The results of the US Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2012 readers’ survey were announced recently and brought to light questions about how Singita is doing business differently. Winning these reputable awards is a highly significant achievement for a relatively small safari company based in South Africa.
Luke Bailes, CEO and founder of Singita, reflected on the approach that Singita takes and how the business is built on a model of time and effort. We captured some of those meaningful reflections on video.
“There is a balance between the way in which we manage nature and the sense of urgency needed to protect nature. When we manage the land, we recognize that we need to be delicate and sensitive, moving with the long-term and slow rhythms of the wild while at the same time being intentional, with a sense of urgency to save the environment quickly.”
Watch the video here…
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know that when guests stay at Singita Pamushana all proceeds are used to fund various projects managed by the reserve’s Malilangwe Trust? A key, joint project that the Malilangwe Trust has embarked upon is to establish irrigation schemes so that nearby villagers and their livestock have a clean supply of water and are able grow their own vegetables. Women and children tend the crops – channeling water into the fields (thanks to a borehole that has been sunk), and keep up with weeding and removing pests. When you are next at Singita Pamushana, pay them a visit and they’ll proudly show you the crops – onions, cabbage and other leafy greens are in season right now, and you’re bound to be treated to an emotive impromptu choir performance!
Approximately 10,000 people located around the Malilangwe Reserve are now assisted daily through the provision of drinkable, clean borehole water.
For further information on this project please liaise with our Singita Pamushana Lodge Manager or with Singita HR & Community Development Manager, Pam Richardson – please contact us.
By Jenny Hishin
The Singita School of Cooking is located on site at the Staff Village that serves Singita Kruger National Park (Lebombo and Sweni Lodges). It was established with the aim of encouraging the development of culinary skills amongst local youth from our neighbouring communities. Each year, 8 to10 students are selected – based upon clear criteria including showing a real interest in cooking – to participate in an 18 month long training programme.
It was an incredible undertaking initiated by Kurt Abrahams a Senior Sous Chef at Singita Sweni and Jason Trollip the former General Manager of Singita Kruger National Park. Jason and Kurt took up the challenge of taking on young members of the local community who had little or no understanding of what being a chef is all about and training them to the level where they could find employment as skilled trainee chefs at the end of the year long course. Kurt embraced the project wholeheartedly and became the Head of the school sharing his knowledge, exceptional culinary skills and passion for training people. The programme was practical, with the perfect facilities already in existence at the staff village. The first group of students graduated successfully from The Singita School of Cooking (SSC) at the end of 2007.
Year to date the graduating students have all been employed either at a Singita property or by other organisations.
Since opening the SSC has continued to produce well educated, employable trainee chefs and with its reputation now well established we took a decision in 2010 to extend the course to 18 months. The objective now being to take the students to the next level and equip them with Comis Chef level skills, thereby giving them greater earning capability post graduation.
Oriel Mbowane was promoted from Sous Chef Sweni in September to Skills Chef Trainer for the school of cooking. The new course started on 15th September 2010
If you would like more information about sponsoring a Singita School of Cooking student please refer to our Giving Back section on our website.
Singita Grumeti Kitchen Tales
The greenhouse has been a long standing project here at Singita Grumeti Reserves, so much so that it seemed like it was always going to be a dream.
This year with the efforts of Frank Louw (Head chef), Sasakwa chefs and a team of gardeners, the greenhouse has become a much longed for reality. A few months ago a buzz began around the greenhouse and on closer inspection you would have noticed plastic buckets, containers, rakes, spades and all sorts of useful apparel arriving. Containers were moved into rows, holes made, loose stones placed for drainage and covered with top soil, and the essential water source found. Packets of seeds were secreted down and enthusiastically sown. Beds of soil were tentatively watered, constantly hovered over, and if will power alone could inspire growth the garden would have been blooming in a matter of hours.
Time seemed to stretch on and as all eyes focused on the brown earth, small dots of green finally flecked the soil. These minute green specks slowly unfurled and as each day passed the new seedlings distinguished themselves and soon basil shoots, fragrant coriander, delicate dill, miniature carrot tops, lettuce leaves, tomato vines, radish sprouts and baby spinach leaves were all recognizable. Now we are able to pick our own selection of herbs and vegetables to use in the kitchen – our dream come true.
Article contribution by Catherine, Sasakwa Sous Chef, Singita Grumeti Kitchens
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 email@example.com.
Recently on a scouting trip around Nduna searching for lions for our guest, as we headed off road something caught my eye on one of the rock faces. I decided to go and investigate and found a small rock painting. Due to time restraints I was not able to scout the area for more paintings, nevertheless, I had a quick look around and found a second site about 300 metres from the initial site. In order to ascertain if these were unique sites I made certain to GPS both of them, made a recording and checked the data. They were not recorded in our data so I contacted Ben Smith at University of Witwatersrand and they did not have them recorded either.
This was amazing news meaning that we have increased the database of rock paintings now to 80 sites. These figures refer to painting sites only. So from the beginning of last year we had a record 56 rock painting sites; the guiding department has increased this record to date to 78 and now these 2 new ones total the sites to 80. There is no doubt that we will keep adding to this number – we’ll keep you updated.
Singita Guide – Brad Fouche, Singita Pamushana, Zimbabwe
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.
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.
The Great Migration, which makes its way through the Singita Grumeti Reserves, has to be one of the top 10 awe-inspiring natural phenomenons. The fact that two million wildebeest and zebra make this same journey on an annual basis is mind-blowing. It is definitely something that should be experienced at least once in a person’s lifetime.
This year from the 1st of September until the 30th of November, guests at Singita will be able to fly into the northern Serengeti, where the migration is at its densest during these months, and be guaranteed exceptional viewings. Accompanied by one of our knowledgeable Singita Grumeti Reserve Guides and a delectable Singita lunch, the day-excursion is conducted in true Singita style.
For more information please visit our website.
This week we have great lion cub pictures from both the Xirombe and Mountain prides courtesy of Singita Lebombo guide, Marlon du Toit.
The Xirombe pride cubs are just over five months old and exceptionally curious.
The Mountain pride cubs are just over four months old and just as curious as the Xirombe pride’s cubs.
Lionesses from the Mountain pride.
Two of the five Southern Coalition male lions. They have really started to grow into themselves and, in person, they are very large.