Category Archives: Sabi Sand

Travel + Leisure World’s Best Hotels 2013

July 04, 2013 - Awards,Kruger National Park,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Travel + Leisure World's Best Hotel Awards 2013

Singita has a proud history with the annual Travel + Leisure Magazine World’s Best Hotels Awards, consistently placing multiple lodges in the top ten, thanks to the votes from their discerning readers. We are thrilled to announce that this year is no different! For T+L’s 18th poll, Singita Kruger National Park was awarded third place, with its sister property, Singita Sabi Sand coming in at number ten.

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita’s concession in the Kruger National Park features two beautiful lodges with treetop suites and riverside rooms. Our mission in this area is to create and maintain a balance between conservation, community development, and ecotourism. 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.

Singita Sweni Lodge

Singita Sweni Lodge

Singita Sweni Lodge

Glass-walled Lebombo overlooks the plains and the Lebombo Mountain Range, while Sweni is nestled among trees along the Sweni River. Join the twice-daily game drives and request a guided walk for a good chance of sighting lions, zebras, giraffes and impalas.

Singita Ebony Lodge

Singita Ebony Lodge

Spanning more than 45 000 acres, Singita Sabi Sand is renowned for high concentrations of big game and frequent leopard sightings. As the first jewel in Singita’s crown, Singita Ebony Lodge stands steadfast amongst enormous trees on the banks of the Sand River. A blend of European heritage and African boldness welcomes visitors with the down-to-earth warmth of a much-loved family home. Spacious interiors are styled with a varied mix of rich colours, and inviting textures and layers, making Singita Ebony Lodge an idyllic retreat.

Singita Boulders Lodge

Singita Boulders Lodge

Nearby Singita Boulders Lodge is a celebration of the tranquility, space, and light which flows throughout this incredibly vast area. Inspired by the geometry of the boulders on which it rests, the lodge is an inviting oasis where organic interiors integrate seamlessly with the raw African beauty outside. Singita Boulders Lodge is perfectly at home in its pristine setting and whether through walls of glass or open-air areas, the surrounding landscape and animals can be seen and enjoyed from every angle, making for a truly immersive safari experience.

Please visit the Press section of our website for more detail on recent awards.

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Farewell Lady Ravenscourt

June 07, 2013 - Africa,Experience,Sabi Sand,Wildlife

We were heartbroken this week when one of the most beautiful and best-loved members of our leopard family was killed in a battle to protect her young by a rogue male leopard. The Ravenscourt female was a familiar sight for visitors to Singita Sabi Sand, many of whom remember her fondly and have shared their experiences on our Facebook page. Field guide Marlon du Toit observed the incident and took this touching photograph of her final moments. He writes: “[She was] a true symbol of captivating Africa, she was pure beauty.  As she lay in the shade of a leadwood and surrendered her bruised and battered body back to the earth, a delicate butterfly came to rest on her soft coat, closing the last chapter on the life of this iconic leopardess. Lady Ravenscourt you will be dearly missed.” This photo is a stunning reminder of the extreme beauty and brutality of life on this majestic continent.

Ravenscourt Female Leopard

You can read more about her life in our earlier wildlife journals and on the blog.

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Rhino Horn Treatment Programme

May 07, 2013 - Conservation,Conservation,Environment,Sabi Sand,Wildlife

Rhino Horn Treatment at Singita Sabi Sand

The plight of the critically endangered rhino population is one of the more heartbreaking realities of life as custodians of over half a million acres of land in Southern and East Africa. Singita is proud to be a part of a number of projects aimed at eliminating the poaching of these majestic animals for their horns, including the Rhino Reintroduction Programme at Singita Pamushana Lodge (Zimbabwe) and the anti-poaching unit at Singita Sabi Sand (South Africa) which uses specially-trained tracker dogs to deter and catch would-be poachers.

Rhino Horn Treatment at Singita Sabi Sand

As part of these ongoing efforts, we are now participating in a horn infusion treatment programme, which was pioneered by the Rhino Rescue Project in the Sabi Sand. The horn is treated by infusing it with a compound made up of an antiparasitic drug and indelible dye that contaminates the horn and renders it useless for ornamental or medicinal use. A full DNA sample is harvested and three matching identification microchips are inserted into the horns and the animal itself.

Rhino Horn Treatment at Singita Sabi Sand

This treatment  has resulted in zero losses in areas where it has been applied, and is seen as an important intervention to deflect prospective poachers. Over 100 rhino have already been treated in the reserve and all animals in the initial treatment sample are in excellent health. Since all the products used in the treatment are biodegradable and eco-friendly, there are no long-term effects on the environment. The treatment “grows” out with the horn and so poses no long-term effect and, if a treated animal dies of natural causes, retrieval and registration of the horn is a legal requirement.

Rhino Horn Treatment at Singita Sabi Sand

Please visit the Rhino Rescue Project website for more information and FAQs on the treatment. You can also find out more about Singita’s wildlife conservation initiatives and environmental protection policies on our site.

Photographs courtesy of Singita Field Guide Dylan Brandt. 

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Victor’s Vegetable Garden

March 05, 2013 - Africa,Community Development,Sabi Sand

kruger-school-of-cooking-classportrait

One of the most heart-warming ways that Singita contributes to the upliftment of our local communities is by improving the lives of the children who live in them. One such example is the story of Victor Ubisi who, in his own time and with the tremendous generosity of Singita guests, has created a communal vegetable garden that helps to feed the little learners and benefits the families living in Justicia village neighbouring Singita Sabi Sand. He is an inspiration to Singita’s team at Ebony and Boulders Lodges and a symbol of the value of hard work to the smiling faces at the school.

Happy Homes Pre-School at Singita Sabi Sand

The Happy Homes Pre-School in the village community of Justicia on the outskirts of the Singita Sabi Sand is now even more of a happy home for the children who visit it every day. And it is all thanks to the generous and selfless act of a wonderful man.

The school fills a desperate need to provide essential early childhood education to many of the village’s youngsters. While filling young minds with information was a challenge readily met, ensuring that the children received a decent meal every day was another challenge all together. Despite the best efforts of the teaching staff, the children were often hungry and easily distracted, which made learning very difficult and it was clear that something had to be done.

Victor's Vegetable Garden at Singita Sabi Sand

The decision was made to start a feeding programme and was generously supported by Deborah Terhune, a former guest and foundation director for Growing Up Africa, which is a charitable organisation that focuses on enriching the early education of children across the continent. Mr Victor Ubisi, a night porter at Singita Sabi Sand, was tasked with the job and worked tirelessly in his own time to create an edible garden that provides food for the school. In addition, any surplus crops are sold to the village community or to the Singita lodges for use in the kitchen. This revenue is further used to fund various school projects and has also allowed Victor to establish a small business of his own. He passes on his skills as a gardener to the children who are now actively involved in the planting, maintenance and harvesting of the vegetables.

Victor showing the latest produce to one of our chefs

Harvesting spring onions

Victor is so passionate about being a positive and constructive influence in his community that he recently joined forces with Deborah’s team and a group of Cornell University graduates to assist in the building of a school in Johannesburg. He took three weeks unpaid leave to achieve this goal and has brought many a learning back to his village of Justicia.

The smiling faces at Happy Homes Pre-School

The challenges faced by the Happy Homes Pre-School are representative of those in rural communities throughout Africa, as is the success of implementing such a simple yet practical solution. What began as a heart-breaking problem has become a shining example of what hard work and compassion can achieve, while enriching Victor’s life and those of the children that he helps to feed.

Find out more about Singita’s community projects here or learn about Joyful Nghala, a young woman who is building the foundation of her own bright future as one of the star pupils at the Singita School of Cooking.

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Maternal Instinct

February 26, 2013 - Africa,Experience,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

Leopard at Singita Sabi Sand

Francois Fourie, Field Guide at Singita Sabi Sand, had the great fortune of spotting the female Ravenscourt leopard last week, while in action defending her young. The Sabi Sand Reserve is well known for frequent leopard sightings (as well as a general diversity of game), since the big cats are attracted to the camouflage afforded them by the lush riverine flora. You can read regular updates on wildlife sightings in the area by following our fascinating monthly Guides’ Diaries.

It was once again one of those mornings that will stick with me forever. We are so privileged to wake up in this amazing place every day and get to see such incredible things; this morning just proved that we really have the best job in world.

The female Ravenscourt leopard defends her cub from a hyena

We headed out from the lodge with our main aim being to spot a leopard. We headed south and not even ten minutes into the excursion, our tracker Sandile saw the spoor of a female leopard and her cub. We knew she must be in the area because there had been a report that she had killed a young impala lamb the day before. She wasn’t on the site of the kill, instead there were plenty of hyena tracks and a drag mark suggesting that she lost her lamb to a hungry pack.

The female Ravenscourt leopard defends her cub from a hyena

We followed the fresh tracks and about 15 minutes later we found her and the cub with another impala lamb hoisted in a marula tree. Lurking hopefully at the base of the tree was an opportunistic hyena, while the Ravenscourt female lay not too far from the tree keeping a wary eye on the predator. Suddenly the cub decided to come down from his perch and with that motion the hyena promptly got to his feet, most likely assuming that the leopard had dropped the kill.  In the blink of an eye, the protective female was up and flying to attack the hyena that was threatening her cub, successfully warding him off. It was amazing to see how quickly and naturally her mothering instinct kicked in within a matter of seconds and I will remember it along with some of the greatest moments experienced in the bush.

The female Ravenscourt leopard defends her cub from a hyena

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Sweet Tooth: Giraffe Cinnamon Doughnuts

February 08, 2013 - Cuisine,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Singita Ebony Lodge

Giraffe cinnamon doughnuts

Late afternoon at Singita Ebony Lodge

There is something magical about the experience of taking what would otherwise be a formal event, such as afternoon tea, and giving it a fresh twist with an African-inspired menu and a unique setting. Tea at Singita Ebony Lodge is a very special occasion, not least of all because it is often served on the vast wooden deck overlooking the Sand River, where it’s not uncommon to see elephant, buffalo and antelope grazing only metres away. The lodge itself has the feeling of a congenial family home, filled with sumptuous coziness that tempts you into relaxation and reflection.

Every day our unique team of pastry chefs lay on a delectable spread of the finest hand-crafted cakes, sandwiches, tarts and scones, along with homemade lemonade and iced coffee. These sweet and savoury snacks are also served with a selection of exotic teas from all over the world, including Japanese TWG Emperor Sencha, Moroccan mint leaf, Bourbon vanilla black and French Earl Grey. One of Singita Ebony Lodge’s signature teatime treats is “giraffe” cinnamon doughnuts, the recipe for which chef Christien has kindly shared below.

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
2 cups cake flour
1 packet dried yeast
1/8 cup sugar
1 egg
70g butter
pinch of salt
¾ cup warm milk
cinnamon sugar, for dusting

Method – what to do:
Place all of the ingredients (except the cinnamon sugar) in a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment. On a medium speed, allow the machine to work the mixture until the dough forms a ball around the paddle and starts to slap the sides of the bowl.
Wrap the bowl and leave to rise until double in size.
Sprinkle your work surface with some flour and scrape the dough out. Fold the dough in half and press down lightly, then fold again.
Roll the dough out to a thickness of 0.8cm and cut into desired shapes.
Fry them in small batches in hot oil (170°C) until golden brown on both sides.
Place on paper towel to cool down.
Once cool to touch, roll the doughnuts in cinnamon sugar and serve.

Have you tried any of Christien’s other recipes? Please let us know if you have and send us your photos – we would love to see! Here’s a handy online volume converter if you need to adjust the metric measurements.

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Sweet Tooth: Rooibos Shortbread

January 25, 2013 - Cuisine,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge

A morning bush stop at Singita Sabi Sand

The morning bush stop during the course of an early game drive is often the highlight of the day, and not just because of the game viewing! Our guests are treated to a feast crafted by Singita’s hard-working pastry chefs; white chocolate granola bars, caramel apple brownies, fresh fruit skewers and rooibos shortbread. The sight of a spectacular African sunrise, the smell of freshly-brewed coffee, the sound of the bush coming to life and the crisp morning breeze combine to form an enduring memory for those lucky enough to experience it.

A morning bush stop at Singita Sabi Sand

Recreating such a moment in the rush and bustle of daily life can be truly soul-soothing so why not try your hand at making Singita Sabi Sand‘s signature rooibos shortbread at home? Rooibos (or “red bush”) is a herbal tea indigenous to South Africa and is extremely high in antioxidants and contains no caffeine. Chef Christien van der Westhuizen shares a simple recipe for making this African twist on a tea-time classic (makes approximately 60 portions):

Ingredients – what you need:

600g butter
400g castor sugar
800g cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 bag rooibos tea

Method – what to do:

Preheat the oven to 160ºC and line a 30x20cm baking tray with greaseproof paper
Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until white and fluffy
Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix to combine.
Flatten the dough lightly into tray and bake for 25 – 30 minutes
Remove from oven and sprinkle with ¼ cup castor sugar
Cut into squares or circles when cool

Enjoy!

The bush stop snack table

The bush stop snack table

Did you see Christien’s recipe for buttermilk scones? Here’s a handy online volume converter if you need to adjust the metric measurements. Don’t forget to check back soon for more from the kitchen team at Singita Boulders Lodge.

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From Cellar to Sideboard: Wine at Singita

January 23, 2013 - Accommodation,Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Sabi Sand,Singita,Singita Grumeti,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Samp risotto served with white wine at Singita Kruger National Park

Attention to every detail of the Singita experience, including the pairing of food and wine, is just another way that we aim to delight our guests. Our team of wine procurers and sommeliers are consummate professionals in their field and have the enviable task of sourcing and managing hundreds of top-end wines for our highly discerning guests.

Singita Premier Wine is the department dedicated to sourcing and supplying wines for all the Singita properties, and has been in operation for more than a decade. It is headed up by François Rautenbach, who manages the selection, purchase and temperature-controlled maturation and distribution of each and every wine. He also oversees the service of the wines, from hosting informal wine tastings with guests, to managing an in-house sommelier apprenticeship program along with the managers at each lodge.

An evening wine tasting in the bush at Singita Sabi Sand

Each property shares a primary wine list, but it is tweaked with additional wines or older vintages to suit each lodge on the property. On average, a Singita wine list has in excess of 180 wines, many of them at least five years old. “In compiling our lists, we try to include not only unique wines but also lesser known producers to ensure a sense of adventure and newness,” says François.

Sommeliers are on hand at all the lodges, handpicked not only for their wine knowledge, personality and exposure to travel, but also for their love of the African bush. Over the years, many of Singita’s sommeliers have been qualified winemakers mentored by François to guide guests through several vineyards, vintages and cultivars to enhance their knowledge and appreciation of South African wines.

François Rautenbach

It was a logical step to establish Singita Premier Wine Direct, a unique guest service that makes South African wines available as personally selected consignments to take home or to be shipped door-to-door anywhere in the world.  Guests either choose to take their wine with them as carry-on baggage, using specially produced re-usable Singita Poly-bags, or it is sent as an export wine consignment. Exports account for a remarkable 30 percent of what Singita purchases.

“Singita Premier Wine Direct is available to current, past and future Singita guests, but usually comes into play when specific wines have been enjoyed in camp. Key to the service is developing a personal guest wine profile of wines enjoyed and purchased, so that we can offer future wine selections geared to specific preference,” explains François.

Expanding and tailor-making a world-class wine service across the collection of Singita lodges and camps is a constant challenge, but one which François relishes almost as much as mentoring his growing team of sommeliers.

The wine cellar at Singita Lebombo Lodge

For more information or to order wine through Singita Premier Wine Direct please contact us at premierwine@singita.com.

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Sweet Tooth: Buttermilk Scones

January 11, 2013 - Cuisine,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge

Breakfast at Singita Boulders Lodge

The talented team of pastry chefs at Singita Boulders Lodge in the Sabi Sand private reserve have quite a job producing a banquet of tasty treats for our guests in the relative isolation of the African bush. Visitors to the lodge are spoiled for choice throughout the day including morning game drive bush stops, breakfast-time pastries, a sumptuous spread for afternoon tea and delectable after-dinner desserts. Using local ingredients and inspired by the regional cuisine, the uniqueness of these kitchen creations is matched only by the spectacular setting with sweeping views of the Sand River.

Pastry chef at Singita Boulders Lodge

Breakfast in the bush is a particular highlight, and features an array of home bakes; wholewheat cranberry and pumpkin seed muffins, peach and almond Danish pastries, crispy croissants, hand-made granola and fresh-out-of-the-oven breads. Served with freshly-squeezed juices and steaming hot coffee, these early-morning feasts are always a big hit. Chef Christien van der Westhuizen has kindly shared her recipe for the best buttermilk scones which are a highlight of the menu:

Ingredients – what you need:

500g sifted flour
125g cold butter
25g baking powder
125g sugar
280ml buttermilk
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Method – what to do:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
Rub together all the dry ingredients (incl. the butter) with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
Add the milk and lightly mix together (we suggest using a fork), being careful not to over mix as the dough will get tough
Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3cm and cut into your desired shape
Brush the top of each scone lightly with egg wash
Bake for approx. 10-15min until golden brown

Christien will be sharing more recipes and photos with us over the next few weeks so be sure to check back soon. If you need to adjust the metric measurements, here’s a handy online volume converter.

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Man’s best friend comes to the rescue of rhinos

November 16, 2012 - Conservation,Environment,Sabi Sand,Wildlife

From the very beginning, the heart of Singita’s philisophy has been the balance of conservation with the development of communities surrounding the reserves. Each Singita lodge employs a dedicated conservation team focused exclusively on preserving the land and protecting wildlife. The team at Singita Sabi Sand has taken that principle a step further and introduced the use of highly trained tracker dogs in their anti-poaching units.

Dogs in the Field

“The rhino plight is obviously not just our concern, but a conservation issue on a national and global scale,” says Mark Broodryk, Head Guide at Singita Sabi Sand. “Making an impact on current poaching statistics – almost two rhino have been poached per day so far in 2012 – is a daunting task, but we’re up for the challenge”.

Following rhino poaching incidents in the Sabi Sand earlier this year, Dave Wright, head of conservation for the past 32 years, explains that they had reached a point where “we needed a professional, dedicated, in-house anti-poaching unit to secure our own property”.

Rhino | Singita Sabi Sand

So began an initiative between Singita and K9 Conservation, specialists in counteracting illegal hunting and wildlife trade through the use of highly trained tracker dog units. Explains Mark Broodryk: “The biggest advantage of dogs is that they track using their keen sense of smell and thus are extremely effective – even tracking in pitch darkness. A major part of the success of the K9 operation is their presence in the area.” Once trained dogs are deployed into an area, the news quickly spreads amongst poachers and criminal syndicates and the level and frequency of poaching incidents and related crime is shown to drop dramatically.

Rhino | Singita Sabi Sand

The dogs patrol day and night, seven days a week, to protect the wildlife that inhabits the reserve. Population numbers on the reserve are constantly monitored, as well as the movements of the animals. Any unusual activity, such as a congregation of vultures in a specific location, is logged and reported immediately.

We are extremely proud that Singita’s proactive anti-poaching initiative is already proving its worth, and that it has the potential to become a successful model for other wildlife conservation areas.

Baby Rhino | Singita Sabi Sand

You can find out more about the wildlife at Singita Sabi Sand by reading one of our recent Guides’ Diaries from the area.

Thanks to talented photographer and Singita field guide Marlon du Toit for the beautiful rhino photos.

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