Given the current state of affairs, it’s hard to imagine taking a week-long African safari vacation. But, there’s never been a better time to update your bucket list. This year, one of South Africa’s most exciting new hotels is set to open in an unusual location that combines history, world-class wildlife viewing, and breathtaking scenery.
The all-new Kruger Shalati Train Lodge will be a boutique hotel inside of a train parked above the Sabie River on the outskirts of Kruger National Park. The one-of-a-kind luxury property will feature 31 guest rooms, 24 of which will be inside their own private train car. Floor-to-ceiling windows will afford unobstructed views to the Sabie River and surrounding safari park. Seven additional Bridge House rooms will be built on land next to the bridge. In-room appointments will be typical of a five-star hotel, including king-sized beds, luxurious en-suite bathrooms with oversized soak tubs, and private balconies.
Common areas will feature bespoke artwork, furniture, and sculptures made by local craftsmen. The lodge’s pièce de résistance, however, will be its custom lounge car. Here, passengers can grab a drink at the bar, then relax in an outdoor pool that appears to cantilever from the original train station platform over the Sabie River. It promises to provide unbelievable wildlife viewing to Kruger’s resident elephants, hippos, buffaloes, and crocodiles.
The hotel’s location along the border of Kruger National Park was chosen not only for its views but also for its history. The Selati Bridge is the exact spot where Kruger’s first guests stopped to overnight on their journey into the park more than 100 years ago. Not surprisingly, UNESCO recognizes the area as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve.
The hotel is unlike any we’ve seen. We’ve covered hotel rooms in disused bridge houses, recycled shipping containers, and even an old Danish construction crane, but Kruger Shalati Train Lodge is something altogether different. The lodge’s general Manager, Judiet Barnes, said in a statement, “This is our opportunity to revitalize and recapture an important part of Kruger’s history … Not only have we not seen anything alike in our country, but neither is there anything similar in the world.”
Kruger Shalati Train Lodge is now accepting reservations. The first guests are expected to arrive in September 2020.
If you like your train experiences with a bit more locomotion, check out our picks for the world’s most luxurious train travel.
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