The Singita Blog

Singita Celebrates 20 Years

December 31, 2013 - General

Singita Celebrates 20 Years

The story of Singita began in 1925, when a piece of land in the present-day Sabi Sand Reserve was purchased by James Bailes, grandfather of the current owner. Situated in a remote corner of the South African Lowveld, the property was originally procured for hunting purposes and was inaccessible by road. Travelling to this remote location took three days of hard driving from the coast.

Over the years, this pristine 45,000 acre reserve has evolved from being a hunting ground to being an exclusive reserve, teeming with game, where all species of animals, large and small, are protected. In 1993, Singita’s first lodge, Singita Ebony Lodge, opened its doors on the banks of the Sand River on this magnificent tract of family land, and the brand has grown ever since. Today Singita’s unique philosophy lives on in each of the 12 lodges and camps across five diverse regions in Africa – a philosophy committed to preserving and protecting land and wildlife for future generations.

For what the future holds, Singita’s founder and CEO, Luke Bailes asserts, “We will only develop new properties if they are better than, or as good as, those we already have. It’s a disciplined approach, ensuring that Singita’s reputation is continually elevated and continues to deliver the best possible guest experience, while still benefiting the land and communities in which we are privileged to operate.”

The people who work at Singita are among its most precious assets. We are extremely honoured to have a dedicated and hard-working team that works together to create unforgettable experiences for our guests and is committed to our vision.

As we look back on 2013, we are extremely grateful to you for helping us to reach the 20 year mark and we look forward to the next 100 years with you!

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Wildlife Census 2013 in Tanzania

December 27, 2013 - Conservation, Conservation, Did You Know?, Environment, Safari, Singita Grumeti, Sustainable Conservation, Wildlife

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

Conservation has always been pivotal to Singita’s existence, as it lives hand-in-hand with Singita’s other two operating principles; ecotourism and community development. We believe it’s the responsible way to maintain and extend the sustainability of the reserves under our care. As we reflect on the successes of the past year, it seems fitting to report on the positive findings of a recent census that took place at Singita Grumeti earlier in 2013.

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

The hands-on conservation teams on each property are committed to protecting, maintaining and enhancing the land and its fauna and flora. For example, Singita Grumeti has as one of its goals the rehabilitation of the wildlife populations of Grumeti and Ikorongo Game Reserves and associated wildlife management areas in the Serengeti, Tanzania. Over the last eight years, Singita Grumeti has made a significant investment into the protection of wildlife in the area as well as the infrastructure required to support ecotourism. The effectiveness of these inputs and the management activities that result need to be monitored for appropriate outcomes, the most logical of which is the change in status of the resident herbivores.

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

Having an understanding of the number of animals, their distribution and numerical trends forms one of the most basic sets of information necessary for the informed management of a wildlife operation. A starting point is a regular and accurate assessment of population size of possibly all, but certainly the ecologically and economically most important species.

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

A census was therefore undertaken by way of an aerial survey between the 23rd of August and the 3rd of September 2013 in the Ikorongo-Grumeti Reserves complex. This survey was the tenth undertaken over a period of 11 years, under particularly favourable counting conditions and with a very experienced team of enumerators.

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

At the initiation of this project, the Grumeti Fund management team’s primary purpose was to facilitate the recovery of the resident large herbivore populations in this part of the Serengeti ecosystem. This was seen as an important step in the rehabilitation of this particular region, protecting the migratory herds but also helping to fully restore the tourism potential of the area.

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

Notable statistics from the census include the slowing population increase of buffalo (although this species has shown a six fold increase in estimated size over the last 10 years) and this year showing the highest number of elephant in the area since inception. The population estimate for elephant has varied substantially over the last eight years, probably as a result of the animals moving in and out in response to resource availability. Overall, the population showing a gradual increase of 5% per annum over the last 10 years. In addition, the topi, a local migrant antelope, would appear to have stabilised at around 15 000 animals. Fluctuations are likely due both to forage conditions as well as predation.

census_7

Click the image below to see the full-size infographic depicting population growth until 2011:

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

Singita Grumeti also has a highly successful Anti-Poaching Unit comprising 120 game scouts (most of the ex-poachers) who work together with the Wildlife Division to eradicated illegal hunting within the concession. Visit our Conservation page to learn more about how Singita manages the half a million acres of pristine African wilderness that it is proud guardian of.

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We Wish You A Merry Christmas

December 25, 2013 - General

Merry Christmas from Singita

In all of our lodges across Africa, on this very special day of celebration and thanksgiving, our guests and staff are coming together to share in the blessings of Christmas. African-inspired decorations, perfectly-picked presents and glorious feasting will be the order of the day as we mark this occasion with all the festive flair that it deserves. For our guests especially, Christmas at Singita is a unique and unforgettable experience; one whose memories will be cherished for years to come. Once you have visited Africa with us, you become part of our family forever, so from our family to yours, we wish you an abundance of love, hope and joy this day and always.

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Christmas Continues at Singita Ebony Lodge

December 23, 2013 - Events, Experience, Sabi Sand, Singita Ebony Lodge

Christmas at Singita Ebony Lodge

Singita Ebony Lodge has been a hive of activity over the past few days. On Saturday, the team set about adding some festive flair to the public areas and guest suites with homemade wreaths and a dried thorn tree that serves as the main Christmas tree for the lodge. Tomorrow while the guests are on the evening game drive, each suite will receive its own small, decorated acacia tree while the wooden deck overlooking the Sand River is dotted with hurricane lamps that will twinkle in the enclosing dusk.

Christmas at Singita Ebony Lodge

Christmas at Singita Ebony Lodge

They will return to find a carefully selected gift for each man, woman and child underneath their personal Christmas tree, as well as sparkling wine with the first turn down and cherry truffle at the second. The lodge will be brimming with festive cheer by the time they awake on Christmas morning, ready to gather together over candle-lit tables, open a few crackers and share in the wonderful spirit of the day.

Christmas at Singita Ebony Lodge

Christmas at Singita Ebony Lodge

The kitchen team will serve a celebratory feast, along with extra treats throughout the day, such as these delectable red velvet cakes that are topped with gilded cherries:

Red Velvet Cake Recipe | Singita Ebony Lodge

Ingredients – what you will need:

For the sponge:
350g cake flour
300g sugar
5ml bicarbonate of Soda
5ml cocoa powder
250ml buttermilk or yoghurt
2 eggs
250ml vegetable oil
5ml white vinegar
25ml red food colouring
5ml vanilla essence

For the cream cheese icing:
500g cream cheese
200ml cream
100g icing sugar
5ml cinnamon
5ml vanilla essence

Method – what to do:

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a large bowl sift the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder.
In another mixing bowl combine the buttermilk, eggs, oil, vinegar, food colouring and vanilla essence.
Mix into the flour mixture and pour the batter into cake pans.
Bake for 30-40 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
For the icing, place everything into a mixing bowl and whisk until thick and smooth.
Place into a piping bag and pipe onto the cake once the sponge has cooled.

If you’re a baking fan, you’ll find plenty of delightful recipes on the blog with an African twist to inspire you. Highlights include Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti, Apple Caramel Cake and traditional Lamingtons. If you need to adjust the metric measurements, here’s a handy online volume converter.

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An African Christmas at Singita Ebony Lodge

December 19, 2013 - Singita Ebony Lodge

An African Christmas at Singita Ebony Lodge

It must be very unusual for most visitors to Southern Africa during December to spend Christmas in the sweltering haze of mid-summer. The only snowflakes to be found are made of icing sugar, and Santa’s reindeer are replaced by herds of zebra that graze the open grasslands of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

An African Christmas at Singita Ebony Lodge

In the midst of the long, hot days, the team at Singita Ebony Lodge commence their preparations for the festive season. As the original Singita lodge, the property is a blend of European heritage and African boldness, with the down-to-earth warmth of a much-loved family home. It is therefore the perfect setting for the Singita staff to spend Christmas with their guests, all part of a new extended family.

An African Christmas at Singita Ebony Lodge

Lodge Manager, Tom Rutherford, describes this time of year: “It is a time for guests and the team to share a magical evening under the stars, listening to the sounds of the African drum beat around the fire and sipping on some special wines from our cellar. Guests will celebrate in true African style as each room is decorated with festively-adorned acacia trees, under which beautifully wrapped gifts await. The afternoon tea table is laden with appropriately themed treats like candy cane striped biscuits, and children help to bake cookies that will be used to decorate the main Christmas tree. Even the game rangers wear Christmas hats while out on safari!

An African Christmas at Singita Ebony Lodge

One of the highlights will surely be the sundowner stop out in the bush on Christmas Eve, where the local youth choir from Justicia will perform. The evening will incorporate an African-styled Christmas menu with items such as braised lamb shank with cherry samosas and pumpkin fritters with fruit mince chutney, in our traditional Boma setting.”

ebony_6

It’s easy to bring the magic of an African Christmas to your table with home bakes like these delicious lamingtons. Originally of Australian origin, and named for a governor of Queensland from the late 19th Century, lamingtons consist of squares of vanilla sponge cake coated first in a layer of chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut. These tea-time confections soon made their way to South Africa, where they are a popular bake-sale item and regularly appear on the afternoon menu at Singita Ebony Lodge.

Christmas Baking: Lamingtons | Singita

Ingredients – what you will need:

For the sponge:
680g cake flour
800g castor sugar
50ml bicarbonate of soda
110g cocoa powder
10ml salt
900ml milk
200ml oil
45ml vinegar
15ml vanilla extract

For the chocolate dipping sauce:
375g icing sugar
60g cocoa powder
20g butter
150ml water
400g desiccated coconut

Method – what to do:

In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder and salt.
In another mixing bowl, stir together the milk, oil, vinegar and vanilla.
Making a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, slowly pour in the liquid mixture and combine until there are no lumps.
Pour the batter into a greased baking tray and bake for 20 minutes at 170°C.
Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool before portioning into squares.

For the dipping sauce, place the icing sugar, cocoa powder, butter and water in a small saucepan and gently heat so that all the ingredients melt together and become combined.
Allow to cool slightly before dipping the portioned cake in the sauce.
When the chocolate sauce is still wet on the cake, dust them with desiccated coconut and allow to dry

Christmas Baking: Lamingtons | Singita

Christmas Baking: Lamingtons | Singita

If you like baking, you may enjoy our “Sweet Tooth” series from earlier in the year, in which we showed you how to make buttermilk scones, Rooibos shortbread and cinnamon doughnuts shaped like giraffes! If you need to adjust the metric measurements, here’s a handy online volume converter.

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In honour of Madiba

December 11, 2013 - General

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Dear All,

During these past few days we have all been extremely saddened by the passing of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

I had the good fortune to have spent some time with Madiba. He was an extraordinary human being to whom we – as a country, a company, and from a personal perspective – owe so much respect and appreciation. We are extremely fortunate to have lived during his life-time of influence and caring.

He expressed his view of South Africa so warmly when he said “I believe that South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased, but when you combine the natural beauty of South Africa with the friendliness and cultural diversity of our people, and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa’s most splendid wildlife, then I think even the most scrupulous critic would agree that we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land”.

He has, and will continue to inspire us to provide momentum to our support for communities on the outskirts of the reserves throughout Africa. In his words – “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings” He also said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

We are aligned and will continue to be inspired by his views of leadership. “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.” He also said “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do” and ”A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

We will honour Madiba and his memory by striving to live our lives guided by the principals of tolerance, integrity and generosity he demonstrated so adequately throughout his lifetime.

Best regards

Luke

Luke Bailes is CEO of Singita.

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Shopping at Singita

December 09, 2013 - Did You Know?, Experience, Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand

Singita Boutique & Gallery

High-end design and an effortlessly chic safari aesthetic are trademarks of the Singita experience, and something that is carried through in all of our properties, whether classic or contemporary. Over the years, the introduction of boutiques and galleries at the lodges has allowed guests the opportunity to take home a memento that not only reminds them of their safari adventure with us, but adds a unique and stylish touch of Africa to their homes.

Singita Boutique & Gallery

Singita Boutique & Gallery

Guests of Singita are often surprised to discover the retail experience in camp. Shopping on safari becomes a relaxed excursion to enjoy between game drives without any time restraints or pressure to purchase. The original boutique and gallery is at Singita Sabi Sand, and is located in an inviting African colonial farmhouse. The verandah is a delightful place to pause and enjoy a refreshing drink or cappuccino before exploring the treasures in the homestead’s interleading rooms, adjoining courtyard and wine boutique. Many of the items, from decor accessories to clothing, are unique to Singita. Wildlife photographic prints, candelabra, unusual jewellery and Singita’s signature wire underplates are all popular purchases with guests.

Singita Boutique & Gallery

Singita Boutique & Gallery

Singita Kruger National Park offers a similarly indulgent shopping experience, but in a thoroughly contemporary setting in keeping with the chic design of the Lebombo and Sweni lodges. Not all of the properties have fully fledged boutiques; at the smaller or more remote lodges pared-down retail collections are displayed in eye-catching metal and glass cabinets.

Singita Boutique & Gallery

Kim Peter, general manager and buyer for all of Singita’s boutiques and galleries, takes into account each lodge’s location and unique style. She also gauges guest feedback, along with the luxury traveller’s desire for rare or precious artefacts reminiscent of Africa or unique to a particular destination or culture.

Singita Boutique & Gallery

Singita often collaborates with local crafters in a specific region who create sought-after handmade items. In South Africa, Singita’s designers work with a Zulu wire weaving group in KwaZulu-Natal to create the handwoven wire underplates in colour schemes that are unique to each lodge. Kim also sources items throughout Africa to reflect the integrity and beauty of the continent’s myriad cultures and traditions, including rare bronze cast figurines from Benin and colourful, carved dolls from the Namji tribe in northern Cameroon.

Singita Boutique & Gallery

Georgina Pennington, group style, design and procurement design manager for Singita, confirms that guests usually want to take home a little piece of Africa as a memento of their safari. Sometimes, a guest even falls in love with a piece of furniture in the lodge. Where possible, the procurement team will source the exact item or find something similar for that guest. Long after guests have returned home, there is an unwritten, open invitation from Singita to assist them with any future purchases no matter how big or small.

Singita Boutique & Gallery

Singita Boutique & Gallery

You can read more about our collaboration with the Zulu women who weave our wire underplates, and our other community development projects in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. 

 

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The Singita Spa Experience

December 04, 2013 - Accommodation, Experience, Safari

The Singita Spa Experience

The idea of measuring luxury in terms of star ratings is becoming increasingly outdated as the definition of luxury itself evolves to mean so much more than good service and exquisite surroundings. The word has come to be defined by unique experiences and the privilege of being in remote, unspoilt places where silence and peace exist in stark contrast to the relentless pace and distractions of everyday life. Many travellers are striving for digital detox too, taking a mental break from electronic devices and plugging into the natural world instead. This is especially relevant as we approach the festive season, when priorities tend to shift towards indulging ourselves and others, and seeking rejuvenation ahead of the new year.

The Singita Spa Experience

Singita guests are looking for authentic, meaningful, one-of-a-kind experiences and spa-going, especially on safari, becomes an extension of this desire to transcend the ordinary. Having a massage outdoors with organic Kalahari melon-infused body butter after an action-packed game drive is an experience unique to Africa.

The Singita Spa Experience

A safari spa is so much more than a place to be physically pampered though. Guests often describe a fundamental sense of well being that may point to a subconscious yearning to reconnect with nature. The gentle rhythm of safari life, punctuated by twice-daily game drives, engages and sharpens all the senses facilitating this reconnection to the wilderness, to others and yourself. In turn, Singita’s philosophy of protecting and preserving large tracts of wilderness for future generations begins to resonate with guests along with an increased awareness about communities, conservation and sustainability and just how much is at stake.

The Singita Spa Experience

The Singita Spa Experience

CEO Luke Bailes believes that there’s an authenticity of place at each of Singita’s lodges that is not only a rarity but touches guests spiritually, emotionally and physically. “Being in the wilderness heightens the senses beyond anything that could ever be experienced back at home. People have a sense of well being, as if they are participating in something far bigger than themselves,” he explains.

The Singita Spa Experience

Singita’s spa menus include indulgent beauty rituals and specialised hydrating, anti-ageing treatments using Dermalogica, but most guests request the healing power of touch. For massage therapies, subtly scented, nourishing oils and balms from Healing Earth’s Earth Soul range are used. Developed in South Africa, these pure products harness the medicinal powers of indigenous plants, flowers and herbs and are free from petrochemicals, synthetic ingredients, colourants and preservatives.

The Singita Spa Experience

The Singita Spa Experience

There are few things more relaxing than heading to the spa for a couple of hours after a morning game drive or in the still heat of the afternoon. Dried monkey oranges, indigenous fruits that are part of the calabash family, are often used as natural massage tools to ease tension and release pressure points. For guests who are accustomed to sophisticated, cutting edge spa therapies in first-world cities, a massage in this setting is unique and something to talk about and remember for years to come.

Please visit our website to find our more about our lodge facilities, and contact enquiries if you have any questions about Singita’s luxury safari experience.

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Giving Thanks

November 28, 2013 - Cuisine, General, Kruger National Park, Singita Lebombo Lodge

Earlier this year we brought you the story of Joyful Nghala, a trainee chef at the Singita School of Cooking (SSC) at Singita Kruger National Park. We are delighted to report that Joyful recently graduated from SSC along with six other students after successfully completing a challenging 18-month stint in the school’s kitchens. She is now employed at Singita Lebombo Lodge and is poised to become an extremely valuable member of our team.

People like Joyful make us all the more grateful for the special communities of which Singita is a part, and today we give thanks for all of our staff members, guests and special friends that work with us to make a tangible difference in the lives of those living and working in and around our lodges. We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, from our family to yours this holiday season.

Learn more about Joyful’s story in this short video celebrating her graduation last month:

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A Cheetah Kill at Singita Faru Faru Lodge

November 25, 2013 - Experience, Safari, Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Singita Grumeti, Wildlife

Cheetah kill at Singita Faru Faru Lodge | Marlon du Toit

Photographer and Singita Field Guide, Marlon du Toit, is traveling through Tanzania, visiting Singita’s lodges and camps in the area. Most recently, he has been at Singita Faru Faru Lodge where he was fortunate enough to spot a cheetah in action on the plains of the Serengeti:

Cheetah kill at Singita Faru Faru Lodge | Marlon du Toit

“We spied this particular male cheetah reclining in the shade of a prominant Dhalbergia tree. He looked very comfortable so we weren’t sure whether we were in for any excitement, but we got far more than we hoped for!

Cheetah kill at Singita Faru Faru Lodge | Marlon du Toit

The thought had hardly crossed my mind when he stood up, stretched and started with his afternoon patrol. He seemed focused on marking his territory which came as no surprise considering all the rain we have had here at Singita Grumeti and would have washed away previous scent-postings. He moved south and although he passed a few herds of gazelle, they were quite far away so he paid them little attention.

Cheetah kill at Singita Faru Faru Lodge | Marlon du Toit

Then his whole body posture changed. His eyes opened wide and his head lowered. As I looked up towards where his eyes were fixed I spotted a herd of about twenty wildebeest. He wasted no time at all and within seconds his ambling gait turned into full velocity sprint as he opened up the after-burners in pursuit of the now fleeing wildebeest. Cheetah can achieve speeds of over 100km/h and I am pretty sure he was not far off his top speed. In a cloud of dust and flurry of legs he wrestled one sub-adult wildebeest to the ground and within in less than 10 seconds it was all over.

Cheetah kill at Singita Faru Faru Lodge | Marlon du Toit

After subduing his prey, he sat up and scoured the surrounding area to see if there were any other larger predators attracted by all the commotion, but the coast was clear and after getting his breath back he began to feed.

What an amazing last day here on assignment at Singita Faru Faru Lodge.”

Cheetah kill at Singita Faru Faru Lodge | Marlon du Toit

Singita Faru Faru Lodge is set in Grumeti in northern Tanzania, forming part of the Serengeti Mara ecosystem. Built on a gently sloping hill, the lodge is a mix of contemporary, organic style and the quirky practicality of a traditional botanist’s camp. With such close proximity to the river and plains, guests have the unique opportunity to experience a very close connection with the wilderness.

You can also read Marlon’s previous blog post from Singita Lamai. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more regular updates.

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