Category Archives: Kruger National Park

Sharing the fun on Facebook

August 21, 2015 - Kruger National Park,Singita Mara River Tented Camp,Singita Sasakwa Lodge,Wildlife

Singita’s Facebook page is a treasure trove of gorgeous wildlife photography, shared stories from guests, snapshots from the lodges and real-time updates from our field guides. It’s a great way to see what happens out on game drive and behind the scenes at each of our 12 lodges and camps, and see stunning photos of your favourite African animals. In case you haven’t yet liked our page, here is a quick recap of the most recent posts:

Singita on Facebook

The Lilac-breasted Roller is one of the few species of birds that are adding colour to the dry bush veld during this season. These birds get their name from the aerial acrobatics they perform during courtship or territorial flights. Rollers are often spotted quite quickly in the bush as they often perch prominently whilst hunting, in search of insects on the ground.

Singita on Facebook

It is that time of year again, when guests at Singita Mara River Tented Camp are treated to one of the greatest shows on earth. Our Camp Manager, Robyn, just gave us the following update:
“The last few days we have seen the small oxbow of land in front of the camp embellished by a sea of black. Thousands of wildebeest have littered the plains in front of us each morning. As morning turns to afternoon, the cries of thousands crescendo as the wildebeest begin to plunge down the steep banks attempting to cross the Mara River. Our guests have been lucky enough to view crossings a mere 10 minutes drive from the lodge. We can hear and see them straight from the decks of the camp!”

Singita on Facebook

Agility perfected at a young age: A leopard dance of a different kind.

Singita on Facebook

The view from your veranda at Singita Sasakwa Lodge is simply breathtaking. With nothing but the vast expanse of the Serengeti before you, there is no better way to spend an afternoon!

Singita on Facebook

It’s almost that time of day in the bush – afternoon high tea. The pastry chefs are placing the last minute touches to some special items in honour of World Lion Day.

You can follow Singita on various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vimeo. All of these feeds can be seen together on the Social page of our website.

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Honeymoon Safari: A Match Made in Heaven

August 12, 2015 - Accommodation,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Sabi Sand,Safari,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Singita Explore,Singita Faru Faru Lodge,Singita Grumeti,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Mara River Tented Camp,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Singita Sabora Tented Camp,Singita Sasakwa Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

Honeymoon safari at Singita

Singita Sweni Lodge, South Africa

Wedding preparations can be as stressful as they are enjoyable, and yet nothing can prepare you for the blissful whirlwind of that special day. A luxurious and extraordinary honeymoon is the perfect way to reflect, unwind and celebrate the beginning of a new life together. The romance and adventure of an African safari is difficult to beat, whether you want to experience the ultimate in relaxation or get your blood pumping in thrilling moments of discovery.

Singita’s portfolio of properties, across three countries in Africa, is a wonderful starting point for an idyllic honeymoon. Anton de Wit, our Travel Service Manager, has some fantastic ideas for a memorable newlywed visit to our stunning lodges in South Africa, Zimbabwe or Tanzania:

Hot air balloon in the Serengeti | Singita

Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

See the Serengeti
Visitors to Singita Grumeti in Tanzania have the unique opportunity of chartering a hot air balloon for an unforgettable ride over the treetops of the Serengeti. This once-in-a-lifetime experience takes game viewing to new heights and gives photography buffs an amazing new perspective on the world below. You’ll skim above the grasslands and acacia forests, and at other times ascend to 1 000 feet to see the enormity of the reserve. The Singita Balloon Safari is a romantic and evocative way of experiencing the wilderness as you gracefully and silently glide over the plains, observing the wide variety of wildlife below.

Horseback safari in the Serengeti at Singita Grumeti

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

High adventure
Our more adventurous guests will also enjoy the variety of outdoor activities available, which can be customised for honeymooners looking for a little solitude. These include stargazing, mountain biking, guided bush walks, wine and whiskey tastings, visits to ancient rock art sites, archery, tennis, fishing and horseback safaris. The latter, also available at Singita Grumeti, affords guests the thrill of discovering the vast plains of the Serengeti on horseback; the surreal romance and excitement of exploring the exquisite wilderness of this unique area at eye level with the wildlife. Singita’s day rides and longer equestrian safaris allow guests to journey across the open plains with a herd of zebra or giraffe, bringing them truly in touch with the pulse of Africa.

Honeymoon safari at Singita

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Honeymoon safari at Singita

Singita Lebombo Lodge, South Africa

Rest & relaxation
Those looking for a less adrenaline-filled day will love the tranquility of our renowned Bush Spa, which offers a holistic and healing approach to treatments. The spa menu has been created to complement the beauty and serenity of the wilderness, and all treatments incorporate that peace and vibrant energy to revitalize and nourish guests. Body treatments such as massage, polishing scrubs and nourishing masks can be enjoyed in the comfort of your suite, out on a private deck or at the spa, and all treatments can be tailored for couples.

Honeymoon safari at Singita

Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Tanzania

Total seclusion
Each of Singita’s properties has been designed to offer guests total seclusion, from the small number of self-contained suites set at a generous distance from one another, to the option of a private vehicle for twice-daily game drives. Meals can also be enjoyed privately, whether by candlelight in your suite, under the stars on the deck or out in the bush, surrounded by hurricane lamps with your own private chef and “banakeli” (butler). It would be difficult to find a more romantic setting for enjoying a delicious dinner together than in a dining room created especially for you in the soft sand of a dry river bed, with the Milky Way twinkling overhead.

Honeymoon safari at Singita

Singita Sabora Tented Camp, Tanzania

Something for everyone
Singita’s twelve lodges and camps offer something different to every traveller. From the wide plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania, to the lush bushveld of the Kruger National Park and the majestic baobabs and sandstone outcrops of Zimbabwe, guests at Singita enjoy exclusive access to over half a million acres of pristine wilderness across five diverse ecosystems in Africa. Deciding which of these beautiful regions to visit is the only effort you’ll have to make; our dedicated Travel Services team will handle the rest.

Honeymoon safari at Singita

Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Tanzania

Our specialised Travel Service team are always available to help plan an unforgettable romantic getaway just for you. You can get in touch with them here or email enquiries@singita.com.

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A Winter Weekend at Singita Sweni Lodge Part 3

August 07, 2015 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Sweni Lodge

Singita Kruger National Park

One of the highlights of any trip to Singita’s lodges and camps are the game drives that allow guests the opportunity to get up close to Africa’s incredible wildlife. These hours-long adventures into the bush in state-of-the-art Land Rovers, traverse scrubland, grassy savannahs and dry riverbeds, and in the case of Singita Sweni Lodge, 33,000 acres of private concession in the famed Kruger National Park. Each vehicle is assigned a dedicated guide and tracker; a professional team who share their knowledge of the local flora and fauna with Singita’s guests for the duration of their stay.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

The climate in South Africa is such that winter mornings and evenings are usually crisp and clear; a combination that provides perfect game viewing conditions! The colder temperatures tend to make wildlife more active and therefore easier to spot, while cloudless skies make for good visibility and wonderful photo opportunities. Days tend to be bright and sunny; perfect for unwinding on the outside deck, enjoying one of the many outdoor activities available, or simply reading a book on your bed.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park
Guests are encouraged to pack warm layers for game drives in case of a cold spell, and are further protected from the chill with a warm drink at the snack stop along the way. Early risers are treated to fresh homemade pastries and hot coffee during morning drives, with an optional splash of Amarula liqueur for extra warmth! Game spotting during spot-lit nighttime drives is made cosy with the help of piles of soft blankets, allowing you to absorb the elusive magic of nocturnal Africa in absolute comfort. What better way to spend a winter weekend?

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

Singita Sweni Lodge is the ultimate safari escape, offering guests the thrill and tranquility of the wild, a relaxing and pampering spa experience and some of the best wine and food that South Africa has to offer. It is also the perfect family destination, with exhilarating activities for the entire family to enjoy, memories made together that will last a lifetime. You can also read Part 1 and Part 2 in this series, “A Winter Weekend at Singita Sweni Lodge”, to find out more about the lodge.

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Highlights from our Wildlife Reports

August 04, 2015 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Lamai,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Sabi Sand,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Wildlife

If your morning routine doesn’t involve a sunrise game drive and a steaming cup of coffee overlooking the waterhole, then a close substitute would be catching up on our latest Wildlife Reports; first-hand field guide reports straight from the wilderness. These bush journals chronicle the evolving landscape throughout the year as well as noteworthy wildlife sightings and game statistics. Some of the most recent reports include some stunning sunsets, a pair of cheetah on a kill, an amorous leopard and a rare pack of endangered wild dogs in the Serengeti:

SINGITA SABI SAND, SOUTH AFRICA

Highlights from our Wildlife Reports - Singita

We are fortunate in Africa to be blessed with some beautiful skies, whether it be the rosy dawns, the unpolluted blues of autumn days, or the sparkling splendour of our starry night skies. Most famous of all, however, are our sunsets, and after more than five and a half decades on this continent, I still appreciate each and every sunset that I am fortunate enough to see. There’s something about sunsets that inspire you to take time to think back on the day’s events, and just to marvel at the majesty of it all.

Report by Leon van Wyk, Coleman Mnisi, Nic Moxham and Ross Couper. Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report April 2015

SINGITA LAMAI, TANZANIA

Highlights from our Wildlife Reports - Singita

The month of June in the Lamai was unusually wet with the first half of the month yielding rainstorms of colossal proportions. The rain patterns of the Serengeti have been rather mercurial this year, seeing the second quarter producing more storm clouds which inevitably dictate the ebb and flow of the Mara River and, so too, the movement of the wildlife. On some mornings the level of the river rose over 60cm in a matter of hours.

Report by Paul Nell with photos by Stuart Levine, Adas Anthony and Ryan Schmitt. Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report June 2015

SINGITA PAMUSHANA, ZIMBABWE

Highlights from our Wildlife Reports - Singita

Imagine the thrill of coming across two male cheetah on a kill. It’s such a privilege to see, especially as they have disappeared from an estimated 76% of their historic range in Africa. Their population has declined by at least 30% over the past 18 years, and is primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as killing and capture of cheetahs for trade and to prevent livestock loss.

Report by Jenny Hishin with photos by Mark Saunders and Simon Capon. Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report April 2015

SINGITA KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA

Highlights from our Wildlife Reports - Singita

The Xhikelengane female, who is truly regarded as the grandmother of the leopards at Singita Kruger National Park, and definitely a favourite among the guides, has been doing her best to get the attention of the males in her region… Over the past few weeks we have noticed her moving further and further north out of her usual territory, and scent marking like her life depended on it! This behaviour is to attract potential suitors in her direction. Finally, after weeks of advertising, an unknown large male found her and we were lucky enough to see them mating twice over the course of four days. This intense and usually very secretive affair is one of the ultimate sightings on safari.

Report by Nick du Plessis, Barry Peiser and Deirdre Opie. Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report April 2015

SINGITA GRUMETI, TANZANIA

Highlights from our Wildlife Reports - Singita

The call came in on the radio around 8:30am. Guide Ray Wankyo reported that he had spotted a pack of 13 wild dogs south of the Singita Grumeti boundary with the Serengeti National Park. Words cannot explain the excitement that proceeded after hearing that call. The entire guiding team piled into game viewers to go and witness this incredible sighting. In the 13 years since Singita Grumeti’s inception, wild dogs have only been seen on one other occasion on the concession, and that was back in 2007.

Report by Lizzie Hamrick with photos by Ryan Schmitt, Brad Murray. Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report April 2015

You can subscribe to our blog via RSS or email to stay up to date with our Wildlife Reports and plenty of other goings on at our 12 lodges and camps in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

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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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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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Shining a Light on Solar Power

June 03, 2015 - Conservation,Did You Know?,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Solar power at Singita Lebombo Lodge

In the height of summer, the sun beats down on the red volcanic rocks of the Lebombo Mountains. With the temperature rising, the morning game drives return to the cool sanctuary of Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges, as animals search out the deep shade of the jackalberry trees. Even the pod of grunting hippos sinks a little deeper beneath the waters of the N’Wanetsi and Sweni Rivers.

Singita Kruger National Park

Solar power at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Animals and guests alike may be seeking out the shade, but a short drive from the pool deck at the lodge, the searing sunshine is helping to slash the property’s carbon footprint. “It’s a resource that’s abundant, so we decided that we need to be using it to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment,” says Gavin McCabe, Technical Services Manager at Singita Kruger National Park, where the final adjustments are being made to a groundbreaking solar energy project. “We are the first concession in the whole of the Kruger National Park to switch over to solar energy,” says McCabe.

Producing sufficient solar energy to power the 15-suite Lebombo Lodge and 6-suite Sweni Lodge, didn’t happen overnight though. The first step was to identify a suitable site clear of large trees, to allow for maximum sunlight, where the solar array would have minimal impact on the sensitive bushveld ecosystem. Once authorities from the South African National Parks had approved the site, supporting pillars to mount the array of panels had to be carefully installed.

“These metal beams were inserted into the ground using a hydraulic hammer, so there’s absolutely no foundation; no concrete in the soil at all,” explains McCabe. Before the panels could be installed, a heavy-duty electric fence also had to be erected to keep out any curious locals. “Elephants and baboons were the biggest concern,” says McCabe. “And the monkeys as well; you can just imagine them running across these panels!”

Solar power at Singita Lebombo Lodge

With the structure in place 1188 photovoltaic solar panels were installed, connected to state-of-the-art batteries and inverters situated close to the lodge. Two new diesel generators provide back-up power for cloudy days and when the battery systems run low. Previously, the generators powering both lodges guzzled up to 40 000 litres of diesel per month, but with solar energy providing clean carbon-free power that consumption will be halved. A similar solar installation is also ensuring a lighter footprint for the Singita staff village.

_DSC1797

Aside from ensuring a lighter carbon footprint, guests at Singita Kruger National Park will also see another benefit of the impressive new solar scheme. With the batteries silently providing power after sunset, there’s no chance that the humming of a diesel generator will break the perfect quiet of a bushveld night. And if you do happen to hear a low rumble? Well, that’s probably the resident hippos in the N’Wanetsi River…

This new solar energy system is an excellent example of how Singita aims to always “touch the earth lightly”; a commitment that is manifested in the way the lodges were constructed; how they operate today; and how guests experience the wildlife and the natural habitat. Visit our Conservation section to find out more about the various projects that drive sustainable hospitality at Singita.

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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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Cooking Up a Storm at Singita Kruger National Park

May 14, 2015 - Community Development,Cuisine,Did You Know?,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge

From the outside, it’s not much to look at: a nondescript building in the heart of the Singita Kruger National Park staff village. Take a step closer and the sound of pots clattering on iron stovetops breaks the bushveld silence. A babble of chatter and laughter wafts out across the dusty courtyard, as a flash of chef’s whites whips past the screen door. Welcome, to the Singita School of Cooking (SSC).

Singita School of Cooking

Students at the SSC with Chef Skills Developer, Louis Vandewalle

A cooking school in the wilderness may seem something of an anomaly, but there’s a good reason the stockpots are boiling furiously out here in the Kruger bushveld. “Communities and conservation can’t function independently, they have to co-exist,” explains Louis Vandewalle, Chef Skills Developer at SSC. “The idea behind the Singita School of Cooking was two-fold: to increase the skill level in our lodge kitchens, but also to provide opportunities for the surrounding communities.”

Singita Lebombo Lodge Dining Area

The dining area at Singita Lebombo Lodge

The SSC opened its doors in 2007, and today offers an intensive 12-month curriculum that sees nine students drawn from local communities untying their brand-new knife-rolls in March each year. A multi-faceted training program combines theory components completed in the classroom and online, alongside intensive practical training in the dedicated SSC kitchens.

Singita School of Cooking

If the course is testing, making it through the selection process is even tougher. In 2014 the School had 85 applicants for just nine places. After interviews by Singita lodge staff and chefs, 30 hopefuls were shortlisted and put through their paces in a series of theory and practical tests. “It’s not about their skills in the kitchen,” says Vandewalle. “We focus on character and attitude. We want to make sure that they have the right foundation for us to build their kitchen skills on. And, most importantly, we want to ensure that those who join the programme will stay the course.”

Singita School of Cooking

Aside from occasional government grants the School is funded entirely by Singita: an investment of $7500-$8000 per student that covers uniforms, equipment, ingredients and a monthly stipend. After months of training, real-world experience is gained in the kitchens of Singita Lebombo Lodge with students rotating through pastry, cold section and hot kitchen. At the end of the 12-month course, students emerge as competent commis chefs.

Singita School of Cooking

Singita School of Cooking

“Unlike many chef schools with longer programs, we focus on the fundamentals,” says Vandewalle, as a stockpot bubbles on the central range. “By the time they leave this kitchen our students have a limited set of skills, but they are extremely proficient at what they do. We’re trying to develop work skills and work ethics too.” He goes on to explain how time-management and forward planning are vital skills for the young chefs to learn. “Each day one chef is appointed to be in charge of the kitchen. The responsibility then rests on them to allocate tasks to each of the student chefs, work out portions and run the kitchen.”

Singita School of Cooking

“We have a very high success rate with students finding employment, either with Singita lodges or further afield,” adds Vandewalle. “Because of Singita’s extremely high standards, we find that’s more than sufficient for what other lodges and guesthouses are expecting.” For most students though, a position in one of the Singita kitchens is first prize.

Singita School of Cooking

“I’ve always wanted to be in the kitchen, but just never had the opportunity,” bubbles Unity Mokhomolo (25) from the village of Welverdiend, who says she’s happiest in the pastry section. “After the course I am hoping to be one of the students that Singita takes to work at the lodges. Singita started my career in the kitchen, so I want to work for them. If that happens, I will grab that opportunity with both hands.”

DISCOVER MORE:

The Singita School of Cooking was established to encourage the development of culinary skills and employment opportunities among local youth as part of Singita’s broader objective to assist communities to thrive, both economically and socially. Visit our website to find out how you can help to make a difference in the lives of our students at SSC, or read about some of our star pupils on the blog.

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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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