Category Archives: Singita Boulders Lodge

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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A Love for Leopards

April 02, 2014 - Experience,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Wildlife

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

As with many South Africans, I grew up visiting game reserves fairly regularly, and going on camping trips in remote locations with my family during school holidays. I completely took for granted that, at a fairly young age, I had seen such incredible creatures as lions and elephants at close proximity, and in their natural habitat.

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

It was only a couple of years ago when I visited the Kruger National Park for the first time that I realised that for all my childhood game-spotting, I had never seen a leopard in the wild. Their feline grace, exquisite colouring and enigmatic nature totally captivate me, and we spent a week scouring the bushes for these elusive spotted cats but to no avail.

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

In January I was lucky enough to visit Singita Sabi Sand for the first time and was determined to track down a leopard. James and Leon, my tracking-and-guiding team, were duly briefed and we set off into the wakening bush on the first morning game drive in search of one of the area’s resident leopards. There are a number of handsome males with territories that traverse Singita’s concession in the Sabi Sand; Nyaleti, Ravenscourt and Khashane among them. They are regularly featured in the guides’ Wildlife Reports from the region and have even been spotted in and around the lodges themselves!

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

It was an absolute thrill an hour later to discover a male leopard walking casually through the bush in front of our vehicle. We followed him through the undergrowth for a short while, and watched him leap silently into a nearby ebony tree, where he used the height of the branches to get a better view of the surrounding area. We sat in the vehicle and watched him quietly for a few moments, astounded by his beauty.

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

I was lucky enough to have two more leopard sightings in as many days at Singita Sabi Sand; both equally breathtaking. It was an experience that rendered me quite speechless and something I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Leopards at Singita Sabi Sand

All photos by field guide Ross Couper. Text by blog manager Julia da Silva.

Singita Sabi Sand is a privately owned game reserve in the Sabi Sand Reserve, adjacent to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Spanning more than 45,000 acres, Singita Sabi Sand is renowned for high concentrations of big game and frequent leopard sightings.

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A Tribute to the Ravenscourt Female: December 2001 – June 2013

September 10, 2013 - Conservation,Experience,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Wildlife

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

It is with great sadness that I write this tribute to the Ravenscourt female leopard, as, for me, she is and always will be synonymous with Singita Sabi Sand.

My primary motivation for wanting to become a field guide in the Sabi Sand was to gain an insight into the traditionally secretive and private lives of leopards and the Ravenscourt female gave me more of an insight into her life than I ever could have wished for.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

Although once the topic of much debate, photographic evidence now shows that the Ravenscourt female was born in December 2001 to the Makwela female. In her latter years, she could be identified by the 3 notches in her right ear as well as her 2:3 spot pattern (the ratio indicates the number of spots on the left and right hand side of its snout).

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

My interaction with her began during my first experience at Singita in 2009, during which time she was exhibiting an unusual behavioural phenomenon of simultaneously raising a new litter of cubs and still feeding and tolerating the presence of the Xindzele male from her previous litter. This meant that it was not all unusual to see four different leopards together, lounging in a marula tree, during a visit to Singita Sabi Sand. This surprised me and only further fuelled my desire to find out as much as possible about these beautiful animals.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

From the day I started the guide training course in January 2010, I was enchanted by this leopardess. As a guide I was always quick to discourage guests from anthropomorphizing and would remind them that our goal is to watch these animals in their natural environments without getting too attached to any individuals. Unfortunately, while I managed to do this for the most part, I developed a soft spot for this particular female leopard. I suppose this can be expected when one is spending close on eight hours a day either tracking or viewing a particular animal.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

In this case, it was exacerbated by the fact that Singita Ebony Lodge and Singita Boulders Lodge, as well as the staff village, were situated in the middle of her territory. This meant that I had many more interactions with the Ravenscourt female than any other leopard at Singita. It seemed as if she wanted to let us know that this was still her territory as she would stroll through the staff village or lodge with her rasping territorial call carrying into the night. Often I would wake up to this call, part the curtain in my room, and see her walking along the corridor outside my window. With this kind of interaction, it is almost impossible not to become attached to an animal.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

Most animals seem to shy away from human activity, but she seemed to be unperturbed and even seemed to be more comfortable around the lodges. This was epitomized by the fact that she gave birth to three litters of cubs in the immediate vicinity of the lodges. Whilst this can be partly be attributed to the dense vegetation on the banks of the Sand River being particularly suitable for leopard den sites, I feel that she may have decided that the human habitation would discourage other predators that may pose a threat to her cubs.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

For the two years I spent at Singita, I felt a part of her life and she was most definitely a part of mine. The first time I saw leopards mating was when she was mating with the Kashane male in the Ximobanyane riverbed. My first ever glimpse of leopard cubs was when her three cubs cautiously crept out of a rocky crevice in the Millennium koppies to nurse from her. She was the first leopard I ever followed on a hunt. Whilst often unsuccessful, it was a fantastic experience to eventually witness her catch and feed upon a vervet monkey. She was the first leopard I ever bumped into on foot and I also spent many hours with the trackers following her spoor. If there was ever a stable sighting, I would often go out on my own, in between game drives, and sit with her and her offspring, hoping to glean something new. In fact, my last few hours at Singita were spent sitting alone with her and her two cubs as they fed on an impala on top of the Boulders koppies.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

These are just a few of the many memories I have of her, memories that I’ll treasure for many years to come.

I often questioned her maternal skills given the statistics. All in all, she gave birth to six litters comprising 14 cubs, of which only four males have survived to maturity (Xmobanyane male of ’06, Xindzele male of ’07, West Street male of ’09 and the current Ravenscourt young male of ’12). In the end, however, she proved me wrong by paying the ultimate price in order to protect her near independent cub from a rogue male leopard. To me, this illustrates just how difficult life is for a female leopard and despite her 29% success rate in raising cubs, she was clearly an extremely dedicated mother.

I am so grateful for the two years I got to spend watching and following the Ravenscourt female and her offspring; she made such a difference in my life as I know she did in the lives of many rangers, trackers and guests at Singita.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

© Photos copyright James Crookes 

Field guide James Crookes worked at Singita Sabi Sand for a number of years and has always had a passion for these elusive cats. He says: “I chose to work in the Sabi Sand Reserve based on its reputation for amazing leopard viewing, arguably the best in the world. Not one to usually have checklists, I must admit that I did have one regarding leopards. My goal was to see a leopard kill, leopards mating and leopard cubs. These experiences have been nothing short of amazing and I will always cherish the memories I have of these times at Singita.”

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Field Guide Favourites: Baby Elephant

September 05, 2013 - Experience,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Wildlife

Second in our series of our field guides’ favourite wildlife photographs is this delightful snap of a baby elephant by Marlon du Toit at Singita Sabi Sand. The Sabi Sand is a privately owned game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park, and together the two areas make up some of South Africa’s most incredible and pristine land.

Marlon du Toit | Baby elephant

“All babies are simply adorable and well worth spending time with. Little elephants have great personalities and make for stunning images. This one had huge ears and this unique pose works very well, and the soft light compliments the skin texture.”

Subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss the next installment in this wonderful photography series and get more from our field guides by reading our monthly Wildlife Reports.

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Field Guide Favourites: Rays of Light

August 29, 2013 - Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Wildlife

Singita’s field guides are required to have a number of skills; the powers of observation, knowledge of various bird calls and animal spoor, good awareness of their surroundings and a passion for the African bush among them. Some of them also happen to be talented photographers and are responsible for many of the wildlife shots you see on this blog.

We will be showcasing some of their favourite photos over the next few weeks, with some words from the field guides themselves about the moment they captured through the lens. First we have Dylan Brandt from Singita Sabi Sand, a regular contributor to our blog and Facebook page:

Rays of Light copyright Dylan Brandt

Light has a wonderful way of creating mood. All it takes is a keen eye and a little patience and the rest will unfold in front of you. We had been following the roars of lion for an hour before we found two lionesses lying on the edge of a barely driven, two-track dirt road. The lionesses started moving and roaring only to attract a coalition of males nearby. It was a misty overcast morning, cool and damp with the sun nowhere to be seen. We spent an hour enjoying the pride hoping for a break in the clouds to cast a bit of sunlight for a quick image or two.

Male lions have a habit of snoozing the day away and opportunities for unusual photographs are few and far between. We were fortunate however to have a wonderful ray of sunlight beam through a thick canopy to light up the head of one of the adults. The rest of the image contrasted in shade made for a great chance to capitalise on light.

A keen eye, a little patience and the rest will unfold in front of you.

Keep an eye on the blog for more special photographs from our field guides and catch up on our monthly Wildlife Reports for more.

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Guest Photos from 2013: Tony Goldman

August 07, 2013 - Africa,Experience,Singita Boulders Lodge,Wildlife

Earlier this year we shared some beautiful guest photos from international travellers who visited Singita last year. Jeff Thompson (Atlanta, Georgia), Mary Robbins (Lynn, Massachusetts) and Stephen Saugestad (Vancouver, Canada) all shared their spectacular photographs with our readers and offered an inside look at their unique safari experience with Singita.

Continuing on that theme, we have kindly been sent some lovely photographs from Tony Goldman from Tampa, Florida, who visited Singita Boulders Lodge with his wife in February. We were especially impressed with his beautiful shots of the local birdlife and here are the highlights. We hope you enjoy these lovely pictures and we encourage you to share your own photographs of Singita with us by visiting our Facebook page or getting in touch on the website.

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© All photographs copyright Anthony Goldman 2013

Follow our monthly Wildlife Reports from our lodges and camps in Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe for more amazing animal photographs.

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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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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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