The Singita Blog

In the Kitchen at the Reimagined Singita Ebony Lodge

July 15, 2015 - Cuisine, Experience, Singita Ebony Lodge

The recent reimagining of Singita Ebony Lodge has created a contemporary safari experience unlike any other, combining the romance of a tented camp with the style of a classic bush lodge. This more modern interpretation of an African wilderness adventure is reflected throughout the lodge, including in the approach taken by the talented kitchen team.

Singita Sabi Sand, South Africa

Many of the global food trends charted by the industry’s sharpest minds have trickled down to our little piece of Africa, where creative and delicious creations are prepared throughout the day. And while the inspiration for the preparation and plating of these meals might be traditional (classic French cooking methods, beautiful but simple presentation), the ingredients can be much more innovative and nutritious.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

Tried-and-tested flavour combinations are paired with mouthwatering “superfoods”, making more healthy options than ever available at meal times. For example, breakfast features a raw, sugar- and fat-free granola as well as a decadent honey-roasted seed and nut option to have with seasonal fruit. Freshly-pressed vegetable juice, wheatgrass and kombucha are served alongside a selection of premium coffees and teas to suit every palate.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

This season, our chefs are inspired by juicy heirloom tomatoes, organic maple syrup, local goats cheese, candy-stripe beetroot and all manner of homemade jams, marmalades and chutneys. One of the most popular dishes on the constantly evolving menu is a pan-fried quail, served with wild mushrooms, sage and polenta – a real winter warmer! As ever, the dietary needs of our guests are always considered, and speciality menus are designed regularly by our chefs to take any and all preferences into account.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

The new Singita Ebony Lodge comprises 12 suites, each with its own private plunge pool. Guests are immersed in nature with huge open spaces and interiors inspired by a combination of local tribal culture and the animal kingdom. Read more »

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The Radical Reinvention of Singita Ebony Lodge

July 13, 2015 - Accommodation, Lodges and Camps, Singita Ebony Lodge

As part of a new vision for its offering in the Sabi Sand, Singita recently unveiled a complete re-design of its original lodge, Singita Ebony, in South Africa. This property is where the story began 22 years ago and completes Singita’s reinvention of its private 45,000 acre game reserve within the Sabi Sand, following the 2014 renovation of Singita Boulders Lodge and Singita Castleton.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

Situated on the banks of the Sand River, Singita Ebony Lodge was already considered one of Africa’s most iconic locations and was revolutionary in its pioneering approach to the modern luxury safari experience. The new Ebony will takes safari style to a new level altogether, following its transformation by design team Cécile & Boyd, working alongside architect Sally Tsiliyiannis from GAPP Architects. Their unique vision has created a fresh and contemporary interpretation of the classic safari lodge, combining tented camp and bush lodge style. Guests are immersed in nature with huge open spaces and interiors inspired by a combination of local tribal culture and the animal kingdom.

The new Singita Ebony Lodge comprises 12 suites, each with its own private plunge pool. Dramatic changes include internal and external walls being replaced by canvas and glass to create new safari tent-style suites to maximise views and space. The entire front wall of each suite between the bedroom and the veranda has been removed, allowing light to flood in. Outdoor pavilion decks – ideal for dining and relaxing – are suspended above the river banks as if hanging from the trees.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

The updated interiors feature curated still-life collections of antiques and artefacts, as well as vintage campaign furniture from the Bailes family collection. Materials like wood, iron, steel and aged bonze hark back to the 19th century, along with oversized sepia photography, glamorous leopard and zebra print upholstery that complements bold graphic tribal patterned murals. Replacing animal skins, Singita Ebony Lodge now features printed animal patterns on textured fabric to help attune guests to their surroundings within the context of Singita’s pivotal conservation philosophy.

Ebony’s central sociable hub will be the very heart of the lodge – a place to meet, relax, socialise and take in the view. The sitting room has been moved to the very front of the lodge, closer to nature, to create a contemplative space. The style is reflective of what Singita calls the ‘New Nomad’, the traveller who wants to return to nature but stay connected. A beautiful marble and cast iron table is the furniture centrepiece for this concept – it is a traveller’s desk with smart tools, a private dining room table for entertaining or a bar to enjoy an evening gin & tonic in one.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

Singita’s evolution from a single-lodge company to one that is now responsible for a million acres of land, operating 12 lodges and camps in five wilderness regions across three African countries, has always been characterised by a pioneering spirit and a sincere desire to preserve wilderness areas for future generations. Its low-impact, high-value tourism model – fewer guests paying a premium for the privilege of experiencing vast open spaces – exists to sustain these wilderness areas and their resident wildlife, while providing an exclusive safari experience.

To discover Singita Ebony Lodge for yourself, please contact our Reservations team who will design an unforgettable safari getaway just for you.

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A Winter Weekend at Singita Sweni Lodge Part 1

July 10, 2015 - General

There’s nothing like discovering an intimate escape for a winter’s weekend (July is winter in the southern hemisphere) – especially if it includes safari, the tranquility of the wild, a pampering spa and some of the best wine and food that South Africa has to offer. Singita Sweni Lodge is that place – nestled beautifully amongst hundreds of trees at the edge of the Sweni River, within a private 33,000 acre concession in the Kruger National Park. In this peaceful, six-suite hideaway, the decks of the lodge seem to hover in the branches, while inside, rich calming colours and textures echo the hues of the natural surroundings.

Singita_Mar 08 2015_2987

Arrival times of daily Federal Air flights usually coincide with lunch hour and one of the chefs’ most tempting menu items is a puttanesca pasta. Something perfect to pile onto a plate and settle in front of a weary traveler as the quietness and awe of the bush starts to permeate the senses. It’s not unusual to hear the sound of hippo in the Sweni River below the deck of the dining room. Sydney Mkhize, one of the chefs at Singita Sweni, knows just the right way to combine the flavours for the best puttanesca, so we asked him to share his secrets with us.

Singita_Mar 06 2015_1282

Sydney suggests making pasta noodles from scratch:

400g Flour
300g Egg yolks
Pinch of salt
To make pasta dough, mix together the flour, egg yolks and pinch of salt. Knead the dough until it comes together and has a little shine to it. Rest for 1 hour, then roll with a pasta machine. Blanch just before dishing up.

For the pasta sauce:
30g Sundried tomato
30g Olives
30g Capers
Parmesan
Olive oil
Add the chopped sundried tomato, chopped olives, and capers to a pan, on a medium heat with a little olive oil. When warm, add the pasta and toss in the pan.
Finish with grated Parmesan, or shavings and plate in a comforting big bowl.

Singita_Mar 06 2015_1340

That’s the perfect meal for a winter lunch – and a wonderful way to start the safari weekend.

Sweni

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Rhino Relocation at Singita Pamushana

July 03, 2015 - Conservation, Conservation, Lodges and Camps, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Singita Pamushana Lodge, Sustainable Conservation

In an age where the destruction of pristine wilderness continues to accelerate, Singita is making a profound difference in many parts of Africa. Orchestrating an interdependent relationship between communities, wildlife and tourism that ensures true sustainability, Singita is blazing a trail which is seldom achieved on this scale anywhere else on the continent.

Black rhino - Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

One recent example of this ongoing effort took place last week, when eight, critically endangered black rhinos were safely relocated by the Malilangwe Trust, Singita’s conservation partner in Zimbabwe. The black rhinos were sent from the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve to the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana to help rebuild the local population and battle the devastating effects of poaching.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

The rhinos were bred from a group that was released onto the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve as part of a range expansion programme in 1998. After originally being relocated from South Africa, their numbers had grown rapidly in the Reserve, which is also the home of Singita Pamushana Lodge. A decision was made to relocate a small group of animals in order to reduce competition for space and food, while helping to establish a new population north of the border.

Black rhino - Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Following a call from the Zimbabwean government to donate 10 black rhinos to Moremi in late 2014, ecologists determined that the habitat in Botswana was both suitable and adequately protected. So on June 14 this year, the rhinos were successfully moved to their new home with the assistance of the Botswana Defense Force.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Singita’s 100-year purpose – to protect and preserve large tracts of wilderness for future generations – is supported by the Trust, whose central aim is to promote the conservation of rare species, including black rhino, and to add value to its neighbouring communities. The Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, home to an unrivaled gathering of birds with more than 400 species, including many raptors, remains virtually untouched by humankind. Through eco-tourism, Singita Pamushana Lodge helps in fostering the sustainability of the wildlife and broader ecology, while enabling guests to share the magic of the lodge and the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve.

Black rhino - Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Focused on eco-conscious hospitality, sustainable conservation and evolving local communities, Singita’s vision is to share a unique part of the world while respecting the natural environment and challenging today’s notion of luxury. Find out more about this commitment to responsible tourism on our website or visit the Conservation category on our blog.

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Design by Nature: Singita Boulders Lodge

July 02, 2015 - Experience, Lodges and Camps, Sabi Sand, Singita Boulders Lodge

Nature has always been an inspiration for the aesthetic at Singita’s lodges, and no less so at Singita Boulders Lodge in South Africa. This new short film takes the viewer on an evocative journey through the design process with interior designer Boyd Ferguson and Singita CEO, Luke Bailes, to reveal a space rich with colour and texture. Inspired by the essential elements of fire, earth, wind and water, every detail combines to create a harmonious palette that integrates seamlessly with the raw beauty of the landscape beyond.

Singita Boulders Lodge

Rustic, handmade furnishings made from fossilised tree stumps, slabs of solid stone, wrought iron and leather are balanced with the soft, sensual feeling of a sheep-skin rug, natural flax bed linen and cloud-like cotton towels. These subtle layers of luxury blend soulful, sensual Africa with high design to instil a sense of tranquillity and ease guests into the rhythm of safari life.

Singita Boulders Lodge

Singita Boulders Lodge is set along the banks of the Sand River in Singita’s privately owned concession within the Sabi Sand Reserve. Follow us on Vimeo to see more short films about the lodge, the landscape in which it sits and the stunning wildlife at Singita Sabi Sand.

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Creatures Great & Small: Banded Mongoose

June 30, 2015 - Did You Know?, Wildlife

Most safari enthusiasts who have spent some time out on game drive will be familiar with the sight of a small, furry creature darting into the undergrowth as the vehicle trundles down the path. Usually seen as a brown blur out of the corner of one’s eye, the banded mongoose is easily identifiable by the distinctive stripes along its back. They have long claws on their front feet which are used for digging up insects, especially beetles and their larvae, and they eat an array of fruit, meat and other morsels.

Banded mongoose at Singita

Banded mongooses live in mixed-sex groups of roughly 20 animals and sleep together at night in underground dens (often abandoned termite mounds) and change dens every 2-3 days. The females tend to breed all at the same time, giving birth within hours of each other to litters of 2–6 pups. The young stay in the den for their first four weeks of their lives, being carefully guarded by a adult caretakers while the other pack members forage for food. All the pack members take care of the pups, the mothers suckle each other’s offspring indiscriminately, and each young pup has an adult “escort” that catches prey for it.

Banded mongoose at Singita

Collective noun options for mongooses include ‘business’ and ‘rush’ – both referring to the frenetic pace at which they go about their daily search for food, relying mainly on their acute sense of smell. They are also known for their constant, high-pitched chatter; chirps to keep in contact with their family, sharp chittering for sounding the alarm, delighted squeaks upon finding food and even soft purring sounds of contentment.

Banded mongoose at Singita

Animal lovers will be fascinated by our monthly Wildlife Reports, which comprise stories and information like this. They are written and photographed by our field guides from across our concessions in South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

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Game Drive G&T

June 26, 2015 - Cuisine, Experience, Kruger National Park

For a gin and tonic lover, there is nothing quite as wonderful as that first sip from a freshly-made cocktail; that initial hit of bitterness, the dance of bubbles across the tongue and the clink of ice blocks against the glass. And those who have experienced it on the edge of a waterhole in the gathering dusk will tell you that the most delicious gin and tonic is one served off the back of a game vehicle.

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

These days, gin is gaining in popularity as a “trendy” spirit, spawning a variety of artisanal producers who distill the liquor using traditional methods and creating interesting new flavour profiles. The bars at Singita are stocked with a variety of well-known brands as well as a few bottles of handcrafted gin, like the Amber variety from Inverroche, a small batch distiller in Still Bay, South Africa. The well balanced and full bodied flavour combines the fresh floral botanicals of Africa with spices and berries from India and Europe.

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

A classic gin and tonic can be spiced up with all sorts of interesting ingredients, like lavender flowers, grapefruit zest, slices of cucumber, a twist of black pepper or a sprig of rosemary. Purists would no doubt prefer the simplicity of the original, so here is the recipe for a traditional gin and tonic, best enjoyed with a view and preferably a Big 5 sighting!

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

How to make the perfect gin and tonic:

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
2 oz. (60ml) of gin
3 oz. (90ml) tonic water
A handful of ice cubes
2 lime wedges

Method – what to do:
1. Squeeze one of the lime wedges into the bottom of a highball glass then drop in the wedge
2. Pour in the gin
3. Fill the glass most of the way with ice then stir for a few seconds
4. Top with tonic water and the second lime wedge (not squeezed)

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

These photographs were taken on a recent game drive in Singita Kruger National Park, a 33,000-acre concession on the South African border with Mozambique. The lodges in this reserve, Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge, were built to “touch the earth lightly”, as part of Singita’s mission is to create and maintain a balance between conservation, community development and ecotourism. You can find out more about this philosophy on our website.

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Conservation & Community: How Tourism Helps

June 24, 2015 - Community Development, Conservation, Did You Know?, Environment, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Singita Pamushana Lodge, Sustainable Conservation

For more than two decades, Singita has been a “place of miracles”, offering guests a unique and extraordinary safari experience. Our 12 lodges and camps have been the recipient of numerous awards and the number of guests who return year after year speaks for itself. And while we are extremely proud of this, Singita’s enduring purpose, which is to preserve and protect the miraculous places of which we are custodians, remains our primary focus. Our concessions, reserves, and properties represent some of the most pristine wilderness areas on the continent and we are dedicated to maintaining these incredible pieces of earth for future generations. As well as our commitment to environmentally conscious hospitality, our core vision supports sustainable conservation and the empowerment of local communities.

Malilangwe Reserve, Zimbabwe

Malilangwe Reserve, Zimbabwe

Dr Bruce Clegg, Resident Ecologist at the Malilangwe Trust, Singita’s conservation partner in Zimbabwe, explains the extent to which tourism contributes to wildlife conservation and rural community development in Africa:

Dr Bruce Clegg

Dr Bruce Clegg

“Travel and tourism contributes only 3.6% of the total GDP in Africa, the majority of which is generated from just a handful of countries on the continent. Ecotourism accounts for only a fraction of this relatively small figure, putting wildlife conservation and development of rural communities at a considerable disadvantage.

Wildlife conservation at Singita

Tourism is a difficult business. Africa only attracts 5% of global travellers. The market is very competitive, overhead costs high and profit margins low. In addition the industry is sensitive to shocks caused by political instability, disease outbreaks, natural disasters etc. and it takes many years to develop a credible reputation. This means that little extra money is available for large-scale conservation efforts or community development. Strong competition between companies for bookings necessitates promotion of the charismatic animal species that underpin the industry (most notably lions and the other members of the Big Five) and more urgent conservation needs such as protection of critically endangered, but less captivating plants and animals are overlooked. For these reasons the hope placed in ecotourism as a solution to Africa’s poverty and conservation problems has not been fulfilled.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Child Supplementary Feeding Programme

However, a small light is beginning to shine at the end of the tunnel. A few progressive organisations have recognised these failings and instead of continuing to base their activities on wishful thinking have changed their approach and setup partnerships between their ecotourism ventures and charitable NGOs or generous philanthropists. These partnerships appear to work better. Ecotourism provides environmentally sensitive employment for locals thereby promoting community development, and the charitable partners provide the extra funds required to conduct meaningful conservation projects and additional community upliftment.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Singita Pamushana

Singita has taken this approach a step further and also included professional conservation and community development organisations in their partnerships to provide the technical input and experience required to run truly meaningful projects. This has the added advantage of giving the donors confidence that their funds will pay for best practice, and visiting tourists the assurance that their dollars will actually make a difference. A three-way partnership of this nature is very promising and may well be the industry standard of the future. If this approach becomes widely adopted, ecotourism’s role in conservation and community development may at long last reach its full potential.”

Wildlife conservation at Singita

Singita is the trusted guardian of a million acres of pristine land in Africa and responsible for many successful community development projects, making a tangible difference in the lives of the people living and working in and around our lodges. Please visit our website to find out more about the wonderful work of our conservation and community upliftment teams.

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Shining a Light on Solar Power

June 03, 2015 - Conservation, Did You Know?, Kruger National Park, Lodges and Camps, Singita Lebombo Lodge

Solar power at Singita Lebombo Lodge

In the height of summer, the sun beats down on the red volcanic rocks of the Lebombo Mountains. With the temperature rising, the morning game drives return to the cool sanctuary of Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges, as animals search out the deep shade of the jackalberry trees. Even the pod of grunting hippos sinks a little deeper beneath the waters of the N’Wanetsi and Sweni Rivers.

Singita Kruger National Park

Solar power at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Animals and guests alike may be seeking out the shade, but a short drive from the pool deck at the lodge, the searing sunshine is helping to slash the property’s carbon footprint. “It’s a resource that’s abundant, so we decided that we need to be using it to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment,” says Gavin McCabe, Technical Services Manager at Singita Kruger National Park, where the final adjustments are being made to a groundbreaking solar energy project. “We are the first concession in the whole of the Kruger National Park to switch over to solar energy,” says McCabe.

Producing sufficient solar energy to power the 15-suite Lebombo Lodge and 6-suite Sweni Lodge, didn’t happen overnight though. The first step was to identify a suitable site clear of large trees, to allow for maximum sunlight, where the solar array would have minimal impact on the sensitive bushveld ecosystem. Once authorities from the South African National Parks had approved the site, supporting pillars to mount the array of panels had to be carefully installed.

“These metal beams were inserted into the ground using a hydraulic hammer, so there’s absolutely no foundation; no concrete in the soil at all,” explains McCabe. Before the panels could be installed, a heavy-duty electric fence also had to be erected to keep out any curious locals. “Elephants and baboons were the biggest concern,” says McCabe. “And the monkeys as well; you can just imagine them running across these panels!”

Solar power at Singita Lebombo Lodge

With the structure in place 1188 photovoltaic solar panels were installed, connected to state-of-the-art batteries and inverters situated close to the lodge. Two new diesel generators provide back-up power for cloudy days and when the battery systems run low. Previously, the generators powering both lodges guzzled up to 40 000 litres of diesel per month, but with solar energy providing clean carbon-free power that consumption will be halved. A similar solar installation is also ensuring a lighter footprint for the Singita staff village.

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Aside from ensuring a lighter carbon footprint, guests at Singita Kruger National Park will also see another benefit of the impressive new solar scheme. With the batteries silently providing power after sunset, there’s no chance that the humming of a diesel generator will break the perfect quiet of a bushveld night. And if you do happen to hear a low rumble? Well, that’s probably the resident hippos in the N’Wanetsi River…

This new solar energy system is an excellent example of how Singita aims to always “touch the earth lightly”; a commitment that is manifested in the way the lodges were constructed; how they operate today; and how guests experience the wildlife and the natural habitat. Visit our Conservation section to find out more about the various projects that drive sustainable hospitality at Singita.

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Design Details: Singita Castleton

June 01, 2015 - Accommodation, Experience, Lodges and Camps, Sabi Sand, Singita Castleton

Singita Castleton, South Africa

Set in park-like indigenous grasslands fronting onto bushveld vistas, Singita Castleton is an private-use lodge unlike any other. Imbued with a history acquired over generations, this private getaway offers guests a never-to-be-forgotten bush experience in the heart of the Sabi Sand. Designed to create an intimate experience for family and friends, Singita Castleton offers the seclusion of a private home, where every need is attended to in a surrounding that is infinitely peaceful and secluded.

Singita Castleton, South Africa

A palette of warm, earthy tones, cloudy greys and dried parchment grass colours complement a series of South African botanical art etchings commissioned exclusively for the house, each one reflecting an example of local indigenous flora. The botanical imagery is repeated in the signature wallpaper while elsewhere in the house collected installations with historical references add an element of nostalgia to the décor.

Singita Castleton, South Africa

Honest, humble textures of worn leather, linen and ticking stripe fabrics pair with bagged washed walls, pewter chandeliers and hand-woven grass lampshades, evoking the classic simplicity of a bygone era. Honest meals made in the welcoming farmhouse kitchen are served on a time-worn heritage dining room table. Hand-picked antiques, horn and tribal artefacts are layered with modern counterparts to create an eclectic boutique destination. The study is a quiet corner of solitude, decorated with accents of bone and prints. This pared-down aesthetic allows the house to breathe, harmonising English furniture with Asian accessories introduced by the sea traders who sailed down the East coast of the continent, and African influences.

Singita Castleton, South Africa

The tended lawns embrace secluded garden bungalow suites, each offering additional privacy and retreat. The bedrooms harmoniously layer antique furnishings with industrial elements, linens and hand-loomed cotton in painterly floral prints, cosy throws and comfortable down pillows. There is a delicate balance of masculine and feminine sensibilities in muted tones with touches of sepia. The romantic bathrooms balance delicate details with metal doors and anglepoise lamps. Basins set into oversized workbenches reference vintage industrial design, but in a modern conversation, fresh and interested.

Singita Castleton, South Africa

Singita Castleton, South Africa

And, in true African lodge style, deep verandahs frame vast views to create additional living space designed to be lounged in during the still heat of the afternoon and retreated to while absorbing the subdued evening sounds of the surrounding bush. The garden lends itself to traditional lawn games – the sack race, egg and spoon, perhaps a game of croquet. The spa offers a heavenly simplicity with references to vintage industrial elements. An outdoor boma for fireside dinners under the stars completes the authentic African bush experience.

DISCOVER SINGITA CASTLETON:

Formerly the family home of Singita founder Luke Bailes’ grandfather, Singita Castleton is set within 45,000 acres of private reserve. The lodge consists of a main house with communal living spaces, and accommodation located in six individual cottages within the grounds, catering for up to 12 people. Please contact our Reservations team to find out more about this exclusive-use property.

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