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Eric_Beylon
France

Great but not as good as Lebombo or Sweni lodge in our opinion

4.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 23 Nov 2014
Based on our recent experience of five different South African lodges, three with Singita (Lebombo, Sweni, Ebony) and two in other Relais & Chateaux (Kwandwe and Camp Jabulani) (all reviewed on tripadvisor), I think Singita does provide the highest level of luxury in terms of accommodation, staff service, food or beverages offerings. But Singita also applies higher rates than competitors of the Relais & Chateaux network in South Africa,: all the Singita luxury comes at a price. (By the way, the lodges in South Africa seem to be a small world: we found at Ebony a staff member we had dealt with at Kwandwe one year ago.)
If you are ready to indulge yourself with Singita, this review focuses on the criteria to take into account to choose Ebony or another lodge within the Singita network.
The level of luxury offered is the same in all the Singita lodges we experienced; all guides are well trained experts. Therefore, I think choosing one lodge rather than another should be based only on 1) the animals you most want to see and 2) the atmosphere you appreciate for your stays at the lodge between safari activities.
First, safari viewings. Of course, you'll see a lot of wildlife in all the Singita lodges but some are more or less specialized. Located in the Sabi Sand area, Ebony is very good to see leopards and wild dogs (lycaons), animals that are much harder to find in the Kruger area. My recommendation would be to visit two lodges in two different areas if you want to take the best of South Africa.
Second, atmosphere. Ebony is a medium size lodge (Sweni is much smaller, Lebombo much larger). It looks like a very old british-style lodge, with many antiques all around. We found the suites a bit dark (a lot of wood, not so many windows) and dated; we preferred the modern and opened spaces of Lebombo or Sweni. If you want to spend time in your room watching the wildlife I would recommend one of these two last lodges. Note also that the Sabi Sand reserve has a much cooler climate than the Kruger park (Lebombo or Sweni). It can be something you want to take into account when planing your trip.
To come back to our stay at Ebony, it is very hard to find anything that Singita can improve there (except renovating / transforming the suites, which would mean changing deeply the lodge identity). Anyhow we were somehow disappointed by the main pool at Ebony. Water was murky, location was not great, and obviously almost nobody ever uses it. If you want to swim, prefer the pools at Lebombo or Sweni.
Date of stay: November 2014
Trip type: Travelled with family
3.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
4.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
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Reviewed 15 November 2014

I stayed at the Ebony Lodge and it was stunning! The style of this lodge is more of an authentic traditional African design. There are several outdoor decks and the meals are served here unless there is bad weather. The suites are quite large with a sitting area with 2 way fireplace, large king netted bed, huge bathroom with double sinks and claw foot tub, separate dressing room and toilet with bidet. There is a plunge pool and outdoor shower on the deck with 2 separate sitting areas. The views of the Sand River were fantastic and the wildlife that were attracted to the river made it even better! The food was absolutely delicious and delightful to the eye too! The chefs are very concerned with any food allergies as well. The meals and alcohol are all included here as well. Our safari guide - Ricardo - and tracker - Lawrence - were outstanding. We had incredible game drives and actually witnessed a lioness hunting and a pride of lions (13) resting, playing and then calling out for males! It was very impressive! The staff is made up of several local villagers and they performed some music and dances for us at a candlelight dinner. AMAZING! This lodge will be undergoing a major renovation and will reopen in April 2015. Although it's hard for me to image what they'll renovate because its already incredible!

Room tip: Every room here is fantastic!
Date of stay: October 2014
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank trvltess
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 11 November 2014 via mobile

We stayed 3 nights and wished it were more. The rooms are spacious and beautiful! You have a nice veranda with plunge pool. The food is outstanding! The game drives were all very adventurous! We saw the big five and more. We've seen many leopards! The wild dogs were the highlight for me! Best of the lodge is the wonderful staff. Everyone is nice and they make you feel right at home! They really look after you and try everything to make this trip your dream trip! We had Dave and Phanuel for the game drives and they were the best. Dave took us every time in best possible viewing points to see the animals close by and perfectly visible. Phanuel spotted all the animals and did a great job. At the lodge Vuvian took care of us and we were spoiled during the three days!! She is the best. I hope for Ebony she will never leave them. Thanks a lot for a wonderful dream stay in your beautiful lodge and if possible we will certainly return!!! Highly recommended!!!!

Date of stay: November 2014
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
4  Thank rotterdamerik
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 7 November 2014 via mobile

This ritzy, over the top lodge will exceed anyone's expectations from the extremely professional warm and caring staff to comfortable suites with all the amenities plus cuisine equal to a Michelin starred restaurant. But the real star has to be the early morning and late afternoon game drives in a specially equipped Land Rover. Our guide was the expert birdman Marc Eschenlohr and our tracker was the eagle eyed Kenny who saw things in the distance, forever. We saw every animal including lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, Cape buffalos and zebras and even looked into a termite mound.
A true adventure in Africa.
Plus a first class wine cellar.

Date of stay: November 2014
Trip type: Travelled on business
1  Thank HazardBob
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 4 November 2014

This was unbelievable!! Private plunge pool, outdoor shower and covered veranda with each room. The bathroom was mostly glass, so you could bathe in the large footed tub or shower in the glass shower while the impalas or elephants meandered past. The rooms are huge, with an entry area with large bar and snacks, corner fireplace ( lit on request) and sitting area. Down some steps from the enormous bathroom (2 back to back sinks) was a large dressing room with separate closets. The hotel provided warm ponchos and tote bags for the rides. Also, sunscreen and insect sprays. There was a gift on the bed for each of us on our arrival. There was even a lovely little art set on the desk for doing sketches or watercolors. They thought of everything!!!
Escorts are required for walking from rooms to dining at night or early in the morning.
The dining was exquisite. The outdoor area overlooked the the river where the elephants and other game roamed. Monkeys provided entertainment. The indoor dining room had a large fireplace. A sommelier was always available to recommend wines from their large cellar, although the house wines were very nice.
The last night we were there, there was a special party featuring African foods with entertainment around a bonfire. Our guide joined us that night.
The guided safari drives were wonderful. We visited four safari lodges and, by far, we felt that the guides at Singita were the most professional. Francois even stopped to move a lizard out of the road, so it wouldn't be run over by another vehicle. They didn't shine lights at certain animals at night, because it could cause temporary blindness. They were very conscious of not entering the comfort zone of an animal or stressing an animal in any way. We got very, very close to some, but there was a line and we appreciated that. Also, we understood that not more than two vehicles could approach an animal at the same time. Others would have to stay a good distance away until a vehicle left. This is a much better situation than the crowds of safari wagons encircling a viewing area, both for the animals and for photos. . At this time, Singita still has rhinos, but they are disappearing everywhere rapidly, because of poaching. We saw four of the Big Five there and could probably have seen water buffalo, if we had been there a day longer. They are not difficult to find, but they really eluded us at Singita. A herd of about 200 had been there the day before. Francois and Rebel took us all over in pursuit, but we didn't find them. (we saw them in Botswana, though). We had a very close view of a leopard within 10 minutes of leaving our plane.

Our guide was Francois and his tracker, who had a seat on the left front bumper, was Rebel. They were great!!! Francois had grown up in the area and really knew every detail. Rebel was amazing. Very friendly pair and always ready to stop and find the best angle for photos.
It is customary for the guides to stop for morning tea and cookies which they have hidden away in the vehicles, and for late afternoon "sundowners" (cocktails and snacks while watching the magnificent African sunsets). Delightful. I think the vehicles can hold about six-eight people, but there was only one other couple with us. We always hear about finding the Big Five, but there is so much more!!! Birds are a big attraction and our guide and tracker could spot and identify them from SO far away.
The staff was really attentive and it was always easy to find help for any need. The gift shop, which has lovely higher end arts and crafts, was a short ride away and there was always a driver available.
We cannot recommend Singita highly enough. It was simply the best.

Room tip: We saw only our own suite, but I think that all the rooms are good.
Date of stay: October 2014
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank pwCapetownSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 4 October 2014

My wife had been on safari while on a business trip a few years ago, and when we planned our honeymoon she pushed for safari. I'd say she 'won', but really, I won too. The experience of staying at Singita Ebony was outstanding.

Having never been on safari myself, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. We were met at the landing strip by our tracker, who drove us through Sabi Sands to our lodge. We were greeted by the wonderful staff and shown to our room. The accommodations were exactly what you'd expect for a safari lodge...very rustic and traditional, but everything was top notch. The setting was perfect. We ate our meals outside overlooking the river, enjoying the most amazing food. And, the food never ended. There was an early-morning breakfast before the game drive, a light snack while on the drive, breakfast right after the drive, lunch (we skipped) about an hour later, another snack before the evening game drive, a snack on the evening game drive and dinner afterwards.

The game drives were amazing. Our guide and tracker were enthusiastic and knowledgable, and they always tried to make sure we had the best possible experience. We had some good luck and saw four of the big five throughout our four game drives, plus lots of other animals along the way. Having now also visited Singita Sweni, I can say that Singita Ebony is a really great "safari for rookies". It's exactly what you'd want from a luxury safari experience in every possible way. Sweni was amazing too, but very different (you can check my other review for comparison).

One of the things that made the Singita experience so great was the staff. Everyone was so friendly, excited to share in our safari experience and ensure that we had the best possible time during our short stay. It really made for such an amazing trip and we can't wait to go back on another safari trip...likely in another location, but most definitely at another Singita property.

Room tip: Check out the deal when you stay at Ebony & Sweni for 2 nights each! It's a great way to have two very different safari experiences.
Date of stay: June 2014
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank David S
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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