Have you ever loved a place so much that you cried when you had to leave? Well I haven’t done that since I was 10 when we left the enchanted kingdom of Disneyland, Paris….
But I fell in love with South Africa, going on Safari was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and Singita Boulders was the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in my whole life. Singita is the Shangaan word for ‘Place of Miracles’ and it’s true, there really is a certain magic about this place.
After our two night stay at Lebombo, we were driven back to the airstrip and taken on a light craft twenty minutes across the plains to Sabi Sands. I had been worried about moving hotels and that getting a flight in between would be a pain but it was actually so easy and quick and I’m really glad that we chose to do it.
Sabi Sands is South Africa’s oldest game reserve and it lies adjacent to the Kruger Park, sharing an unfenced border. Singita’s first ever lodge, Ebony was opened here in 1993 and later a sister property, Boulders, was added to the plot of land.
As with Lebombo, there’s no formal check-in procedure you’re simply led into the lounge / bar area. The Boulders lodge was quite different to Lebombo, our previous hotel was quite glitzy and modern with lots of glass and bright white furnishings. By contrast, Boulders felt more earthy and traditional, whilst still be contemporary.
With stone walls, a thatch roof and furnishings made out of reclaimed wood it felt very natural and tranquil.
The space is very open giving the effect of a gentle flow of the inside naturally harmonising with the outside making you feel at one with nature. Using tree trunks as columns, stumps for stools and wooden surfaces throughout it’s almost like you could be outside. Boulders actually got it’s name as it was built around a huge boulder that was impossible to remove, so the environment actually forms part of the structure of the lodge.
And close to the main lodge also lies a large pool…
After enjoying some ginger tea, which was much appreciated after a bumpy flight in a small plane, we were taken to our room.
Now I don’t say this lightly, but when we walked into that room, Mr Silver and I looked at each other…
‘This is the best hotel room we’ve ever had….’
Are you ready for this?
Firstly there was a huge living area with stone walls, skins on the floor and African artwork throughout.
Like, Lebombo, Singita Boulders is completely all inclusive and it didn’t take me long to open the fridge and pop a bottle of sparkling wine!
Actually there’s loads of drinks and sweet treats available, you really couldn’t ask for more.
In the centre of the room was a huge fireplace that divided the space between the living room and the bedroom area. As you can see, like the main lodge there was a feeling of being outdoors whilst being inside. The gorgeous high ceiling, made our already spacious room feel massive.
Our stunning, wooden framed four-poster bed was fully equipped with a mosquito net to protect us at night. Texture and a combination of different materials is everything in this room; from floaty fabrics to rough brick work to the wooden works of art, it feels natural, organic and totally eco-chic.
Doesn’t that smile just say it all?
A double vanity in the bathroom and a fantastic bath!
Because the room is fronted with huge glass windows, you could lie in the bath and literally feel like you were taking a scrub outside.
Which is also an option as there is both an indoor and outdoor shower; both of which are huge.
The room also has it’s own wraparound terrace with a private infinity pool.
You could do laps in that! And one of the most incredible things about this room is that you never know what you’re going to see.
After our morning safari I was sat by the pool blogging when two friends came to pay us a visit.
Actually there’s plenty of species of animals living around the lodge, we saw lots of antelope and monkeys, but Boulders is most famous for having a resident leopard!
Now before I tell you about the food, I want to tell you a little more about the history of Singita. When I was staying at Boulders, I was lucky enough to meet the CEO of Singita, Luke Bailes and his family. Luke’s life and history is thoroughly entwined with the history of the property.
The story begins in 1925 when Luke Bailes’ grandfather purchased a piece of land that would later become the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Early on it was a hunting concession but through the years it has transformed into a conservation reserve where the animals and the environment are carefully protected. As well as lodges in South Africa, Singita offers lots of different and unique options in Tanzania and Zimbabwe too.
On the Singita website Luke is quoted as saying ‘there’s an authenticity of place at each of our lodges that is not only a rarity but touches guests on every level – spiritual, emotional and physical.’ I have to agree that I never felt such an emotional connection with a place. I cried as we packed up to leave, again on the flight home and when were back. There is something so wonderfully rare about being at place like that, it’s truly life-changing.
There are three pillars at the heart of Singita’s philosophy wildlife conservation, eco-friendly tourism and community support. Actually I think there’s a fourth…feed your guests a lot! The daily schedule was the same as Lebombo, a morning and afternoon game drive and in between lots of food.
A beautiful indoor dining area covered any contingency for bad weather, but it was the outdoor area that was truly spectacular.
Under the shade of the trees, with the view of the Sand River, you can sit out and enjoy your meals. There are different dining area, some more inside than others and the staff set up different places for various meals so that the guests can have a variety of experiences.
Breakfast is a cold selection from the buffet as well as hot a la carte options. For lunch and dinner the menu provided is just a suggestion and you can pretty much request whatever you like.
House wines and beers are included and the staff remember your preferences so you never need to explain how you like your coffee twice, and your favourite wine is immediately offered when you sit down. In fact the service here is wonderful, everything is so personal and thoughtful. On Easter day we received chocolate bunnies in our room and on the last night we had a gorgeous romantic turndown.
One night dinner was served on the terrace with twinkly lanterns lighting our food and sparkling stars illuminating the night sky.
The food quality is excellent; it’s mostly African but European and Asian influences are also seen in some of the dishes.
Singita has a premier wine collection and on our second night we were treated to a wine tasting in the cellar with the Sommelier.
After the wine tasting we were walked to the Boma dinner, a secluded spot in the lodge had been beautifully decorated with lanterns and a barbecue had been prepared for the guests.
A local choir was brought in to entertain us and our final night ended with a riot of colour, traditional music and fantastic food. I felt very warm and fuzzy inside, partly from the generous supply of wine, but also from the beauty and brilliance of this place. Truly the most wonderful place on earth.
Have you ever cried when you left somewhere that you loved?