– Klein Collection Safari Review by Klein Companions, Jonathan and Sophie
Situated in the heart of Sabi Sand Game Reserve bordering Kruger National Park, Singita’s historic Boulders Lodge offers a classic, traditional safari experience combined with one of the highest standards of five star luxury you’ll find anywhere in Africa. We stayed two nights at Boulders Lodge and visited Ebony Lodge at the same time. We liked what we saw. A lot.
Two nights at one of Africa’s most luxurious safari lodges goes all too quickly. Filling in the guest feedback form on the (sad) day of departure, we’re stuck on the ‘What was the most memorable part of your stay?’ question. Was it the incredible gourmet food and vast (complimentary) wine list? The game drives where you’ve got a good chance of the seeing the Big Five on your very first outing? The personal hospitality and attention to your every need? No. It was the suites themselves, the place that becomes home during your stay. Quite simply, we’ve never seen anything like it.
Perhaps the word ‘suite’ is misleading. Imagine instead your own personal safari lodge, two wings in fact, one dedicated to sleeping and bathing and showering, the other to lounging on leather-clad sofas and directors chairs, all in superb contemporary-African style. A double-sided fireplace demarcates the two wings and outside is a private deck and private rim-flow pool, heated to a delicious 30C, directly overlooking the Sand River. There are three air-con units, two telephones to save you walking across the vast space, a sound system complete with pre-loaded iPod, even a guest loo for goodness sake!
The small details say a lot too – the espresso machine, the well-stocked fridge, the bowl filled with several types of fruit, Lindt and Ferrero Roche chocolate, Dermalogica skin and hair-care products, even a set of water colours for the artistically minded. And surrounded by floor to ceiling glass looking straight into the bush, the organic interior design is all about textures – carpet here, wood there…. we could go on and on but just take it from us – it doesn’t get better than this.
It would be tempting to stay in your suite and never leave (you can opt for a candle-lit dinner on your private deck, and order anything from the complimentary wine list after all) but then you’d be missing out on the rest that Singita has to offer. After the evening game drive (complete with sundowners and on-the-spot marinated, grilled venison skewers, served on a white cloth decorated with a spruce of silver cluster leaf) we’re treated to a wine tasting by François Rautenbach in Singita’s famous wine cellar.
After the name itself, Singita is perhaps best known for its wine and if you’re a connoisseur, look no further. Living in Cape Town, we’ve had a good exposure to Cape wines over the years, but we learnt more in that tasting then ever before. And you can taste whatever you like and finish the bottle for dinner, or try something new. All complimentary!
Next morning we gather for the drive on the deck overlooking the river as dawn breaks, and I chat to a family of Americans on their first-ever safari. As old bush hands ourselves, it’s refreshing to see their infectious excitement and delight at seeing the African bush for the first time. Singita has something for everyone.
Shelly is our guide, and first up on the drive itself is a female leopard prancing gracefully by the side of the track, soon followed by a herd of white rhino, then we almost drive over a pride of sleeping lions. A herd of buffalo follow shortly and so we’re just a tusk away from the Big Five on a single drive. Damn those elephant! Still, if you want to tick ’em off, Singita’s Boulders Lodge is the place to come.
Boulders and Ebony enjoy a huge traversing area, some of which they share with neighbouring Londolozi, giving it one of the most enviable locations in Sabi Sand. We were also impressed with the quality of the game viewing Land Rovers – no more than 6 to a vehicle with comfortable seats and storage space, with plug points to charge camera batteries, sun cream and insect repellent in case you forgot yours, bean bags to steady your camera and even tripod mounts on the side of each vehicle. These are the most well-equipped standard safari vehicles we’ve ever seen.
Breakfast, like every other meal at Singita, needs to be seen to be believed. Served outside on the main deck overlooking the Sand river, it’s the most comprehensive spread we’ve ever seen, quite literally – including homemade granola, croissants and scones, dried fruit and sparking wine, while I finish off with a fascinating ‘African Eggs Benedict’ of roast beef and biltong hollandaise sauce, while Anne-Sophie opts for scrambled duck eggs with warthog bacon. Shepard, our personal waiter, replaces Anne-Sophie’s finished glass of freshly squeezed orange juice with a full one without her asking. It’s small details like this that set Boulders apart from the rest.
With so much work to do writing up our notes, we skip the afternoon game drive but console ourselves with a bottle of Haute Cabriere 2007 Pinot Noir, delivered to our suite as the sky darkens and thunder rumbles in the distance. You can feel the humidity and the tension build until it’s broken by the first flash of lightening and the birds grow silent and everything waits. I love bush storms more than anything else.
Soon the sky is lit up with lightening and the thunder crashes as torrential rain hammers down; the fiercest rain since the devastating floods of January 2012. Lauren and her team had planned a fabulous tasting-menu dinner under the stars on the airstrip for us, and after hours of preparation and work the storm hits just as everything has been set up. We have to settle for the à la carte menu instead, dining on a tempura of soft crab with grilled mango, pickled ginger and soya sauce, kingklip with a dill salad and creamed mussel sauce, kudu loin with pumpkin, asparagus and red wine chocolate sauce, followed by a trio of chocolate and crème brûlée with berry coulis and berry sorbet. As always, we’re free to choose from the 200-odd top South African wines on the wine menu (all complimentary of course) but we opt for Francois’ suggested pairing: a Solo Wines Viognier 2009 and Hartenberg Shiraz 2005 for me, and a chilled Simonsig Pinotage 1998 and Cederberg Chenin Blanc 2008 for Sophie, with a sweet Monis Red Muscadel 2001 to accompany dessert.
Returning to our suite with a RDM cigar to round off the evening, we walk in to the sound of music playing on the iPod and a hot bubble bath, decorated with bush leaves and flowers and sprinkled with candles, together with a bottle of iced sparkling rose. As the last rumbles of thunder dies away, I lie back in the bath with the RDM and reflect on the most astonishing day – starting with a leopard, and ending with a cigar.
Boulders Lodge stole our hearts, and we’ll be back as soon as ever we can.
Good for: Honeymooners, family suites great for children of all ages.
Not so good for: We’re struggling with this one.
What we liked best – incredible game viewing and even more incredible luxury suites, fantastic wine collection and first rate hospitality.
Our verdict – If you want to do it in style, this is the way to do it.
We would love to help you plan your own African safari. Contact us today.
Email: info[at]kleincollection.com | South Africa Tel. +27 (0) 21 813 6961