by Matthew Sterne on June 23, 2011
6 min read

One does not often get to return from a safari being able to say they saw the following:

5 lions stalking a giraffe
2 honey badgers in 1 sighting
Porcupine
Leopard climbing up a tree with a kill (twice)
Being charged by an Elephant Bull
300 strong Buffalo herd
Hyena trying to steal a leopard kill
… and much more!

I recently had the privilege to spend four nights at the famed Singita Lodges. I was lucky enough to spend two nights at Singita Ebony in the Sabi Sand and then two nights at Singita Lebombo in their Kruger Concession. It is not hard for me to see why they are known for offering such a truly supreme product. Even more special was that I was able to share this experience with my best friend, Dane.

We flew direct from Cape Town to Kruger on the ideal SA Airlink flight and were met by the friendly Federal Air representative for our shared light charter flight direct to Singita’s landing strip. On arrival we were warmly met by our waiting ranger and tracker team of Johan and Kenneth respectively. How excited we both were to be on the ground in the bush after many weeks of anticipation.

The reception once we entered their flagship Ebony lodge took our breath away. Just a few metres from their expansive viewing deck were a herd of elephant and a couple buffalo drinking out the river as if there only to greet us. After a brief intro to the happenings and schedule of all things Ebony by the continuously gracious and faultless host in Tom, the lodge manager, we were escorted to our awaiting suite to freshen up before a fantastic lunch. Pat was our butler at Ebony – what a friendly man who was there whenever we needed him and yet not obtrusive. He had the formula just right and was of perfect service during our stay.

The suites are large, comfortable and extremely well appointed. From the large plunge pool overlooking the river and plains below to the fireplace, the most comfortable master beds and spacious bathroom, we were at home for the next two nights. We could not ask for more and the trip had yet begun.

The two nights offered us four full game drives and we were most certainly not disappointed. The knowledgeable and friendly Johan and Kenneth found us sightings that were truly unforgettable. Lions, leopards, buffalo, elephants, zebra, giraffe, antelope, birds and so much more. Incredible is the understatement of the year. This is were lucky enough to view two honeybadgers in one sighting; a safari veteran will confirm this is no mean feat.

During our stay I was able to pop into the neighbouring Boulders lodge and the Singita shop and Wine Boutique. Boulders is more contemporary than Ebony, but equally luxurious and unique. The rooms offer a large sitting area, wonderful plunge pool, open plan bathroom and of course the legendary minibars that are common place with all Singita properties… rather Maxi bars if you catch my drift…. Just rightly so as these days on safari lent themselves nicely to many a gin and tonic on the numerous deck areas and fantastic well chosen and aged wines that of course fit themselves in so well with lunches and dinners.

Both lodges have their own wine cellars that are fully stocked with some of the most incredible local wines, a relaxing and ample spa area using all Dermalogica products and of course a gym, should you feel the need to work of the extra kilojoules that inevitably find themselves a suitable home for the winter, so to speak.

The Shop is more than just a shop. It houses all local crafts, linens like those in the lodges, clothes, home-wares, masks, statues, jewels and more… One experiences an explosion of the senses upon walking around the well managed and hosted shop.

Then to what I thought was the most incredible and unique offering of Singita: the Wine Boutique. One is able to spend as much or as little time with well trained members of staff to decide what wine suits their pallets and budget, chat about what wine they have already enjoyed at the lodges, or find other hidden gems amongst the hundreds of well aged and cellared wines that they are able to purchase and arrange to have delivered to their doorsteps back home. What a fantastic “added extra” on offer here as oftentimes you taste a really amazing wine at an exclusive lodge like Singita and have no chance of finding it back home. Singita has this niche taken care of with aplomb.

During our stay we were also able to experience a Boma dinner, which is an outside area, around the roaring fire where we were served a wide variety of game meats and more, offered fine wines and entertained by local singers and dancers under the African night sky… Bliss.

It must be said that our first dinner was a real fine dining affair and I tasted what was arguably the best starter I have ever had in my life (seafood ravioli with a vanilla and lime sauce), but being as fussy an eater as I have the tendency to be, I asked if something simple could be made for me that was not at all on the menu as my main meal and this was no trouble at all. It turned into possibly the best steak, mash and pepper sauce I have ever had in my life too. REALLY!

With heavy hearts and yet more anticipation for what lay ahead, we said our farewells to all at the lodge and headed to our next destination.

Read Part II now…


FACTS:
Singita Ebony and Singita Boulders is situated in 18,000 hectares in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve on the western border of the Kruger National Park. Sabi Sand consists of a number of private game reserves and has no fences, allowing the game to move freely between the reserve and the Kruger National Park. The advantage of being separate to Kruger Park itself is that it affords exclusivity and rare solitude, away from the crowds. Also, in such a private reserve, rangers can go off road and lead night drives and walking safaris, so you can get as close as possible to the action.

The terrain at Sabi Sand has thicker and more bush and is flatter, with fewer ridges and mountains. It is dominated by the Sabie River and Sands River.

UPDATE: Singita Ebony has recently undergone a soft refurbishment. It has a fresh coat of paint and newly landscaped gardens.

LOOK OUT: for more photos from Sam next week on our blog and Flickr!

QUERIES: For more information, contact us.

WATCH: Our Kruger National Park video and watch the Singita Game Reserves video below for a look at these ultimate safari destinations.