Tag Archives: Kruger National Park

Highlights from our Guides’ Diaries

March 13, 2013 - Africa,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lamai,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

grumeti-environmental-education-class-banner

Did you know that our team of expert field guides write a monthly wildlife journal that chronicles the fauna and flora surrounding each lodge? High summer in Africa is a particularly fascinating time to document the local wildlife. Here are a few photographs from the most recent Guides’ Diaries from Singita Kruger National Park, Singita Lamai, Singita Grumeti and Singita Pamushana Lodge.

Carmine bee-eater

The southern carmine bee-eater (Merops nubicoides) occurs across sub-equatorial Africa, ranging from KwaZulu-Natal and Namibia to Gabon, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya. This species is a richly coloured, striking bird, predominantly carmine in colouration (hence the name). They are highly sociable, gathering in large flocks, in or out of breeding season. Unperturbed by the light rain, they continue to move in a large flock as they hunt small insects within the lower areas of the floodplain. This was a sight that we followed for a few hours, mesmerised by their acrobatic displays.

by Ross Couper (Singita Kruger National Park). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Giraffes

I’ve never seen as many giraffe about as there are at the moment. It’s possible that with all the rain and resulting thick vegetation they’ve moved to the few open areas where they can see, from their high vantage, any approaching danger. Giraffe are hunted by lions so it’s best that they avoid any ambush attacks.

By Jenny Hishin (Singita Pamushana Lodge). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Zebra

It is interesting to note that despite all the theories as to why zebra are striped, there is one that seems to be most valid; it’s as a defence mechanism against flies, especially the stinging types, like tsetse and horseflies. Flies are attracted to horizontally polarized light. Zebra stripes are predominantly vertical and, when they lower their heads to feed or drink, this effect is reinforced. It appears that this assists them in avoiding the bites and diseases associated with tsetse and horseflies, in that the flies do not see vertically polarized light.

By Lee Bennett (Singita Lamai). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Cheetah

Our cheetah sightings have been climbing recently and January was the best so far – sixty different cheetah sightings, and most of them consisting of more than one animal! The usual suspects on the property have become more and more comfortable with the vehicles and are less afraid to be seen. Then there are multiple newcomers who continue to sporadically show up. They include two additional brothers and a few single females. All of the newcomers are still quite skittish.

By Ryan Schmitt and Lizzie Hamrick (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Our Guide’s Diaries are published on a monthly basis from our lodges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. You can read all of them here.

Read More


The Singita School of Cooking

February 20, 2013 - Community Development,Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps

Joyful and her classmates at the Singita School of Cooking Joyful and her classmates at the Singita School of Cooking

Life at Singita is a constant exercise in gratitude for the environment and the people that make the lodges so incredibly unique. Singita is the custodian of over half a million acres of natural bush in Africa and works actively to protect and maintain this land and its wildlife in their original state.  We partner with the people who live on the outskirts of the reserves to understand the intrinsic value of these pristine areas and experience the benefit of preserving the land for future generations.  Singita and the people from local communities are working symbiotically to provide a better experience for the eco-traveler, whilst ensuring a better future for the land, the wildlife and communities within each region.

 

This story is the first in a series which will offer some insight into the genuine upliftment, improvements, restoration, heart-warming successes and joy brought about by caring and the daily miracles that keep unfolding to transform lives, largely thanks to the people who visit our lodges and are committed to making a difference.

Joyful Nghala, like all intelligent and aspirant young girls, matriculated from high school with dreams of a golden future. The realities of living in a part of South Africa with rampant unemployment soon hit home however, and she was forced to find work that didn’t promise much prospect. Despite her having to work in less than inspiring jobs, Joyful never lost the wonderful spirit for which she is so appropriately named.

A chance stroll to the local post office gave Joyful the lucky break she had been longing for. It was there that she spotted the advertisement encouraging interested parties to apply for places at the Singita School of Cooking (SSC). Joyful duly applied and successfully navigated two tough interviews and a cook-off to receive an invitation to attend the school, where she began classes in May last year.

Joyful at work in the SSC kitchen

There has been no looking back for Joyful since she was given the opportunity to learn all the relevant cooking skills under the expert tutelage of the Singita School of Cooking staff. All areas of professional cooking are explored in the school and students learn by doing. The aspirant chefs prepare food for the staff at Singita in a dedicated kitchen and are given opportunities to learn from the highly trained and skilled chefs who produce the Relais & Châteaux-standard food on a daily basis.

Joyful at work in the Singita kitchen

Joyful continues her education at the SSC where she receives many compliments both from her enthusiastic teachers and those with whom she works in the school kitchen. She is reported to have a healthy competitive attitude and a particular flair for culinary language, with her newly-acquired French vocabulary featuring regularly in her menus. She is already an asset to the Singita family and is on track to become a great chef, probably working in our very own kitchens one day. The Singita School of Cooking would not exist were it not for the generous support of our guests, some of whom have given abundantly to ensure that the futures of Joyful, and many others like her, are indeed golden.

Haute cuisine at Singita Kruger National Park

The Singita School of Cooking is located on site at the staff village that serves Singita Kruger National Park, the home of Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge.  It was established with the aim of encouraging the development of culinary skills amongst local youth from neighbouring communities.  Each year, 8 to 10 students are selected – based upon clear criteria including showing a real interest in cooking – to participate in an 18 month long training programme. You can also find out more about the Singita School of Cooking here.

Read More


Safari Stories: A Fantastic Family Adventure

February 06, 2013 - Accommodation,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Lebombo Lodge

It is a universal truth that joy is doubled when shared, and the same is true of the experience of visiting Singita with your loved ones. A previous guest who traveled to Singita Kruger National Park last year with his wife and two teenage daughters describes the feeling of sharing this unforgettable destination with his family.

Family safari at Singita Kruger National Park

Our lives are full of countless distractions which interfere with opportunities for good family time. It is challenging to find meaningful, trans-generational experiences that bring a family together and create wonderful memories.

We spent three nights with our two daughters at Singita Lebombo Lodge, and in this beautiful environment we shared the most perfect times together. We did special things apart from the more obvious routine of game drives in open vehicles. Most memorable was a walk at dawn that started along the top of a ridge that extends from the edges of the Lebombo mountain range, from there a clamber down the rocks to the N’wanetsi River bank and then under the canopy of the riverine forest beside the river. With the early morning sun rising over the trees and under the expert direction of our accompanying guide and tracker, we saw signs of the nocturnal activities of the night before. The track of a civet, the hop marks of a grey tree frog, fresh elephant dung and the distinctive shuffle tracks of hippo.

The rocky outcrops near Singita Lemombo Lodge

Mark's daughter surveying the scene

We had the excitement of seeing two uncommon species of bird and listened to many different bird calls in the fresh morning air. Our walk took us past caves in the cliffs along the river where white-rumped swifts were returning from their annual intra-African migration and we watched them swoop in and out the caves as they check out and lay claim to last year’s nests. While we were watching the swifts we realised that there was a constant humming noise in the background and further investigation revealed no less than three wild bee hives in cracks in the cliff face. There was a natural spring nearby where fresh water bubbles directly from the earth and flows down to create a life sustaining pool in the otherwise dry river bed.

The view from Singita Lebombo Lodge

Numerous stone age artefacts litter the area and one can imagine how, with the caves for protection and the spring for a reliable water supply, stone age man must have inhabited this gorge in harmony with nature for thousands of years. The girls held the pieces of worked flint in their hands and speculated that the last person to hold that piece of rock may have done so more than ten thousand years ago! We paused and took it all in, nothing had changed except that ancient man was no longer there. Mankind has largely given up this beautiful, simple existence, living with and from nature, in exchange for cities with their noise and stress. Progress? Not so sure.

The game drives were wonderful (we saw herds of elephant, a pride of 28 lion, male lion on a waterbuck kill, lots of rhino and many more) but walking opened up a whole world of interesting things that you miss from the vehicle. We went mountain biking and came across fresh lion tracks (which caused some consternation), we ate dinner under the stars, we breathed the fresh air, we saw sunsets and sunrises and we talked, laughed and loved our time together. It could not have been better.

A walkway at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita is extremely family-friendly, with a number of dedicated lodges and camps particularly suited to those travelling in groups and/or with children, including the spectacular new Singita Serengeti House. To find out more about planning a family trip to Singita, please contact enquiries@singita.com or visit our website for lodge availability.

Read More


Looking Back: Great Guest Photos from 2012

December 28, 2012 - Accommodation,Africa,Environment,Experience,Kruger National Park,Safari,Wildlife

We are always delighted to hear from past guests who have visited Singita, especially when they share their memories of their trip with us by way of some spectacular holiday snaps. It is so special to see the lodges and their surroundings through the eyes of our visitors and some of them have been generous enough to allow us to share these photographs with you.

Stephen Saugestad traveled to Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Ebony Lodge from Vancouver, Canada and was particularly taken with the variety of wildlife they spotted on their daily game drives. We hope you enjoy these lovely pictures and we encourage you to share your own photographs of Singita with us by visiting our Facebook page or getting in touch on the website.

Singita Boulders Lodge

Mandla, our Singita Sabi Sand Community Development Officer

Early morning game drive

Early morning game drive

Elephant

Leopard

Giraffe

Sunset in the Kruger National Park

© All photographs copyright Stephen Saugestad 2012

Read More


Diary of an African Christmas: Decking the Halls

December 25, 2012 - Events,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Our very own Christmas elf, Ludwig van Tonder, has been carefully documenting the festive preparations and celebrations at Singita Lebombo Lodge in the Kruger National Park over the past few weeks. Today he shares some photos of the last few decorations going up at the lodge, as well as a wonderful afternoon of cupcake decorating for the whole family. We hope that you enjoy these and we wish you and yours the very best for the festive season.

Christmas wreath at Singita Lebombo Lodge

One of the Christmas trees at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Christmas tree with our gifts to the guests from the kitchen An afternoon of cupcake decorating for the children

Gingerbread cookies made by the kitchen staff

Ludwig will be back next week with some photos of the activities from Christmas Day.


Read More


Diary of an African Christmas: Stocking the Pantry

December 19, 2012 - Events,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Singita Lebombo Lodge

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.

Strawberries

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.

Sally's Seed Loaf with homemade strawberry jam

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.

Making fruit mince pies

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.

Putting out the lanterns

The candlelit boma

Read More


Diary of an African Christmas: Dusting the Chandelier

December 12, 2012 - Events,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Singita Lebombo Lodge

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.

Christmas decorations

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.

Beaded Christmas decorations

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.

Read More


Highlights from our Guides’ Diaries

December 04, 2012 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

The monthly wildlife journals penned by our field guides are always such a special treat! At this time of year, with summer approaching, the fauna and flora surrounding the lodges is especially abundant and breathtaking. We hope you enjoy these beautiful photos taken from October’s Guides’ Diaries.

Ammocharis coranica

With the phenomenal rainfall over the last few weeks, the grey and brown colours of winter have been replaced by the new flush of green that has sprouted up everywhere. The concession is in full bloom and it looks incredible. The bush transforms into new life and revitalises itself from seemingly dead plant material to flourishing green life. The light rainfall has also spurred the bloom of several wild flowers. This ground lily (Ammocharis coranica) grows in open grasslands and flowers from October to February.

by Ross Couper (Singita Kruger National Park). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Shishangaan lion cubs

We got our first look at the newest members of the Shishangaan lion pride! While watching several other pride members feasting on a buffalo carcass, we spotted a restless lioness rolling from one side to the other on her back. On closer inspection, we saw three small fur balls that had been nursing from her peering back at us from between the blades of grass.

Upon returning later in the afternoon, we saw that the buffalo carcass was completely devoured with only a few morsels remaining. The mother of the three cubs was seen feeding on the last of the meat, and the cubs seemed fascinated with the carcass. Even at this young age you could see their instinct kicking in as they fought amongst themselves for the small soft scraps that were left.

by Ross Couper (Singita Kruger National Park). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Scrub hare

We flushed this scrub hare from its daytime resting place in a patch of grass on the side of the road where it flattened and froze in defence. It didn’t so much as twitch a whisker while relying on its superb camouflage to keep it hidden in the surrounding scrub. Scrub hares live in savanna woodland and mixed grass habitat.

By Jenny Hishin (Singita Pamushana Lodge). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Cheetah cub

We’ve been following the progress of two female cheetah cubs since they were born 14 months ago and I’m thrilled to report that they are still doing well. It’s been so interesting to watch their characters develop. One is a real tomboy – inquisitive, daring and a bit of a bully – while the other female is more timid, cautious and shy. If all goes well, these two cheetah cubs should reach independence in the next few months. Let’s hope they choose to stay on our abundant wildlife reserve.

By Jenny Hishin (Singita Pamushana Lodge). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Wildebeest invasion

In the latter part of September we saw large groups of wildebeest filing into Ikorongo. This was just a preview of what was to be experienced throughout the month. Tens of thousands of the incessantly restless animals spent the entire month moving onto the property, invading the plains of the western corridor once more.

By Ryan Schmitt (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Lion

With the well-stocked wildlife buffet located on the Sasakwa plains, it wasn’t surprising that the Nyasirori lions found it unnecessary to move at all from the vicinity of Sasakwa Dam and its surrounds. It hasn’t been difficult to find lions lurking on the plains. While sipping coffee or tea from Sasakwa’s sprawling patios, all you need do is glance around the area with a pair of binoculars and you are bound to find the pale belly of a lion basking back at you.

By Ryan Schmitt (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Elephants

The elephant herds that frequented Sasakwa hill in September moved back down onto the plains and surrounding woodlands once again. On more than a few occasions groups of over 100 elephants were seen, and Sasakwa Dam still seemed to delight them on their visits. After a quick drink in the afternoon to top up their reserves, it seemed the best thing to do was for every mammoth to take the weight off its feet by getting into the water and have a jolly good time cavorting, splashing and spraying!

By Ryan Schmitt (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Read More


Cat calls in the Kruger

November 21, 2012 - Conservation,Kruger National Park,Safari,Wildlife

Leopards are elusive cats and agile, stealthy predators. When I first arrived on the reserve, sightings were always fleeting, leaving the guide trying to convince the guest that the flash of rosettes had indeed been a leopard.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

It has taken some time for the leopards at Singita Kruger National Park to become relaxed enough in the presence of guides, guests and game vehicles to be spotted. Thankfully the animals seem to realize that the rumbling Land Rovers pose no threat and many no longer pay the vehicles any attention.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

New generations of animals are becoming accustomed to the vehicles from a young age and don’t develop a fear of these man-made objects. This allows us to spend time viewing them in their natural habitat without disturbing them in the process.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

Singita Kruger National Park has always had a very healthy population of leopards, and it is a joy for field guides and trackers to get to know some of the individual cats, following their movements and learning their personalities.

I am always surprised and excited when I realise that I am viewing a leopard that I have never seen before. In this case, they are usually incredibly shy and the sighting is often short-lived. This was not the case with the incredible experience we had on our last afternoon spent in the N’wanetsi concession.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

It was late afternoon and the light was golden; we were following up on a female that had been momentarily spotted heading towards the N’wanetsi River. We decided to cut the engine and listen, as there was no chance of spotting this cat in the thick vegetation. Suddenly we heard the distinctive contact call of a leopard – it was the female we were looking for and we knew by the type of call that she had cubs.

We started driving in the general direction of the sound; a section where the bush gave way to a beautiful open area. Poised on a fallen leadwood tree, perched like a princess, with the light falling on her as she called anxiously for her young, was a beautiful female leopard.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

We had not seen this particular leopard before and she was very striking, her coat almost glowing in the afternoon light. Her cubs responded to her call just as we approached and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching this entertaining family of cats, until the sun slipped away and we had to head home.

Leopard | Singita Kruger National Park

Don’t forget to come back next week for another of field guide James Suter’s reports from Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park.

Read More


The Lion’s Share

November 13, 2012 - Conservation,Kruger National Park,Safari,Wildlife

Lion

The northern part of the N’wanetsi concession, in which Singita Lebombo Lodge is situated, is wonderfully isolated and bursting with undiscovered wonders. Heading up into these territories can be very rewarding, as the landscape changes dramatically, offering a variety of exciting game-viewing opportunities. The elusive black rhino, cheetah, sable antelope and nomadic lions are often encountered in this remote part of the bush.

Jackal

It was very cold on this particular morning, with the Lebombo Mountains engulfed in thick cloud cover. We set off along the Mozambique border, heading through the mountains, and noticed a number of vultures in the distance. The cooler weather meant they may just be resting, although there was also the possibility that they had located food, meaning there may also be predators in the area.

Hyena

We picked our way closer through the dense bush and began searching. The roads were narrow and the vegetation almost impenetrable. Suddenly we were confronted with the thick smell of death, indicating that there was indeed something lifeless nearby. A number of vultures swiftly flew up from a rotting acacia and I knew, judging by the smell, that it was a large animal.

Fresh kill

We eventually found what we were looking for; a large buffalo bull had been challenged by to two male lions. The odds were against the bull due to the sheer size of the predators and, judging by the scars that covered their faces, these lions had fought and won many an epic battle. The tracks showed that it had been a long and grueling clash, ending in a drainage line where the massive bull succumbed to these tenacious predators.

News of the dead buffalo had traveled, and though the vultures were first on the scene, we soon caught sight of hyena and jackal, all fighting for scraps and avoiding confrontation with the protective cats.

Hyena

Check back regularly for more stories from field guide James Suter as he explores Singita’s private reserve in the Kruger National Park.

Read More


Sign up to receive the Singita newsletter

×