The Singita Blog

The Story of Eksoni Ndlovu

October 14, 2014 - Did You Know?, Experience, Kruger National Park, People of Singita, Wildlife

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Like many of the trackers who work at Singita, Eksoni Ndlovu grew up in a small rural community near the Kruger National Park. He learned the basics of tracking and animal interaction as a young man, while tending his family’s cattle and keeping them safe from wild animals. He has since spent more than 23 years honing his craft as an expert tracker and is respected the world over for his skill and perseverance.

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“Tracking is an art, not everyone can do it. You need to be patient and you need to be persistent… A good tracker needs to think like an animal. They need to listen, keep quiet and always be aware.”

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Eksoni’s passion for wildlife conservation is apparent to all those around him. He spends a considerable amount of time passing on his knowledge and experience to apprentice bush rangers so they too can help to preserve this beautiful wilderness. “I’m giving my skills to the community because I want them to learn and follow in my footsteps”.

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Guests also play an important role in protecting, maintaining and enhancing the land. Enos, one of the guides, observes: “We are giving back to conservation by educating our guests about the animals and how we take care of them for future generations.” Singita not only preserves large tracts of land but also works to ensure that people like Eksoni pass on their knowledge to others and in so doing preserve this ancient skill.

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Watch this short video to learn more about Eksoni’s story:

Find out more about Singita’s conservation efforts on our website. You can also share this and other #singitastories via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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Recipe: Mango and Caramel Swiss Roll

September 29, 2014 - Cuisine, Experience, Kruger National Park, Lodges and Camps

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Mango and Caramel Swiss Roll | Singita

Did you know that the Swiss Roll isn’t even from Switzerland? The first references to this teat-time favourite are in fact British, and variations now abound as far afield as Hong Kong, India, Portugal and Spain. Each region has its own twist on the original, including Singita Kruger National Park‘s mango-and-caramel-flavoured one. Chef de Partie and pastry queen extraordinaire, Christien Schrecker, shares her recipe for this delicious sponge cake roll:

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
For the yellow sponge:
5 egg yolks
1 egg
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
yellow food colouring
45g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
20g melted butter

For the chocolate sponge:
5 egg yolks
1 egg
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
30g self-raising flour
15g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
20g melted butter

For the filling:
1 cup whipped cream
¼ cup Caramel Treat or dulce de leche
2 cups diced fresh mango

Method – what to do:
1. Whisk the egg yolks, whole eggs, sugar and vanilla together until white and fluffy.
2. Add the yellow colouring a little at a time until the desired colour is achieved. (We use 2-3 drops of a concentrated colouring gel)
3. Gently fold in the flour and xanthan gum and then fold in the melted butter.
4. Spread the batter onto a Swiss roll tray (2cm thick) and bake at 160˚C for 10 minutes.
5. As soon as the sponge comes out of the oven, turn it out onto a clean, dry tea towel.
6. Roll the sponge up tightly while still warm, and keep aside until cool.
7. Repeat steps 1-6 with the ingredients for the chocolate sponge.
8. Unroll the yellow sponge and spread the caramel over it then sandwich the chocolate sponge on top. Spread the cream over the chocolate sponge and scatter with mango.
9. Roll the cake up tightly and trim the edges for serving.

Here’s a handy online volume converter if you need help with the metric measurements and you can find more great recipe ideas here.

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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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Cocktail Recipe: The Sabora Special

September 04, 2014 - Cuisine, Experience, Singita Grumeti, Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Singita Sabora Tented Camp

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It’s often the simple things in life that are the most rewarding; a good book, soft, fluffy towels and a quiet afternoon by the pool. At Singita Sabora Tented Camp in Tanzania, moments like these are easy to come by, as guests unwind in the peaceful seclusion of 350,000 acres of untouched wilderness. Simple pleasures also come in the form of the camp’s signature non-alcoholic cocktail, the recipe for which is shared with us by Lodge Manager, Wilson Owino:

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
Equal parts:
* Fresh passionfruit juice
* Fresh mango juice
* Fresh lime juice
And then:
* A drizzle of honey
* A splash of grenadine syrup

Method – how it is made:
The fresh juices are all shaken together with ice, with a small drizzle of honey for sweetness. The concoction is then poured into a hurricane glass in front of the guest at check-in along with a splash of grenadine to give a feeling of a sunrise in the glass.

Cocktail Recipe: The Sabora Special

You can spike the Sabora Special with vodka or rum for some extra zing, or add pomegranate seeds for a fruity twist. Share your version with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and check out our other delicious recipes here.

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What to Pack: Singita Pamushana Lodge

September 02, 2014 - Did You Know?, Experience, General, Lodges and Camps, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe, Zimbabwe

Packing for a safari in the African bush can be a little bit daunting for the uninitiated. What shoes do I bring? Are shorts appropriate? Do I need a long-sleeved shirt? Does it get cold enough for a jacket? Should I bring my own binoculars? We’ve answered these and many other questions in the “Tips for Travellers” section for each lodge but we thought a quick refresher might be in order.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe, Zimbabwe

The gear and clothing required for each lodge is relatively similar, but this time we’ll focus on Singita Pamushana Lodge, situated in the beautiful and mostly untouched Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe. The area is home to hundreds of baobab trees and an unrivalled gathering of birds with more than 500 species, including many raptors. During a stay at Singita Pamushana Lodge, you are likely to spot a great variety of wildlife, including species such as black rhino, white rhino, Lichtenstein hartebeest, sable, nyala, klipspringer, cheetah, wild dog, lion and leopard.

Singita's essential safari gear

Singita's essential safari gear

CLOTHING
Lodge Manager, Emily Capon, says that layers are the most important thing to consider when packing for the bush. In summer (October to April), the weather is warm during the day and cooler in the morning and evenings. She recommends casual summer clothes (shorts and cool shirts) and a warm sweater for the cooler times of day. During the fall and winter (May to September), the temperature during the day is usually fairly mild, with plenty of sunshine, but colder in the mornings and evenings. In these cooler months, casual light clothing and a very warm parka or jacket is recommended for the extremely chilly mornings and nights. It is suggested that you stick to a tonal, neutral colour palette (khaki, beige, light brown) and avoid dark colours as they absorb heat, and bright colours as they can attract bugs.

Fishing at Singita Pamushana lodge in Zimbabwe

Other essential items of clothing include comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots for walks; sandals to wear around the lodge, a sturdy cap or sun hat, and a swimming costume or bathing suit so that you can enjoy the stunning infinity pool that overlooks the dam. Please note that in the event of rain during a game drive, waterproof ponchos will be provided for your comfort.

The pool at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

ACCESSORIES & EQUIPMENT
It’s a good idea to pack your favourite sun block, lip balm and mosquito repellent, as although all of these items are provided at the lodges, you might want to bring along your preferred brand. Sunglasses are also essential, along with an extra pair of correction glasses (if required), contact lens solution, an extra set of contact lenses (if required) as well as a sufficient supply of any prescription medication.

You’ll no doubt want to capture those precious memories with your camera and/or video camera, and don’t forget spare memory cards, your tripod and lenses, and any charging equipment (220V although we do have international adapters in all the rooms). The lodge does have a number of pairs of binoculars that guests are welcome to use on game drives or when bird-watching from the lodge. Your own pair of compact, high quality binoculars will greatly enhance your game-spotting ability however, and offer the best possible close-up of the local wildlife.

Game drives at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Emily Capon has worked at Singita for just over five years. She says: “Zimbabwe is home for me, I grew up here and there are so many reasons to love it! The most common comment from guests is about how friendly all the people are and that is definitely true. I love Singita Pamushana Lodge as it is so different to anything else and so vibrant and happy!” You can get in touch with our reservations team to find out more.

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Recipe: Frozen Guava Parfait

August 28, 2014 - Cuisine, Kruger National Park

Frozen guava parfait | Singita Kruger National Park

Tea time | Singita Kruger National Park

Chef de Partie at Singita Kruger National Park, Christien Schrecker, is well known for her delicious and imaginative creations that take inspiration from Africa. Past delights include giraffe-shaped cinnamon doughnuts and chocolate and mint macarons made with a dash of Amarula!

Today she tells us how to make this refreshing frozen guava parfait, which makes for the perfect conclusion to a lazy summer meal. It is served at the lodges with coconut sorbet, crumbled red velvet cake and a raspberry coulis – is anyone else’s mouth watering now!?

Ingredients – what you will need:
190g guava puree
190ml cream, whipped
75g caster sugar
13ml water
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
2 egg whites

Method – what to do:
1. Fold the guava puree into the whipped cream and keep aside.
2. Place the whole eggs and egg yolks in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and whisk on high speed
3. Meanwhile, place the first amount (75g) of caster sugar and water into a small sauce pan and bring to the boil.
4. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and slowly pour the syrup into the whisking eggs in a slow and steady stream. Do not let the syrup touch the whisk or it will splatter onto the sides of the bowl.
5. Leave the mixture on high speed until cool, then fold it into the guava cream.
6. Make a stiff meringue with the remaining (40g) of caster sugar and the egg whites, and fold it into the guava cream.
7. Spread the mixture into a lined tray and place in the freezer for at least four hours, or ideally, overnight.
8. When serving the parfait, allow to defrost slightly and then slice with a clean, hot knife.

Share your homemade parfait with us on Instagram by tagging @Singita_ and follow Christien for more scrumptious photos from the kitchen at Singita Kruger National Park. You can also find more great recipe ideas here and here’s a handy online volume converter if you need help with the metric measurements.

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Wonderful Wildlife Videos with James Suter

August 26, 2014 - Experience, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Singita Explore, Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Singita Grumeti, Singita Pamushana Lodge, Wildlife

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you will no doubt have seen field guide James Suter’s incredible series of reports from our twelve lodges and camps in Africa. His stories from the bush were accompanied by spectacular photographs and expert descriptions of the animals and landscapes that he saw. Highlights included a run-in with a black rhino, getting reacquainted with an old friend, a mother cheetah defending her cubs and some stunning shots of the iconic baobab trees of southern Zimbabwe.

These special moments in the wilderness have now been brought to life in a series of videos from his year-long journey through each of Singita’s private reserves and concessions. We hope you enjoy these and encourage you to share them with others who might enjoy a taste of our Africa:

WALKING WITH ELEPHANTS AT SINGITA PAMUSHANA LODGE, ZIMBABWE

A CHEETAH FAMILY AT SINGITA PAMUSHANA LODGE, ZIMBABWE

ELEPHANT HERD AT SINGITA FARU FARU LODGE, TANZANIA

MAGNIFICENT PLAINS GAME AT SINGITA GRUMETI, TANZANIA

MIGRATING WILDEBEEST AT SINGITA GRUMETI, TANZANIA

All videos shot on location by Oliver Caldow with James Suter, an independent field guide who works with us from time to time. If you enjoyed reading about James’ adventures on the blog, you may also enjoy our monthly Wildlife Reports, written by our other Singita field guides. You can also follow our new Vimeo channel to see the latest Singita videos.

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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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