Category Archives: Sabi Sand

World Rhino Day 2014

September 22, 2014 - Conservation,Sabi Sand,Sustainable Conservation,Wildlife

World Rhino Day was established in 2010 and serves to celebrate all five species of rhino: Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. It is celebrated every year on 22 September and has grown to become a global phenomenon, uniting NGOs, zoos, cause-related organisations, businesses, and concerned individuals from nearly every corner of the world.

Singita Anti-Poaching Unit | World Rhino Day 2014

It is devastating to think that 500 000 rhinos once roamed the continents of Africa and Asia, and that this figure has dwindled to a mere 29 000 rhinos living in the wild*. Large-scale poaching of this now critically endangered species has prompted intensive conservation efforts in recent years, not least of all by our wildlife teams at Singita.

Singita Anti-Poaching Unit | World Rhino Day 2014

Today, the environmental stakes couldn’t be higher, as poaching methods have become increasingly sophisticated and poachers more daring. One way in which Singita Sabi Sand takes a stand against the unlawful massacre of these majestic creatures, is with the dedicated in-house anti-poaching unit that secures the safety and preservation of the species in the reserve. Working with specialists in counteracting illegal hunting and wildlife trade, a highly trained tracker dog unit was created to track both animals and humans. This tactic is being included in many national parks’ security operations, including the Kruger National Park and the units have become an integral part of Singita’s anti-poaching measures.

Singita Anti-Poaching Unit | World Rhino Day 2014

Mark Broodryk, Head Guide at Singita Sabi Sand says, “The biggest advantage of a dog unit is that the dogs track using their keen sense of smell and thus are extremely effective – even tracking in pitch darkness.” The dogs’ work rate and endurance surpasses that of a human and they ask for very little in return for the unenviable tasks they are called to do. Highly trained and able to perform multiple functions from pursuing intruders to tracking sick or injured animals or sniffing out products from illegal possessions, the dogs are highly valued, professional assets supporting important conservation initiatives.

Singita Anti-Poaching Unit | World Rhino Day 2014

Another reason for the success of the canine operation is that their presence acts as a deterrent to potential poachers. Once tracking dogs have been deployed into an area, the news quickly spreads amongst poachers and criminal syndicates and the level and frequency of poaching incidents is shown to drop dramatically.

*Statistics courtesy of savetherhino.org

Sustainable tourism is what allows Singita to be able to carry out this important work. Each guest represents a valuable contribution towards conservation measures in the reserve. Not only does the revenue from tourism support conservation initiatives, but just by coming to see this place, putting value on it and sharing the beauty with others, it inherently makes a world of difference.

For guests seeking to make a larger contribution, donations are accepted and welcome. Please contact Pam Richardson at pam.r@singita.com.

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Recent Facebook Highlights

September 19, 2014 - Experience,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

Singita’s Facebook community has always been an active space where guests and fans share their thoughts and memories alongside beautiful snapshots by our rangers in the bush. In particular, there have been a number of stunning wildlife photos posted by field guide Ross Couper from Singita Sabi Sand recently that have been shared far and wide. Here is a brief selection:

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A pack of wild dog entertained each other, whilst guests watched in awe at the social interactions taking place. A perfect spring morning.

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A tender moment of an elephant calf that was deserted and shortly afterwards adopted by another female elephant.

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Confident, self assured, tranquil – a few words that come to mind whilst watching the Nyeleti male leopard grooming himself.

Facebook Highlights - Singita - Copyright Ross Couper

A young male leopard keeps attentive to his surroundings as the afternoon light fades to darkness.

You can see more of Singita Sabi Sand’s wildlife and landscapes in this “week in the life” video, shot by another of our talented field guides, Dylan Brandt:

Follow us on Facebook and join 13 000 other wildlife lovers who get regular updates from all twelve lodges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. One such example is this incredible face-off between a hippo and a pride of lions, captured by a guest.

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Creatures Great & Small: The Giant Snail

September 09, 2014 - Did You Know?,Experience,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

Giant snail

With the green vegetation sprouting along the roadsides and over the grasslands, creatures from large to small are on the move. A few days ago, and within minutes of leaving the lodge, we noticed movement on the road. A giant African land snail glistened in the morning light.

Like almost all pulmonate gastropods, these snails are hermaphrodites, having male and female sex organs. Although giant African land snails primarily mate with one another, in more isolated regions they are capable of reproducing on their own. Giant African land snails lay around six clutches of eggs every year, laying an average of 200 eggs per clutch – that amounts to about 1 200 eggs per year! What is really incredible is that around 90% of snail hatchings survive.

Giant African land snails are active during the night and spend the daytime hours safely buried underground. They reach their adult size by the time they are six months old and although their growth rate slows at this point, they never stop growing. Most reach between five and six years of age but some individuals have been known to be more than ten years old. The giant African land snail seals itself inside its shell to retain water. They do this about three times a year, depending on the areas which they inhabit. During periods of extreme drought, they practice aestivation which is a type of ‘summer sleep’.

Singita Sabi Sand, South Africa

Driving along looking in various directions for a twitch of an ear or a flicking tail, your eyes scan through the bush up and down, left and right. Often when looking for something large and obvious you miss the smaller treasures, without even realising it.

This description of an encounter with a giant snail by Ross Couper first appeared in the November 2013 Wildlife Report from Singita Sabi Sand. The monthly ranger diaries are written by the field guides themselves and contain plenty of delightful stories and stunning photographs from the bush. You can catch up on the Wildlife Reports from all the Singita lodges and camps here.

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Robin Hood of Ravenscourt

August 19, 2014 - Did You Know?,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Castleton,Singita Ebony Lodge

Close to the Western boundary of the Singita Sabi Sand private game reserve is Harry’s Pan, a shallow, glassy lake fringed with reeds. It is on a portion of land purchased from the Lewis family in 1992 and features an unusual landmark – a rusting old car atop a termite hill overlooking the lake. Former Singita Field Guide James Crookes recounts the story:

Robin Hood of Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

The pan was originally named Pam Pam Dam, after Mrs Lewis’ old English Sheepdog, who regularly played in the water of the dam. After Pam Pam died, Mrs Lewis bought a Rhodesian Ridgeback cross Boxer and named him Robin Hood, or Rob for short.

Robin Hood of Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

When driving past the pan, one immediately notices the old DKW Auto Union jeep that is perched on top of a termite mound beneath a weeping boer bean tree. Harry Gorman, once the caretaker of the Lewis’ portion of the Ravenscourt property, tells us how Rob had a particular affinity for the vehicle: “He claimed the back seat of the DKW for himself and acted as if he owned the jeep; growling, snarling and even biting anyone that tried to push it. Mrs Lewis had to control Rob if strangers tried to get into the jeep and if ever the engine was started, no matter where he was, Rob would come running and join in the ride.”

Robin Hood of Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

Two days after the Lewis’ left for a holiday in France in October 1975, Rob died at an animal hospital in Johannesburg, where he was being treated for cancer. Mr Lewis phoned Harry Gorman and instructed him to go to Johannesburg and collect Rob’s body, together with his cushions, mattress and blankets. Harry was also to collect the box of leftover medicine, chains and Rob’s leash, made of Kangaroo skin with a silver clip and handle. All of this was to be buried together with the dog at Pam Pam Dam underneath the DKW Auto Union jeep, which was still in perfect working order at the time.

Robin Hood of Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

When Mrs Lewis next visited Ravenscourt Ranch, she fitted a small brass plaque to the weeping boer bean tree, which read: “Robin Hood of Ravenscourt, our beloved ‘Rob’, March 1964 – October 1975”. This plaque can still be seen today on the tree alongside the jeep.

Robin Hood of Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

Pam Pam dam has since become known as Harry’s Pan, largely due to the involvement of Harry Gorman in the story of this section of the Ravenscourt property, as well as the proximity of this pan to his home.

Ravenscourt Ranch is the original name of a plot of land purchased by the Bailes family which now forms part of Singita Sabi Sand, a privately owned game reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

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Singita Boulders Lodge: A Sustainable Solution

July 11, 2014 - Accommodation,Conservation,Environment,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge

As the first guests start to experience the newly refurbished Singita Boulders Lodge, we celebrate the achievements of the talented people behind the stunning new look. Responsible for the vision, creative direction, interior architecture and design is Boyd Ferguson and his team from Cécile & Boyd. Drawing inspiration from the natural setting and environment and responsible for recreating the lodge’s physical spaces is architect Sally Tsiliyiannis from GAPP Architects & Urban Designers. Every effort has been made to reuse and recycle all the building materials, as Sally explained in a recent report from the site while the work was under way:

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

“Every door broken out has been repositioned somewhere else. Nearly all the new balustrading is actually just sections of the old balustrade removed from elsewhere and re-used.

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

By this time next week, literally 100% of the stones from demolished walls will have been reused. Natural features that were previously covered up have been uncovered and new decking has been carefully shaped around these so they are now main features within the design. Superfluous areas of decking have been cut back to make way for more foliage and where decks have been lowered the views of the river are less obstructed. Nearly all the building rubble is being used as backfill for the new gabion walls to minimise waste.”

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

This environmentally sensitive approach is an extension of Singita’s dedication to ecotourism and “touching the earth lightly”. Environmentally conscious hospitality, sustainable conservation and the empowerment of local communities is the guiding light for everything we do. You can find out more about our sustainable practices on the website, as well as a recent success story in Tanzania, where Singita Mara River Tented Camp has become our first “off the grid” property, setting a benchmark for responsible but luxurious travel.

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

Photos by Peter Browne, Associate Editor of Condé Nast Traveller who was lucky enough to get a sneak peek before the lodge formally reopened. You can see more photos of the newly refurbished lodge in our latest blog post and follow us on Instagram for more.

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The Newly Refurbished Singita Boulders Lodge

July 08, 2014 - Accommodation,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Seventeen years after opening, Singita Boulders Lodge in the Sabi Sand has been thoughtfully reconfigured and redecorated to reveal its essential character and define its unique sense of place on the boulder-strewn banks of the Sand River.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

The original inspiration for the lodge came from the geometry of these ancient, weathered boulders and the natural curve of the river bed. This time around, interior designer Boyd Ferguson has taken further cues from nature, incorporating the colours, textures and elements of the surrounding landscape. Guest areas have been opened up, lowered, and brought closer to the river, allowing full engagement with the magnificent setting beneath the ebony and weeping boer bean trees. Characterised by handcrafted design with the integrity of authentic African provenance, the lodge merges seamlessly with the shifting light, shapes and moods of the environment, providing a soothing sanctuary for world-weary travellers craving a connection with nature.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Throughout the lodge, pared-down interiors in a palette of charcoal, chalk, bone, rust, copper and ochre bring out the original colours of Singita Boulders Lodge, and reflect the four elements of earth, fire, air and water. Dramatic sculptural shapes, abstract art, and carefully curated collections of crystals, seed pods, bones and other found objects articulate a deeper connection with the wild. There is a sense that everything has been derived from the earth.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Rustic and worn, woven and carved, furnishings include iconic pieces fashioned from fossilised tree stumps, slabs of solid stone, artisanal wrought iron and leather, each element designed to reveal its intrinsic beauty. Awe-inspiring original contemporary paintings, sculptures and soft, sensual textures – a sheep-skin rug to step onto when you get out of bed, the feel of natural flax bed linen on your skin – add subtle layers of luxury.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Open to the elements or separated from the outdoors by glass walls, the lodge provides a continuous connection with the prolific wildlife and birdlife for which the Sabi Sand is so well known. Cleverly designed communal spaces, such as the new sociable Copper Bar serving freshly pressed fruit juices, espressos and cocktails, provide new opportunities for guests to connect with their surroundings and with each other.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

One of the most spectacular vantage points above the Sand River is the chosen site of a new, outdoor dining pavilion with a series of matted, nest-like ceilings suspended at different heights to resemble the branches of a tree. Raw timber decks of varying sizes are suspended above the ground, creating intimate spaces for private dining and relaxation close to the pool. Light comes from clusters of nest-shaped woven lampshades, a central fireplace creates an inviting, focal point and cascading water adds a reflective, cooling quality. Sandblasted driftwood tables are strung out along the river bank to make the most of the views. Copper vases hold simple, found collections of twigs, wild blooms and grasses. Hand beaten cutlery, wonky pottery plates and rustic linen napkins complete the rustic, casual elegance.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

The 12 privately spaced suites, two of which are designed exclusively for families, blend soulful, sensual Africa with high design to instil a sense of tranquillity and ease guests into the rhythm of safari life. It’s as if the very soul of Singita Boulders Lodge has been fine tuned and stripped back down to the basics, freeing up guests to experience and explore nature like never before.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

The luxurious creature comforts and attention to detail, for which Singita Boulders Lodge has always been known, have been creatively woven into every aspect of the safari experience so that at every turn there is something new to delight the eye and quieten the soul. Boyd Ferguson explains that in a world where everything at a certain level has become inherently generic, and therefore bland, the eye easily becomes bored – especially when over-exposed to beautiful, aesthetically pleasing surroundings.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

“Eventually, what happens is that one stops seeing at all. My role in redesigning and repositioning key aspects of the Boulders experience was to enable guests to engage with the lodge from the moment they arrive and throughout their stay. There is a sense of authenticity, earthiness and primal beauty, so that they start seeing things again with a fresh perspective – perhaps even rediscovering aspects of themselves from which they may have been cut off.” This subtle shift in thinking has become a defining moment in Singita’s journey, providing a catalyst for change within the company as a whole.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Explore Singita Boulders Lodge further on our website, and contact our Reservations team for more information about the lodge.

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Travel+Leisure World’s Best Hotels 2014

July 03, 2014 - Awards,Kruger National Park,Sabi Sand,Singita

Singita Lebombo Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

Singita Sabi Sand | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

Singita Sweni Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

We are delighted to share with you yesterday’s announcement of the Travel+Leisure World’s Best Hotels 2014, in which Singita Sabi Sand placed 7th and Singita Kruger National Park at no. 19! We are thrilled that Singita Sabi Sand was also voted Best Safari Location in the world.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

Singita Lebombo Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

Singita Lebombo Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

Singita has always performed consistently well in these awards, determined by T+L readers who vote for their favourite hotels and resorts, evaluating them in categories such as value, food, service, rooms and location. We are extremely proud of this result and extend our congratulations to the rest of the Top 50. Our heartfelt thanks to the lodge and head office teams for their hard work and dedication to Singita’s mission, which is to share a unique part of the world, while maintaining respect for the natural environment and challenging accepted notions of luxury.

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Curious Cats

June 09, 2014 - Sabi Sand,Wildlife

Just in! Field Guide Ross Couper from Singita Sabi Sand sent through this incredible snapshot from Thursday afternoon’s game drive. In it, a serval faces off with a pair of cheetahs:

Cheetah vs Serval by Ross Couper

“Upon a approaching a cheetah sighting, a serval and two cubs were seen moving through the grass within meters of the cheetah. The serval’s movement caught the attention of the cheetah after the adult serval attempted to catch a rodent in the grass. A chase ensued and the adult serval was surrounded by the two cheetah. A moment of sheer aggression from the serval saved its life and several tense minutes were felt amongst the guests viewing the interaction. As dusk settled we returned back to the lodge, the fate of the serval unknown. It was a true privilege to witness this interaction in the wild.”

Ross regularly shares his stunning wildlife photos with our Facebook community, so follow us there for the latest sightings, direct from the bush!

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First Sighting of the Hlabankunzi Leopard Cubs

May 19, 2014 - Experience,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

Leopard cubs at Singita Sabi Sand

Last week was a very special one for visitors to Singita Sabi Sand, as the brand new Hlabankunzi leopard cubs made their public debut! The female has moved into the territory of the Ravenscourt female, who was killed roughly a year ago, and now patrols a prize piece of Singita’s 45,000 acre concession. Briefly before the cubs were spotted for the first time, Head Field Guide Mark Broodryk sent us this report:

Leopard cubs at Singita Sabi Sand

“We suspect that she has her cubs under the deck of Room 11 at Singita Ebony Lodge and is as comfortable around the lodge as the Ravenscourt female was. Field guides Dylan, Ruel and I saw Mobeni’s new cubs for the first time yesterday morning, still very tiny and not exactly sure of numbers just yet. She has them close to the Khosa pan area in the Ximobanyane drainage. She seems to be a different leopard now that the Ravenscourt female has gone, she is not nearly as nervous as she used to be and we are able to view her fairly regularly. Her son has become independent and if approached correctly, also provides good viewing. Just yesterday we followed him for about 1½ hours and he curled up to sleep about 10m from the vehicle! Overall we seem to have come out on top with our leopard viewing and looks like the legacy of the leopard viewing for this reserve will continue.”

Leopard cubs at Singita Sabi Sand

Keep your eyes on our Instagram and Facebook accounts to see the latest photos of the cubs, straight from our field guides.

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Lion Line-Up

May 08, 2014 - Sabi Sand,Wildlife

This photo of the Mhangeni pride walking in what appears to be military formation through Singita Sabi Sand, was taken last week by Field Guide Ross Couper. Of the unusual and entertaining sighting, he says: “As the honey coloured morning light filtered through the mist on the horizon, we knew we were in for a very good morning.” Ross’ stunning photo was even featured in the Cape Times a few days later, aptly captioned “Dawn Patrol”.

Lion photo by Ross Couper Copyright 2014

Follow us on Facebook to see more wildlife shots straight from our field guides in the bush.

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