Category Archives: Experience

A Winter Weekend at Singita Sweni Lodge Part 2

July 17, 2015 - Experience,Lodges and Camps,Singita Sweni Lodge

An important part of the magic of going on safari is the experience of intimacy with nature. Nothing can prepare you for the innate sense of peace that arises after only a few hours spent in the wild, in the company of some of the most beautiful and exotic creatures on earth, and in a spectacular, untamed landscape. This feeling of closeness with the natural world is never more apparent than during an evening spent under the stars, listening to the wind rustling in the trees and the distant call of a cackling hyena.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

Each one of Singita Sweni Lodge‘s six private suites features a large wooden deck suspended over the river below, and surrounded by knobthorn and marula woodland. Nestled in the corner of each deck is a luxurious outdoor bed, draped in a delicate layer of mosquito netting and a cosy goose-down duvet. At this time of year, which is cooler in South Africa, soft blankets and hot water bottles are slipped between the sheets for extra comfort. It is a wonderful spot to spend a quiet afternoon with a good book, and also provides an opportunity for guests to enjoy an entire night outside. The beds receive a special turndown after dark and are equipped with a handy kit of overnight essentials, including a flashlight and insect repellant.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

Sleeping on the deck in the cool night air is an almost indescribable sensation; there is an element of vulnerability certainly, but more than that, it brings a humbling awareness of one’s place in the world and harmony with the Earth. The smells and sounds of the bush soon become a rhythmic lullaby that sends guests into a long and restful slumber.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

The twittering of birds is usually the first thing one hears upon waking – rollers, drongos, kingfishers and even the haunting cry of the fish eagle echoing across the stillness. Come morning, it’s easy to catch a flash of feathers as they dart along the river bank looking for breakfast. The chill of dawn is thawed by a steaming cup of freshly-brewed coffee, best enjoyed from the comfort and warmth of the bed. A grunting hippo in the rockpool nearby is the only other sound one is likely to hear as the sun rises on another glorious winter’s day in the African bush.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

Read part one of this blog mini-series from Singita Sweni Lodge which is a real hit with the foodies – a recipe for homemade pasta puttanesca, the perfect winter lunch! You can also find out more about the lodge in this short film on our Vimeo channel

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In the Kitchen at the Reimagined Singita Ebony Lodge

July 15, 2015 - Cuisine,Experience,Singita Ebony Lodge

The recent reimagining of Singita Ebony Lodge has created a contemporary safari experience unlike any other, combining the romance of a tented camp with the style of a classic bush lodge. This more modern interpretation of an African wilderness adventure is reflected throughout the lodge, including in the approach taken by the talented kitchen team.

Singita Sabi Sand, South Africa

Many of the global food trends charted by the industry’s sharpest minds have trickled down to our little piece of Africa, where creative and delicious creations are prepared throughout the day. And while the inspiration for the preparation and plating of these meals might be traditional (classic French cooking methods, beautiful but simple presentation), the ingredients can be much more innovative and nutritious.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

Tried-and-tested flavour combinations are paired with mouthwatering “superfoods”, making more healthy options than ever available at meal times. For example, breakfast features a raw, sugar- and fat-free granola as well as a decadent honey-roasted seed and nut option to have with seasonal fruit. Freshly-pressed vegetable juice, wheatgrass and kombucha are served alongside a selection of premium coffees and teas to suit every palate.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

This season, our chefs are inspired by juicy heirloom tomatoes, organic maple syrup, local goats cheese, candy-stripe beetroot and all manner of homemade jams, marmalades and chutneys. One of the most popular dishes on the constantly evolving menu is a pan-fried quail, served with wild mushrooms, sage and polenta – a real winter warmer! As ever, the dietary needs of our guests are always considered, and speciality menus are designed regularly by our chefs to take any and all preferences into account.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

The new Singita Ebony Lodge comprises 12 suites, each with its own private plunge pool. Guests are immersed in nature with huge open spaces and interiors inspired by a combination of local tribal culture and the animal kingdom. Read more »

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Design by Nature: Singita Boulders Lodge

July 02, 2015 - Experience,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge

Nature has always been an inspiration for the aesthetic at Singita’s lodges, and no less so at Singita Boulders Lodge in South Africa. This new short film takes the viewer on an evocative journey through the design process with interior designer Boyd Ferguson and Singita CEO, Luke Bailes, to reveal a space rich with colour and texture. Inspired by the essential elements of fire, earth, wind and water, every detail combines to create a harmonious palette that integrates seamlessly with the raw beauty of the landscape beyond.

Singita Boulders Lodge

Rustic, handmade furnishings made from fossilised tree stumps, slabs of solid stone, wrought iron and leather are balanced with the soft, sensual feeling of a sheep-skin rug, natural flax bed linen and cloud-like cotton towels. These subtle layers of luxury blend soulful, sensual Africa with high design to instil a sense of tranquillity and ease guests into the rhythm of safari life.

Singita Boulders Lodge

Singita Boulders Lodge is set along the banks of the Sand River in Singita’s privately owned concession within the Sabi Sand Reserve. Follow us on Vimeo to see more short films about the lodge, the landscape in which it sits and the stunning wildlife at Singita Sabi Sand.

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Game Drive G&T

June 26, 2015 - Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park

For a gin and tonic lover, there is nothing quite as wonderful as that first sip from a freshly-made cocktail; that initial hit of bitterness, the dance of bubbles across the tongue and the clink of ice blocks against the glass. And those who have experienced it on the edge of a waterhole in the gathering dusk will tell you that the most delicious gin and tonic is one served off the back of a game vehicle.

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

These days, gin is gaining in popularity as a “trendy” spirit, spawning a variety of artisanal producers who distill the liquor using traditional methods and creating interesting new flavour profiles. The bars at Singita are stocked with a variety of well-known brands as well as a few bottles of handcrafted gin, like the Amber variety from Inverroche, a small batch distiller in Still Bay, South Africa. The well balanced and full bodied flavour combines the fresh floral botanicals of Africa with spices and berries from India and Europe.

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

A classic gin and tonic can be spiced up with all sorts of interesting ingredients, like lavender flowers, grapefruit zest, slices of cucumber, a twist of black pepper or a sprig of rosemary. Purists would no doubt prefer the simplicity of the original, so here is the recipe for a traditional gin and tonic, best enjoyed with a view and preferably a Big 5 sighting!

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

How to make the perfect gin and tonic:

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
2 oz. (60ml) of gin
3 oz. (90ml) tonic water
A handful of ice cubes
2 lime wedges

Method – what to do:
1. Squeeze one of the lime wedges into the bottom of a highball glass then drop in the wedge
2. Pour in the gin
3. Fill the glass most of the way with ice then stir for a few seconds
4. Top with tonic water and the second lime wedge (not squeezed)

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

These photographs were taken on a recent game drive in Singita Kruger National Park, a 33,000-acre concession on the South African border with Mozambique. The lodges in this reserve, Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge, were built to “touch the earth lightly”, as part of Singita’s mission is to create and maintain a balance between conservation, community development and ecotourism. You can find out more about this philosophy on our website.

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Design Details: Singita Castleton

June 01, 2015 - Accommodation,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Singita Castleton

Singita Castleton, South Africa

Set in park-like indigenous grasslands fronting onto bushveld vistas, Singita Castleton is an private-use lodge unlike any other. Imbued with a history acquired over generations, this private getaway offers guests a never-to-be-forgotten bush experience in the heart of the Sabi Sand. Designed to create an intimate experience for family and friends, Singita Castleton offers the seclusion of a private home, where every need is attended to in a surrounding that is infinitely peaceful and secluded.

Singita Castleton, South Africa

A palette of warm, earthy tones, cloudy greys and dried parchment grass colours complement a series of South African botanical art etchings commissioned exclusively for the house, each one reflecting an example of local indigenous flora. The botanical imagery is repeated in the signature wallpaper while elsewhere in the house collected installations with historical references add an element of nostalgia to the décor.

Singita Castleton, South Africa

Honest, humble textures of worn leather, linen and ticking stripe fabrics pair with bagged washed walls, pewter chandeliers and hand-woven grass lampshades, evoking the classic simplicity of a bygone era. Honest meals made in the welcoming farmhouse kitchen are served on a time-worn heritage dining room table. Hand-picked antiques, horn and tribal artefacts are layered with modern counterparts to create an eclectic boutique destination. The study is a quiet corner of solitude, decorated with accents of bone and prints. This pared-down aesthetic allows the house to breathe, harmonising English furniture with Asian accessories introduced by the sea traders who sailed down the East coast of the continent, and African influences.

Singita Castleton, South Africa

The tended lawns embrace secluded garden bungalow suites, each offering additional privacy and retreat. The bedrooms harmoniously layer antique furnishings with industrial elements, linens and hand-loomed cotton in painterly floral prints, cosy throws and comfortable down pillows. There is a delicate balance of masculine and feminine sensibilities in muted tones with touches of sepia. The romantic bathrooms balance delicate details with metal doors and anglepoise lamps. Basins set into oversized workbenches reference vintage industrial design, but in a modern conversation, fresh and interested.

Singita Castleton, South Africa

Singita Castleton, South Africa

And, in true African lodge style, deep verandahs frame vast views to create additional living space designed to be lounged in during the still heat of the afternoon and retreated to while absorbing the subdued evening sounds of the surrounding bush. The garden lends itself to traditional lawn games – the sack race, egg and spoon, perhaps a game of croquet. The spa offers a heavenly simplicity with references to vintage industrial elements. An outdoor boma for fireside dinners under the stars completes the authentic African bush experience.

DISCOVER SINGITA CASTLETON:

Formerly the family home of Singita founder Luke Bailes’ grandfather, Singita Castleton is set within 45,000 acres of private reserve. The lodge consists of a main house with communal living spaces, and accommodation located in six individual cottages within the grounds, catering for up to 12 people. Please contact our Reservations team to find out more about this exclusive-use property.

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Introducing the Shishangaan Lions

May 29, 2015 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Safari,Wildlife

shishangaan_7

If you follow our Facebook page or are an avid reader of our monthly Wildlife Reports, you will no doubt have seen the thrilling news of the recent birth of not one but two rare white lion cubs at Singita Kruger National Park. This remarkable event was first announced in July last year, in a very exciting note from field guide Nick du Plessis: “On the 11th of July we had a sighting, that when it came over the radio, you could hardly believe your ears! Clement had found and called in members of the Shishangaan pride with cubs, but one of the cubs was just a little different. He is snow white!”

shishangaan_1

He went on to say: “The fact that this rare white lion is seen as far east as this in the Kruger National Park is nothing short of a miracle, and as far as we know has never been spotted or recorded in this area before! The fact that the rare white lions continue to reoccur in their natural habitat despite historical forced removals by humans for commercial trophy hunting and breeding in the 1970s is a real testimony to their genetic diversity and pure resilience! We hope this is just the beginning of something very very special at Singita Kruger National Park.”

shishangaan_11

Nick proved to be correct, as the white lion cubs have become one of the stars of the monthly guide’s journals from the region. Here are a few snippets from recent Wildlife Reports, following the progress of the cubs and the rest of the Shishangaan pride over the past few months:

December 2014
The large Shishangaan Pride has made a long awaited return to the concession! For the last few months, following the fires, the pride had been non-existent and majority of our lion sightings had been of the Mountain Pride, further north. When the rains finally came and the burnt areas started to green up and teem with wildlife, the lions were caught on the wrong side of the now-flowing N’wanetsi River and it wasn’t possible to cross safely at Gudzane stream with their cubs.

shishangaan_9

Shortly after, and seemingly out of nowhere, lion tracks were seen around the central parts of the concession! The previous day we had seen four of the dominant males further north of this location. Upon investigation, we stumbled upon a magnificent sighting of 21 lions (and this isn’t even the full complement of the Shishangaan Pride)! Five lionesses with 16 cubs of varying ages and sizes were seen, including the white lion cub, which looks slightly dirty, but is growing well and thriving. This leaves five lionesses unaccounted for, some of which should have cubs! With the pride having successfully hunted and fed where there is so much plains game, we hope that they will stay on the western side of the concession.

So far the Shishangaan Pride has been seen much further south of the concession than we have ever known them to be, which means with the dominant males around, there is a definite shift in territory. This is because the lionesses with cubs need to be as close to the central parts of their territories as possible and thus avoid the chance of encountering any nomadic male lions that would try to hurt or kill the cubs.

shishangaan_12

January 2015
The Shishangaan male lions brought down a fully-grown female giraffe in the middle of the month. They seem to have perfected a hunting technique of late, with it being their third giraffe kill in as many months. There was a total of 36 sightings of the Shishangaan pride this month, including 16 cubs from five lionesses and the strong and healthy-looking 9-month-old white lion cub.

shishangaan_8

February 2015:
It is sometimes quite difficult to decide what to write about in a monthly journal, there are normally a couple of particularly interesting events to choose from which may have happened or been developing over some time. But this month was an absolute ‘no-brainer’ as the sightings and regularity of the Shishangaan pride has never been more dependable. Guests have enjoyed a total of 63 lion sightings this month, most of which have been of the Shishangaan pride.

What has made it even more exciting, and was the reason for the pride splitting in the first place, is the number of cubs that have been seen in the last couple of weeks. We now believe there to be a total of at least 28 cubs, with a further two lactating females that haven’t brought their little cubs out of hiding yet. And within that huge number of cubs there is a second little white cub! We knew there was a chance of this, but to actually see the second little cub as proof that the gene is definitely in circulation was just brilliant, and this time it is a female! Why that is so important is that the young white male, once reaching sexual maturity, will be evicted from the pride and we may never see him again – this is the species way of discouraging inbreeding. On the other hand, with a bit of luck, the female should theoretically spend her entire life within the pride, meaning staying in this area, reaching maturity and having cubs of her own.

shishangaan_5

March 2015:
A total of 89 lion sightings this month. The majority of the sightings (67) were of the bigger portion of the Shishangaan pride, which comprises of 5 lionesses and 17 cubs, one of them being the older male white cub. The smaller portion of the pride has the young female white cub and she is also doing well.

SEE THE PRIDE IN ACTION:

Don’t miss the next sighting of these beautiful lions – follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the latest news, photos and video straight from our field guides.

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Singita Ebony Lodge Comes Full Circle

May 08, 2015 - Accommodation,Experience,Sabi Sand,Singita Ebony Lodge

Singita was originally founded in 1993 with the opening of Ebony Lodge on family owned land that became part of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. When Luke Bailes, owner of Singita, bought and consolidated the land from his grandfather, he set about restoring it.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

In 1992, Bailes asked his old school friend, Mark Witney, if he was interested in taking time out from the city to open a new safari venture. He was. Soon after, Witney moved to the bush where he assumed multiple roles for many years – lodge manager, safari guide, maintenance man, and even relief pilot for the inter-lodge Cessna Caravan shuttle service – before employing an assistant lodge manager.

Twenty-two years later, Singita Ebony Lodge is set to reopen after an extensive reinvention, elevating the lodge to the same forward-thinking standard of innovation as the recently reopened Singita Boulders Lodge. The end result is a conscious departure from what may have been expected – or anything that has gone before. Instead, a quintessential safari aesthetic that captures the spirit and sentiment of the original while adding a youthful, relaxed charm, has been added.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

Singita’s evolution from a single-lodge company to one that is now responsible for more than half a million acres of land, operating 12 lodges and camps in five wilderness regions across three African countries, has always been characterised by a pioneering spirit and a sincere desire to preserve wilderness areas for future generations. Its low-impact, high-value tourism model – fewer guests paying a premium for the privilege of experiencing vast open spaces – exists to sustain these wilderness areas and their resident wildlife, while providing an exclusive safari experience.

Singita Ebony Lodge stands on the banks of the Sand River in the heart of South Africa’s “big cat country”, beneath the leafy branches of the ancient and enormous trees for which it is named. The lodge is due to re-open in mid-June 2015; please contact our Reservations team to find out more.

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Dinner & Drinks, On the Rocks

April 16, 2015 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Bush dinner at the granophyre | Singita Kruger National Park

If you have ever had the pleasure of standing on the wide wooden deck at Singita Lebombo Lodge and looking into the distance, you will have noticed the unusual rock formations on the horizon. This dramatic rhyolite and granophyre ridge is characteristic of the area and divides the eastern plains of the Kruger National Park from the Lebombo koppies.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

It is a favourite spot for bush dinners with guests; an unforgettable private dining experience under the stars. The evening game drive will start as usual in the late afternoon, as your field guide and tracker take you on a winding journey through the 33 000 acre concession as the sun begins to set. You are likely to spot any number of wildlife – perhaps a leopard sprawled on a leadwood branch, a herd of elephants bathing in the river or even one of the famously large prides of lion, on the hunt for their meal.

After a brief sundowner stop, you’ll begin to make your way back towards the lodge, or so you will think! As you approach the granophyre, you’ll see the twinkling light of hurricane lamps through the branches of the prolific euphorbias, as the stars begin to emerge overhead. The vehicle descends into a clearing over which the enormous granite rocks loom, and you see your banakeli waiting with a crisp glass of sparkling wine and a candlelit dinner table.

Bush dinner at the granophyre | Singita Kruger National Park

Bush dinner at the granophyre | Singita Kruger National Park

What happens next is the stuff of fantasy for most: you are served an elegant meal by a private chef, each course paired with your favourite wines, as recommended by the lodge sommelier. The flickering light dances on the rock face as you relive memorable moments from your visit to Singita Kruger National Park, and the moon rises slowly above the trees. It is an evening that you are unlikely to ever forget.

Bush dinner at the granophyre | Singita Kruger National Park

Bush dinner at the granophyre | Singita Kruger National Park

Singita Kruger National Park’s mission is to create and maintain a balance between conservation, community development, and ecotourism. The properties in the concession, Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge, have been built with this ideal in mind and both integrate the ‘touch the earth lightly’ philosophy into every aspect of their daily operations. Find out more about Singita’s conservation and community development initiatives on our website

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Bringing Shangaan Culture to Life at the Kambako Living Museum

March 19, 2015 - Community Development,Experience,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Richard and Sarah Madden are freelance travel writers and filmmakers currently documenting life in and around Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. Their series of short films from the region is entitled “Bush Tales” and explores Singita’s community development, ecotourism and conservation work in Southern Africa. In this, their latest report, they paid a visit to a unique and culturally significant community project near the lodge.

Kambako Cultural Village, Zimbabwe | Singita Pamushana Lodge

Sarah Madden has a lesson in Shangaan culture

Kambako is the local Shangaan word for ‘Old Bull Elephant’ and is the name chosen by Julius Matshuve for the Living Museum of Bushcraft he founded in 2011.

“Kambako is like a wise, old man who is taking us in the right direction,” says Julius. “The older generation who know the old ways will soon be gone and the aim of the Living Museum is to teach their skills and knowledge to the younger generation before they are lost forever.”

Kambako is located just outside the Malilangwe Reserve surrounding Singita Pamushana and has become a very popular excursion for guests at the lodge. The local Shangaan community are directly descended from the Zulu tribes that split away from Shaka Zulu at the beginning of the 19th Century and came to settle in this area of what is now Zimbabwe.

Kambako Cultural Village, Zimbabwe | Singita Pamushana Lodge

In the recent past, the Shangaan people were hunter gatherers and their traditional lifestyle is recreated through demonstrations of practical skills which visitors can see in action and try them out for themselves. These include making fire from friction, identifying tubers, water divining, bow and arrow making and shooting, snares for trapping small game, smelting and forging iron, basketry, food production and cooking.

Kambako Cultural Village, Zimbabwe | Singita Pamushana Lodge

An intimate knowledge of the natural resources available and an in-depth understanding of animal behaviour is vital for success as a hunter-gatherer and as the Shangaan made the transition to their current agro-pastoral lifestyle, new skills also became necessary such as the construction and use of a smelter and forge.

Kambako Cultural Village, Zimbabwe | Singita Pamushana Lodge

The adaptability and ingenuity of the human spirit is emphasised throughout the visit and the pros and cons of the Shangaan way of life are discussed in relation to a modern first world existence. “Today’s young generation have contact with many foreign cultures and technology is in danger of taking over their lives,” says Julius. “When I was young we could only talk to an older man kneeling down and we were not allowed to talk during meals.

Kambako Cultural Village, Zimbabwe | Singita Pamushana Lodge

“While we would not want to go back to that, it is so important that the old skills are not lost forever. We want to teach the young people how to survive even if there are no shops and no technology. If you are lost in the forest, the young need to know how to survive and make life out of natural resources.”

WATCH THE VIDEO

The Kambako Living Museum is a 45-minute game drive from Singita Pamushana Lodge. Guests can tour the village as well as undertake any number of enriching activities in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These include visits to significant San Bushmen rock art sites, game fishing in the dam, a romantic sundowner cruise and hitting the trails on a mountain bike. Visit our website to find out more about Singita Pamushana Lodge.

You can see Richard and Sarah’s other “Bush Tales” reports here.

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Cocktail Recipe: Blueberry Gin Royale

March 19, 2015 - Cuisine,Experience,Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania

Perched atop a gently sloping hill in northern Tanzania, with a breathtaking view across the Serengeti plains, lies a turn-of-the-century stone manor house with a sweeping veranda that leads down to a lush, rolling lawn. This is Singita Sasakwa Lodge; an elegant property that harks back to the safari splendour of yesteryear.

Singita Sasakwa Lodge

From Sasakwa Hill, the eye is irresistibly drawn over the endless grasslands and acacia forests below, to the blue mountains in the distant horizon. Year-round, the area boasts an abundance of game and it is a very special experience to watch the animals scattered across the wide plains, or witness the spectacle of a rainbow after a welcome shower of rain.

Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania

Singita Sasakwa Lodge holds special appeal for those with a passion for refined luxury, ensconcing its guests in comfort, charm and old-world sophistication. The food and beverage menu at the lodge reflects this, and traditional cooking methods are approached with a classic but experimental attitude. One such example is the Blueberry Gin Royale – a fruity, refreshing twist on the more typical Sloe Royale. This cocktail epitomises the regal opulence of the classically beautiful Singita Sasakwa Lodge.

Blueberry Gin Royale | Singita Sasakwa Lodge

BLUEBERRY GIN ROYALE

Ingredients – what you will need:
1 cup blueberries + extra for garnish
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 bottle of sparkling wine
½ cup gin
4 long sprigs of thyme
1 cup ice

Method – what to do:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the blueberries, water and sugar to a boil
2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the blueberries are soft and the simple syrup has turned to a bright pink colour
3. Remove from the heat then drain the blueberries and allow to cool
4. In a cocktail shaker, add the ice and gin and shake until the gin is ice cold
5. Divide the gin between the four Champagne flutes and add 1 tablespoon of blueberry syrup to each glass
6. Slowly pour the sparkling wine down the side of the glass until it is ¾ full
7. Garnish with fresh blueberries and a sprig of thyme

Makes 4 servings

Singita Sasakwa Lodge is one of five lodges and camps in Singita Grumeti, situated adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The region forms an integral part of the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, the home of the Great Migration and excellent year-round game viewing. Learn more about the area on our website or watch this video to see its incredible beauty for yourself.

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