Category Archives: Singita Lebombo Lodge

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.

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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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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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Fascinating Flora: The Leadwood Tree

February 25, 2015 - Did You Know?,Environment,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

There is a classic, if slightly ominous, African image with which you’re probably familiar; it’s the scene of a colony of vultures huddled on the branches of a leafless leadwood tree, black rain clouds looming overhead. It is, in fact, a fairly common sight at Singita’s South African properties (albeit with more blue sky!), where the bush is studded with tall leadwoods that live up to their scientific name; combretum imberbe, meaning “hairless climber”.

Leaded trees at Singita Kruger National Park

The leadwood is one of the largest trees in Africa, and is so called because of the wood which is extremely dense and heavy. As such, it is impermeable to termites and is one of the only wood species that sinks when thrown into water. It’s hardiness also explains why, up to 80 years after a leadwood tree has died, its imposing skeleton will remain intact, and why it used to be the material of choice for railway sleepers. The species is protected in South Africa, although fallen branches and those left behind by marauding elephants are allowed to be used for furniture or ornamental work.

Leaded trees at Singita Kruger National Park

Although slow-growing, they can live to be thousands of years old and flourish in alluvial soil along river beds, like the Sweni and N’wanetsi Rivers that run through Singita Kruger National Park. The leaves are popular with herbivores and you will regularly see elephant, giraffe, kudu and impala munching on them during a game drive.

Leopard in a leadwood tree | All Dolled Up

Singita’s 33,000-acre private concession in the Kruger National Park is home to two of our lodges; Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge. This area is especially well-known for the remarkable concentration of the ‘Big 5’ and four particularly formidable prides of lions. Discover more on our website.

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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

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

singita_ebony_2

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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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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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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Bringing a Touch of Safari to Singapore

February 11, 2014 - Africa,Experience,General,Safari,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lifestyle Event in Singapore

Art and design form an essential part of the experience at Singita, as each lodge elegantly combines the practicalities of life in the bush with a rich palette of African-inspired colours, shapes and textures. This understated “safari chic” aesthetic was recently celebrated at an event in Singapore where likeminded creatives in the world of art, fashion, design and gastronomy came together to share in their appreciation for good style.

Singita Lifestyle Event in Singapore

The venue was transformed into a tented safari camp and pop-up boutique, showcasing international tradespeople, art, contemporary lifestyle products and fashion. Stimulating installations and collectible artworks were displayed alongside wearable art and handmade furnishings, creating a treasure trove of African craftsmanship in the middle of a bustling Asian metropolis.

Singita Lifestyle Event in Singapore

A portion of the sale proceeds in-store and online directly benefited local community and conservation programs, including Singita’s own anti-poaching canine unit operating in the Sabi Sand Reserve. In addition, Singita and Asia to Africa Safaris co-sponsored a fantastic two-night stay for two at Singita Lebombo Lodge which was raffled off at the opening gala.

Singita Lifestyle Event in Singapore

The boutiques and galleries at Singita’s lodges allow guests the opportunity to take home a memento that not only reminds them of their safari adventure with us, but adds a unique and stylish touch of Africa to their homes. A range of collectable sculptures, home-ware and furnishings will allow you to recreate ‘the safari dream’ within your own home. Find out more on the blog.

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Breakfast in the Bush: A recipe for Strawberry Jam

January 17, 2014 - Cuisine,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Homemade strawberry jam | Singita Lebombo Lodge

Summer is in full swing here in Southern Africa, which means the kitchen gardens are bursting with sun-ripened fruit. Our berry crop this year is especially good, as the plants are laden with juicy-looking blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. One of the best ways to preserve ripe fruit for use throughout the year is to make homemade jam, which Christien van der Westhuizen, the pastry chef at Singita Lebombo Lodge, serves with freshly-baked bread and cold farm butter. Guests can enjoy this simple but delicious breakfast with a steaming cup of fresh coffee on early morning game drives:

Freshly baked bread | Singita Lebombo Lodge

Ingredients – what you need:
1kg strawberries
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cups sugar

Method – what to do:
1. Combine the sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium-sized pot and cook over very low heat, until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Add the strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the strawberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly.
3. Cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate (you can pop the plate in the freezer for this).
4. Pour carefully into your preferred canning jar(s) and either hermetically seal to store at room temperature or keep refrigerated if you plan to use it straight away.

Don’t forget to wash and sterilise jars and lids (find out how) and follow these handy tips for storing homemade preserves. You can find plenty more recipes from our creative kitchen teams in the Cuisine section of the blog.

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