Leopards’ private lives often remain a secret, however when you come to know some of the individuals and eventually gain their trust that secret may be shared. They are widespread and by no means endangered, however leopards are both shy and elusive and if a leopard does not want to be seen, the chances are you won’t find it. They are often active throughout the day; their nocturnal habits have developed in most areas and may be a response to both human activity and possibly better hunting conditions. It always brings me joy watching these animals in their natural environment and being active animals, they continuously present a marvelous sighting.
In the Singita concessions there are plenty of places to hide but with the assistance of our knowledgeable trackers we are able to locate leopards on a pretty regular basis. We mostly rely on the signs they leave behind and the art of trailing spoor, which is an essential skill, if these animals are to be consistently found. However, I would love to know how many times we have driven or walked straight past these cats with no idea of their whereabouts. Their mottled rosettes allow them to blend in, in almost any terrain.
There is always a great deal of excitement when one discovers a fresh track of a leopard, or the word “ingwe” (Shangaan for leopard), is uttered over the radio. It is an animal that people want to see and I completely understand why. There are ample leopards which are now habituated to our presence and our sightings at Singita Sabi Sand have increased dramatically over the years. One never knows when you may find one, but when you do it’s a experience you’ll remember for a very long time.
Follow James Suter this week as he heads over to Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park to trek through the reserve and bring the wild closer.
There are few battles more tremendous than elephant bulls in conflict. This image shows two such giants battling over the right to mate. With so many breeding herds in the area, females in estrous, and so many musth bulls in close proximity to one another, conflicts like these are inevitable. When their tusks first clashed together, at the initial impact, it sounded more like that of rifle fire than ivory connecting. The contest was short lived and the winner chased the defeated bull several hundred meters before returning to the nearby breeding herd.
What Singita Field Guides encounter every day. Account by Dylan Brandt at Singita Sabi Sand. For more exciting encounters follow our Guides’ Diaries posted on Singita’s website every month.
Another spectacular few days of wildlife sightings at Singita Ebony and Boulders Lodges. Follow the story in pictures provided by Field Guide, Dylan Brandt.
Mapogo male lions following the Ximungwe pride of 4 youngsters and 4 females.
The Marthly male leopard. A massive male leopard that controls a large portion, north of the Sand River. Lovely pose as he looks over the tall grass at impala in the distance.
Ravenscourt female after feeding from a young nyala kill.
This image is again of the Ravenscourt female, looking and sniffing curious smells under a large fallen Marula tree in a river bed.
The Ravenscourt female leopard – catching her in mid-yawn.
Wild dog pack running through the Sand River in a hurried attempt to cross, avoiding any crocodiles that might be close by.
Follow regional wildlife reports from our Field Guides, posted monthly on Singita’s website.
A magnificent week of wildlife sightings at Singita Sabi Sand. Dylan Brandt, Singita Field Guide, shares some of his close encounters from the past few days.
Ravenscourt female leopard.
Perfectly posed – the Ravenscourt female leopard.
Relaxed state of mind – Mapogo male.
Two of the Othawa pride females – in good company.
For regular wildlife updates, don’t forget to refer to our monthly Guides’ Diaries posted on Singita’s website. Also, if you would like to receive Singita’s blog posts in your email box, subscribe to our blog via email.
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.)
From the desk of Luke Bailes, Singita’s Owner and Chief Executive Officer
The other day I was alerted to just how many awards Singita has won this year. Singita has never flaunted the awards it has received – in fact one of our guiding principles is humility. However it did occur to me that it is entirely due to our supporters and guests that we are being recognized for the incredible job our staff does, and for this reason I would like to thank everyone who has played a role in our success.
We have become globally recognized for the conservation work we are doing across the African continent. This has reached a point where, today, we are invited to participate in many conservation/tourism projects throughout the world.
Our warmest thanks for your support of and contribution to these prestigious accolades this year – some of them to note:
Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2011 – No. 1 in Conservation, Singita Pamushana
Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2011 – No. 1 World’s Best Hotel, Singita Grumeti Reserves and No. 2 World’s Best Hotel, Singita Ebony and Boulders Lodges
Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards 2011 – No.3 Best Hotel in the Middle East, Africa and the Indian Ocean, Singita Grumeti Reserves
World Luxury Hotel Awards 2011 – Best Luxury Lodge, Singita Sasakwa Lodge
Andrew Harper – No.5 Top International Hideaways , Singita Boulders Lodge
Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2011 – Singita Ebony and Boulders Lodges
Singita’s primary objective is to secure and protect large and threatened tracts of wilderness thereby ensuring sustainability and long term survival.
One of the benefits of working in remote areas like Singita Sabi Sand is the abundance of local farming communities around the reserve. I was fortunate enough to have found one, Saringwa farm that is only a few kilometers down the road in the town of Belfast.
They have a wide variety of freshly picked vegetables on offer, and with such fresh produce available it’s a sin not to utilize them when they are at nature’s best.
I could not wait to get hold of the sun- ripened tomatoes that were on offer and make one of my all time favorites: tomato and chili jam with local tomatoes and chilis out of the herb garden that we started behind the Boulders’ kitchen. You’ll want to store this recipe deep in your recipe chest because it is an absolute winner – and something to pass down the generations.
Peter Liese – Sous Chef, Singita Boulders Lodge
Tomato and Chili Jam
500g plum tomatoes
100g golden sugar
100 ml white wine vinegar
2 red chilis
4 cloves garlic
1 red onion
Making the Jam
Wash the tomatoes, chili and peel the garlic and red onion. Place in a food processor and puree until liquid. Pour into a heavy bottomed pot and add the vinegar and golden sugar. Bring to a simmer on a gentle heat and cook for about 40 to 80 minutes. Occasionally stir the pot to ensure the mixture will not burn. Place two suitably sized jars into rapidly boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes to sterilize. Fill the jars with the hot jam and seal immediately.
Pair the jam with crispy tempura vegetables, calamari or cheese for some delectable flavors.
Tips: If you would like less bite to the jam feel free to take the seeds out of the chilis first.
For more texture to the jam you may also chop a third of the tomatoes roughly and add them to the liquid when you begin to cook it.
Controlling poaching in the Sabi Sand Reserve is one of the Singita environmental team’s prime responsibilities. World Rhino Day on the 22nd of September provided a valuable opportunity for staff at Singita to build awareness of the devastation that is caused by poaching which is slowly reducing the world population of rhino on a daily basis. To date this year in South Africa alone, a count of 290 rhinos have been poached – we take those statistics very seriously.
On the 22nd the team at Singita Sabi Sand put their full efforts behind supporting World Rhino Day – starting the day with the Guides and Trackers sporting red caps, branded with the World Rhino Day logo. Guests soon donned red caps for game drives to show their support. For the more energetic, twelve Singita staff took part in a cycling event – the ‘Ride for Rhinos’ 25 kilometre challenge through the Sabi Sand Reserve and into the local communities – with the goal to raise awareness of the misconception around rhino horn usage for medicinal purposes. Not only was it a fun and engaging activity in the community but it also helped to generate generous funding to be channeled directly to a rhino fund.
A sweet ending to the day – even the cupcakes at tea-time helped to nudge conversations toward the future of rhinos. Thanks to guests and staff for their enthusiasm and support for a day of awareness, well-celebrated.
To find out more about Singita’s conservation efforts, read about significant projects on Singita’s website.
Eighty kilometres of gruelling single track cycling every day across dusty, rugged terrain through South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, clocking up 300 kilometres over 4 days – we asked General Manager of Singita Sabi Sand what compels him to undergo this test of endurance year after year.
Actually there are a few good reasons why Jason Trollip keeps coming back for more. Amongst them are the incredible scenery, great wildlife and caring community spirit created by this event. However Jason tells us that the overriding goal is to raise funds for Children in the Wilderness and that’s really what tugs at his heart strings.
Children in the Wilderness is a non-profit environmental and life skills educational programme. Their vision is something that Singita can relate to and stand behind.
Jason – “The sense of achievement at the end of 4 days is incredible and experiencing 300 kilometres of some of the best areas that Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa have to offer is just sensational.
You have to at all times remember that the whole event is to raise money for environmental awareness – it’s a great cause, and knowing we are helping young people and conservation by having so much fun, made it a perfect 5 days away!”
Jason Trollip, General Manager, Singita Sabi Sand. Jason is now in his 9th year at Singita, beginning at Singita Kruger National Park and then most recently managing Singita Sabi Sand properties. No stranger to the Lowveld area, Jason grew up here, and prior to his management roles he was a field guide for 7 years – that totals 15 years in the bush. With a keen interest in birding, we look forward to seeing some of his sightings captured on camera.
Have you ever wondered about the strength of spider webs or the smell of a lion’s breath or what it feels like to be an arm’s-length away from an elephant? These are the daily experiences of Field Guides, living and working in the wild, sharing the adventure of safari with Singita guests.
Alan Yeowart, Guiding Skills Facilitator and Private Guide, Singita Sabi Sand – shares insights into the initial phase of training individuals to become “Game Rangers”. Singita Field Guide Training Academy – 2011.
Apart from the obvious basics about learning the theory of Field Guiding and its associated knowledge component, the real essence of spending 6 months as an aspirant Field Guide or “Game Ranger” is the accrual of stories and experiences that will equip you from a practical sense.
Where better than Singita’s iconic properties can you be exposed to such an onslaught of experiential opportunities?
Alan Yeowart’s 9 new recruits are currently busy developing their skills and the following are some photographs after their first 4 weeks of training.
How strong does a Musth Bull smell at 2 metres?
What does a lion’s breath smell like?
How loud does your heart-beat sound when you are told – “now let’s see if we can get a little bit closer”?
Joining the dots; collecting evidence; analyzing the scene and recreating the sequence of events.
To keep up with news about the Field Guide training – follow the Guides’ Diaries posted monthly on Singita’s website.
To ensure our Field Guides and Trackers are as passionate about the wildlife and flora as we are – and to ensure they are able to convey this to Singita guests through sharing accurate information and insights about the land which they traverse – Singita has established an in-house Field Guide and Tracker Training Academy under the care of one of our most experienced and knowledgeable guides. A comprehensive six month training programme covers all areas of field guiding and tracking from an in-depth understanding of all flora and fauna, to responding appropriately and professionally to the specific needs and interests of each of our guests. For more information refer to Singita’s website.