Tag Archives: Sabi Sand

Opening little eyes to our big world

January 31, 2011 - Community Development,Sabi Sand

This week, Singita staff joined the Happy Homes preschool class and had some stories to tell….written/photography by Singita Guide, Nicky Silberbauer

Happy Homes pre-school offers after-hour classes for children from the community of Justica village, located on the outskirts of the Sabi Sand Reserve.  This particular pre-school has just experienced generous, enthusiastic, and hands-on involvement from “Growing up Africa”, a New York based Foundation which provides focused support for preschools.  Deborah Terhune, the Foundation Director and a past Singita guest travelled back to the Sabi Sand Reserve to put into action the plan she had been formulating with the school and with Singita, since her last visit.  A brand new eco-classroom has been developed and sponsored by Deborah’s foundation and creative classes not only aim to educate children about their environment and how to care for it, but also generate an income for the school. Parents pay a small fee and children learn about different animals through fun activities.

This week it was great to watch the children play ‘pin the tail on the zebra’, a game new to them. After which they coloured in the zebra and the sky; later they placed grass in the foreground. The goal is to introduce the children to a new animal each week.

All of the children are extremely excited to be part of the eco-class. You will see some of the pictures from before the class where they were looking through recent game photos and practicing some of the calls of the wild.

Singita supports a pre-school development programme being conducted in 12 pre-schools in the Sabi Sand region, in collaboration with the South African Education Department.  For further information about Singita’s support for pre-school and primary school development, read more on our website, or feel free to contact the Singita HR & Community Development Manager, Pam Richardson, pam.r@singita.com.

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Heralding the New Year – Singita Awards

December 30, 2010 - Awards,Singita

At Singita we are always honoured when our lodges are included in the best of the best awards worldwide – and immensely grateful for the support and applause from our trusted travel trade, media and guests.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for singing our praises in your spheres of influence this past year – as a result we are listed in some of the top international hot lists and we are thrilled.

~ Conde Nast TravellerThe Gold List 2011 – Singita Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania

~ Conde Nast TravelerReaders’ Choice Awards 2010, Top 100 – Singita Sabi Sand and Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

~ Tatler Travel Guide 2011 – 101 Best Hotels in the World – Singita Pamushana, Zimbabwe

It is our endeavour to continue to provide the most excellent guest experiences in some of the world’s most pristine locations for many years to come.

Hope you will plan your journey for 2011, so we may welcome you.

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Monkeys, oranges, and rejuvenation

December 01, 2010 - Accommodation,Africa,Events,Experience,Lodges and Camps

A treatment at the Singita Bush Spa can be enjoyed in the spa itself, or better yet, in a guest suite. Whether out on the deck with a spectacular view and the sounds of nature all around, or inside the room, the massage is as tranquil as in the spa. After the treatment guests can relax on their bed or flop onto a deck chair without ever having to completely regain consciousness.

The Monkey Orange Massage adds a different dimension to Swedish massage.  I wanted to create a treatment that not only was unique to Singita, but also captured the essence of the Kruger National Park – a true “Bush Spa” experience.  Monkey oranges are part of the calabash family – a round fruit that hardens when dried.  Inspired by the wild monkey oranges growing on the Singita concession, we designed a treatment using the fruit as “tools” to create pressure and pounding for easing tension and removing trigger points; as well as gliding over the body for relaxation and stress relief.  The African Marula and Neroli oils that are used, complement the monkey oranges for a completely holistic African spa experience.

For more information about pampering treatments at our Singita spas, click here to read more.

Article Contribution by Kerryn Mudie – Singita Spa, Singita Sabi Sand

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Pangolin – the Holy Grail

November 16, 2010 - Safari,Wildlife

Last night’s rare pangolin sighting at Singita Sabi Sand – the encounter described by James Crookes, Singita Guide

If you ask any guide what sighting would signify the pinnacle of their career, I have a strong suspicion that the response would be almost unanimous. One would probably expect an array of answers including mating leopards, lions taking down a buffalo, discovering leopard cubs at a den site and the list goes on. Whilst all these provide amazing experiences and would definitely be highly sought after by any guide, I know that perched safely at the top of my list was always a quest to find a pangolin (Manis temmincki).  To most people who have any affiliation with the African bush, the elusive pangolin, or scaly ant eater, has become the holy grail of the savannah.

A testament to the secretive lifestyle that this animal leads is the fact that even the most comprehensive of mammal behaviour literature provides very little insight into the daily life of the pangolin. Ecologist Jonathan Swart studied pangolins for both a masters degree and a doctorate. His field work was carried out in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin and in the course of a year, he located and studied 18 of these animals in the 65,000 hectare reserve. It took him no less than four and a half months to locate his first research subject.

On this particular afternoon, hampered by drizzle and generally overcast conditions, I took a few of the staff out on a game drive, to enable them to experience and appreciate the environment in which they work.  As we rounded a bend, I noticed a creature crossing the road. It seemed to take a while for me to process the scene before me, but after a brief pause, there was almost a uniform announcement of “PANGOLIN!”  The vehicle came to an abrupt halt and was evacuated in seconds, everyone clambering to have a closer look and dispel the sense of disbelief that gripped us all.

Once I had digested the scene, gathered my thoughts and allowed my heart rate time to slow down, I embarked on what many guides can only dream of.  I picked up the radio, keyed the microphone and, in the calmest voice I could muster, announced: “located a single pangolin, stationary on Kiaat road, west of north south firebreak”, as if this was an everyday occurrence.  I could just picture the reactions on the other vehicles as the message was transmitted!  I waited to be asked to confirm the species, but unfortunately I didn’t get another opportunity to gloat.  With the animal appearing to be relaxed and no immediate danger of it disappearing into the night, others slowly made their way to the position.

It was a privilege to be able to spend almost two hours with this rare and special creature.  It was a completely surreal and moving experience, something I had always hoped for, but never really thought of as a realistic opportunity.  To be able to touch the scales and feel how surprisingly soft they actually are, being of a similar texture and slightly softer than one’s finger nails.  Watching how sensitive the pangolin is to touch and how it retracts slightly each time you stroke one of its scales. Intermittently, it would expose its head as it investigated the scene before it.  Once, it even rolled into a partial ball, possibly feeling slightly threatened by the unusual amount of attention it was receiving.  All of this provided a recipe for an amazing experience, one that I’ll treasure forever.

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Wine on Safari

October 18, 2010 - Awards,Cuisine,Events,Experience

If you haven’t experienced ‘The Premier Wine Boutique’ on site at Singita Sabi Sand then you may not have known that Singita is recognised as one of South Africa’s most influential buyers of wine, with an extensive cellar showcasing a premium selection of wines, including some of the country’s most sought-after private reserves and limited release wines.

With a wine list that encompasses approximately 222 labels and just the South African Singita lodge cellars comprising 20 000 bottles, it can safely be said that wine is a key ingredient of the unique Singita experience. The Singita wine list has received numerous Awards of Excellence, the top Diners Club Wine List accolade as well as other significant local and international recognition.

What is extra special is that guests may experience a wine during their stay at Singita and want to use the services of Singita Premier Wine Direct to either take home ‘specially packed’ wine as ‘checked luggage’ or SPWD can assist to make up unique consignments to be freighted on a guest’s behalf.  The Singita collection of wines includes sought-after Exclusive Release, Limited Single Vineyard and Rare Auction Wines.

Whether guests are wine connoisseurs or just love wine they revel in the opportunity to enjoy personalised wine tastings within the unique ambience of each lodge’s own temperature-controlled cellar.  Singita’s experienced sommeliers are able to guide guests through a variety of wine styles, years and cultivars to sample those that may suit their taste.

Something that is extremely fulfilling for the Singita wine programme is that it gives back to the community too.  François Rautenbach heading up Singita Premier Wine Direct has embarked on a training programme for enthusiastic young wine lovers, and in doing so is developing the ‘next generation’ of Sommeliers for Africa providing educational assistance, personal mentoring, formal wine training and access to Africa’s Finest Wine program.

If you would like to learn more about the Singita training programme or order wine through Singita Premier Wine Direct please contact us at premierwine@singita.com.

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All Creatures Great and Small

September 30, 2010 - Wildlife

What is the one thing most visitors to our country want to see in terms of their wildlife experience? You probably guessed it, the Big Five. But what are the Big Five?   Is it really that important, and how did this all originate, you are probably asking yourself?  Well, its origins stem way back to the days of hunting.  They were seen to be the five most dangerous animals to hunt on foot specifically due to the nature of the beast as opposed to the actual physical size of the animal.  But in my opinion there is actually so much more to the bush and the safari experience and I often find the smaller creatures much more interesting and thus I wanted to introduce you to the Little Five. “What?”, you may be asking yourself.  Yes, the Little Five are unofficially named as such and have no relevance to hunting or danger but rather just a play on words.

These include:

1.   Red-billed buffalo weaver – A black bird with a red bill and white wing fleck who often builds its nest on the north western side of the tree to benefit from the late afternoon sun, keeping the nest warm.

2.   Rhinoceros beetle  - A remarkable beetle, similar to the famous dung beetle in basic appearance, however, it has a very distinctive horn on its head. I wonder if this horn is as sought after as a real rhinoceros horn?

3.   Ant lion – Also part of the insect world and a far cry from the king of beasts, but this small creature constructs a “v-shaped” trap to catch its prey, probably with better success than its lazy feline counterpart.

4.   Leopard tortoise – Nothing quite compares to the real thing in this department.  Stealth is a word associated with the spotted cat and somehow doesn’t go for a tortoise. It does however have a blotchy carapace but that’s where the comparison ends.

5.   Elephant shrew – This is the one of the Little Five which would probably scare most people more than the original pachyderm itself. It slightly resembles a mouse in appearance. There is nothing more delightful to see in the bush than shrews participating in what is termed “caravanning” where they link head to tail holding on with their long “trunk-like” snout in perfect single file, scurrying through the vegetation.

So next time you are on safari, try and see if you can spot the Little Five. Just keep an eye out to ensure you don’t stumble onto one of the Big Five in the process.

Article written by Mark Broodryk, Singita Guide, Sabi Sand Reserve.

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Running with the Pack

September 21, 2010 - Safari,Wildlife

In the June edition of the guides’ diary, we announced our exciting discovery of a wild dog den site on our property in the Sabi Sand. Since then, we have been following the progress of the pack very closely and during August we noticed that the various den sites have been abandoned and the pups are now running with the pack. Although this means that we may not have the regular sightings we had when they were at the den site, it is exciting news as it means that the pups are more able to defend themselves and are becoming less vulnerable to predators. In other words their chances of survival have increased greatly, which is fantastic news for the wild dog population.

There are four surviving pups, with three having fallen victim to lions, which increases the pack size to ten. The pups are providing fantastic sightings as they spend a great deal of time playing with one another, which is usual among the young of predators.  Also this practice of play aids in their development of coordination and muscle mass, which becomes vital as they start to join in on the hunting activities of the pack. On the day we followed the pups with the pack, they were located close to the lodges on the Sand river. From there, they were followed as they ran all the way to the southern sections of the Singita property, a distance of about 10 kilometres. Although the pups were noticeably tired towards the end of this mission and spent the majority of their time trying to keep up with the pack, this is an important step in their development and it won’t be long before they cover even greater distances as part of their daily existence.

To read more, visit our August Guides’ Diary, Singita Sabi Sand

Article contribution by Singita Guide, James Crookes

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Adventure Heroes

September 03, 2010 - Community Development,Events,Singita

Our very own Jaco Ehlers, Singita Sales Manager and charity-superhero, has just completed a 7 day cycle challenge all in the name of a good cause.

Jaco cycled the 330km-long Challenge4aCause challenge through the harsh, dusty terrain of the dramatic Damaraland Desert in Namibia to raise funds for the Save the Rhino Trust.

All the funds raised through the 2010 Challenge4aCause have been donated to an anti-poaching unit. The aim of this unit is to help preserve the highly endangered, and desert-adapted, black rhino.

And we have more cycling superheroes among us – Sabi Sand GM, Jason Trollip, and Singita Sabi Sand Head Ranger, Mark Broodryk,  also recently took part in a charitable cycling event: the third and final Tour de Tuli (previously known as the Tour de Kruger).   The 2010 Tour de Tuli saw 290 cyclists pedal 350kms to raise an impressive R700 000 for charity.

Every Rand and cent raised through the event will be used to teach rural children about the importance of the environment and the critical role they play in the preservation of our world.

For more photos visit the Singita Facebook page.

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Wild Dog Pups in Singita Sabi Sands

May 11, 2010 - Singita,Wildlife

Everyone in Singita Sabi Sand has for the last few weeks been waiting in anticipation to find out where, if at all, the wild dogs decide to den.

Yesterday, after some exceptional and intensive tracking, we discovered all six adult wild dogs and at least four charcoal black pups in their new Singita Sabi Sand home. These pups, complete with the characteristic white tips on the end of each of their tails, spent a brief amount of time greeting the adult female outside before they returned to the security of their den.

We’ve estimated that these wild dog pups are just one week old and, due to the sensitivity of the situation, we’ve decided to give the pack a few additional days to establish themselves before we open the site for viewing. This means that we presently don’t have any pictures of the wild dog pups to share with you but, once we do, you’ll be the first to see them!

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