Singita Boulders Sabi Sands Review I One Mile At A Time

Spoiler alert: Singita Boulders is my favorite hotel experience ever, and I’m not sure how I’m ever expected to go back to Amans.

None of us had ever been on safari before, so suffice to say that we were super excited. When we were trying to decide with what company/lodge to do our first safari with, Singita came by far the most highly recommended.

Singita is known as being the Aman of safaris (though that’s underselling it, in my opinion), and they have lodges in South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda. We wanted to keep things relatively simple since we were traveling with my dad, so we stayed at two their most popular lodges in South Africa — we spent three nights at Singita Boulders in the Sabi Sands Reserve, and three nights at Singita Lebombo in Kruger National Park.

We knew several people who had tried this combination of properties, and each person raved about the properties.

In this post:

Booking Singita Boulders

Safaris in general are really expensive, given that they’re all inclusive, though Singita in particular is really expensive, given that they’re considered to be the best of the best. Like I said, this is the most I’ve ever paid for a trip.

You can find the rates for Singita Boulders Lodge here. As you can see, the rate is around 1,900USD per person per night. However, this is truly all inclusive (as I’ll talk more about below), and it even includes the VAT.

Singita does have some promotions, though. When you book six nights between their Sabi Sands and Kruger properties, you receive one complimentary night for each guest, and you also receive a complimentary flight for each guest between the two lodges. So that means you only have to pay for five nights, and the flight between properties is included.

Let me of course acknowledge that that’s a lot of money. A ton. It’s by far the most I’ve spent for a hotel, ever. But damnit, this was also by far the most incredible hotel I’ve stayed at, and I would do it again in a heartbeat for a special trip.

Before I talk more about what’s included, let me note that one of the cool things in our situation is that there’s no supplement for a single occupant in a room. So Ford and I shared a room, and my dad had his own room, and we paid the standard rate for three people. So that’s cool for those who are traveling in odd numbers.

What’s Included With All Singita Stays

As you can tell, the rates are expensive, but stays at Singita are all inclusive in a way I’ve never experienced at another hotel before. Singita rates include:

  • All meals and beverages, including premium wines, spirits, liqueurs, and more (the only thing excluded is French champagne)
  • Two daily safaris
  • Return road transfers between the airstrip and the lodges
  • Laundry service (yes, unlimited complimentary laundry, which is life-changing, given how much hotels usually charge for this)
  • They even have complimentary cigars and cigarettes (yes, unlimited free Cuban cigars)

The only other things not included are massages, any purchases you may make at their shop, and gratuities. So by the time we left, the only thing we paid for (in addition to the room rate) was gratuities and the cost of a couple of Singita hats and t-shirts.

Singita Boulders Lodge Sabi Sands Review

Let’s get into the actual review of the lodge now. We’ll start by talking about how to get to the property, then we’ll look at our incredible accommodation, then we’ll look at the public areas, then we’ll talk about the food and drinks, then we’ll talk about the safaris, and lastly we’ll talk about the service.

Getting To Singita Boulders Lodge Sabi Sands

As I covered in the last installment, we flew Federal Air from Johannesburg to the airport near Sabi Sands, which was a flight of under an hour. From there we were picked up in a Land Rover and driven to the hotel, which was just a 15 minute drive down a dirt road.

Plane that flew us to Sabi Sands Reserve

A special airport pick-up

As we arrived at the resort we were greeted by a seemingly endless number of lodge staff, who were all incredibly nice. The assistant manager, Hannah, went over all the details of our stay. We were also introduced to Gift, who would exclusively be looking after us.

At Singita each party has a personal contact point who essentially serves you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and who can help with any other needs you may have. Gift was an absolute delight, though I’ll talk more about her in a bit.

Shortly after arriving we were brought to our accommodation.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite

Singita Boulders has a total of 12 standalone villas, including:

  • 2 Bush Suites
  • 8 River Suites
  • 2 Family Suites

We had both of the Bush Suites, which were incredibly over the top. For some context, here’s a map of the resort:

Singita Boulders Lodge property map

All of the accommodations were located off walkways. As you can see, some of the trees looked pretty dead, though that’s a function of it being the end of winter (which also has some benefits in terms of the animals you see).

Singita Boulders Lodge walkway

During the day we could walk between the main lodge and our villa alone (though we were told to be careful), while in the dark you were always escorted by a lodge staff member with a flashlight, because obviously you’re in the middle of nature.

Singita Boulders Lodge walkway

Each room at Boulders Lodge is a private villa, and Ford and I stayed in #11.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite exterior

Wow this villa was beautiful. It was modern, spacious, and had all the comforts you’d hope for, all while feeling appropriate for the area. Inside the entryway there was a half bathroom to the left and the minibar to the right.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite entryway

The half bathroom was large, and also had hats, bags, and blankets you could take with you on safari.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite half bath

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite goodies

Across from that was a well stocked minibar with coffee, tea, soda, juice, liquor, wine, snacks, etc. Everything was complimentary.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite tea & coffee

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite complimentary minibar

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite complimentary wine

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite complimentary snacks

As a welcome gift there were two Singita hats waiting on the table for us, which we were free to take with us.

Singita Boulders hats

Inside the entrance and to the left was the large living room, which had a couch and a couple of chairs. WOW.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite living area

There was a fireplace in the center of the room that opened on two sides, so you could have a fire either in the bedroom or living room area.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite living area

There was an extremely comfortable bed with netting around it.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite bedroom

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite bedroom

Across from that was a desk area and a chair.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite desk

Then further into the room was the main bathroom, which had double sinks, a soaking tub, a separate room with a toilet and bidet, and a large walk-in shower.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite master bathroom

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite master bathroom

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite closet space

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite shower

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite toilet

The interior couldn’t have been lovelier. There was also a hamper with a laundry sheet. If you wanted laundry done you simply had to fill out the form with what you wanted, and they took care of it. I was amazed by the speed with which they did laundry, as both times we requested laundry it was brought back to us same day.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite complimentary laundry

Wifi in the room (and throughout the resort, for that matter) was free and surprisingly high speed, given that we were in the middle of nowhere.

The outdoor area of the villa was equally gorgeous. There were a couple of chairs, as well as an area for sunbathing, all around the pool.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite outdoor area

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite outdoor area

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite pool

There was also a huge outdoor shower.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite outdoor shower

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite outdoor shower

One of the unique things about the Bush Suites is that they overlook a man-made watering hole, so you tend to have a lot of animals near the room. That’s awesome, as we were basically on safari just sitting on our patio.

Singita Boulders Lodge Bush Suite view

What an incredible room.

Singita Boulders Main Lodge

The center of the hotel is the main lodge. The meals are served in this area, this is where the bar is, and it’s also where you meet your guides when you go on safari every morning and afternoon.

Boulders Lodge is no longer a “new” resort (it was opened in 1996, and is extremely well maintained), but I actually liked that — I felt it was authentic to the locale, which some more modern lodges may not necessarily be.

Singita Boulders main lodge

The main part of the lodge was open air, and a beautiful place to sit both during the day and at night.

Singita Boulders main lodge

Singita Boulders main lodge

Singita Boulders main lodge

The bar was located here, where you could have anything to drink 24/7, whether a cappuccino, a glass of wine, or a gin & tonic.

Singita Boulders main bar

This part of the resort also had an incredible views over the bush, and you could see everything from giraffes to rhinos from here.

Singita Boulders main lodge view

Just off the main lodge was another seating area, as well as one of the dining venues, which is where breakfast was served.

Singita Boulders Lodge seating

Singita Boulders Lodge dining area

Singita Boulders Lodge dining area

A short walk away was another covered dining area, which is where dinner was served one night. They changed dining venues for us all three nights, which I loved.

Singita Boulders Lodge dining area

There was also an inside dining area, but since we had perfect weather our entire stay, we never ended up dining here.

Singita Boulders Lodge indoor dining

Singita Boulders Lodge indoor dining

There was also a small indoor sitting area that acted as a business center or game room, though again, since the weather was so perfect, I never spent any time here.

Singita Boulders Lodge indoor lounge

Singita Boulders Lodge indoor lounge

Singita Boulders Pool, Gym, And Spa

Singita Boulders has a main pool, though in reality I never saw anyone use it, since everyone has their own private pool.

Singita Boulders main pool

There was a small gym not far from the main building. To be honest I was impressed by the quality of the gym, given how secluded this resort is.

Singita Boulders gym

Singita Boulders gym

Singita Boulders also has a spa, though I never had a chance to use it. My dad did have a spa treatment, which he said was exceptional. For what it’s worth, an hour massage cost 1,060ZAR, which is about 70USD. I thought that was reasonable.

Singita Boulders Wine Cellar & OMG Cigars

Singita Boulders has an incredible wine cellar with all kinds of South African wines. They automatically rotated these every day so that guests could try as many as they wanted, though in reality you can come down here and also pick out a bottle. South African has some phenomenal wines, and I’m happy to see they’re so focused on serving them.

Singita Boulders wine cellar

Singita Boulders wine cellar

Perhaps the highlight of this whole trip for my dad was that Singita Boulders also has complimentary cigars. The way we figured this out is funny.

Long story short, my dad has been stretching the truth (I’m being nice here!) to me for a while about how he quit smoking. He finally admitted he may not have been totally forthcoming, and during his birthday trip we even encouraged him to enjoy some cigars. Go figure he didn’t bring any cigars, because he wanted us to believe he had quit smoking.

At Johannesburg Airport they were selling Cuban cigars, though the cheapest were over 60USD each. So when we got to Singita Boulders he asked if they had any cigars (obviously he thought they’d have to be purchased). They brought him to the wine cellar and showed them their huge selection of Cuban cigars.

My dad figured these would be really expensive, so he asked if they had any others. Then he discovered that cigars were in fact complimentary (or I guess you could say included, given how much this place charges), and you should have seen his face…

To say he enjoyed their cigar selection would be the understatement of the year. If they don’t change their cigar policy after our stay, I’d be shocked. But the hotel staff couldn’t have been lovelier, and they kept pushing more cigars on my dad.

At every meal they even set up a special cigar station just for him. Seriously, what kind of service is that?!

Singita Boulders cigar station

A very, very, very, very, very happy dad

Dining At Singita Boulders Lodge

At Singita they feed you like 27 times per day. It’s actually kind of ridiculous how much food they try to serve you. The food quality was excellent across the board, there was just way too much of it. That’s especially true when you consider that you’re sitting in a car for seven hours per day on safari, so movement is limited.

In general, here’s how the food schedule at Singita Boulders works:

  • Safari started around 6AM every morning, so you arrive at the main lodge around that time, and they have a light breakfast available
  • You get back from your first game drive around 10AM, and then you can have breakfast
  • Then somehow between breakfast and the 3PM game drive they expect you to have a full lunch
  • And that’s not enough, because before you go on that 3PM game drive you have afternoon tea
  • Then when you get back from your afternoon game drive you have dinner whenever you want
  • On top of that, there were often snacks on the game drive as well

It. Is. Ridiculous. How. Much. Food. And. Alcohol. They. Try. To. Serve. You.

So let’s go through each of these meals.

Singita Boulders Pre-Breakfast

As mentioned above, the morning safari would start shortly after 6AM, so we’d show up about 15 minutes early and would have a cup of coffee. There was also the choice of some cereal, fresh fruit, freshly baked (warm) muffins and pastries, and more.

Singita Boulders pre-breakfast

Singita Boulders Post-Pre-Breakfast

Time permitting, during our game drive we’d stop somewhere for a bit, and our guide and tracker would provide us with freshly brewed coffee and tea, snacks, and even some liqueur if we wanted it.

Singita Boulders Breakfast

When we got back to the lodge after our game drive (usually around 10AM), there was a full a la carte breakfast. The menu read as follows:

Let me start by saying that we were served breakfast, lunch, and dinner by Gift. She was there solely to take care of us, and she couldn’t have been any lovelier. She was just such a kind and funny human, and seeing her for all three meals made our time here all the more special. As you’d expect, she also got to know all of our preferences.

Gift & Ford at Singita Boulders

Breakfast started with a few things being brought to our table, including freshly squeezed orange juice, granola, yogurt, fruit, and croissants.

Singita Boulders breakfast

Singita Boulders breakfast

To drink they had everything from delicious iced coffee, to smoothies, to cappuccinos. Mmm…

Singita Boulders breakfast drinks

Singita Boulders cappuccino

Then we could order whatever we wanted off the menu.

Singita Boulders breakfast — quinoa vegetable bowl

Singita Boulders breakfast — eggs benedict

Singita Boulders breakfast — quinoa oats porridge

We only had breakfast one day, because we quickly learned that having both breakfast and lunch was physically impossible with everything else they feed you.

Singita Boulders Lunch

For lunch there was a rotating selection of eight choices, and each was available as either an appetizer or main course. Here’s an example of the menu one day:

We were always offered some fresh bread to start.

Singita Boulders lunch — freshly baked bread

Below is just a small sampling of the lunch selection.

Singita Boulders lunch — scallops

Singita Boulders lunch — grilled pear and citrus salad

Singita Boulders lunch — seafood paella

Singita Boulders lunch — crispy chicken

Singita Boulders Afternoon Tea

The afternoon game drives started at 3:30PM, so around 3PM there was an afternoon tea setup in the main lodge with salad, sandwiches, sweets, and more.

Singita Boulders afternoon tea

Singita Boulders Post-Afternoon Tea Pre-Dinner

Time permitting we’d stop on our afternoon game drives for drinks and snacks. How awesome of a setup is this?!

Singita Boulders game drive drinks

Singita Boulders game drive drinks

Singita Boulders Happy Hour

Okay, to be honest, all day is happy hour at Singita. Not only do they try to force feed you, but they also try to serve you drinks all day. Liqueur with your coffee? Why not. Wine with lunch? Absolutely. A cocktail with afternoon tea? Yes please.

So not that we needed another happy hour, but before dinner we stopped every night for some drinks. Not only were their cocktails, but the hotel has a massive selection of South African wines, and they constantly rotate that selection.

The front of house staff here are incredibly passionate about alcohol (in a good way), and they must have made me gin & tonics about 37 different ways using their own recipes, along with lots of other cocktails.

Singita Boulders happy hour

Singita Boulders wine selection

Singita Boulders liquor selection

Singita Boulders Dinner

As I mentioned above, we had dinner all three nights in different places. The first night we had dinner in the primary outdoor dinner restaurant. The hotel customizes the dinner menus for each guest (as you can see based on it having my name) based on their dietary preferences. For example, I don’t eat pork, so my menu didn’t have any pork on it.

Here’s the menu for night one:

And here’s an example of the wine list for one night (though truly you could pick anything you wanted out of their cellar to drink):

The food presentation and quality was excellent, in my opinion.

Singita Boulders dinner — beef carpaccio

Singita Boulders dinner — shrimp

Singita Boulders dinner — roast poussin

Singita Boulders dinner — sides

Singita Boulders dinner — hazelnut and chocolate terrine

The second night they set up an incredible dinner for everyone where our guide could join us. This was in a beautiful outdoor area that I didn’t realize existed until we had dinner there.

Singita Boulders dinner

Singita Boulders dinner

There was even some awesome live entertainment from the hotel staff.

Singita Boulders entertainment

Appetizers were initially brought out, then they had a buffet with a grill area where you could pick out whatever meat or fish you wanted, and they’d prepare it however you wanted.

Singita Boulders dinner

We were stuffed at this point, but they still brought out some dessert to share.

Singita Boulders dinner — dessert

On night three they planned something special for us (as they try to do for all guests, it seems, space permitting). They set up a lovely private dinner for us just off the main lodge.

Singita Boulders private dinner

Singita Boulders private dinner

I think they even made my dad’s whole trip with the below display…

Singita Boulders private dinner

Once again the food was excellent.

Singita Boulders Game Drives

For your entire stay you’re assigned one guide and one tracker — our guide was Coleman, and our tracker was Themba.

On a game drive in Sabi Sands Reserve

While the Land Rover had 10 seats, we always had a private safari, so it was just us and the guides. These aren’t always private, though the hotel had unusually low occupancy when we were there, so it seemed like just about everyone had private game drives.

Ford with the Singita Land Rover

I’m going to write a separate installment after the two hotel reviews with my overall thoughts on safari, but I was amazed by how quickly we saw things. Within 24 hours we saw all of the “big five.”

Leopard in Sabi Sands Reserve

Cheetah in Sabi Sands Reserve

We saw lions feasting on a zebra…

Lions feasting on a zebra

Daddy lion makes an appearance

We saw wild dogs eating an impala, all while chasing off hyenas (one of which was hiding under our car).

Again, I’ll have more details soon, but safari was awesome.

Singita Boulders Service

I’ve been fortunate to stay at a lot of amazing hotels in my life, including some with exceptional service. Singita Boulders had the best service of any hotel I’ve been to, bar none, by a mile.

This was partly due to the overall company’s philosophy to service, but in particular due to the amazing individuals they have working here. The staff at this hotel simply have the X-factor. Let me say that service at our next Singita was excellent as well, but not quite as spectacular as here.

Singita Boulders made Amans look like 3,000 room Las Vegas hotels by comparison (I’m exaggerating a bit, but not completely).

Where do we even begin?

  • The level of customization is spectacular, from the customized menus to the attention to detail with everything
  • Gift was our private server at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; she was just such a fabulously kind and positive person, and getting to know her throughout our stay was one of the highlights
  • The front of house staff working in the bar and main lodge area (in particular Ben) were just so friendly and genuine
  • We loved our guide and tracker, Coleman and Themba, who were passionate about what they did, and that made our seven hours of daily game drives all the more fun

Look, you just can’t put into words how excellent service was. Every single person working at Singita Boulders genuinely seemed like they loved their job, and they also all seemed like they worked really well together.

There are some hotels where individually everyone seems friendly, but Singita Boulders has an incredible team, and when you combine those things, it’s magic.

Other Random Singita Musings

Since I’m already 4,000 words into this review, I might as well make it a bit longer and answer some of the questions that I assume some people will have (or at least that I had going into our stay).

Where Were Most Singita Guests From?

I asked the hotel staff about this, and they said that over 50% of their guests are American, then about 20% are German, and then the rest are from all over, with South America being a market where they’ve seen more visitors from lately.

When we were there the guests were almost entirely American. Given that we were there in early September after most people went back to school, it was almost exclusively older American couples, which isn’t that surprising.

How Full Was The Singita Lodge?

When we arrived I’d say the lodge was about two thirds full. At the end of the stay only three other rooms were taken, so it felt like we had the place to ourselves. Throughout the entire stay it really felt like we had the place to ourselves, given how they spread everyone out, and how everyone is on a different schedule.

The only time you really see other people is before you start your game drives, since everyone meets around the same time.

Should You Tip At Singita Lodges?

When I arrived at the resort I started Googling, since this was my first safari, and I wasn’t sure what the correct policy was. Yes, apparently you’re generally supposed to tip on safari, and I have in good authority that a vast majority of Singita guests do tip.

If you’re going to tip, the three essential people to tip are your guide, your tracker, and the person looking after you. Then you can also tip anyone else who took especially good care of you (which is tricky here, because everyone took such good care of us).

What’s The Difference Between Singita Sabi Sands Lodges?

Singita has three properties in the Sabi Sands Reserve, and they’re all more or less in the same area. So how should you decide which to stay at?

  • We stayed at Singita Boulders, the 12 unit property that’s probably the most well known
  • The other major option is Singita Ebony Lodge, which has 13 units; the major difference here is the decor style, as the colors here aren’t as muted, and you perhaps don’t feel quite as much like you’re on safari
  • Lastly, there’s Castleton Lodge, which is a private lodge that just has one unit that can sleep up to 12 people; so this is only ideal if you’re traveling with a big group

Personally I’d return to Boulders Lodge in a heartbeat, but I’d be curious to hear from anyone who has stayed at Ebony Lodge as well.

Singita Boulders Bottom Line

I’ve never spent as much on a hotel stay as I spent at Singita Boulders. I know I’m incredibly fortunate that I could spend this on a surprise trip for my dad. And I’m especially happy that I 100% have zero regrets, and would do it again in a heartbeat.

I have really high expectations of service (I wish I didn’t, but I’m jaded thanks to how many amazing places I’ve stayed at), and for me Singita Boulders set a new standard for service. In real life I know multiple people who have honeymooned here, and they mentioned how good the service was. I figured they just weren’t as critical as I am. Nope, this place is just out-of-this-world.

Singita spares no expenses with the experience. The food quality, drinks, laundry, game drives, and the staff’s desire to make your experience special every second really sets this place apart.

Admittedly I’m no expert on safaris, because this was my first experience. Despite that, I feel comfortable wholeheartedly recommending this place. And if you think I’m raving about this place, you should hear what my dad had to say (and you’ll hear it, because he will also share his thoughts).

If you’ve stayed at a Singita property, what was your experience like?


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