Category Archives: Kruger National Park

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

eksoni_3

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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A Visit from Matador Network

July 22, 2014 - Accommodation,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

The lodges at Singita Kruger National Park recently received a visit from Ross Borden and Scott Sporleder of Matador Network, an independent online travel community. They documented their stay in this article on the site, accompanied by some gorgeous photographs we wanted to share with you:

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

The rooms at the Lebombo lodge are spread across a ridge that runs right down to a major river in the park. We stayed at one of the suites pictured here, which looks out directly over the river. Although it’s a longer walk to and from reception, the sights and sounds of wildlife at the river made it feel like we were out on a game drive even during downtime at the room.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

One of the many dozens of elephants we saw in our four days at Singita Kruger National Park.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Although every guide at Singita carries a rifle in each Land Rover and wears a belt full of bullets, they’re never used. Each guide brings a wealth of knowledge to the table regarding animal behaviour and how to stay safe in the bush.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

A roof of one of the suites at Singita Lebombo Lodge looking out on the river below.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Like the common spaces at every Singita property, the suites are all super stylish, but the real genius of these rooms is their isolation from each other and the privacy guests enjoy.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Somehow they’ve spaced each room out from the next so that each guest room has complete privacy from other guests and staff, as well as an individual and intimate connection to the surrounding nature.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Singita guests wait for a female cheetah to show them the speed and grace of an evening hunt.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Between each game drive you’ll be treated to an amazing lunch, and if you get too hot by the pool you can read a book in the shade or take a dip.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

And just when you thought the luxury service couldn’t get any better, your guide and tracker will stop the vehicle during each evening game drive and set up a cocktail bar right there in the middle of the bush. Snacks and cocktails surrounded by wildlife… magic.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Did you know a large group of zebras is called a “dazzle”?

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Making eye contact with one of the young, hungry-looking male lions only a few feet away from your open-top vehicle can be quite a moment.

Matador Network visits Singita Kruger National Park

Scott and Ross with Field Guide, Enos, and tracker, Sunday

Matador is an independent media company that launched in 2006 with the vision for a travel site and community based on the the real cultures, people, and places they encounter. You can see their photos from Singita Sabi Sand on the site and watch a beautiful video of their experience on their YouTube channel.

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Art on a Plate: Food Styling at Singita Lebombo Lodge

July 18, 2014 - Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Archie Maclean is Head Chef at Singita Kruger National Park and is responsible for managing the kitchen team that produces edible delights for our guests on a daily basis. As with all Singita’s lodges and camps, the food and plating style at Singita Lebombo Lodge is designed to reflect the ambience and décor of the fifteen loft-style suites in this boldly dramatic lodge.

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge

The main focus at Singita Lebombo Lodge is always on fresh food, interesting flavour combinations and a “contemporary informal” visual element. The ingredients of each dish are also considered in terms of their environmental sustainability, with a strong preference for incorporating local produce. The composition of each dish is a little more modern to reflect the style of the lodge, and this is carried through to the cooking methods employed, such as sous-vide, smoking and curing. These also happen to be very healthy ways to prepare food, and lend an elemental feeling to the menu; sous-vide being water, smoking being fire and curing being earth. This modernity is balanced out with open fire and spit cooking which takes things back to basics, while being quintessentially African.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Meal times at Singita Lebombo Lodge should be relaxed and guests are encouraged to eat what they like, to avoid the kitchen being too prescriptive. Formal dinners with suit and tie are not the norm – guests can choose when they eat and what they wear to dinner. The menu is full of healthy options and portions are generous but never excessive. The chef is also very happy to provide plenty of choices for those with special dietary requirements or preferences.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

The strategy for plating each dish is to remain innovative without being over-the-top, and avoid crowding the plate so that the eye has space in which to rest. This is a classic example of negative space theory which is key to aesthetic composition.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

The contemporary style of the lodge serves as inspiration for alternative dining experiences, like sharing meals “family style”, where large dishes are placed on the table and passed around by the guests to serve themselves. Tapas and tasting plates are also a popular way for guests to enjoy their food, allowing them to sample a greater variety of menu options.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Food will always be an important part of the Singita experience, with guests having seven “official” opportunities to eat throughout the day. We of course encourage them to take advantage of all of these, so main meals are kept at a reasonable size and snacks are fresh and light; just enough to whet your appetite!

The first photo in this post is from the Matador Network, an independent online travel community, whose founders recently visited Singita Kruger National Park. You can see more of their gorgeous photos here and watch a wonderful video of their trip.

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