This is part two of my travel series to South Africa. For the complete series, please see below:
Traveling to South Africa – South African Airways and Federal Air
Singita Ebony – The Lodge
Singita Ebony – Day to Night
Singita Sweni – The Lodge
Singita Sweni – Day to Night
Cape Town – The Peninsula Tour and The Boat House
Cape Town – City and Winelands Tour
Cape Town – V&A Waterfront, Test Kitchen, Fork and Table Mountain
24 Hours in Istanbul
Like many who travel to the Kruger Park area, we were very excited for a particular activity – to go and see animals! Throughout our trip we had fantastic rangers, trackers, and game viewing. This was my first time ever on safari, and I’ll be taking you through some of the highlights of our stay at Ebony, starting from day to evening.
Each morning, we would have a wake up call at 5:30 AM. Yes, non morning people – 5:30. We basically had half an hour to go do what we needed to wake up, and then made our way over to the main lodge for a quick snack and drinks at 6:00 AM.
If you look closely, you can spy grouchy me in these photos wearing a big fleece poncho. Even though by the afternoon we’d all be in t-shirts and shorts, the mornings were still quite cold. Singita was thoughtful enough to include a set of these ponchos in each room. They were basically like a slanket!
Each morning I’d grab a Nespresso and go for my favorite snack, the house made granola. Yum!
After about a 10-15 minute eating interval, we headed off with our tracker Jon and ranger Pete to our vehicle. If you don’t pre-book a private vehicle at Singita (we didn’t), you’ll typically be paired with 2-3 other people while on safari. At Ebony, we were paired with a father and son who were very fun (and we found out the dad was a James Beard award winner!).
Here’s me bundled up in the morning – yes I’m from California, yes I’m a big wimp. I was wearing a poncho, a fleece blanket, and a hot water bottle underneath everything (helpfully provided by our ranger Jon).
I have to admit that when we were packing for safari, neither me nor Mr. Feather really thought about photography. I have a little DSLR and my favorite Sony camera, and we basically packed them and hopped on our plane. When we arrived at Ebony however, we noticed that so many people seemed to have these great DSLR cameras, with fantastic zoom lenses.
Of course once we were on safari and staring at animals quite a bit away, we realized the need for these lenses! Mr. Feather and I still had a blast looking at animals and taking photos but they won’t all be the super clear sharp ones that you may be used to looking at for safari animal photos. I still love looking at ours (though next time we’re bringing a bigger camera for sure!).
Here was our very first animal sighting – a leopard resting by a tree! He had recently killed an impala and was taking a break for gorging.
And on that note..some impala. Impala were the most plentiful animal we saw on our trip, I think that they are so beautiful! Our ranger told us they have some of the most beautiful coats, they are always keeping very clean.
A bird whose name I’ve completely forgotten. Isn’t this guy cool? I adore birds and there were a few “birders” that were at Ebony with us – they had traveled to Africa just to track different types of birds! I saw the most amazing birds with the brightest colors while we were on safari.
Waiting for a group of elephants to pass. They are huge and majestic in person!
Some hyenas that were at rest after feasting on a dead rhino that had been slain the night before in a fight.
After a period of anything from three to five hours, depending on the game and how everybody was feeling, the Land Rover would then head back to the lodge for a breakfast/lunch period, and some rest.
Some days we got back early, and thus would eat from the brunch menu – smoked salmon eggs benedict, and springbok carpaccio eggs benedict with a biltong hollandaise!
Enjoying a fruit plate and the scenery.
Some days, we’d get back around lunchtime, and order accordingly.
Some starter dips that were paired with bread.
Fresh greens salad with bacon.
A beef sirloin sandwich.
Lamb and chickpea burger with fries.
A super tender and delicious lamb pot pie with mashed potatoes. Comfort food.
During one of our lunches, our butler David brought over a special cocktail he had created – called African Sky! It was delicious.
After all this food, we’d all return to our rooms for a siesta. It can get really hot during the afternoon period, especially in the spring and summer months. It’s the perfect time for a dip in the water and a nap.
Around 3:30 PM, we would wake up and head back to the main lodge for afternoon tea. These afternoon teas were amazing with SUCH good food. My husband still talks about the shortcake.
And seriously! Just look at that cake!
Anyway – after about half an hour of noshing, we’d all head back to the Land Rover and get back to exploring! By this time it would be much warmer and we’d all be wearing tanks and t-shirts. No more ponchos.
Some buffalo crossing the road.
A giraffe enjoying some grazing.
A rhino hanging out solo.
And one of my favorite sightings…this male lion that was lazily napping.
On each of our drives, depending on the timing, we had the option to stop for either a morning snack and coffee, or a sundowner during the afternoon drive. Jon and Pete stopped a few times over our days with them for coffee and sundowners, and these breaks were always lovely. They’d drive the Land Rover to a clearing with a beautiful view, and we’d all hop out to enjoy the scenery.
Right away after stopping, Jon and Pete would set up a little mobile bar and snacks on top of the vehicle – they had a very well stocked bar!
The snacks varied each day – I ate all of them, my favorite this day was the biltong of course!
Jon explaining some of the local terrain and plant/tree life around us. He was seriously a walking encyclopedia, he knew something fascinating about everything and anything we asked.
Yours truly – always happy with a poncho and a drink, by then the temperatures would have begun to cool back down.
Enjoying the beautiful sunset.
After some drinks and snacks, we’d all hop back into the Rover and go drive around more. By then the light was getting dark so I don’t have many photos from this period. One really cool thing though about this time was we’d begin to see the same animals we saw earlier, getting up and ready for night time activities, and the hunt. Here was the snoozing lion from before.
When we’d see an animal in this state, the whole car would go silent. If you happened to be out while an animal was out hunting – you were going to be following it for hours! And every single minute was exciting, even if it was dinner time and you were starving. Nobody wanted to leave. That’s how amazing it was.
Aside from the normal game drives, Ebony also offered a variety of other activities that you could do throughout the day. On one day, we opted to do a little walking safari with our ranger Jon. On all walking excursions, the rangers carry a large rifle capable of stopping a charging elephant.
A wildebeest’s skull in the grass, dragged there by another animal.
Jon showing me something in his hand. I actually think it was some kind of dung!
After the activities of the day and the afternoon game drive, we’d all return back to the Ebony lodge and the rest of the evening was free. You could elect to eat dinner anytime – some would go straight from the car in their safari clothes to eat, and others would change. We’d usually do a very quick change just to get out of dusty clothing.
The Ebony lodge looked completely charming at night, lots of candles and light everywhere. We ate inside one night, outside another and also in the private library.
The wine selection of the evening – you could also go into the cellar and choose to try any wine you wanted to.
And there we go – a rundown of a morning to evening in Singita Ebony, culled from several days of eating, exploring and animal sighting. If it sounds like there was a lot of food, there was – the staff are constantly feeding you, and you are constantly indulging because everything is so delicious. If it sounds like an early morning and late nights, that is true too – however it doesn’t feel long at all. You truly don’t want to miss a minute of whatever experience is in front of you. Every moment is wonderful and each day is priceless on safari and at Singita Ebony!
Next time, I’ll be starting coverage of our next safari lodge – this time inside of Kruger National Park. Thank you for reading along!