best. five. days. ever.
Kruger National Park is roughly the size of Israel (and is split between South Africa and Mozambique). Stretching for 219 miles from north to south along the Mozambique border, the park is the largest in South Africa and the diversity of wildlife (147 species), bird-life (507 species), fish (49 species) and vegetation (300 species of trees) is amazing. The park is also well known for its big 5, namely lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Singita Lebombo (link) lodge was our home for the week. Our bush plane left from Johannesburg and an hour later landed on a dirt “airstrip,” which I was told, is often times blocked by wildlife. As I stepped off the plane onto the dry earth of Kruger, I knew I was entering into another world.
We are starting to edit imagery for a photography show that will raise money to provide the anti-poaching rangers in the park better communication radios. I will be posting more on that (and thus wildlife and landscape imagery) soon.
The breathtaking Singita Lebombo Lodge – bold, contemporary open plan lodging suspended above the N’Wanetsi River.
John Rose, barista extraordinaire / Singita Lebombo, Kruger National Park
Chef Liam Tomlin’s Vietnamese Oysters (below) I shot in Cape Town as part of an editorial for the London based magazine Monocle. Liam (owner of Chef’s Warehouse, CapeTown) is also involved with the menu creation at Singita’s Lebombo lodge as well as consulting for the chef school that Singita created. Some of the most beautiful presentations of food I have ever seen.
“A cooking school in the wilderness may seem something of an anomaly, but there’s a good reason the stockpots are boiling furiously out here in the Kruger bush. “Communities and conservation can’t function independently, they have to co-exist,” explains Louis Vandewalle, Chef Skills Developer at SSC. “The idea behind the Singita School of Cooking was two-fold: to increase the skill level in our lodge kitchens, but also to provide opportunities for the surrounding communities.” (via singita.com)
Singita Lebombo lounge area, overlooking the park. You are not allowed to walk to your room at night without accompaniment. The rooms are connected by narrow wooden walkways through the bush. Because the lodge is not fenced in, wildlife can come and go as they please. Last thing you want is to come face to face with one of the big five at night on foot.
5am call time in the bush.
A male lion searches for his brothers in the dry plains. It only rained once during our stay, however that was all it took for summer to begin.
During our 5 days we watched the landscape transition from brown to green.
Margaux (guide) and Lawrence (tracker). We spent 10 hours – both day and night – tracking throughout the concession. I can’t say enough good things about these two human beings. Such dedication to the conservation of wildlife and passionate about educating others. Hearts of gold. In my next life, I’ll be a field ranger. Or maybe this one…I have a biology degree…does that help? Ha!