Tag Archives: Luxury African Safari

Kitting up for Safari 2012

January 05, 2012 - Sabi Sand,Safari

As an Anchor at Singita Boulders Lodge, Kobus De Kock knows the ins and outs of a typical day on safari – and he has interacted with myriads of travelers who have come from afar to live out their dreams in the African wild.  With these valuable insights, Kobus shares some handy tips for preparing and packing for a summer safari in South Africa.

As summer and the rainy season arrive, it is sometimes difficult to know what to pack for safari. The most important rule regarding clothing is that it must be practical and comfortable. Temperatures can fluctuate from 50° F (10°C) to 100° F (38°C) +, in a few hours.  Summer mornings are generally cooler and as the day progresses and the sun rises higher in the sky, the temperatures rise. The temperature will gradually diminish as the sun goes down again. Keep in mind that the rainy season is on its way and early morning and afternoon thunder showers can be expected.

Keeping that in mind, we have some suggestions as to what to wear and pack for your trip to Singita Sabi Sand. Packing light layers will help you adjust to any climatic conditions, as you simply remove layers as the temperature rises. All the rooms have fleece ponchos available which are warm and comfortable – just in case you want to cut that morning chill while on early game drives. Safari clothes should be light in colour- both to reflect the sun’s rays, and for blending in with the natural environment.  Avoid dark colours such as brown, black and navy as they absorb the heat.  Try stick to cotton as this fiber breathes, allowing for cooler air to circulate, thus keeping you cool and comfortable.  It is often the case that safari clothing doubles up as dinner wear, so again a few layers and some neutral items that can be mixed and matched will serve you well.  A good rain jacket is recommended.  However, rain proof ponchos are also provided on the game drive vehicles.

An absolute essential item that you should have with you is a hat for shade from the African sun.  Preferably something with a broad rim as to maximise the shade over your neck and face.  Sun block is extremely important and should be applied before the morning and afternoon drives. Closed comfortable footwear is recommended for game drives as you might leave the vehicle for a break or go for a short walk away from the vehicle to view something.  Closed shoes also protect your feet and ankles from pesky mosquito bites.

Five “must-bring” items that Johan recommends for your trip – an absolute must is sturdy luggage; also cargo pants with lots of pockets; you’ll want to swim so bring a bathing suit; sunglasses; and flip flops or sandals are perfect for lounging around the lodge.

We hope that some of these ideas can assist you with having a more comfortable safari experience.  And if you forget something, not to worry, you’ll have lots of fun shopping at Singita’s boutiques.  (For a comprehensive packing list, click here.)

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Family Reunion

October 18, 2011 - Kruger National Park,Wildlife

If you’ve been following news from Singita Field Guides, then you’ll remember the Xinkelengane female leopard at Singita Kruger National Park.  She has provided a multitude of gorgeous photo opportunities in the past.  But now it seems her maturing offspring are taking over the reins in the territory.

This beautiful young leopard (above) has taken over the reins from her mother it seems. Sadly, her mother, the much loved and well known Xinkelengane female has been missing for almost three months now. We are not sure where she is and we continue looking for any signs of her. In the meantime the leopard pictured, has been leaving her scent along all of the prominent landmarks within her mother’s old territory. This is vital for establishing a territory. She is still a young cat, barely 18 months of age and her territorial behavior is very early. It is perhaps brought on by the absence of a dominant female (her missing mother) and as leopards are very opportunistic she may be using the chance to make her presence known before another female claims this abundant piece of real estate.

The two cubs are still seen together from time to time. Independently they are doing very well. Both are hunting successfully and kill prey up to the size of adult male impala and young waterbuck. A recent get-together resulted in them spending the night together feeding on a carcass, and they separated again by mid-morning. The young male, pictured below to the right feels more pressure in terms of territory. His father, the Shingwenyana male, is still very active in this region. Fortunately for the young male his father has not reacted aggressively towards him allowing him to stay in this space. We even witnessed recently as this young boy watched his father mate with another female. There was no aggressive behavior from his father suggesting a strong bond between the two.

Only time will tell where these young leopards will finally set up their own territories. We hope we don’t lose track of them into the massive Kruger National Park as they have become much loved by the guides.

Singita Kruger leopard update provided by Marlon du Toit, Guide, Singita Kruger National Park.  To follow what happens to these young leopards, stay in touch with our monthly Guides’ Diaries on Singita’s website.

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Finding your way to Singita Sabi Sand

August 25, 2011 - Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand

We asked Andrew Temblett – Assistant Lodge Manager at Singita Boulders Lodge – to provide some helpful tips and guidance for reaching the lodges at Singita Sabi Sand – Ebony Lodge, Boulders Lodge and Castleton Camp.

(Singita Boulders Lodge – Singita Sabi Sand)

There are a few ways to arrive at Singita Sabi Sand but certainly the easiest and most efficient way is by air; and depending on your particular requirements you may fly from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nelspruit or a neighboring lodge on either a scheduled charter, private charter or even a chartered jet.  Singita Sabi Sand has its own airstrip and the most common flights are taken from Johannesburg or Nelspruit.  Johannesburg is roughly a 50 minute, relaxed flight to Singita Sabi Sand, and from Nelspruit the flight is approximately 20 minutes.  Depending on where you will be flying from should determine the flight path that allows for greatest ease and efficiency.

One of the best parts of flying to Singita Sabi Sand is the arrival “lounge” on the airstrip where you are welcomed by your Guide and Tracker, a delectable snack and refreshing drink – a mere 5 minute drive from the lodges, it couldn’t be more efficient.

There are also self-drive options and transfer company options allowing you to drive yourself or be transferred by chauffeur, bearing in mind the drive from Johannesburg is 5 hours and the drive from Nelspruit is 2 hours.

The drives have their benefits though as they are scenic especially as you approach the White River Hazyview area.  Driving also builds the excitement of beginning your safari in the bush and understanding more about where you are travelling to.  Passing through the local communities on the way provides a glimpse into the world where most of our staff come from.  Also as you drive to Singita, with each passing mile you will be in awe of the remoteness of our “miracle”.

(The view of the Sand River from Singita Ebony Lodge deck)

Whichever way you chose, you will arrive and be greeted by our fabulous staff, who will endeavor to have you settled into your new “home” and have you pampered from morning to night.

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Teeming with Grey Giants

July 12, 2011 - Kruger National Park,Safari,Wildlife

Written by Marlon du Toit, Singita Guide, Singita Kruger National Park

Elephant, Cape buffalo, White Rhino and Hippo are plentiful on the concession. There are two prominent water sources within the concession during the dry season: the Nwanetsi River system and Gudzane Dam.  As the last remaining water holes dry up west of the concession, animals are forced to move east in order to quench their thirst.

Elephants can trek amazing distances in pursuit of water. They prefer to drink at least once a day and will cover up to or more than 12km in a single journey. We have a large resident hippo population. As the water evaporates under the heat and the pressure mounts, some sections of the river can house more than eighty hippos. This is not ideal for them as they are territorial animals that do not like to share, but they have no choice.  Battles between dominant male hippos are a common sight.

To read more of this month’s safari updates from Singita Guides, click here for recently published journal entries.  Also for up-to-date, out-of-this-world photography of the daily happenings at Singita Game Reserves, follow us on Facebook.

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Safari Brothers Explore the Unexplored

May 23, 2011 - Accommodation,Experience,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Wildlife

Tanzania is one incredible place! The vast spaces and dramatic settings absolutely blew our minds.  The excitement levels grew as we flew over the Serengeti; we looked out of the small aeroplane and we could see the herds starting to make their way slowly NW towards the Singita Grumeti concession.

Our Singita Explore tented camp was set up in one of the more remote parts of the concession, giving one a feeling of freedom and genesis. On our arrival we were greeted by the notoriously friendly Swahili staff and greeting “Jambo!”. We tried to get our heads around the fact that we were in the middle of the Serengeti, with endless grasslands dotted with the familiar acacia species. Not only were we in this surreal place but also our accommodation was a tent fit for a king.

Although back-to-basics and in true camping-style, the tents are equipped with anything and everything one’s heart could desire; luxurious camp cots, hot showers and comfortable lounging wear and furniture. All is prepared within seconds upon request. The experience is hard to put into words; embraced by absolute luxury, yet at the same time feeling what it might have felt like to be the first people to set foot in Africa – exploring the unexplored.

I will never forget this experience – to feel so close to nature amongst herds of zebra, impala and giraffe; going to sleep with them and waking up with them.  This is an experience that is truly life-changing – not just an opportunity to explore this amazing part of Africa but an opportunity to explore one’s self.

Written by James Suter, Guide from Singita Kruger National Park

James Suter and Marlon du Toit (AKA the Safari Brothers) are both professional guides and work in the heart of the Kruger National Park at Singita’s Lebombo and Sweni Lodges.   This week they went up to experience Singita Explore in Tanzania and are now documenting the adventure through their eyes; the eyes of the Safari Brothers.  Follow the entire adventure on Singita’s Facebook page.

You’ll be in awe of their astounding photography.


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Easter…Safari-Style

April 26, 2011 - Events,Experience

From the plains of the Serengeti to the rocky outcrops at Singita Pamushana, to the unique wildnerness settings of Singita Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand, Easter festivities were celebrated with a special touch of safari style.  New life abounds with the Ravenscourt female’s cubs at Singita Sabi Sand; the breathtaking new cheetah cubs and the growing and magnificent Mountain Pride at Singita Kruger; and the Butamtam lion cubs at Singita Grumeti Reserves.  But also age-old holiday traditions were tucked into the Easter weekend including Easter egg hunts for the little ones at Pamushana Lodge and the most delectable hot cross buns served on the grand verandas of Sasakwa Lodge.  As usual, we love to create memories of a lifetime at Singita!

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Sweni – Spirit of the River

March 24, 2011 - Accommodation,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps

Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park is one of the most pristine wildnerness areas in Africa and where a unique wildlife population thrive within an astounding diversity of flora and landscapes.

Sitting low on the Sweni River, Singita Sweni Lodge is a tranquil sanctuary built on stilts with decks of dark timber, giving it a grounded and earthy feel.  The six secluded suites offer solitude in a wild setting that stimulates all the senses.  The idea of ‘letting nature indoors’ is one of the main design elements at Sweni.  The look and feel, with tactile furnishings, has been carefully created to bring in the textures and shades of the bush.

Imagine taking time to lie back in an enormous bath of bubbles or salt crystals, watching the hippos wallowing around in the river beneath open windows.  Part of being a natural extension of the surrounding bush is enjoying the outdoor shower overlooking the river and ‘camping out’ under the stars on balcony beds.

The ‘touching the earth lightly’ concept plays a major role and every effort has been made to respect and protect the environment so that it will be conserved for future generations.

For more information about our exclusive lodges in Singita Kruger National Park read more on our website - and look out for our helpful ‘what to pack’ list and weather information.

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One hundred unique moments

March 07, 2011 - Experience,Lodges and Camps,Singita

A Singita stay is naturally wrapped up in hundreds of unique moments of thrill and awe.  Romance overflows from Africa’s most iconic locations outdone only, perhaps, by the sheer beauty of our exquisite properties and wildlife.

The sun dips slowly behind the distant hills as the Chiredzi River flows gently by….the perfect setting for an intimate evening, deep amongst the mopanes, illuminated only by the soft golden glow of lanterns set amongst the trees.

The local people will tell you fables about the stone walls found in the area around Singita Faru Faru; and they will also share with you the myths and legends of the bush, tales of great warriors and fearless wild animals.

Sabora Tented Camp is renowned for thrilling its guests with surprise venues – and menus – for dinner.  Imagine dining beneath the boughs of a large ‘Sausage’ tree (Kigelia africana) or under a lamp-lit acacia, or around the campfire with star-lit skies.

Venetian mirrors, chandeliers, crackling fires, fresh flowers, beautiful book collections, leather armchairs, collectors’ pieces and candelabra add to the elegance and grandness of Singita Sasakwa Lodge.

Creativity of special moments extends to dinner bomas at Singita Sweni and Lebombo, with the stars as your ceiling and the sounds of the bushveld as the background music.  Scores of lamps and the campfires illuminate the enclosure, setting a warm and unhurried tone bidding you to unwind and dream.

Singita Ebony is a place with time-worn attitudes, welcoming embraces and an indefinable aura of majesty, where serendipitous events unfold before your very eyes.  So much of the magic at Boulders is created by the sincerity of its people, who do their utmost to paint a vivid chapter in your life that you are certain to remember forever.

A solitary lion…a group of elephant…a lone rhinoceros…the menacing laughter from a skulking hyena…or the formidable glance from a stalking lion…there are countless moments that make you realise what drew you to the wilderness – moments that will stay with you forever, no matter how many times you share your stories with others.

For more information about the romantic experiences at Singita’s 9 lodges in 4 iconic destinations and in 3 countries in Africa, read more on our website.

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Ravenscourt Young Male Goes Solo

February 21, 2011 - Sabi Sand,Wildlife

Written by Singita Guide, James Crookes, Singita Sabi Sand

As the Ravenscourt female leopard seems about to give birth to her 5th litter, it seems fitting to discuss the fate of her previous litter.

Soon after giving birth to two cubs in April 2009, she was rejoined by the surviving male from her previous litter, the Xindzele male. This behaviour was unusual as normally a female will chase off any intruders, regardless of whether or not they are her progeny, in an effort to protect her new cubs. During this period, it was not uncommon to see 4 leopards together at a kill or in a tree. Only in the Sabi Sand!

Unfortunately, one of the cubs, also a male, was killed during July 2010 by an adult male leopard (see July 2010 guides’ diary for details).

After this incident, there were intermittent sightings of the remaining 3 leopards, but from September 2010, the Xindzele male seemed to become completely independent and he hasn’t been seen with the other two since. He was born in November 2007, so by September 2010 he was approaching 3 years of age, by which time he is definitely expected to have become independent. This male would often be seen calling and urine spraying, both signs of territoriality indicating that he is staking claim to a certain area. His territory seems to now be centred around an area to the west of the Singita property, where he is said to be the dominant male in the area and has asserted this fact through a couple of disputes. Unfortunately, this means that we haven’t been seeing him as much as we used to, although we are still occasionally afforded this privilege.

The Ravenscourt female and young male were still seen together on a regular basis up until her mating with the Khashane male in mid October 2010. After this separation they never seemed to rejoin and it was from around this time that there were intermittent sightings of the Ravenscourt young male attempting to hunt, a sure sign that he was fending for himself and no longer relying on his mother to provide him with kills.

Leopards are the only large cats that don’t have any form of hunting training and so, when they become independent, they rely purely on instinct to learn to hunt. Lions will take their cubs to watch a hunt and cheetah will stun prey items and allow the cubs to practice their skills on these animals. A mother leopard, however, will leave her cubs at a place of safety, make a kill, and then return to collect the cubs and take them to feed allowing them no exposure to the hunt itself. This is therefore often a trying time for leopards and they often struggle to take down larger prey items. Being the resourceful animals they are, leopards will usually resort to smaller prey items while they sharpen their skills. The Ravenscourt young male was seen on more than one occasion hunting water monitor lizards in the Sand River.

To read the full tale of the young Ravenscourt male leopard, refer to James’ article in the January Singita Sabi Sand Guides’ Diary

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Fresh from the Grill

February 18, 2011 - Cuisine,Sabi Sand

Another delicious recipe posted by Singita Chef at Boulders Lodge, Loraine Pienaar

Singita Boulders Lodge – Swordfish Nicoise salad

Vinaigrette

1/2 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium shallot, minced

1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves

2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves

2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad

2 grilled or otherwise cooked Swordfish steaks (100g-200g)

Pickled quail eggs cut in halves (3-4)

2-3 small new potatoes, each potato cooked and cut in half, and grilled

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A small handful ripe cherry tomatoes cut in halves

1 small red onion, sliced very thin

130g green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise

1/4 cup NiçoiseCalamata olives

Instructions

1 Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside

2 Then in a bowl place, grilled potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, sliced red onion, olives and quail eggs. Season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper and dressing with vinaigrette

3 Place the mixture in the centre of the plate and place the grilled swordfish on top, garnish with a few rocket leaves

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