slow down and enjoy the most memorable dining experiences in some of the most exquisite settings on earth.
  • Private dining
Dining Table, dinner service at Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Do guests need to pack differently for a luxury camp, and vary their luggage (duffel bags versus suitcases on wheels)?

“Game drives take place early morning and evenings and it is quite cold before the sun rises and after it sets.

“The day-time temperatures can be warm and sunny and it can get quite hot. Light, natural fabrics like cotton and linen are recommended for during the day and in the evenings, layer up with long trousers, long sleeve vests and a warm jacket. Formal wear is not required at any of our lodges – you are free to come straight from game drive into dinner.”

  • We recommend neutral tones and light colours. Certain colours, like black and navy blue attract Tsetse flies in East Africa and dark colours attract the heat. Brightly coloured clothing can also be distracting on safari. If you plan to do a bush walk, neutral colours are advised. Avoid white/bright colours for bush walks. Laundry is done complimentary at Singita lodges, so that is one less thing to worry about as well and will help with packing lightly.
  • Comfortable shoes are recommended.
  • Natural fibres such as cotton, silk and linen for warm days
  • Yoga mat, binoculars, sun hat, insect repellent, safari bag, rain poncho, umbrella and warm poncho and kikois supplied to each guest.
  • Recommend a warm jacket, a scarf, sunglasses
  • As little luggage as possible due to restrictions on charter flights. Soft-sided bags.

What other useful tips do you have for travel advisors new to selling Singita’s luxury camping options, and what they should be aware of?

  • Be intuitive – know and understand who your guest is and why they are booking.
  • Find out if your guest has been on a previous safari, and where? Have they been to Africa, and have they stayed at any of our previous lodges? What are they hoping to experience?
  • Ask questions. Tell Singita what your guests would love.
  • Demographics – would they prefer a more adventurous holiday – enjoy sitting on the banks of the Lamai river watching the crossing, or would they prefer to relax on a daybed at Sabora.
  • Children, and ages – key to a successful Singita experience.
  • Follow Singita on Social Media to get a feel for the guest experience and watch videos etc. This will help familiarise you with the exceptional offering

For trade enquiries in Australia and New Zealand about all things Singita, contact Lea Seguier –

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