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.
Preparations are underway in the kitchen at Singita Lebombo Lodge in the Kruger National Park as the team busily fills the larder with mouthwatering festive delights. We asked Ludwig von Tonder, our very own Singita Christmas elf, to tell us all about it.
There’s something about the bright red and green colour of strawberries that always reminds me of Christmas. And after the sun has ripened them to ruby perfection, December is the ideal month for making strawberry jam.
If you’re like me and need no excuse to indulge in something sweet, then Sally’s Seed Loaf with homemade strawberry jam is the perfect (almost) guilt-free treat. With the festive season in mind, we have taken the basic recipe and added some cranberries and spices to invoke the spirit of Christmas. Rooibos tea is used instead of water to celebrate our African heritage, while oats, wholewheat and organic rye flour and various seeds combine to make a delicious, fibre-rich loaf that is full of goodness.
Another essential Christmas treat is our homemade fruit mince pies. Generous helpings of raisins, currents and cranberries are cooked together with dark treacle sugar, orange and spices until soft and sticky. The fragrant mixture is then preserved and kept throughout December, always at the ready to be spooned into pastry cases, baked, and showered with icing sugar. These white, powdery mounds filled with their sweet treats remind us that even in Africa we can have some snow for Christmas.
After weeks of preparation, I’m now gratified to see our well-stocked pantry that is bursting with homemade items. Jars of strawberry jam, chocolate chip cookies, macadamia nut rusks, fruit-mince at the ready and our fruitcakes silently awaiting December 25th, only being opened every few days to receive a regular shot of brandy. The days are getting longer and increasingly hotter as we count down to Christmas Day; the excitement building all the while.
For many of our guests, especially those from the Northern Hemisphere, the idea of a warm, sunny Christmas is rather a novelty. And although we don’t have snowflakes and fir trees, the charm of spending this special day in the African bush is undeniable. We asked Ludwig von Tonder, our very own Christmas elf at Singita Lebombo Lodge in the Kruger National Park, to take us through the lodge’s preparations leading up to the big day.
As I self-consciously hum Boney M’s White Christmas to get into the spirit of things, I realize that even here, among the thorn trees and rolling grasslands that never see the snow, there is a sense of timeless tradition in our African Christmas.
We prepare for the much-anticipated celebrations of December 25th by polishing the ornaments, dusting the chandeliers and hanging festive decorations. Fruitcakes are being assembled and bejewelled with fresh cherries, the first gift of the season. The fruit is doused with brandy and then used to stud the richly spiced cake which will serve as a delicious tea-time treat well into the new year.
Even here in the relative isolation of the African bush, nature joins in the party by amazing us with the built-in Christmas decorations of the nearby thorn trees. It’s as if the local flora is equally excited for the festive season’s kick-off.
The next few weeks will be filled with the celebration of Christmas traditions from all over the world, as we stockpile the pantries and adorn the lodge with glittering reminders of the spirit of good cheer. Join us throughout December as we share the food, decor and inspiration behind Singita’s uniquely African Christmas.
Spending Christmas in the African wildnerness is something memorable and life-transforming. One is struck by the utter serenity of the wide open spaces, the vast skies, and the natural rhythm of the fauna and flora. Traditional details are carefully selected to enhance the quiet moments at Singita, but not clutter the uniqueness of the wild. Holiday meals are special and designed to create memories that will last a lifetime.
It takes very little time to slip into the unhurried lifestyle that embraces guests at Singita lodges. What a perfect place to surrender – enjoying the festive season with family and loved ones, as ordinary moments are transformed into indelible memories.
Celebrating the holiday season in Africa means all kinds of exquisite and rustic innovations to create festive cheer. The Singita team gathers all of its creative resources to magically transform the Singita lodges into places of holiday celebration. From skillfully crafted ornaments, to Christmas trees in the most natural style, to table decorations inspiried by each unique, local setting – and the result is beauty not found in many places on earth. No snow to worry about or flight delays, December in our part of the world is serene, calmly lulled by the sounds of the African bush and plains.
We wish you a warm and wonderful holiday season.
Bjorn Annegarn – Singita Faru Faru Lodge Manager – talks about the experience of creating Christmas on the plains of the Serengeti.
As you can imagine sourcing all the traditional readymade decorations or even materials to make your own Christmas decorations out in the Serengeti can be a challenge. Singita believes in touching the earth lightly and holds this as a core value. We at Faru Faru wanted to remain true to this philosophy and create an environmentally friendly Christmas tree.
We tried to work with some readily available materials that we have within the camp and also use items that have been recycled. After much deliberation and some serious brainstorming sessions we decided on the best ideas and got to work in creating our 2010 recycled Christmas tree.
Beautifully recycled ornaments, created with care.
A Christmas cake snow man, a Christmas tree ginger biscuit, chocolate truffles and biscuit candy canes – our surprises this week for our guests… Father Christmas will just have to share.
Read more about our lodges at Singita Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania.