“Remote, awe-inspiring, inspirational: post-modern warehouse design goes bush at this award-winning ecolodge in the far north of the Kruger”
Daffonchio’s living spaces mark a radical departure from the thatch-and-plank of traditional safari-lodge design. The wraparound panels and blinds of his 12 concrete and steel pods can be slid back, leaving you cantilevered high above the hillside on an airy, open platform - with breathtaking views stretching to Mozambique. There can be few more inspirational ways of experiencing the bush.
But if the overall feel is minimalist, you have a full 55 sq.m. of platform with furnishings which aim to maximise comfort: twin beds are joined to create massive mosquito-netted kings, there are suede divans in cool chalky blue, a second daybed out on the deck, and unusual steel wardobes which can slide out from their recesses to create a visual screen between sleeping areas and bathrooms.
There’s a distinct feel of New York loft-goes-Bush: twin ceramic sinks are bolted to steel iron girders, free-standing half-egg bath tubs have hot and cold water delivered via a single chunky stainless steel pipe and, should you choose, you can slide back the bathroom screens so that there’s nothing between you, your ablutions, and that amazing panorama.
Be aware when booking that ‘living spaces’ begin at number 1 and run away from the lodge. If you book Honeymoon Space no. 12 you’ll have a 400m hike along the raised Zimbabwean teak walkway. And be sure to keep your ‘space’ open to the night, to hunker down beneath your goose down feather duvet and wake at dawn to see the sun rising over the valley. It will be the experience of a lifetime.
We were amazed at the quality of the food at The Outpost, the more so given that we were unexpected visitors. Despite its remoteness the lodge aims to provide top-notch cuisine with regular deliveries of fresh ingredients flown in from Johannesburg.
Breakfasts, following the traditional safari formula, are served at the main lodge after your early morning game drive. These take the form of a big cold buffet which always includes a fresh fruit salad and homemade bread and muffins, followed by any variation that you choose of the ‘full English’. Coffee is prepared at the open bar with an Italian espresso machine and was the best we had in the bush. Lunches stick to light formula with a high salad and fish content and plenty of fresh vegetables, accompanied by homemade quiche or maybe savoury crêpes. Lunch could be a picnic if you are out in the bush.
But dinner is the most memorable meal of the day, served at about 8pm by the decked poolside or in The Outpost’s funky dining room. By then you’ll have witnessed a stunning sunset and should be in receptive culinary mode after a drink at the bar. You choose between 2 starters - maybe vegetable soup, zucchini fritters, gazpacho or a light risotto - and 2 mains like shank of lamb, ostrich, impala or springbok steak, or chicken. The Makuleke kitchen staff present their food beautifully and, the cherry on the cake, The Outpost has an extraordinary choice of wines, racked up on one side of the bar in its chic, glass-walled wine-cellar.
This place just isn’t right for kids. The raised walkways and platforms of the living spaces would mean that you’d have to keep an eye on them at all times. And young kids would find the long journey through the Kruger - it takes a whole day - an ordeal.
The hotel does allow children over 10 years old; see Rates for details