Imagine being so excellent at something that you get awarded for it. Well, this is true for Singita’s Kruger National Park lodges, as they were granted the private concession for outstanding commitment to conservation and low environmental impact on the area. Let’s take that further: imagine booking to stay at a place where you know you are directly contributing to helping this very cause in protecting this area, its wildlife and its people.
Apart from having lodges in the renowned Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, the luxury Singita brand has also branched out to include lodges conserving land in a public, larger area of the Kruger National Park. Singita Lebombo and Sweni are equally committed to conserving the ecosystem and keeping the natural elements as it has been for hundreds of years.
The lodges blend in with the surrounding nature, so much so that moving through the bush you would hardly see the structures in front of you. This is the aim of the Singita brand with their expressed philosophy to ‘touch the earth lightly’, which is followed through with every member of Singita’s family.
At the heart of the African bush, you’ll find the height of safari luxury at Singita’s Kruger National Park. While conservation is the peak of Singita’s agenda, your agenda will be all about enjoying what mother nature has to offer you in her true form – untouched and flourishing in all aspects!
We've taken the liberty to answer everything you may need to know about visiting Singita Kruger Park
Traversing a range of terrains, the remote region boasts an abundance of game, including four regal lion pride that call the park home, along with all the other iconic Big 5 members. It also hosts two exclusive lodges – Singita Lebombo and Singita Sweni – known for their plush contemporary aesthetic and sustainable approach.
Like most little sisters, Singita Sweni Lodge is not content to stand in Singita Lebombo’s shadow – she deserves to be recognised in her own right! The lodge overlooks the banks of the Sweni River, with its chic pistachio and chocolate hues effortlessly echoing the colours of nature. It has 6 Suites built from svelte wood and glass, placed on stilts, and suspended over the river, providing guests with incredible views of wildlife and birds from the intimacy of their own private decks. Shaded by trees and connected by wooden walkways, each suite is decorated in a calming, minimalistic style, with a spacious open-plan design, deep baths, daybeds, and outdoor showers.
Singita Lebombo Lodge hides away on the remote cliffs of Kruger National Park, surrounded by dense foliage, and next to the N’wanetsi River. The lodge's design is truly unique, with an unrivalled quality of light and space. The 13 Suites seem to hover between the river and sky – their design inspired by the eagles’ nests adorning the surrounding cliff face. Built from glass and wood, the open-plan structures provide panoramic views of the area and lead to wooden viewing decks perfect for those wishing to slumber beneath the stars. There’s also a gorgeous private villa set slightly apart from the main lodge, with two two-bedroom suites that can link together to create an exclusive four-bedroom villa. This comes with a private pool, a full fleet of staff, an open-plan kitchen, and a boma.
Many people travelling to South Africa and to the Kruger for safari get this confused – or do not know that there is a difference at all. To put it as simply as possible, the Sabi Sand is a private game reserve covering a surface area of approximately 650 km². There are also a few other private game reserves surrounding the Sabi Sand, including the Timbavati, Balule, Klaserie, Manyeleti, all varying in size. These private game reserves have separate entrances to the national park sector and encompass a number of private safari lodges within them.
The Kruger is a national park covering a massive surface area of approximately 19,485 km². Sabi Sand shares an unfenced border with the Kruger, allowing the animals to move entirely freely across boundaries to give the animals as much uninterrupted land and space for them to live as naturally as possible in the wild. This section of the park has a number of rest camps and lodges for guests to stay in, although these accommodations are more for self-drive and camping travellers.
The key difference between staying within a private game reserve and in the Kruger National Park is the ability to drive off-road or off the allocated routes in order to get closer to animals spotted in the bush, as well as be able to conduct game drives after-hours when guests are primarily interested in nocturnal species.
In Singita's case, they have lodges in both the Sabi Sand Game Reserve as well as Kruger National Park. However, they have been granted a private concession within the national park. This private concession allows them to have the benefits of the private game reserve while being located within the national park.
Safari lodges within private game reserves are located on private concessions. In Singita’s case, they have a private concession in both the Sabi Sand Game Reserve as well as the Kruger National Park. These concessions are granted to the lodges, and concession size varies from lodge to lodge.
Many lodges, who might not have large private concessions, have agreements with neighbouring lodges to allow for traversing rights between them, to open up the game drive area to a larger space and cover more land in search of the animals when guests partake in game drives twice a day. Other lodges, who have large private concessions, choose not to have traversing rights with neighbouring lodges. By doing this, they are ensuring complete exclusivity of their concession size to their guests who visit them.
Singita's concession sizes are massive, and very rarely do you ever see another vehicle, let alone another Singita vehicle, while out on a game drive. Just you and the African wilderness!
How to choose between Singita's two Kruger National Park lodges?
Apart from both lodges being high-end, luxury safari lodges within a private concession in the Kruger National Park, these two sister lodges do have their differences – and we believe in keeping your options open!
For starters, Lebombo is a slightly bigger lodge with 15 immaculate guest suites, where Sweni only has 7 in total. Another similarity is that both are located along rivers – however, two different rivers. Sweni is located along the river it’s named after, which weaves its way through the wilderness and attracts wildlife and birds to its ripples. Lebombo is otherwise located along the beautiful N’wanetsi River, where the lodge has been built perched high above the water below, allowing guests an expansive view over the bushveld.
Being slightly smaller in capacity, you would think that Sweni would cater more towards travellers wishing to escape and feel the intimacy this lodge so easily oozes. However, Sweni caters to children of all ages, whereas Lebombo only allows children over the age of 10 years.
At Lebombo, children under the age of 10 years are welcome in the 2-bedroom suites or the villa for a family to make this home in the bush. When booking both of these suites, your group will automatically be assigned a private vehicle and guide for your stay, which usually comes as an additional charge – a bonus! Babysitting services are offered at Sweni for parents wanting to enjoy a romantic dinner together while the children are kept entertained with activities – another bonus!
All in all, there might be a few differences between these exquisite lodges, but both are equal in game viewing experiences and overall professional, top-shelf service. We know you’ll make the right choice of lodge, and if you wish to test this theory, just come back and try the other next visit.
The best time to visit the Greater Kruger region is during its dry season when South Africa goes into its colder winter months. Winter in South Africa is unlike most European or North American locations, where it snows and gets icy cold. Yes, there can be days where it is freezing cold, but the lower-lying areas, including the Kruger National Park, do not get snow on the ground.
Temperatures here in the bush can drop to approximately 12°C/54°F and can rise up to 27°C/81°F in the afternoon. June, July and August are historically the coldest months when winter is at its peak, but you can still experience beautiful sunny days – you might even take a dip in your private plunge pool!
This time of year allows the bush to become dry, and you will see less thicket, allowing you to be able to spot wildlife a lot easier when on game drives. Without consistent rainfall, the water sources become rarer, and the permanent water sources become the best spots to see the action while the big cats and other predators wait for what will come down to drink.
The Kruger National Park is definitely a year-round destination and all seasons offer guests a different experience, but if you are looking for the best odds of seeing the animals you came to Africa for – this is what we suggest!
Singita was founded in 2005 by Luke Bailes and has since grown into one of the world’s most luxurious hotel brands that rank high within the safari lodge category! The collection boasts numerous lodges dotted around the African continent, including South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.
Although having been around for over 16 years, the Singita vision began far before this when Luke’s grandfather purchased a piece of land within the Lowveld region in South Africa, better known today as the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. Today the Sabi Sand is visited by thousands of eager travellers from all over the world coming to experience the true magic of Africa: a combination of her people, her beauty and her wildlife.
This piece of land, together with some incredible human forces, transformed this area from a hunting concession into a wildlife conservation area where guests from all over the world come to photograph these fascinating creatures living in their natural habitats – as they should be.
Singita has carefully moulded its philosophy into what it is today, to “touch the earth lightly” and ultimately leave a legacy for conservation and uplifting communities who rely on tourism into Africa. With deep roots in conservation and taking care of its people, coupled with a keen eye for ultimate luxury and relaxation, this is a winning combination that benefits all who choose to be a part of the Singita family – including its guests who choose to visit their lodges.
It gets better! When choosing to stay at both a Sabi Sand and Kruger Singita lodge, you will receive a free inter-lodge flight per person between the two destinations when staying for two nights or more at each lodge.
Still want more? When you choose to stay at Singita Lebombo or Sweni Lodge for four nights, your last night is free! If four nights are not enough, add on another night to combine some time at one of the Sabi Sand lodges (Boulders or Ebony) and receive one night free, as well as a free inter-lodge flight per person. Need we say more?
The above promotions are valid between selected periods that exclude the Festive Period and cannot be combined. Contact our Rhino Africa Travel Experts for more information to discuss your options for your next trip with us.