Category Archives: Kruger National Park

Festive Recipe: Hazelnut & Coffee Christmas Cake

December 10, 2014 - Cuisine,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

What do you think of when you imagine the smell of the holiday season? For many of us, it’s the rich aroma of Christmas baking; cinnamon-dusted cookie dough, spiced fruits and freshly baked gingerbread. It’s not much different in the kitchen at Singita during December, as the chefs prepare to welcome visitors and families from all over the world to our uniquely African Christmas table.

Fruit & nut tart

Fruit & nut tart

Festive Cookies at Singita Kruger National Park

Festive cookies

Hazelnut and Coffee Christmas Fruitcake

Hazelnut and Coffee Christmas Cake

Here Singita Kruger National Park‘s Chef de Partie, Christien Schrecker, shares her recipe for Christmas cake with a delicious nutty twist:

Ingredients – what you will need:
250g sultanas
250g dried cranberries
250g chopped dried peaches
50g glace cherries
250g hazelnuts
250g pistachio nuts
1 cup sherry
1 cup brandy
1 cup Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1 cup strong black coffee
125g butter
½ cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
½ cup warm water
½ cup plum jam
1 cup cake flour
¾ cup self-raising flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method – what to do:
1. In a large mixing bowl, soak the dried fruit and nuts with the alcohol and cup of coffee for 24 hours.
2. After the 24 hours, strain the fruits and nuts and keep the liquid for later.
3. Mix the tablespoon of coffee powder with the jam and water and keep aside.
4. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer with the paddle attachment until white and fluffy.
5. Add the eggs, mix thoroughly, then add the jam and coffee mixture.
6. Add the fruits and nuts and all the dry ingredients.
7. Press into a greased tin and cover with foil.
8. Bake the cake at 140˚C for 2 hours, then brush the cake with the leftover alcohol mixture when it comes out of the oven.
9. The cake can get basted with liquid until all of it is absorbed, this can be done at 12 to 24 hour intervals over a couple of days.

Singita Ebony Lodge

Singita Ebony Lodge

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We would love to hear what your favourite Christmas recipes are – please share with us in the comments! If you need any assistance with metric measurements, try this handy online conversion calculator.

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Awards Round-Up 2014

November 28, 2014 - Awards,General,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Singita Grumeti,Sustainable Conservation

Singita Awards 2014

Singita Boulders Lodge

This year Singita has been honored with international recognition received from leading publications around the world. Recently, five of our properties were named among the Top 20 Safari Lodges/Camps in Andrew Harper’s 2014 “Readers’ Choice Awards” with Singita Boulders Lodge chosen as the best safari lodge in the world.

Both Singita Sabi Sand and Singita Kruger National Park, respectively were named as the #1 and #3 Lodges and Resorts in Africa and the Middle East in Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Awards”. In addition to this honor, Singita Sabi Sand, Singita Kruger National Park and Singita Grumeti were named among the top 10 “Best Africa Safari Lodges and Wilderness Spots” in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2014 Gold List (USA).

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Singita Boulders Lodge

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Singita Ebony Lodge

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Singita Lebombo Lodge

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Singita Sweni Lodge

Singita Castleton, which was completely renovated and reopened in 2013, was recognized as one of the best resorts in Robb Report’s annual “Best of the Best” issue and was also listed, along with Singita Grumeti, in their May 2014 “Top 100 Resorts” issue.

Singita Awards 2014

Singita Castleton

Singita Grumeti and Singita Sabi Sand were recognized in Condé Nast Traveller’s UK edition of the “Readers’ Travel Awards,” where they were both listed among the top 10 hotels in the Middle East, Africa & the Indian Ocean. Singita Grumeti was honored as the #1 hotel in hotel in the Middle East, Africa & the Indian Ocean and was also ranked as the #2 travel destination in the World’s Top 100. In addition to the “Reader’s Travel Awards”, Singita Castleton was featured on Condé Nast Traveller’s “Hot List” in the UK.

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Singita Sabora Tented Camp

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Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Most recently the 2014 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards (USA) were announced and Singita Sabi Sand was voted #4 in the world/ #2 in Africa and Singita Grumeti #7 in the world/ #3 in Africa.

Singita Awards 2014

Singita Sabi Sand

Singita has been the fortunate and grateful recipient of a number of awards over the years, all of which you can see on our website. Most recently, Singita was honoured with a World Tourism Award at World Travel Market 2014 in recognition of the company’s outstanding contribution to environmentally conscious hospitality.

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One Day at Singita Kruger National Park

November 10, 2014 - Experience,Kruger National Park

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

We recently received this wonderful piece of writing from a guest at Singita Lebombo Lodge who wanted to share her special experience with us. It describes her arrival at the air strip, her first game drive, the details of her suite and the most treasured memories of her trip. We thought you might like to read it too:

Lebombo Day 2

My bush experience begins as I wait for my transfer from the air strip to the lodge. Where else in the world do you get greeted under an open-sided thatched airport “arrivals lounge” by someone with the charming name of Evidence presenting you with a warm, scented cloth with which to clean your hands? The build-up continues on the ride to the lodge in the open-topped land rover as I hear the field guide talking on his radio to a colleague about a lion kill he has just witnessed and I notice that the guide’s eyes are never still, constantly scanning his surroundings as he drives.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

A further warm welcome awaits me at the lodge when I meet my personal “banakeli” (hostess) who will take care of me during my stay. It feels surreal eating lunch on the deck overlooking the river whilst watching a baby elephant mischievously cavorting in the water below.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Heading to my room, I am thrilled to see nyala antelope grazing alongside the wooden walkways that lead to the private suites that are scattered above the river that runs below the Lodge. My suite is stunning; beautifully appointed and tastefully furnished, and it is only upon closer inspection that I fully appreciate that every element is not only aesthetically pleasing but is also designed to be fully functional, exceptionally comfortable and totally luxurious.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

I notice many unique and brilliant touches: the internal tree trunk in the hallway that looks like it is holding up the ceiling but whose boughs serve as a key holder; a handwoven basket into which I can place all my paraphernalia when going for a game drive; a string of tiny red beads placed around the hot water tap; a cabinet filled with delicious snacks, drinks, a coffee machine, fresh milk, and every other conceivable luxury that one could imagine. I wish that I could spend a week in this haven of hedonism but a late afternoon game drive beckons and so I hurry to the main reception area where a sumptuous tea awaits me before setting off.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

As with the various staff who attend to my comforts and needs, the field guide assigned to me will be responsible for my game viewing and any extra activities that I may wish to experience; be it a game walk or a bush bike ride, star gazing or archery. He will tailor-make any activity to suit me and I am struck that the key element that drives Singita and contributes to the unique experience that it offers, is all about the relationships that one forms; with the wonderful staff, with the environment and the elements, and with the wildlife that forms the integral core of one’s stay.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

I see four of the Big 5 on that first, magical drive, the most poignant of which was the sighting of a two-year-old leopard, the only one of three cubs to survive under the protection of his watchful mother, who herself was subsequently attacked and killed by lions. Stopping for drinks at sunset, crystal glasses and bowls of snacks were laid out on the hood of the vehicle, and we listened to our guide and tracker telling bush tales with the sounds of the wild in the background.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

If my senses weren’t sufficiently awakened by a few hours in the bush, then they certainly were by the food which was to follow! To say I was wined and dined like a queen is an understatement. From my own personal menu designed to include all of my favourite foods, to a selection of wines from one of the finest cellars in the world, I was amazed that the quality, quantity and selection of ingredients is possible, given the remote location and difficulty of accessibility.

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After one of the best night’s sleep for years and a delightful personal wake up call, I make the decision to forego the early morning game drive. Instead I watch from the deck of my suite as a huge herd of elephants slowly make their way along the banks of the river, eating and drinking with all the grace and majesty that befits these magnificent beasts. On my walk up to the main lodge for breakfast, I am accompanied by an amusing troop of vervet monkeys and even see a brazen youngster grabbing a selection of dried fruit from the breakfast table before being chased away by an incensed member of staff. This does nothing to shatter my peace and the opportunity to enjoy some alone time in camp without other guests around.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Later, sipping a coffee made by the lodge’s barista, I reflect upon a day where I felt that every part of me had been touched and was connected to both myself and my surroundings. I ponder the welcome card I found on my pillow that simply states: Singita. Pause/Experience/Remember. I did, I have done and I always shall.

Belinda Lemkus grew up in South Africa and is now based in the UK, where she lives in London with her husband and two daughters. This was her second visit to Singita.

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Fascinating Flora: The Sickle Bush

October 28, 2014 - Did You Know?,Environment,Kruger National Park

Sickle Bush | Singita

The sickle bush (dichrostachys cinerea)

Sickle Bush | Singita

Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

The sickle bush (dichrostachys cinerea) is one of the many splashes of colour that our field guides associate with this time of year, as it generally flowers from October to February. It goes by many names; bell mimosa, Chinese lantern tree, Kalahari Christmas tree and, perhaps most curiously, ‘acacia puncture tyre’. While not in the acacia family at all, it happens to have extremely hard spines capable of puncturing a tyre. The spines are modified stems rather than modified leaves (which you would find in an acacia) and this makes them even harder to break.

Sickle Bush | Singita

Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

The name “sickle bush” stems from the seedpods which are packed close together and each single pod curves in the shape of a sickle. It is a tree that has a preference for brackish soils, and is a highly aggressive encroachment species. In Cuba, where it is known as ‘Marabou weed’, it has become a serious invasive species problem, occupying close to five million acres of agricultural land. It can, if not managed correctly, grow to the point of impenetrable thickets.

Sickle Bush | Singita

Singita Sweni Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

The sickle bush is one of the most widely used medicinal trees throughout Africa. Abdominal pains, eye ailments and snake bites can be treated using parts of a sickle bush. In fact, some of our guides have first-hand knowledge of this powerful natural anaesthetic! One of them reported chewing the leaves to help kill the pain of a toothache, for which it worked brilliantly. The only problem? Within minutes your tongue turns numb as well and then you can’t talk – not ideal for narrating a game drive!

Follow our monthly Wildlife Reports to learn more about the beautiful flora and fauna to be found at our 12 lodges and camps.

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The Story of Eksoni Ndlovu

October 14, 2014 - Did You Know?,Experience,Kruger National Park,People of Singita,Wildlife

eksoni_5

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Like many of the trackers who work at Singita, Eksoni Ndlovu grew up in a small rural community near the Kruger National Park. He learned the basics of tracking and animal interaction as a young man, while tending his family’s cattle and keeping them safe from wild animals. He has since spent more than 23 years honing his craft as an expert tracker and is respected the world over for his skill and perseverance.

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“Tracking is an art, not everyone can do it. You need to be patient and you need to be persistent… A good tracker needs to think like an animal. They need to listen, keep quiet and always be aware.”

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Eksoni’s passion for wildlife conservation is apparent to all those around him. He spends a considerable amount of time passing on his knowledge and experience to apprentice bush rangers so they too can help to preserve this beautiful wilderness. “I’m giving my skills to the community because I want them to learn and follow in my footsteps”.

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Guests also play an important role in protecting, maintaining and enhancing the land. Enos, one of the guides, observes: “We are giving back to conservation by educating our guests about the animals and how we take care of them for future generations.” Singita not only preserves large tracts of land but also works to ensure that people like Eksoni pass on their knowledge to others and in so doing preserve this ancient skill.

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Watch this short video to learn more about Eksoni’s story:

Find out more about Singita’s conservation efforts on our website. You can also share this and other #singitastories via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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Recipe: Mango and Caramel Swiss Roll

September 29, 2014 - Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Mango and Caramel Swiss Roll | Singita

Did you know that the Swiss Roll isn’t even from Switzerland? The first references to this teat-time favourite are in fact British, and variations now abound as far afield as Hong Kong, India, Portugal and Spain. Each region has its own twist on the original, including Singita Kruger National Park‘s mango-and-caramel-flavoured one. Chef de Partie and pastry queen extraordinaire, Christien Schrecker, shares her recipe for this delicious sponge cake roll:

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
For the yellow sponge:
5 egg yolks
1 egg
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
yellow food colouring
45g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
20g melted butter

For the chocolate sponge:
5 egg yolks
1 egg
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
30g self-raising flour
15g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
20g melted butter

For the filling:
1 cup whipped cream
¼ cup Caramel Treat or dulce de leche
2 cups diced fresh mango

Method – what to do:
1. Whisk the egg yolks, whole eggs, sugar and vanilla together until white and fluffy.
2. Add the yellow colouring a little at a time until the desired colour is achieved. (We use 2-3 drops of a concentrated colouring gel)
3. Gently fold in the flour and xanthan gum and then fold in the melted butter.
4. Spread the batter onto a Swiss roll tray (2cm thick) and bake at 160˚C for 10 minutes.
5. As soon as the sponge comes out of the oven, turn it out onto a clean, dry tea towel.
6. Roll the sponge up tightly while still warm, and keep aside until cool.
7. Repeat steps 1-6 with the ingredients for the chocolate sponge.
8. Unroll the yellow sponge and spread the caramel over it then sandwich the chocolate sponge on top. Spread the cream over the chocolate sponge and scatter with mango.
9. Roll the cake up tightly and trim the edges for serving.

Here’s a handy online volume converter if you need help with the metric measurements and you can find more great recipe ideas here.

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Recipe: Frozen Guava Parfait

August 28, 2014 - Cuisine,Kruger National Park

Frozen guava parfait | Singita Kruger National Park

Tea time | Singita Kruger National Park

Chef de Partie at Singita Kruger National Park, Christien Schrecker, is well known for her delicious and imaginative creations that take inspiration from Africa. Past delights include giraffe-shaped cinnamon doughnuts and chocolate and mint macarons made with a dash of Amarula!

Today she tells us how to make this refreshing frozen guava parfait, which makes for the perfect conclusion to a lazy summer meal. It is served at the lodges with coconut sorbet, crumbled red velvet cake and a raspberry coulis – is anyone else’s mouth watering now!?

Ingredients – what you will need:
190g guava puree
190ml cream, whipped
75g caster sugar
13ml water
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
2 egg whites

Method – what to do:
1. Fold the guava puree into the whipped cream and keep aside.
2. Place the whole eggs and egg yolks in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and whisk on high speed
3. Meanwhile, place the first amount (75g) of caster sugar and water into a small sauce pan and bring to the boil.
4. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and slowly pour the syrup into the whisking eggs in a slow and steady stream. Do not let the syrup touch the whisk or it will splatter onto the sides of the bowl.
5. Leave the mixture on high speed until cool, then fold it into the guava cream.
6. Make a stiff meringue with the remaining (40g) of caster sugar and the egg whites, and fold it into the guava cream.
7. Spread the mixture into a lined tray and place in the freezer for at least four hours, or ideally, overnight.
8. When serving the parfait, allow to defrost slightly and then slice with a clean, hot knife.

Share your homemade parfait with us on Instagram by tagging @Singita_ and follow Christien for more scrumptious photos from the kitchen at Singita Kruger National Park. You can also find more great recipe ideas here and here’s a handy online volume converter if you need help with the metric measurements.

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Design Details: Singita Lebombo Lodge

August 12, 2014 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

In a recent blog post, we shared how Head Chef Archie Maclean interprets the architecture and design of Singita Lebombo Lodge on each exquisite plate of food. The plating style reflects both the contemporary décor of the lodge and it’s rugged location overlooking the N’wanetsi River:

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

The architectural and interior design of Singita Lebombo Lodge was informed profoundly by its location on a craggy cliff-face. The challenge for the design team was to provide a heightened experience of this dramatic, panoramic position and seamless views of the bush. Taking cues from nature’s finest engineers, the design concept was inspired by the position and structure of nests, dens, eyries and lairs.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Many animals and birds, particularly the Black Eagle, create secure shelter for themselves on raised ground using forms that, though exposed and sometimes precarious in position, are expertly merged with landscape. With this in mind, the design team translated the concept of the animal-made shelter to the form of a man-made shelter, by imagining how nomadic man would set up camp on the African plain; on a high point and under a tree for shade. This dynamic allows one to instinctively experience the psychological assurance of enclosure on the one hand, and the exhilaration of exposure and proximity to the elements on the other.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

The design consequently became a physical interpretation of primal, yet human, home-making instincts, but with an association between technology and craft, the abstract and the organic. Further to the design direction was the ecologically sensitive notion to “touch the ground lightly”, meaning that no aspect of the construction should impose on the site now or in twenty years time when the concession comes to an end.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

It is this respectful approach to the natural habitat that has set the aesthetic tone for the environment in which our guests find themselves. Even when indoors, you have the sensation of always being close to the elements. Here, walls are not barriers; instead each villa is a translucent glass tent with a roof a canopy of branches that allows dappled sunlight and rays of the moon to shine through.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

The interior of each room is designed to enable simple and ergonomic interaction with the large, open living space which can also be broken down into easily transformable zones for lying down, bathing, sitting, sleeping and sunning. Each area is also versatile; the outdoor sun beds are tented at night to allow guests to sleep under the stars, while the desk transforms into a kitchenette at a whim.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Imaginative wood, steel and organic interiors, all encased in glass, create a stylishly contemporary feel in the suites and make the most of the astonishing views overlooking the river.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

This boldly dramatic lodge, home to fifteen loft-style suites, is situated on Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park and was created by the team at Cécile & Boyd. The exclusive concession is a richly diverse habitat, teeming with game, beneath endless African skies. You can find out more about Singita Lebombo Lodge by completing our enquiry form, or contacting enquiries@singita.com

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The Story of the Super Sweni Team

August 05, 2014 - Kruger National Park,People of Singita,Singita Sweni Lodge

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

Guest book at Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

Super Sweni Team

There is one word that appears over and over again in the guest book at Singita Sweni Lodge, and it is “family”. It’s not only the visitors to this tranquil, intimate hideaway who feel like part of our family, but also our staff; the men and women who make up the Super Sweni Team! This group of experienced professionals care for our guests with humility and good humour, while sharing the bond of enduring friendship with one another.

Angelique Helmchen, Lodge Manager

Angelique Helmchen, Lodge Manager

Lucky Legong, Amukeri

Lucky Legong, Amukeri

It is a close-knit group whose passion and positivity manifests in every aspect of their work, making a trip to Singita Sweni Lodge a truly magical experience. Lucky Legong is the lodge amukeri, someone who welcomes and looks after the guests, which she does with her warm smile and trademark enthusiasm. “Behind the scenes there is a lot of singing, a lot of laughter. It’s a very nice, loving, supportive environment.”

Thabela Mashile, Banakeli

Thabela Mashile, Banakeli

Oriel Mbowane, Sous Chef

Oriel Mbowane, Sous Chef

Each team member, while responsible for a key part of the operation of the lodge, also complements the others by stepping in to help whenever necessary. As sous chef Oriel Mbowane says, “Sweni angels are always smiling, hard working, always going that extra mile”. Together, this dedicated and spirited group ensure that every visit to Singita Sweni Lodge feels like coming home.

Beauty Mashego, Banakeli

Beauty Mashego, Banakeli

This year we are telling the extraordinary stories of our staff members, the people of Singita who make a visit to our lodges and camps completely unforgettable. Please share these stories via our social media channels and follow the hashtag #singitastories for more. 

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The Cutest Cubs

August 04, 2014 - Conservation,Kruger National Park,Wildlife

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

Singita Kruger National Park is especially well-known for its exceptional big cat population, as well as a remarkable concentration of the rest of the ‘Big 5’. They have free reign over Singita’s 33 000-acre concession in the southeastern reaches of the Kruger National Park, and beyond.

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

There are a number of large “mega prides” in the area, the sheer size of which is forcing groups to split off and create their own prides and start new bloodlines in the process. In April this year, it was reported that the five Shishangaan males had fought their way in and taken over the territory from two previous males. This led to copious mating activity, the results of which we are starting to see in the N’wanetsi section of the Park.

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

In the June Wildlife Report from the region, field guide Nick du Plessis says: “The Mountain pride of lions is, and has been for a while, growing at a rapid rate. To date we’ve seen a total of fifteen cubs in the northern half of the Xhikelengane drainage, with a couple of adult females still looking very heavily pregnant – and cubs from them are imminent. The pride at this point is still fairly fragmented, which is by no means unusual, with most of the cubs still being too young to leave den-sites and follow the pride. This should all change once the cubs reach the age where they are introduced to the rest of the pride, at which point they only have a couple of months before they are weaned and the pride needs its strength in numbers. With the small pans and waterholes slowly drying up, water is becoming less readily available with the defining change of the season. With all the general game concentrating where there is still a place to drink it won’t be long before all the pride members will converge at this point.”

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

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The photos you see here are by field guide and wildlife photographer Barry Peiser, who tracked the lions while working at Singita Kruger National Park. He observed the Mountain pride moving with their cubs between the northern and eastern parts of the concession, hiding the youngsters in the drainage line where long grass and fallen tress offer good coverage for them.

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

You can follow the antics of these gorgeous little cubs on Facebook and in our monthly Wildlife Reports. You can also subscribe to the blog to see more of Barry’s photos of the cubs in the coming weeks.

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