Kruger Shalati offers a safari experience unlike any other. What makes it truly special is its unique location on a historic railway bridge that spans the Sabie River. Originally a train that traversed the park, the railway bridge has been transformed into a luxurious and exclusive safari lodge, providing guests with a front-row view to the iconic Kruger National Park.
The history of a Kruger locomotive
The history of the Kruger Shalati dates back to the late 1800s when the Selati Railway was originally constructed following the discovery of gold in the surrounding area. The railway was completed in 1915 and traversed the area that is now the Kruger National Park, which was not yet established. The railway unintentionally transformed into one of the first means for game viewing in the area, promoting tourism and pioneering the early safari experience.
These train trips gained immense popularity, supporting the case for establishing a tourism model for game reserves, eventually leading to the formal establishment of the Kruger National Park in 1926. Rail traffic continued all the way to 1971 when the railway was officially closed. Nearly a century later, when you visit the Kruger Shalati, you are experiencing a bit of history as the first visitors to the park did.
Accommodation in a train carriage
Most of the hotel including the reception, bar and room carriages are in the train itself, located on the bridge suspended over the Sabie River. The lodge blends modern and historical elements, with rich colors and textures, and the focal point of the lodge is definitely the incredible views.
The train's original carriages have been meticulously restored and transformed into luxurious suites that offer panoramic views of the river and the surrounding wildlife. It’s common to see elephant, buffalo, hippos, crocodiles and myrid birds from the comfort of your room. The lodge has a consistent source of power during load shedding with solar panels and a generator.
Kruger Shalati has 31 rooms in total - 24 train rooms, exclusively for a maximum of two adults, and seven garden suites on the mainland. The train's luxury rooms are thoughtfully designed, with wheelchair access in Carriage One. Guests enjoy a well-stocked bar, air conditioning, and a bathtub with endless views. We loved the extra attention to detail including provided bird books, magazines, extra soft bath towels, and silky gowns. The garden suites include the honeymoon suite that has its own private plunge pool. Private dinners or picnics can be arranged at the room.
The Kruger Shalati offers a true culinary experience. The dining area, with its open-air design, provides an immersive experience, allowing guests to dine while enjoying the sights and sounds of the African wilderness. The daily menu offers a variety of options, and themed events such as gin tastings, dinners on the track, and braais. Impeccable service, combined with an excellent wine selection, elevates the dining experience.
Game drives take place within the public roads of Kruger National Park. Kruger Shalati is located in the Southern part of the Kruger National Park, which is known to be some of the best in the Park for viewing the Big 5 (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.) The roads are shared by self-drive vehicles, so be prepared that many of your sightings could be with other vehicles. We were very impressed with the quality and knowledge of our guide.
It’s noteworthy that the Kruger Shalati guides do have access to certain private roads in the Park that are closed to the public. They are also allowed to continue game drives until 20h00 which is a huge advantage. Self-drive vehicles must be cleared by sundown, so this leaves Kruger Shalati guests with the opportunity to be out during one of the best times of day for viewing predators and crepuscular animals.
In a nutshell
- 32 rooms in total - 24 train carriages and seven garden suites, including private honeymoon suit
- Two people allowed per room
- No children under 12 years old
- Game drives take place within the Kruger National Park with the luxury of extended hours
- Bush walks are offered through SANParks and can be booked at reception
- Rooms come with air-conditioning and hair dryers
- During times of Load Shedding, there is solar backup and a generator.
- Wheelchair access in carriage one.
- One of the carriages holds the lounge, bar and pool with incredible views.
- Incredible meals and great selection of wine and a wine cellar.
Our team came back with rave reviews and said that the experience exceeded their already high expectations. The views, the sunsets and the uniqueness of the experience made it stand out. The team also had great wildlife sightings, including a leopard seen from their room, which added to the magic of the experience.
Kruger Shalati stands as an excellent choice for travellers seeking a truly unique and immersive safari lodge experience. Unlike traditional stays focused solely on wildlife sightings, a stay at Kruger Shalati is about being immersed in nature and history. Ideal for those who appreciate first-class amenities, from exquisite culinary delights and a curated wine selection to attentive service and breathtaking vistas. The distinctiveness of this experience ensures its unforgettable nature, making it a great choice for a honeymoon or any special occasion.