Tag Archives: Kruger National Park

A Winter Weekend at Singita Sweni Lodge Part 3

August 07, 2015 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Sweni Lodge

Singita Kruger National Park

One of the highlights of any trip to Singita’s lodges and camps are the game drives that allow guests the opportunity to get up close to Africa’s incredible wildlife. These hours-long adventures into the bush in state-of-the-art Land Rovers, traverse scrubland, grassy savannahs and dry riverbeds, and in the case of Singita Sweni Lodge, 33,000 acres of private concession in the famed Kruger National Park. Each vehicle is assigned a dedicated guide and tracker; a professional team who share their knowledge of the local flora and fauna with Singita’s guests for the duration of their stay.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

The climate in South Africa is such that winter mornings and evenings are usually crisp and clear; a combination that provides perfect game viewing conditions! The colder temperatures tend to make wildlife more active and therefore easier to spot, while cloudless skies make for good visibility and wonderful photo opportunities. Days tend to be bright and sunny; perfect for unwinding on the outside deck, enjoying one of the many outdoor activities available, or simply reading a book on your bed.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park
Guests are encouraged to pack warm layers for game drives in case of a cold spell, and are further protected from the chill with a warm drink at the snack stop along the way. Early risers are treated to fresh homemade pastries and hot coffee during morning drives, with an optional splash of Amarula liqueur for extra warmth! Game spotting during spot-lit nighttime drives is made cosy with the help of piles of soft blankets, allowing you to absorb the elusive magic of nocturnal Africa in absolute comfort. What better way to spend a winter weekend?

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

Singita Sweni Lodge is the ultimate safari escape, offering guests the thrill and tranquility of the wild, a relaxing and pampering spa experience and some of the best wine and food that South Africa has to offer. It is also the perfect family destination, with exhilarating activities for the entire family to enjoy, memories made together that will last a lifetime. You can also read Part 1 and Part 2 in this series, “A Winter Weekend at Singita Sweni Lodge”, to find out more about the lodge.

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A Winter Weekend at Singita Sweni Lodge Part 2

July 17, 2015 - Experience,Lodges and Camps,Singita Sweni Lodge

An important part of the magic of going on safari is the experience of intimacy with nature. Nothing can prepare you for the innate sense of peace that arises after only a few hours spent in the wild, in the company of some of the most beautiful and exotic creatures on earth, and in a spectacular, untamed landscape. This feeling of closeness with the natural world is never more apparent than during an evening spent under the stars, listening to the wind rustling in the trees and the distant call of a cackling hyena.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

Each one of Singita Sweni Lodge‘s six private suites features a large wooden deck suspended over the river below, and surrounded by knobthorn and marula woodland. Nestled in the corner of each deck is a luxurious outdoor bed, draped in a delicate layer of mosquito netting and a cosy goose-down duvet. At this time of year, which is cooler in South Africa, soft blankets and hot water bottles are slipped between the sheets for extra comfort. It is a wonderful spot to spend a quiet afternoon with a good book, and also provides an opportunity for guests to enjoy an entire night outside. The beds receive a special turndown after dark and are equipped with a handy kit of overnight essentials, including a flashlight and insect repellant.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

Sleeping on the deck in the cool night air is an almost indescribable sensation; there is an element of vulnerability certainly, but more than that, it brings a humbling awareness of one’s place in the world and harmony with the Earth. The smells and sounds of the bush soon become a rhythmic lullaby that sends guests into a long and restful slumber.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

The twittering of birds is usually the first thing one hears upon waking – rollers, drongos, kingfishers and even the haunting cry of the fish eagle echoing across the stillness. Come morning, it’s easy to catch a flash of feathers as they dart along the river bank looking for breakfast. The chill of dawn is thawed by a steaming cup of freshly-brewed coffee, best enjoyed from the comfort and warmth of the bed. A grunting hippo in the rockpool nearby is the only other sound one is likely to hear as the sun rises on another glorious winter’s day in the African bush.

Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park

Read part one of this blog mini-series from Singita Sweni Lodge which is a real hit with the foodies – a recipe for homemade pasta puttanesca, the perfect winter lunch! You can also find out more about the lodge in this short film on our Vimeo channel

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Game Drive G&T

June 26, 2015 - Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park

For a gin and tonic lover, there is nothing quite as wonderful as that first sip from a freshly-made cocktail; that initial hit of bitterness, the dance of bubbles across the tongue and the clink of ice blocks against the glass. And those who have experienced it on the edge of a waterhole in the gathering dusk will tell you that the most delicious gin and tonic is one served off the back of a game vehicle.

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

These days, gin is gaining in popularity as a “trendy” spirit, spawning a variety of artisanal producers who distill the liquor using traditional methods and creating interesting new flavour profiles. The bars at Singita are stocked with a variety of well-known brands as well as a few bottles of handcrafted gin, like the Amber variety from Inverroche, a small batch distiller in Still Bay, South Africa. The well balanced and full bodied flavour combines the fresh floral botanicals of Africa with spices and berries from India and Europe.

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

A classic gin and tonic can be spiced up with all sorts of interesting ingredients, like lavender flowers, grapefruit zest, slices of cucumber, a twist of black pepper or a sprig of rosemary. Purists would no doubt prefer the simplicity of the original, so here is the recipe for a traditional gin and tonic, best enjoyed with a view and preferably a Big 5 sighting!

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

How to make the perfect gin and tonic:

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
2 oz. (60ml) of gin
3 oz. (90ml) tonic water
A handful of ice cubes
2 lime wedges

Method – what to do:
1. Squeeze one of the lime wedges into the bottom of a highball glass then drop in the wedge
2. Pour in the gin
3. Fill the glass most of the way with ice then stir for a few seconds
4. Top with tonic water and the second lime wedge (not squeezed)

Game drive in Singita Kruger National Park

These photographs were taken on a recent game drive in Singita Kruger National Park, a 33,000-acre concession on the South African border with Mozambique. The lodges in this reserve, Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge, were built to “touch the earth lightly”, as part of Singita’s mission is to create and maintain a balance between conservation, community development and ecotourism. You can find out more about this philosophy on our website.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.


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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

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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.

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