Staying in three of Singita's luxury lodges in three distinct yet equally dreamy destinations, I've shared my three (of many) highlights for each of them...
Singita Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe Reserve, Zimbabwe
1. Glorious game and a thriving rhino population
Located in the Malilangwe Reserve of southeast Zimbabwe, Singita Pamushana occupies a staggering 55,000 hectares of bush, though comprising just six gorgeous suites and one five-bedroom house! This means we literally did not see any other vehicles as we head out by air-conditioned Jeep in search of game, offering a true wilderness experience that was quite unlike anywhere else I've ever been on safari. While we saw various great wildlife, this lodge is particularly special for its almost guaranteed rhino sightings - we saw them every day! In fact, our ranger - who, along with all the Singita staff we encountered throughout our stay, was amazing - explained that the reserve houses two percent of the entire world's black rhino population.
2. Incredible community projects
As well as the wildlife, Singita Pamushana emphasises the importance of helping the local Shangaan community. The lodge supplies several nearby schools with a meal and water each day, which has now seen attendance soar to 100 percent! I was lucky enough to visit one of these incredible schools, meeting the hardworking staff and wonderful children. The lodge also runs a (super intense) programme through which local boys are trained to be scouts, their job to track down illegal rhino poachers. Clearly, it's successful as like I said before, the rhino population is thriving.
3. Activities on the Malilangwe Dam
Yet another thing that makes Singita Pamushana so special is its location directly overlooking the shimmering expanse of the Malilangwe Dam, which lends itself to several wonderful activities. As well as guided game fishing using local methods - with catches including tiger fish, bass, bream and catfish - the lodge offers sundowner cruises along the calm waters of the dam, which I was lucky enough to enjoy. With a gin and tonic in hand, snacking on the most delicious biltong, we sailed by wallowing hippos and crocs, as well as a crazy amount of birds - including eagles. It's hard to put into words the sense of calm I felt as I admired that African sunset. but I can safely say it is an experience I won't be forgetting in a hurry.
Singita Boulders Lodge, Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa
1. The African 'Big Five'
Boulders Lodge nestles within South Africa's renowned Sabi Sand Reserve, offering simply unforgettable game drives that almost always include the African Big Five - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. We saw all these species and much more! A rather grizzly highlight was spotting a lion devouring its prey - a reminder that we were well and truly in the heart of the African bush!
2. Inspiring lodge views
Boulders Lodge has been designed with plenty of glass walls and alfresco terraces, which makes sense considering the gorgeous views surrounding it. I was relaxing in the plunge pool one afternoon post-game drive (all suites here boast their own private plunge pool) only to spot a herd of elephants roaming the bushveld - including super cute babies!
3. Meeting the wonderful tracking dogs
This Singita lodge supports a local canine unit, in which incredible dogs are trained to hunt down illegal poachers by sniffing out the ammunition. We were able to meet a couple of these amazing animals (a real treat for a dog lover like me), as well as their talented trainers. They taught us a little more about the work they do, proudly sharing that - due to the dogs - the reserve hasn't lost a rhino to poachers for two years.
Watching a herd of elephants from the pool at Boulders Lodge
A leopard amid Sabi Sand Reserve
A giraffe amid Sabi Sand Reserve
An elephant amid Sabi Sand Reserve
Singita Lebombo Lodge, Kruger National Park, South Africa
1. Community culinary school
Singita Lebombo Lodge houses a Community Culinary School that aims to teach young local people cookery skills, to provide them with long-term employment opportunities. The success rate is simply staggering and many graduates have gone on to cook for truly five-star restaurants around the globe - from London to New York - while many have stayed working for the spectacular Singita brand across Southern Africa. We were invited to the school to create some authentic South African dishes alongside the trainees, including a delicious, donut-like national favourite called a koeksister. We were even treated to a wonderful song as we cooked!
2. Contemporary loft-style suites
Lebombo's suites are much more contemporary than the other two properties with less of a traditional African style. They come complete with an open-plan, loft-style design, a neutral colour scheme and huge floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the N'Wanetsi River. On a clear day (which we were lucky enough to have plenty of) you can see over to the striking mountains on the Mozambique border. Sustainability and conservation are at the heart of the Singita philosophy, and Lebombo was the first lodge in the whole of Kruger National Park to switch to solar energy!
3. A dreamy boma dinner and world-class wine
Following another day filled with safari adventures, we were treated to dinner at a private boma at the top of the property, beautifully lit by lanterns and the starry night sky. Local villagers came up to perform traditional song, while we feasted on a range of South African treats. Singita is also renowned for its wine offering, which includes some of the most exclusive and rare labels from the African continent. We got to taste several of these gorgeous wines across the three Singita lodges, each of which house their own temperature-controlled cellar and resident sommelier.