Tag Archives: Singita Ebony Lodge

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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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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A Tribute to the Ravenscourt Female: December 2001 – June 2013

September 10, 2013 - Conservation,Experience,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Wildlife

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

It is with great sadness that I write this tribute to the Ravenscourt female leopard, as, for me, she is and always will be synonymous with Singita Sabi Sand.

My primary motivation for wanting to become a field guide in the Sabi Sand was to gain an insight into the traditionally secretive and private lives of leopards and the Ravenscourt female gave me more of an insight into her life than I ever could have wished for.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

Although once the topic of much debate, photographic evidence now shows that the Ravenscourt female was born in December 2001 to the Makwela female. In her latter years, she could be identified by the 3 notches in her right ear as well as her 2:3 spot pattern (the ratio indicates the number of spots on the left and right hand side of its snout).

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

My interaction with her began during my first experience at Singita in 2009, during which time she was exhibiting an unusual behavioural phenomenon of simultaneously raising a new litter of cubs and still feeding and tolerating the presence of the Xindzele male from her previous litter. This meant that it was not all unusual to see four different leopards together, lounging in a marula tree, during a visit to Singita Sabi Sand. This surprised me and only further fuelled my desire to find out as much as possible about these beautiful animals.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

From the day I started the guide training course in January 2010, I was enchanted by this leopardess. As a guide I was always quick to discourage guests from anthropomorphizing and would remind them that our goal is to watch these animals in their natural environments without getting too attached to any individuals. Unfortunately, while I managed to do this for the most part, I developed a soft spot for this particular female leopard. I suppose this can be expected when one is spending close on eight hours a day either tracking or viewing a particular animal.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

In this case, it was exacerbated by the fact that Singita Ebony Lodge and Singita Boulders Lodge, as well as the staff village, were situated in the middle of her territory. This meant that I had many more interactions with the Ravenscourt female than any other leopard at Singita. It seemed as if she wanted to let us know that this was still her territory as she would stroll through the staff village or lodge with her rasping territorial call carrying into the night. Often I would wake up to this call, part the curtain in my room, and see her walking along the corridor outside my window. With this kind of interaction, it is almost impossible not to become attached to an animal.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

Most animals seem to shy away from human activity, but she seemed to be unperturbed and even seemed to be more comfortable around the lodges. This was epitomized by the fact that she gave birth to three litters of cubs in the immediate vicinity of the lodges. Whilst this can be partly be attributed to the dense vegetation on the banks of the Sand River being particularly suitable for leopard den sites, I feel that she may have decided that the human habitation would discourage other predators that may pose a threat to her cubs.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

For the two years I spent at Singita, I felt a part of her life and she was most definitely a part of mine. The first time I saw leopards mating was when she was mating with the Kashane male in the Ximobanyane riverbed. My first ever glimpse of leopard cubs was when her three cubs cautiously crept out of a rocky crevice in the Millennium koppies to nurse from her. She was the first leopard I ever followed on a hunt. Whilst often unsuccessful, it was a fantastic experience to eventually witness her catch and feed upon a vervet monkey. She was the first leopard I ever bumped into on foot and I also spent many hours with the trackers following her spoor. If there was ever a stable sighting, I would often go out on my own, in between game drives, and sit with her and her offspring, hoping to glean something new. In fact, my last few hours at Singita were spent sitting alone with her and her two cubs as they fed on an impala on top of the Boulders koppies.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

These are just a few of the many memories I have of her, memories that I’ll treasure for many years to come.

I often questioned her maternal skills given the statistics. All in all, she gave birth to six litters comprising 14 cubs, of which only four males have survived to maturity (Xmobanyane male of ’06, Xindzele male of ’07, West Street male of ’09 and the current Ravenscourt young male of ’12). In the end, however, she proved me wrong by paying the ultimate price in order to protect her near independent cub from a rogue male leopard. To me, this illustrates just how difficult life is for a female leopard and despite her 29% success rate in raising cubs, she was clearly an extremely dedicated mother.

I am so grateful for the two years I got to spend watching and following the Ravenscourt female and her offspring; she made such a difference in my life as I know she did in the lives of many rangers, trackers and guests at Singita.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

© Photos copyright James Crookes 

Field guide James Crookes worked at Singita Sabi Sand for a number of years and has always had a passion for these elusive cats. He says: “I chose to work in the Sabi Sand Reserve based on its reputation for amazing leopard viewing, arguably the best in the world. Not one to usually have checklists, I must admit that I did have one regarding leopards. My goal was to see a leopard kill, leopards mating and leopard cubs. These experiences have been nothing short of amazing and I will always cherish the memories I have of these times at Singita.”

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Travel + Leisure World’s Best Hotels 2013

July 04, 2013 - Awards,Kruger National Park,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Travel + Leisure World's Best Hotel Awards 2013

Singita has a proud history with the annual Travel + Leisure Magazine World’s Best Hotels Awards, consistently placing multiple lodges in the top ten, thanks to the votes from their discerning readers. We are thrilled to announce that this year is no different! For T+L’s 18th poll, Singita Kruger National Park was awarded third place, with its sister property, Singita Sabi Sand coming in at number ten.

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita’s concession in the Kruger National Park features two beautiful lodges with treetop suites and riverside rooms. Our mission in this area is to create and maintain a balance between conservation, community development, and ecotourism. Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge have been built with this ideal in mind and both integrate the ‘touch the earth lightly’ philosophy into every aspect of their daily operations.

Singita Sweni Lodge

Singita Sweni Lodge

Singita Sweni Lodge

Glass-walled Lebombo overlooks the plains and the Lebombo Mountain Range, while Sweni is nestled among trees along the Sweni River. Join the twice-daily game drives and request a guided walk for a good chance of sighting lions, zebras, giraffes and impalas.

Singita Ebony Lodge

Singita Ebony Lodge

Spanning more than 45 000 acres, Singita Sabi Sand is renowned for high concentrations of big game and frequent leopard sightings. As the first jewel in Singita’s crown, Singita Ebony Lodge stands steadfast amongst enormous trees on the banks of the Sand River. A blend of European heritage and African boldness welcomes visitors with the down-to-earth warmth of a much-loved family home. Spacious interiors are styled with a varied mix of rich colours, and inviting textures and layers, making Singita Ebony Lodge an idyllic retreat.

Singita Boulders Lodge

Singita Boulders Lodge

Nearby Singita Boulders Lodge is a celebration of the tranquility, space, and light which flows throughout this incredibly vast area. Inspired by the geometry of the boulders on which it rests, the lodge is an inviting oasis where organic interiors integrate seamlessly with the raw African beauty outside. Singita Boulders Lodge is perfectly at home in its pristine setting and whether through walls of glass or open-air areas, the surrounding landscape and animals can be seen and enjoyed from every angle, making for a truly immersive safari experience.

Please visit the Press section of our website for more detail on recent awards.

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Sweet Tooth: Giraffe Cinnamon Doughnuts

February 08, 2013 - Cuisine,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Singita Ebony Lodge

Giraffe cinnamon doughnuts

Late afternoon at Singita Ebony Lodge

There is something magical about the experience of taking what would otherwise be a formal event, such as afternoon tea, and giving it a fresh twist with an African-inspired menu and a unique setting. Tea at Singita Ebony Lodge is a very special occasion, not least of all because it is often served on the vast wooden deck overlooking the Sand River, where it’s not uncommon to see elephant, buffalo and antelope grazing only metres away. The lodge itself has the feeling of a congenial family home, filled with sumptuous coziness that tempts you into relaxation and reflection.

Every day our unique team of pastry chefs lay on a delectable spread of the finest hand-crafted cakes, sandwiches, tarts and scones, along with homemade lemonade and iced coffee. These sweet and savoury snacks are also served with a selection of exotic teas from all over the world, including Japanese TWG Emperor Sencha, Moroccan mint leaf, Bourbon vanilla black and French Earl Grey. One of Singita Ebony Lodge’s signature teatime treats is “giraffe” cinnamon doughnuts, the recipe for which chef Christien has kindly shared below.

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
2 cups cake flour
1 packet dried yeast
1/8 cup sugar
1 egg
70g butter
pinch of salt
¾ cup warm milk
cinnamon sugar, for dusting

Method – what to do:
Place all of the ingredients (except the cinnamon sugar) in a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment. On a medium speed, allow the machine to work the mixture until the dough forms a ball around the paddle and starts to slap the sides of the bowl.
Wrap the bowl and leave to rise until double in size.
Sprinkle your work surface with some flour and scrape the dough out. Fold the dough in half and press down lightly, then fold again.
Roll the dough out to a thickness of 0.8cm and cut into desired shapes.
Fry them in small batches in hot oil (170°C) until golden brown on both sides.
Place on paper towel to cool down.
Once cool to touch, roll the doughnuts in cinnamon sugar and serve.

Have you tried any of Christien’s other recipes? Please let us know if you have and send us your photos – we would love to see! Here’s a handy online volume converter if you need to adjust the metric measurements.

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On Arrival

August 08, 2012 - Sabi Sand,Wildlife


The wheels of the tiny plane touched down on the narrow Singita runway situated in the Sabi Sand game reserve. My heart skipped a beat and my excitement levels were in overdrive. I was back in the bush.   Stepping off the plane, I felt the familiar humid air mixed with all the organic smells of the African wild.  I couldn’t wait to jump into the Land Rover and start exploring.

Installed in one of the spacious suites at Singita Ebony Lodge, I set up my equipment and spread out onto the deck which overlooks the Sand River. There were massive floods a month before my arrival and so the river looked amazing, meandering through the lush vegetation as it flowed gently to the east. An elephant bull that had braved the heat of the day to quench his thirst at the water’s edge, greeted me. Leaving him to his business I made my way up to the top garage and the adventure began.

Before I knew it I was in my vehicle heading toward the western section, an almost mystical part of the concession, densely vegetated with large trees and winding tracks. This was the area where a large male leopard had been recently seen with its kill concealed in a suitable tree. I located the remains of the carcass, which was a young male kudu, and investigated the area. There were scratch marks left by the leopard while ascending the tree and the leftovers of the kudu were on the floor below; but no sign of the animal.  It was hot and he had possibly moved closer to the water and found an appropriate place to retreat for the day.

When it was cooler I headed back, armed with my camera, hoping to get a shot of this elusive animal. Darkness was approaching and I was worried about the fading light.

Suddenly a familiar voice crackled on the radio. Another guide had located the animal and I made my way to his position. Pulling off the track I switched off the vehicle. All of a sudden there he was – an attractive large male leopard that is regularly seen in the area. Holding my breath I positioned myself as he walked straight toward the vehicle, walking a meter from my lens showing no sign of fear. I had been at Singita for no more than a couple of hours and already spotted my first leopard. What a fantastic launch of my adventure.

James Suter, this week, trekking across the rugged terrain of Singita Sabi Sand.

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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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A Groomed, Bespoke Country House

June 22, 2011 - Accommodation,Experience,History,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand

Singita Ebony Lodge – a groomed, bespoke Country House – a romantic mix of European and African heritage.

After a short closure a restored and re-invigorated Singita Ebony Lodge has just reopened.  Singita’s flagship lodge, Ebony Lodge overlooks the Sand River and is inspired by the original Lewis Camp.  Refreshed but true to its original design an authentic, colonial bush experience is represented by bold colours of Africa blended with real antiques, layers and florals that reflect the English heritage of a country home.

Geordi de Sousa Costa, from Cecile and Boyd’s, was involved in the original design of Ebony Lodge and was therefore highly qualified to advise on the way forward when we considered a refresh of the lodge.

Geordi’s interpretation is that Ebony’s style is unique.  She speaks about the beautiful finish that has built up over years of dedicated polishing and care, and the clever combination of African artifacts and European collectibles that would be typical in the bush home of a seasoned, high-end traveler.  Ebony is Singita’s flagship lodge and has a history and heritage that is unmatched.

For more information about Singita Ebony Lodge read more here – and if you are interested in the new rates of the Lewis Suites, find out more.

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Singita in South Africa

April 12, 2010 - Lodges and Camps

Singita Game Reserves – in South Africa – are made up of four beautiful lodges and one extraordinary camp. These four lodges and one camps are situated in two game-rich areas of Southern Africa.

The first area, which is renowned for the best leopard viewing in the world, is known collectively as Singita Sabi Sand. It is home to the Singita Ebony Lodge – which was (if you remember your Singita history) the founding lodge – Singita Boulders Lodge and Singita Castleton Camp.

The second area, located in the far-east reaches of the Kruger Park, is Singita Kruger National Park. Here you will find Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge. The remote wilderness, of Singita Kruger National Park, is well known for its high concentration of lion and its other unique fauna and flora species.

Lions at Singita Kruger National Park

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