Peek inside Kruger Shalati Train on a Bridge

Posted by Nidha Narrandes on 3 May 2019

High above the Sabie River a train hotel is under construction on a disused railway bridge and we are holding our breath for its completion later this year. It is the first of its kind, not only in South Africa but in the world, and is well positioned to tap into the global luxury tourist market.

The one-of-a-kind project is ideally located in the vast Kruger National Park, and will be called the Kruger Shalati Train on a Bridge. The name originates from the history of Chief Warrior Shalati who lived near this river in the region of Skukuza and ruled over the Tebula tribe.

The Thebe Tourism Group is currently constructing the luxurious Kruger Shalati Train on a Bridge project to offer an unforgettable accommodation experience to travellers. Rates will include luxury accommodation, all meals during your stay, house beverages and two game drives per day. The opening is scheduled for December 2019.

The train is stationery on the bridge.

The project incorporates the original old Selati railway bridge at Skukuza Camp, where the KNP’s first warden, James Steven-Hamilton, welcomed visitors nearly 100 years ago. At night, these same guests would retreat to the train to sleep before it moved on to its next destination the following day.

Looking to recreate the magic of these early visitor encounters, the train will be restored, upgraded and will permanently rest on the original tracks running across the bridge, across the Sabie River.

The train, in its stationary position with an external walkway attached to the bridge structure, allows the Kruger Shalati rooms to be much larger than the traditional train compartment-style room – complete with floor-to-ceiling windows with views across the wild landscape and river below.

Floor-to-ceiling windows welcome the unsurpassed views from outside.

To further enhance this unique product offering, the old blockhouse next to the bridge will be used as the base for an innovative pool deck designed with an overhanging pool, metres above the flowing river, with unique viewpoints over the Big 5 roaming below.

The train will offer 24 en-suite rooms, which will sleep 48 guests, with another seven rooms in the adjacent Kruger Shalati Bridge House with 14 beds next to the bridge. All rooms will offer guests a high-star rating luxury experience, and will be accompanied by fine dining and other leisure experiences onsite.

There are 24 ensuite rooms which will sleep 48 guests on the train.

Judiet Barnes, Concession General Manager of Kruger Shalati, sees this as an opportunity to revitalise and recapture an important part of Kruger’s history, while simultaneously increasing both the range and quality of product on offer in the park.

‘The product design is largely the differentiator in this project – not only have we not seen anything like it in our country, but neither is there anything similar in the world, as a result an important ‘must-experience’ destination will entice visitors locally and from across the globe to experience a very important part of our Park’s history,’ says Barnes.

A suspended pool will provide unrivaled views of the Kruger National Park.

A huge emphasis is being placed on uplifting local communities in the area.

‘A very important part of the project will also be the way in which it will improve the lives of people in the local surrounding communities, who will be empowered through world-class training, skills development initiatives and ultimately job opportunities with the project,’ says Barnes.

The Kruger Shalati team is working very closely with SANParks to ensure minimal disruption to the KNP.

The train coaches, currently being restored in Johannesburg, will only be transported to the site once they are completed to further minimise disruption on site. The bridge where the coaches will be stationed has been fully assessed to ensure it is structurally sound and safe for use.

‘With Kruger Shalati, we want to create a tourism destination and a hospitality product so unique that people want to travel from around the world just to stay here for a holiday, and for domestic travellers to really be proud to have something that exists nowhere else in the world,’ says Jerry Mabena, CEO of Thebe Tourism Group. ‘Through this development, we are truly reimagining Africa with pioneering innovations and ingenuity.’

Reservations opened in April 2019, and you can contact Kruger Shalati here for enquiries. Live online booking on its website will follow in a few weeks.

 

Pictures: Supplied

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