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“Wow!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Singita Ebony Lodge

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Singita Ebony Lodge
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Kruger National Park 1242, South Africa   |  
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
St. Petersburg, Florida
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Wow!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

This is a beautiful lodge in Singita by Kruger National Park. The accommodations were unbelievable! We had the two bedroom suite with a splash pool. The monkeys were our daily visitors and at night we could hear the hippos and the elephants. From our deck we watched the elephants visit the river and saw the hippos splashing. The staff was incredible. They attended to our every need. The wine cellar is vast and the wine tasting we had included some of the best wines I have ever tasted. If you haven't tried SA wines you have been missing great wines.
The food and presentation was outstanding. One night dinner with a roaring fire, the next dinner in the quaint library....this is a wonderful place to experience the beauties of Africa.

Room Tip: All of the rooms are Antarctic!
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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136 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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English first
New York City, New York
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2013

Singita is truly a magical place. My husband and I were blown away with everything here - the lodge, the staff, the views, the game drives, and even the food. It is a stunningly beautiful place and I now can't imagine experiencing safari any other way. We absolutely LOVED it! Brett, Linith, Coleman, and Christoph helped to make our trip incredibly memorable - we miss it so much!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2013

You simply can’t go wrong with Singita. I have been on safari a number of times and my travel companions are also experienced. All four of us loved our stay at Ebony. The only real complaint came from one of the more hardcore in the group, who said it was too posh and luxurious. To be fair, if you are someone looking to shower with buckets of water, trek through the jungle on foot and live off the land, Singita is not for you. I love that experience also, but this trip was meant to be about going on the most high end safari possible and Singita delivered across the board.

One thing I want to flag for everyone early on in this post is to take advantage of the two reserves deal Singita offers. If you stay at one of the Sabi Sands lodges (Ebony or Boulders) and one of the Kruger concession lodges (Labomba or Sweni) you get one night free (and the 20 minute Federal Air flight between the lodges is also free). I recommend doing Ebony/Boulders first and then Labomba/Sweni, because I personally feel going from the flat, desert like environment of the Sabi Sands to the lush, hilly jungle landscape of the Labomba/Sweni concession allows for the game drives to feel as though they are getting better and better as the trip goes on. Also, if you are travelling in the South African winter season (summer for those of us north of the equator), you will enjoy going from the colder Sabi Sands to the warmer temperatures at Labomba/Sweni. I should also note that I prefer doing safaris during the winter season (June/July/August) as there are practically no mosquitos.

OK, so why is Ebony so great (and be sure to check out my Sweni post)? Let’s start with the service: With the exception of Sweni, the service at Labomba was unmatched by any hotel I have ever stayed at around the world. Let me clarify that I’m not saying it is just unmatched by any safari I have been on… I’m saying unmatched by any hotel anywhere in the world. And I have stayed at all of the top places from Hotel Du Cap in Cannes to Mnemba Island in Zanzibar. The Bristol in Paris, the Hassler in Rome, the Hay Adams in D.C. could all learn a lesson from Singita (and I adore all of those hotels). I will discuss the guides and trackers later, but the hotel staff from the chef to the housekeepers and the managers all work as a team and deliver top notch, personalized service.

Secondly, let’s talk amenities: Amazing! We had a beautiful room with a separate sitting room complete with a working fireplace (to touch briefly on service, I mentioned to a staff member I was planning on building a fire after dinner and when I walked in the room the fire was already going and they left us some wine and snacks). Back to the room, the bedroom overlooks a gorgeous river and panoramic views. The bathroom is huge with a large soaking tub, excellent shower and changing rooms. Outside you have a private deck, fantastic outdoor shower, and a heated plunge pool (I went in after every game drive and each night and the temperature was always perfect). The rooms are cleverly designed so that even the outdoor space is completely private while providing breathtaking views and feeling open to nature.

Next up is the food: Delicious! The chef is wonderful and I delighted in our lunch and dinner opportunities. I’m fairly adventurous and will eat anything, so I loved the opportunity to have 5 star level entrees from local game. My girlfriend, on the other hand, is a four food groups type of person and also doesn’t like any seafood. Once again, on the service side, they presented her each night with her own menu, sans fish, with her name at the top to show it was personalized to her taste.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though, since you don’t go on safari for the food, the service, or the amenities. It is time to talk game drives… which were phenomenal. Our Guide, Andy, was simply the best guide any of the four of us ever had on over 200 combined game drives. Extremely knowledgeable, so personable that I think she might actually qualify as a close friend now, and she had an exceptional relationship with our tracker. As great as Andy is, a game drive is only as good as your tracker and we were lucky to have Kenneth. As Andy joked at one point, she has the best GPS in the world and his name is Kenneth. We were looking for an elusive group of lions that kept wandering in and out of the reserve (Lions don’t really care where a lodge’s concession ends and another begins), but on the last drive he spotted the ear of a lion easily 200 yards away poking out from behind blades of tall grass the same color and shade of the lion! Even Andy was a bit taken aback as she gathered her excitement and said, “Nice catch Ken.”

The reserve is great and we saw a huge male lion, three cheetahs having a sun down snack, elephants galore, rhino, zebra, giraffes, a massive herd of cape buffalo, a quick glimpse of a leopard (although 2 people we were with got to see it just relaxing on the side of the road for a long time), Hippos, and of course lots of monkeys and different types of antelope.

The downside to the reserve is that, with the exception of the cape buffalo, we did not see massive herds of game the way we have on some other game drives in other parts of South and East Africa (but going to Sweni during the same trip will make up for it). I noticed at least one Trip Advisor poster commented that the game is better at other Sabi Sands reserves and I don’t really buy that. The fences are down and the days of one reserve having more than a reserve next door are gone. My experience is that Sabi Sands just doesn’t have the massive herds you get deeper into Kruger and with the fences down sometimes a lot of the game is on your reserve, sometimes it is next door, and other times it is spread out everywhere. Overall that is a good thing (is it really a game drive if the reserve is fenced in and you can simply cover the mileage until you see the Big 5?) for both us wannabe safari adventurers and, more importantly, these majestic animals that are running out of natural habitat. Every game drive experience is unique and that is half the fun!

I also noticed some on tripadvisor commenting that there are too many vehicles. We did not notice this at all. Singita enforces a strict 3 land rover policy per sighting. We also rarely were with any other vehicles while searching, but if we came upon something like a lion we would radio it in and one or two other vehicles might come. They also have a reciprocity agreement with two bordering reserves so that if there is major game they can cross over, but no more than 2 vehicles per day and the same 3 vehicle per sighting exists between all of the reserves.

Overall, Singita Ebony (and its neighbor, Boulders) is a perfect place for a luxury safari. We loved every second of it and we will be back the next time we want that luxury safari (but probably not until we do some serious gorilla trekking in Rwanda)!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Memphis, Tennessee
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2013

Our stay at Singita was absolutely amazing. We stayed in the family lodge which is a two bedroom unit with our two daughters. The view was amazing!! HIPPOS, ELEPHANTS, KUDU right outside our room.

The game drives each day were outstanding. We saw everything we hoped to see and more. The service from the spa to the meals and wine were outstanding. I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2013

Singita Ebony is for you if you do not want an “outdoorsy” safari experience—as in, you want a place where there are no bugs; ample water; electricity; heat and air conditioning; a solid structure (as opposed to a tent); no animal noises outside your room—then this place is for you. If you are a first-time traveler to Africa and want to ease into the whole experience, and if you are used to real luxury and are not a particularly “outdoorsy” person, then you will enjoy Ebony.

If you are an experienced safari traveler and you like to feel a bit more like you’re “camping out” (even if the tent you stay in is pretty luxurious in itself—like at &Beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas), then you will appreciate the beauty of Ebony, but you might not find it as exciting or “authentic” as other lodges you have been to.

I’m in the latter category, but I’ll try to evaluate Ebony as if I’m not. So—
The lodge in itself is very beautiful, and the furnishings are spectacular. The service is great, and there are certainly tons of staff to assist you with anything and everything. The guides are top-notch (special thanks to Andi, who is one of the best and most knowledgeable guides I’ve ever come across in my 6 visits to Africa). Each room has a little plunge pool, which was really incredible (and warm!) The food is very good, and you will certainly never be hungry here.

The game viewing was good—and, most, importantly, the reserve is private, so you can go off-road. Although the rooms are situated overlooking a river, we actually didn’t see many animals there, which was surprising and a bit of a disappointment—but I know that’s not the lodge’s fault (they can’t control mother nature, after all!) I did enjoy the monkeys wandering around the grounds, though.

Be sure to stop by the gift shop—it is quite large and relatively fairly priced and it has beautiful things (just don’t forget the receipt for when you go through customs, or you’ll get quite a hassle).

One of the best parts about Ebony was the special little touches—hot water bottles and cozy ponchos for the frigid morning game drives; personalized welcome and goodbye notes; Africa/wilderness-themed poems left on your bed at night; etc.

In sum, there is truly nothing about Ebony I could really find fault in—the furnishings, the lodge, the service—it was all impeccable. But, as I said, the actual type of camp wasn’t for me--I missed the intimacy of the smaller and more “outdoorsy” camps, and I sort of felt like I wasn’t really “in Africa”—but it would be the perfect place for many people who want a luxury safari experience.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 11, 2013

Well there is nothing I can possibly say which hasn't been said before about Ebony. Classic, elegant decor of natural wood and a plethora of trees around the entire camp give it a rustic yet colonial feel to it. Ebony has managed to incorporate all the luxuries of a 5 star hotel yet unlike many properties, it has managed to keep the feeling of being in a bush lodge. Service is what you would expect at any Singita camp such as the personal butler, knowledgable rangers and trackers, as well as the management team. However, the factor which makes this camp excel is undoubtedly the game viewing. On just one trip we managed to see leopard on every game drive, a hunt, a vervet monkey corpse without a head, etc. There is only one factor which prevents this camp from receiving top rating. This element is also present in any Singita camp within the Sabie Sands. There is an ethical dilemma which plagues me during each game drive. If you have ever been to Singita then you would know that it is very often that rangers will travel as far into the thickets as possible in order for you to have a close view of a spectacular animal (Big Five, Cheetah, Wild Dog, Etc.) and when one says close the AVERAGE distance is 5 metres. This one female leopard even went underneath the vehicle multiple times. One might argue that they have become habituated to the vehicle but circumstances can certainly change because of the vehicle. Personally as an avid wildlife photographer and wildlife buff, there is sometimes a loss of the "wild" feeling when one is always so close to the animal. However for first timers this place is certainly one of the best places to go. Each visit is unique and special! Just remember to book way in advanced because of the popularity of this camp. If you need any more info, feel free to message me.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JanalynF, Manager at Singita Ebony Lodge, responded to this review, October 14, 2013
Thank you for your TripAdvisor comments. We are delighted that you had such a fabulous time with us at Singita Ebony Lodge and trust we will welcome you back in the near future. We note your comments and constructive feedback with specific reference to guiding ethics, close-up game viewing and animal tolerance. This is being investigated and will be considered seriously, as Singita strives to uphold environmental sensitivity, sustainability and viewing animals in their natural state as if we were not there. The core purpose of Singita is to protect and preserve pristine wilderness for future generations and thus we are disappointed when we hear that this has not been the perception or experience of a guest. Please feel free to contact me via the enquiry option on the Singita website should you have any specific issues you would like me to address. Whilst on the website, you are welcome to peruse our company involvements in the hope that you will be able to look past this isolated experience and see what we are fully committed to in the areas of conservation and community development.

Mark Broodryk, Head Guide, Singita Sabi Sand
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2013

Our family recently stayed at Singita Ebony, and I have to say that this experience we all will never forget. Game drives were fascinating, fun, and educational with Coleman and Christopher. We saw big 5 in the first two days. The food and wine were outstanding, and the best I have ever experienced at a game lodge. The decor is an Out of Africa feel. One night our butler, Shaddrick, escorted us to the library where there was a roaring fire and a table set for our private family dinner. It was magical and delicious. One evening we had surprise sundowners in the middle of the bush where Chantelle had set up a table with champagne and appetizers, it was quite the surprise and 4 rhinos wanted to join the party! My husband and son did a bush walk with Coleman and learned how to track animals and My daughters and I went into town for the community visit where we saw traditional dancing, learned to make cornmeal, and visited a school, where the children sang songs and welcomed us. The gift shop is not to be missed, beautiful items.The service is outstanding, and they always think of the little details ahead of time. I would definitely come back to this lodge and highly recommend it to anyone.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Singita Ebony Lodge

Address: Kruger National Park 1242, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 40 Specialty Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:5 star — Singita Ebony Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 12
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Also Known As:
Singita Ebony Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Singita Ebony Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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