Is Singita still the most luxurious of the safaris?

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Mar 19th, 2004, 09:29 AM
  #1
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Is Singita still the most luxurious of the safaris?

Is Singita still the most luxurious of the safaris? Anyone have any recent experience. My husband and I and considering a stay in the Ebony lodge.
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Mar 19th, 2004, 02:33 PM
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Erica

I have been to Sabi Sabi's Earth lodge,Bush lodge,Selati lodge,
Ulusaba's Rock and Safari lodge,Londolozi's Tree and Safari lodge,Mala Mala Main Camp,Mala Mala Harry's Camp,Exeter's River Lodge,Exeter's Leadwood lodge,Inyati lodge,Savanna lodge,Lion Sands River lodge,Notten's Bush Camp,Chitwa Chitwa, Simbambili and lastly Singita Boulders.

Of all these lodges I'll have to say that Singita Boulders was the most luxurious with Earth lodge,Ulusaba Rock and Londolozi Tree a close second.

If I were you I would consider Singita's new Sweni Lodge in KNP,looks great!

I can only give you a comparison between Sabi Sands Lodges but I am sure other readers can give you more on Botswana's Mombo and Jao,Kenya's Governors camps,Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater Lodge etc.
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Mar 19th, 2004, 02:58 PM
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I can't compare with Singita or the others listed by Safarinut from personal experience but have been to Mombo and can comment on that.

Mombo does have very appealing accommodation - the tents are huge with a bedroom area, a small interior desk/ lounge area, a huge bathroom area and toilet beyond that. Outside a private verandah with a sala (outdoor bed), loungers and an outdoor shower, runs the length of the tent. Decor is simple, stylish and of high quality rather than decidedly over-the-top latest vogue stuff.

Food is good rather than stellar - it's an enjoyable and filling meal to renew energies rather than a gourmet affair. Wine is good rather than rarified cellar vintages.

What Mombo is known for is the game viewing.

My impression is that, for a combination of good game viewing with absolutely top of the range luxury accommodation, food and services you are right to look at South African lodges.

If I were looking for that I think Ulusaba appeals most, from the info I have come across...



Sounds like a marvellous trip to be planning! Congrats!
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Mar 19th, 2004, 04:12 PM
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Erika:

I forgot to mention the other Private Game Reserves in Mpumalanga!

Thornybush Game Reserve:

The most luxurious lodge here is Royal Malewane,could maybe compete with Singita on accommodations but if there is a drive through zoo in RSA Thornybush must take the title.

Manyeleti:

Their most luxurious lodge is called Tintswalo Safari Lodge.

Kruger Private Lodges:

Surely Singita Lebombo and Sweni lodges
Second place probably Lukimbi and Jock Safari Lodge.

Timbavati:

Kings Camp and Tanda Tula.

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Mar 19th, 2004, 07:28 PM
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Ericka: I've stayed at Singita Boulders in 2002 and 2003. It has been the top lodge from all my travels. Basically, you have your own house. The cuisine is superb and the staff will stop at nothing to insure your stay nears perfection. Our game drives were always eventful. Ebony looks a bit more contemporary; I'm sure the differences are minor. Someday I hope to visit Singita Lebombo, their new lodge. It looks amazing.
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Mar 19th, 2004, 09:31 PM
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Ericka, yes. I stayed at Singita Boulders last year and not only found it luxurious but the best game-viewing of our entire trip (including a stay at Little Mombo - def. not as luxurious- bugs galore in the room). I had lunch at Ebony and had a tour of one room - I would recommend Boulders. You get your own house that is beautifully done in top African design that is modern but has its roots in the natural environment. All curvilinear lines, very peaceful. At these prices, everything goes like clockwork. Cars radio each other when they see something wonderful and share it. We saw the big five in three days, twice. Saw lion cubs, leopards twice, cheetah twice, rhinos, etc. You still get plenty of surprises, once we stumbled on a herd of elephants surrounding a wayward rhino! They even had better binoculars to lend me.

On the other hand, someone here reported they have on their website that they can raise the price depending on the rand but without the reverse provision. I don't know if that is true but if it is, it's not a very tourist-friendly policy.

I agree with Safarinut that the other Singitas (Lebombo and Sweni) sound very intriguing and I'm sure they will be as luxurious. To the other readers I want to say that the most luxurious camp may not necessarily be your favorite, as some have their own special charm.
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Mar 19th, 2004, 10:51 PM
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Clematis:

''To the other readers I want to say that the most luxurious camp may not necessarily be your favorite, as some have their own special charm.''

I fully agree with the above statement as my favorite is Mala Mala Main Camp.
Mala Mala doesn't make my top five list of most luxurious lodges I've stayed at.

Clem I can just imagine how beautiful the Sabi Sands is now after all the rains they had in Jan and Feb of this year!


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Mar 20th, 2004, 04:31 AM
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Clematis -

I too read as you mentioned:

>>they have on their website that they can raise the price depending on the rand but without the reverse provision<<

For those of us who have watched Singita's rates and that of many of the other lodges fluctuate over the past year-and-a-half (from low of $940 to now $1045/pppn - and a few up/downs in between), I bet Singita or the others certainly can "raise" or "lower" their rates.

However, if you've book through a reputable tour operator, they should put their client's interest first.

Friends booked when the USDollar was stronger than when they finally travelled and their lower rate was held firm, mainly due to the fact that their tour operator made certain it was. I don't know whether that would have been true had these friends booked directly with Singita.

If the USD took a turn in favor of Americans traveling to SA, you are correct that it would not be "tourist-friendly," not to reduce the price - but can guarantee if the difference was sufficient enough and Singita didn't reduce the price, the word would get around rather quickly and every tour operator would be inundated with complaints.

At the prices the hi-end lodges charge, you can be assured that a good percentage of visitors are checking the exchange rate till the day they depart the States.

Ericka - While Royal Malawani gets rave reviews for their accommodations and game-viewing, there was a recent comment that the food didn't compare to that at Singita.

There are many hi-end lodges to choose from, and many here on the board, will have their own recommendations, but if Singita is what you want, and you'd be going for the "big bucks" with any of them - then go for Singita - you will not be disappointed.

We visited in 2001, at Ebony - prior to the "soft furnishings" being redone, so can't comment on the current "look" at either camp. And while Boulders is the camp shown in most SA Tourism ads and most often promoted, we and friends who visited before and after refurbishing preferred Ebony over Boulders. One couple actually spent 2-nts at each camp during their 4-nts.

Ebony just has a "warmer" feel, rather than the modern design of Boulders. Though both camps offer the same excellent services and great game viewing. It's just a matter of preference.
 
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Mar 20th, 2004, 07:14 AM
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Ericka:

If you want THE MOST LUXURIOUS SUITES consider the following two suites:

1]Royal Malewane:Royal Suite

The jewel in the Royal Malewane crown is the new 510m? Royal Suite, the largest and most exclusive in Africa. This ultra luxurious private hideaway accommodates a further four guests in two en-suite rooms, private lounge and dining facilities, with complimentary services of a 24-hour private butler, private chef and masseur. Dining is a grand affair with the very best china, silver and crystal set against crisp white napery. Only the wildlife witnesses guests relaxing in the private Jacuzzi and pool.

This will cost you 38 500 rand per day!

2]Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge:The Amber Presidential Suite:

The Amber Suite is generous beyond belief in its dimensions and boasts its own exercise room, steam room, study and kitchen. It captures art and luxury in one unique experience.

This would set you back 22 400 rand a night!







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Mar 20th, 2004, 08:26 AM
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Clematis said:
To the other readers I want to say that the most luxurious camp may not necessarily be your favorite, as some have their own special charm.

You're so right.

Our favourite single camp from the last trip was Wolwedans Dune Lodge, where we are returning this June to renew our wedding vows.

The accommodation was not the most luxurious but the experience was hands down the most romantic and relaxing and memorable of our trip.


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Mar 20th, 2004, 10:37 AM
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Ah, Kavey, I get chills just hearing about your romantic camp!
Sandi, good point about the tour operator/agent making sure your Singita rate is the best possible. I disagree with Ebony being "warmer" though. I found the room I saw more like a golf condo, nothing like the warmth of the Boulder's high rounded ceilings, etc. I do think the general lodge room is warmer, like a game lodge, but we spent so little time in the general room.
Safarinut, yes - the Sabi will be glorious now! You have been to an impressive number of camps so now I am putting your fav, Mala Mala, on my must-do list!
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Mar 20th, 2004, 11:51 AM
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Clematis:

Mala Mala is one of those safari camps that doesn't really appeal to one when looking at their website.For this reason it wasn't the first lodge I wanted to visit when going to the Sabi Sands for the first time.

After seeing most of the other camps I decided to visit Mala Mala,maybe just to complete my list of seeing all the Sabi Sands lodges!

My word!The game viewing turned out to be in a class of it's own and since then I have returned this December for the third time!

If you look at their guest statistics 70% is made up of return visitors!
I think this says it all.

After being there a few times and reading their weekly cyberdiary,you get to know the different lion prides,leopards etc. which I feel greatly enhances one's safari experience if you know the history of the animal you are looking at.

Just seeing a lion lying under a tree doesn't really appeal to me anymore.
What I like is to see interaction between animals.

On my most recent trip there we were fortunate enough to see interaction between lions,leopards ,hyena,lion-leopard,leopard-hyena,hyena-vultures,hyena-lions,buff-lion etc. This to me is what game viewing is all about.

The following two guest comments probably says it best:

Renee Davis
"Everyone owes it to themselves to go to Mala Mala at least once before they die."
(MalaMala Game Reserve June 2003)

Jack, Suzi, Julie and Kathaleen Hanna
?The best game viewing experience I've ever had?
(MalaMala Game Reserve 05 ? 08 April 2003 )
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Mar 20th, 2004, 12:38 PM
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Well, this trip is all set, but with references like that I shall keep Mala Mala in mind for the next trip!
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Mar 20th, 2004, 02:12 PM
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Kavey:

It would be great if you visit Mala Mala so that you could compare the game viewing between Mombo and Mala Mala for us.From what I've read it seems that Mombo is in the same league as Mala Mala when it comes to game viewing.

On my last day at Singita our ranger and fellow guests were discussing how great our sightings have been and maybe rightly so as we saw the following in three days:

1]Three leopard sightings
2]Two lion sightings
3]One cheetah sighting
4]Daily rhino sightings
5]Daily buffalo sightings
6]Daily elephant sightings
7]The usual antelope

I sat there and said to myself that I found the game viewing to be good but certainly not great.I couldn't get myself to tell these excited guests that I had a different opinion about our sightings as I thought this would spoil their experience.I was comparing these sightings to previous visits to Mala Mala,hoping that Mala Mala would not disappoint me on my next visit coming up after six days at Londolozi.

Mala Mala absolutely blew my mind when in eight days we saw four buff kills,leopards feeding,lion chasing and nearly killing a male leopard,leopards fighting,large herds of buff dly,lions mating,hyena mating .....I could go on forever.

I do think the severe drought played a significant role in our exceptional game viewing as Mala Mala has 32 kilo's of Sand River frontage.

Sorry Ericka I am way off topic on your original post!
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Mar 20th, 2004, 02:43 PM
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Seems very hard to tell because I think when I went to Mombo in 2001 I was VERY lucky with viewing and we spent HOURS within close proximity of leopards which I think is rarer elsewhere.

Also lions, cheetah, eles and the rest...

BUT more recent visitors haven't had same experience.

And by the time I get back to Africa again it would be a couple more years...

But I would certainly like to compare as many as I can!
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Mar 20th, 2004, 08:59 PM
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Kav, at Singita we spent hours with leopards - the first time we tracked one, following her down a dirt road and then into the bush as she considered attacking a large buck - but didn't. The second time it was a different leopard who ran up in a tree to munch on a very recent kill - type of antelope. Lots of posing and then he came down. Safarinut - a big thank you for going into details, I now know where I must go next. How long was your most recent trip there where you had so many wonderful sightings? Any other tips you want to give about Mala Mala - which room do you prefer, any favorite guides, etc.?
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Mar 20th, 2004, 10:21 PM
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Clematis:

I usually book a suite in the Sable unit:
The Sable Unit is a decentralised facility situated in the southern area of the Main Camp.
It caters for a maximum of 20 guests and offers all the privacy and intimacy of a smaller camp.
The Sable Unit is equipped with its own dining area, lounge, bar, boma, swimming pool and viewing deck.
It may be reserved exclusively for a private party or independent guests

My favorite rooms are suite number 17 and The Lions Den.These are the two best rooms because of their location and view.

The Lion's Den is the largest, most luxurious suite at MalaMala Main Camp.
It is situated in the southern part of the camp and consists of a large bedroom and a spacious sitting room / lounge.

One simply has to step out through the large sliding doors onto the private verandah for magnificent views of the Sand River and the surrounding bushveld.

If two bedrooms are required, the door to the interleading bedroom can be opened.It's a nice suite but not as luxurious as Singita,lodolozi etc.

The other reason I prefer the Sable Unit is that no children under 12 is allowed.

The guides I recommend[I feel this is very important as they can make or break your safari experience]

1]Chris Daphne:

Chris is the head ranger and also in charge of their digital pics for their weekly cyberdiary.Be sure that if there's a great sighting he will be pulling in!I don't know if this is because he is the head ranger,because
he is in charge of the digital pics and must get the pic for the cyberdiary or the fact that he is usually assigned to the Lions Den guests.Probably the most knowledgeable ranger,has a master degree in ?zoology or some other natural science.

2]Leon:

He has been at Mala Mala for close to ten years and has a great sense of humor!A true bushmen!Absolutely content with spending his whole life in the bush.He is less business-like,more jokes and laughs but a true pro!

3]Nils Kure:

THE LEOPARD EXPERT OF MALA MALA.He recently published a book on leopards called ''Living with leopards''
Interesting what he thinks of Mala Mala as published in a recent interview:

''Kure believes that the foresight of Mala Mala's owner, Michael Rattray, is why they have such a successful reserve. It was one of the first game farms - even before they became fashionable - and, while the accommodation is attractive, it's not one of those designer lodges. "Here it is all about watching game," says Kure. He thinks the fact that smaller farms need to offer customers more has fuelled the designer war.

But this is not Mala Mala's priority. If, however, you want to talk comfort, each cottage, sleeping two, has two bathrooms. Luxury and detail has not been spared. "The camps have to work, and that is the important thing," explains Kure.''

I don't know which of the above personalities you prefer but let me assure you they are all outstanding.
Another thought to keep in mind is that all Mala Mala rangers are graduates with university degrees in the natural sciences.

On my most recent trip there in early December 2003 we spent eight days here.
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Mar 21st, 2004, 07:06 AM
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Clematis:

Rangers' Qualifications:

Chris Daphne B.Sc. MSc. Grassland Science

Nils Kure B.Sc. Zoology & HDE

Leon van Wyk B.Sc. HDE (Honours in Genetics}
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Mar 21st, 2004, 07:24 AM
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Clem
Sounds wonderful...
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Mar 21st, 2004, 08:08 AM
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Safarinut, thank you sincerely for being so generous and sharing information from your personal experience. This is the best because the guide is so important. Kav (!) Yes, I am now seriously wondering if I can push up my 06 trip to 05. Safarinut, my email address is [email protected] if you have the time and inclination to send me yours in email as I might have some detailed questions later not appropriate for the board.
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