Tag Archives: Sabi Sand

Working with Local Farms

October 20, 2011 - Cuisine,Sabi Sand

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.

Enjoy!

Peter Liese – Sous Chef, Singita Boulders Lodge

Tomato and Chili Jam

Ingredients

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.

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Watching out for Rhino

September 27, 2011 - Conservation,Environment,Events,Sabi Sand

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.

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Taking on the Tour de Tulli 2011

September 26, 2011 - Community Development,Conservation,Events

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.

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Field Guiding – Where Theory Becomes Practice

July 27, 2011 - Wildlife

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.

Spectacular places…

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.

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Getting Fraiche with Prawns

July 21, 2011 - Cuisine,Sabi Sand

Relax in warm winter sunshine on the deck overlooking the Sand River with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  Chef Loraine Pienaar at Singita Boulders Lodge has created a zingy starter for you to try at home, while reminiscing about your stay at Singita Sabi Sand.

CHERMOULA PRAWNS WITH PAPAYA DRESSING AND POTATO SALAD

12 prawns cleaned and deveined

CHERMOULA

Chermoula is a traditional Moroccan dipping sauce that originally would have been made using a mortar and pestle. It is quite acceptable to use a food processor these days.

1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp coarse sea salt
2–3 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ roasted red pepper (fresh is best but canned also works)
juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

- Blend all ingredients in a food processor
- Marinate the prawns in the Chermoula for at least 2 hours

    POTATO SALAD

    2 Large potatoes (+-650g)

    3 Sprigs spring onion sliced finely

    2 ½ tbs Crème fraiche

    - Peel the potatoes and dice into even small blocks
    - Blanch in salted water until al dente and cooled
    - When potatoes have cooled, add crème friache and spring onion, mix well.

      PAPAYA COULIS

      ½ medium sized papaya

      ½ red chilli chopped finely

      1 tbs sugar

      100 ml white wine

      2 cm cinnamon stick

      - Boil all the ingredients together until the papaya turns into pulp
      - Puree in a food processor and strain through a fine sieve

        Putting it all together

        - Pan-fry the prawns in olive oil until pink and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice

        - Arrange the potato salad onto 4 plates and stack the prawns on top

        - Dress with papaya coulis, garnish with fennel (optional)

          Bon Appetit from the kitchen at Singita Boulders Lodge.

          (For more Singita recipes, take a look at the Singita Facebook page where there is something for everyone.)

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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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          March Madness

          April 14, 2011 - Sabi Sand,Wildlife

          The game viewing at Singita Sabi Sand in March has been nothing short of spectacular.

          The excitement started when we were privileged enough to have our first glimpse of the new leopard cubs in the first week of the month. Even though it was only a long distance visual of the cubs together with their mother on a rocky ledge, everyone realised just how rare and special it is to view leopard cubs, especially at only 5 weeks old.

          In general, however, the first few days of the month were fairly quiet until one afternoon there seemed to be more than we could take in. Suddenly, we found the 3 members of the Mapogo coalition of male lions, the Othawa Pride of 8 as well as 6 members of the Southern Pride. The large herd of buffalo were also grazing in the southern sections of the property together with various crashes of white rhino and breeding herds of elephant making the most of the last scatterings of ripe marula fruit. If that wasn’t enough, the pack of 7 wild dogs were also discovered and some guests were lucky enough to witness them make two impala kills in a matter of minutes. Since then, this seems to have been the theme of the month, with a male cheetah also making a couple of appearances in the more open southern reaches of the property. The Southern Pride have been sharpening their buffalo hunting skills and have managed to kill a couple of these animals during the month. Nicky was lucky enough to witness one of these events which she describes further in this month’s Guides’ Diary.

          Article contribution by James Crookes – excerpt from March Guides’ Diary, Singita Sabi Sand

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          What Makes a Singita Guide Tick?

          February 24, 2011 - Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

          Written by Leon van Wyk, Assistant Head Guide, Singita Sabi Sand


          It would not be difficult to write a whole book on the subject of what makes a guide tick. It is somewhat more challenging to write such an article in précis form, but a guide should always be up for a challenge. Having been a guide for almost two decades, perhaps I am in a good position to share with the reader a little of what it is that keeps me passionate about what I do.

          It is always good to wake up a little earlier than really necessary. I’m not one who can leap out of bed twenty minutes before I’m due to meet my guests for a game drive. Setting my alarm for the seemingly indecent hour of 04h00 means that I’m not rushed. I can have an invigorating shower and enjoy the feeling of waking up with the birds. The dawn chorus of birds is something to be enjoyed and appreciated at every opportunity. Having had ample time to wake up and get ready at leisure, I believe a guide is much better prepared for the day, and in a more relaxed frame of mind, than if he/she stole an extra half an hour in bed and had to rush to be on time to meet guests.

          As guides, we are all obviously passionate about the environment in which we are privileged to live and the game drive is rightly what we enjoy most about this line of work. Every guide who lasts a long time in this industry needs to also be genuinely passionate about people and sharing knowledge and experiences with his/her guests in such a way that the guide’s passion and enthusiasm is infectious. Not every game drive is an action-packed, adrenalin-charged sequence of events. There is no doubt that many guides and guests want to see predators in action, or get a kick out of seeing the so-called “Big Five” on one game drive. Being a guide who is no longer a novice, I still gain a huge thrill when I see guests enjoying themselves, particularly when they start taking a keen interest in the little things. Guests who were once not very interested in watching birds at all, have become avid birders. I love seeing them appreciate the things that I appreciate, whether it is a massive dead leadwood tree, a relaxed old elephant bull having a slow drink, a bee-eater feeding its mate or a nursery group of twenty baby impalas, all exuding freshness, innocence and curiosity.

          The sounds and the smells are all very much part of the experience as well and it is so important to pause frequently to enjoy the sounds of the night, smell the damp grass and earth after a good rain and gaze at stars in sheer wonder at the enormity of it all. Finding fresh leopard tracks in wet sand is still a thrill to any guide and it is not difficult to involve the guests and encourage them to share in the excitement, hope and expectation.

          There is just so much to share with guests, and once a guide has bonded with them and starts seeing everything through their eyes, the guide-guest relationship has the potential to become very meaningful indeed. There are often just not enough hours in the day to do everything you would like to do with your super-keen guests. For many, a trip to a game reserve is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and as guides we have the opportunity, the privilege and the responsibility of making it unforgettably special for our guests.

          Very few careers can offer the variety that a guide enjoys. Sure, the hours can be long at times, but when you’re having fun, you hardly notice it. There is often an opportunity during the day to pull off the boots and take a half-hour cat nap. There has never yet been an occasion when I have not looked forward with eager anticipation to my next game drive. Of course it is not only the game drives that we look forward to, but the walks too, as they often offer better opportunities to focus on little treasures and allow time to become acquainted with guests a little better. Joining guests for the occasional drink or meal is also a privilege which we guides enjoy and it allows the guests and their guide a great opportunity to chat about the day that they’ve experienced, or the one that they look forward to experiencing, together.

          I have hardly scratched the surface, but if I had to cut it even shorter, I would conclude that the most brief answer to the question “What makes a Singita guide tick?” is “A passion for people, a passion for the environment, an insatiable desire to learn and a willingness to share with others what we enjoy”. I sincerely hope that these attributes are still a part of my humble make-up and will continue to be for many more years. Guiding is, without a doubt, one of the most privileged careers.

          To read more updates from our Singita Guides, follow the Guides’ Diaries posted every month on our website – exhilerating wildlife accounts that you won’t want to miss.

          These photographs of Singita Sabi Sand Reserve were taken by Singita Guide, Leon van Wyk.

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          Ravenscourt Young Male Goes Solo

          February 21, 2011 - Sabi Sand,Wildlife

          Written by Singita Guide, James Crookes, Singita Sabi Sand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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          Fresh from the Grill

          February 18, 2011 - Cuisine,Sabi Sand

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

          Singita Boulders Lodge – Swordfish Nicoise salad

          Vinaigrette

          1/2 cup lemon juice

          3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

          1 medium shallot, minced

          1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves

          2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves

          2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves

          1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

          Salt and freshly ground black pepper

          Salad

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

          Pickled quail eggs cut in halves (3-4)

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

          Salt and freshly ground black pepper

          A small handful ripe cherry tomatoes cut in halves

          1 small red onion, sliced very thin

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

          1/4 cup NiçoiseCalamata olives

          Instructions

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

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

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

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