Modern, Chic, Colorful Treehouse in the Bush
Kruger National Park South Africa singita.com
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At a Glance
If it can be said that East Africa is the birthplace of traditional safari, then South Africa is the original home of “stylish safari”—lodges with cutting-edge design and anything-you-want amenities. And for that experience, now widely popularized and copied, we have Luke Bailes, the founder of Singita, to thank. Singita has grown its portfolio to over a dozen properties in six ecosystems in four countries; starting in 1993, with the launch of Ebony Lodge, on land that was once his grandfather’s farm, Bailes did it—one wine cellar in the bush and one plunge pool overlooking elephants at a time. But the trappings were the bait to accomplish a larger mission: to save Africa’s animals, by preserving the continent’s land and improving the lives of its people. Tucked away into the hills of Kruger National Park, Singita Sweni is the younger sister to its neighbor Lebombo and occupies a prime location looking over the Sweni River. This allows guests to view game and absorb the beauty of Kruger from the privacy of their impeccably decorated, colorful jungle suites.
Don’t Miss:Game drives on the private concession (near the Mozambique border); seeing “mega-prides” of lions; cooking with Singita Community Culinary School students
- The evening game drives-turned-stargazing safaris
- The opportunity to spend an evening sleeping out on one of the converted oversized day beds located on nearly every terrace (excluding the pool suite)
- The expansive boutique filled with South African art, jewelry and apparel
Singita Sweni Hotel Review
Opened in 2004, Singita Sweni is just down the road from its neighbor, Lebombo, on the banks of the Sweni River. The property is a touch smaller than others in the Singita portfolio, with only six suites and one pool suite (that can transform into a wonderful two-bedroom accommodation for families with children of all ages) and an impeccable staff who quickly feel like close friends.
In accordance with Singita’s conservation and sustainability initiatives, the lodge (inspired by an eagles nest) was built in a low-impact, highly sustainable way. Singita Sweni is considered a “semi-permanent” lodge, meaning that the full property could theoretically be dismantled and removed from Kruger National Park in only a couple of weeks, leaving a very small footprint on the land. Of course, staying there you would never know, as there is no shortage of amenities at your fingertips: a picturesque main pool, cozy library, extensive wine cellar, gym, boutique and spa. What this does mean, though, is that the property is built quite literally into and around its environs, so you feel like you’re staying in an incredibly chic, yet authentic, treehouse amidst the wildlife.
Contrary to the sleek, modern and hushed tones of Lebombo, Sweni is characterized by more colorful décor with bright playful patterns, South African art and a number of nooks and crannies to lounge in. Each suite comes with its own terrace and full glass windows so views can be enjoyed both indoors and out, along with a deep soaking tub and indoor/outdoor shower.
Days spent at Sweni start early (most days on safari begin with a wakeup call around 5:00 am) followed by coffee at the communal counter sprinkled with conversation between your fellow guests and the morning barista. Sleepiness quickly fades when you’re whisked away on your sunrise game drive, where you might run into a herd of elephants, a dazzle of zebras or perhaps Kruger’s largest pride of lions (with a total more than 28 members). Enjoy a cup of hot coffee in the bush before returning to the lodge for brunch and an afternoon massage, or perhaps relax by the outdoor lap pool with a good book, keeping an eye out for a wandering hippo or crocodile bathing in the river below.
In the evenings, meet for drinks and a light bite before you head out on your afternoon game drive to track hyena and wild dogs and see some of the nocturnal animals come out to play. Maybe enjoy sundowners at the South Africa/Mozambique border, and then return back to the lodge for a bottle of wine from the property’s impressive cellar and dinner under the stars.
It’s also worth noting that the property’s keen interest in conservation efforts extends beyond game drives and its low-impact infrastructure. Singita Kruger is home to a robust anti-poaching initiative, as well as a highly successful and world class culinary school—young adults from neighboring villages can apply to the program and launch their culinary careers. Community-driven initiatives like these allows Singita to dig its roots deep into the destination they call home, creating ties and career paths for many in the surrounding communities. It’s magic like this that causes guests to fall in love with the brand and with Africa.
Who Should Stay
Families with children in need of a connecting option during their stay in Kruger National Park; couples who appreciate a modern, yet colorful aesthetic; eco-minded travelers and Singita groupies.