“Place of miracles” is the English translation of “Singita” and the natural settings where Singita lodges are found certainly justify the name. Renowned for their spectacular settings, exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities, outstanding service and sensational food and wine, Singita lodges offer an experience that few can match. They also care about the places they touch and the communities whose land they share and this is reflected in everything they do, their whole philosophy is dedicated to environmentally conscious hospitality, sustainable conservation and the empowerment of local communities, which makes a stay even more rewarding.
Singita Lebombo has a privileged location within the Kruger National Park. It is, in fact, one of the few private game reserves within the actual boundaries of the National Park.
The Kruger National Park is one of the oldest and largest protected natural areas in the world. First protected in 1898, it became South Africa’s first national park in 1928 and today still protects 2 million hectares of wilderness and is home to an unrivalled diversity of fauna and flora. It is a fascinating place not just because of its wildlife and Kruger is home to an impressive 336 trees species, 49 types of fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals, the park has an incredible history; key archaeological sites, it is rich in traditional culture and has a formidable reputation for ground breaking research and is a world leader in advanced conservation methods.
Singita Lebombo occupies 15,000 hectares within the south eastern reaches of the Kruger National Park. This corner of Kruger is diverse and the area managed by Singita has four of the five eco-zones found in the Kruger within its boundaries. This diversity of habitat types brings with it a great variety of wildlife, enhancing Lebombo’s reputation as one of the best places to experience a pristine wilderness region in Africa.
The Lebombo Mountains dominate the landscape and the lodge itself is perched along the rugged cliffs above the N’wanetsi River. Each individual guest suite overlooks the river and the rich surrounding habitat, so that guests can relax watching wildlife from the privacy of their own private balcony in between their daily safari activities. It is quite simply, an experience unmatched anywhere else in the world.
Singita Lebombo has been designed around the theme of an eagle’s nest, allowing for elevated views over the Kruger National Park. These views are central to the experience at Lebombo and glass has been used extensively, so that one can enjoy the magnificent landscape wherever you are on the property. The interiors are beautifully decorated with natural wood and organic textures mixed with steel and contemporary touches. Singita’s philosophy means that it touches very lightly on its surroundings and keeps its impacts to a minimum and there are only 15 suites and a maximum of 30 guests at any one time. This makes for an exceptionally personalised experience, from a dedicated butler, to the creative menus that change daily and the exceptional guides and trackers who take a personal pride in fulfilling your safari dreams.
The lounge area, where guests meet before game drives and meals, showcases the expansive vistas that surround the property. Its spacious interior is airy and stylishly decorated with furniture and decorative pieces made from grass, wood and steel. There are beautiful rustic pieces designed and created by the local communities using raw materials from the region, which add a soft edge to the contemporary space. The dining area is encased in glass, creating a simple yet elegant space with beautiful views across the tree tops. There is also a traditional boma for more social gatherings and a gorgeous pool that provides the perfect spot to refresh and relax between game drives.
Singita is renowned for its food and wine. It is recognised as one of Africa’s most influential wine collectors and each lodge has an extensive wine cellar onsite. It is safe to say that wine is a key ingredient to the Singita experience and each meal is accompanied by carefully selected wine suggestions to compliment the food, as well as an extensive wine list. Each meal is unique and created that day based on the ingredients available. The menus are inspired by the local surroundings and use home-grown ingredients that add a special flair to each dish. The results are memorable.
No two nights are quite the same at Singita Lebombo and during our stay we were treated to an evening of wine tasting followed by dinner in the dining area that looks out over the euphorbia trees that are endemic to the area; a relaxing dinner under the stars beside the pool; a campfire dinner in the traditional boma with fellow guests, guides and trackers and a presentation of local music and dancing from the Singita choir; and finally a secluded candlelight dinner for two where we dined surrounded by scores of flickering lamps and the sounds of the African bush.
As with the evenings no two days are ever the same either and there are a range of activities to keep you busy such as walking safaris, visits to the Singita School of Cooking in the staff village, mountain biking, stargazing safaris and archery. But game drives are the main event and with 15,000 hectares of African bush to explore and some of the best guides and trackers on the continent you will not be disappointed. During your stay you will see a great variety of wildlife. There are plenty of herds of the grazing animals that attract the big cats, such as giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, wildebeest, kudu, inyala and impala and you are likely to see leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo, elephant, hippopotamus and cheetah, as well as a huge variety of birds and smaller animals. We were lucky enough to see all the “Big 5” and much more during our stay. There were so many amazing sightings during our time at Singita Lebombo that it is difficult to choose a few highlights, but to see the famous white lion cub was a real bonus and spotting a family of rare Ground Hornbills was pretty amazing. Yet another treat was watching 2 lionesses’ chill out with their 8 playful cubs, but perhaps the biggest surprise had to be coming across two shy leopards embarking on their elaborate mating ritual.
Game drives go out early morning and late afternoon when it is cooler and the animals are more active. The open Land Rovers are especially designed for wildlife viewing and photography. Each day is unique and has its own surprises, although you will most certainly be treated to morning coffee and evening sundowners in the most spectacular places. One morning we sipped our coffee whilst watching rhinos wallowing in mud to rid themselves of ticks and a herd of zebra with foals frolicking close by. Another morning we enjoyed our coffee break watching a female cheetah and her two playful cubs pass by whilst stalking a small group of impala. These are truly magical moments. And then there is the evening sundowner – enjoying a drink out in the bush as the sun sets is a sheer delight. Before ones eyes the sun begins its slow descent, bathing the African bush in a golden light until it finally disappears behind the horizon, leaving behind it a black and starry night. These are experiences that simply should not to be missed.
Kruger National Park and particularly Singita Lebombo offers a unique experience to see a pristine corner of the world that has been protected from the march of man’s “progress” for over 110 years. It is a rare privilege that is surprisingly accessible to those who wish to encounter remoteness and nature’s beauty.
Credits and footnotes: The writer stayed at Singita Lebombo as a regular guest and paid for their stay in-full. Photography has been taken for use on this blog, click here and here to have a glimpse at just a few things we saw during our trip to South Africa. Please ask if you would like to use any of the photography on the site. We are happy to share. We just ask that you ask first and credit accordingly.