“Remote, awe-inspiring, inspirational: post-modern warehouse design goes bush at this award-winning ecolodge in the far north of the Kruger”
Thus The Outpost was born, a lodge as unique as it is beautiful. Italian-born architect Enrico Daffonchio was given free rein to come up with a design that would celebrate the extraordinary panorama of the Luvuvhu Valley. He opted for clean, Zen-inspired lines in steel, concrete and canvas, cantilevering his living ‘spaces’ and airy main lodge out over a rocky hillside in a quest for that holy grail of minimalism: spare elegance. His brilliantly post-modern design means that you experience the beauty of pristine, untamed nature at the closest of quarters.
- An amazing location, high above the Luvuvhu Gorge with soaring views across pristine wilderness
- Vast guest suites whose open-deck design brings the African bush right in to you, and you out to the bush...
- An extrordinary arrival via the heart of the Kruger. This journey, as well as your stay at The Outpost, will always stay with you
- You’ll see few other game vehicles in hundreds of square miles - as if you’ve got the northern Kruger to yourself
- Great food and selection of wines, and a fabulous dining area
- Very personal, charming service
- The mahogany walkways leading to the guest suites fan out from the main lodge out for nearly half a kilometre. ‘Popping back’ to your room can take 20 minutes
- This isn’t the best part of the Kruger for ticking off species. But you’ll have a uniquely beautiful, informative and adventurous bush experience in lush forest and are bound to see lion, and maybe leopard, at close quarters
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Safari Lodge
- All meals included
- Over 10s welcome
- Open all year
- Heated Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
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.
- Air conditioning
- Mosquito net
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.
- All meals included
- Room service
- Take game drives through the acacia and fever-tree forests. You’re bound to see elephant and buffalo and, with luck, antelope, kudu and monkey. Reptile activity is also common being so close to 2 rivers. And a huge pride of lions have recently made this part of the park their home; 6 white rhino have been relocated into the area successfully too. Drives are held at dawn and dusk
- Explore the bush on foot. From the lodge a path threads down the side of the valley towards the confluence of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu rivers
- Birdwatch from your ‘space’ or from the main lodge. You’ll see sunbirds, rollers, weavers, flycatchers and, if you’re lucky, fish eagles and the rare Pel’s fishing owl
- Outpost rangers are allowed to use roads otherwise off limits to Joe Public - you'll not see other cars but only shy animals
- Take a jeep safari over to Crook’s Corner, once the hang out of desperate dudes trafficking illicit goods across the 3 borders. You’re safe there without a gun nowadays
- Stay in bed and watch amazing sunrises from your lofty ‘space’
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
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
The Outpost is in a wilderness area in the north of the Kruger called the Makulele region. As its name suggests, The Outpost is isolated, a long way from anywhere. The nearest major towns are Messina or Louis Trichardt, both approx. 200km away. The small resort at Tshipise, 130km from The Outpost, has a fuel station and small shop.
The Outpost has its own airstrip 25-minutes' drive away, and you can take a charter from the following airports directly to The Outpost: Phalaborwa, Polokwane, Skukuza, Nelspruit, Hoedspruit, Pafuri. The aircraft has no set time for departure, and is flexible to your itinerary.
To drive up through the park takes about 12 hours from Skukuza because of the maximum 50kmph speed limit. And you would never want to rush through the Kruger. If you don’t have that time to spare you can almost halve the journey time by driving up the western border of the park, sticking to the highways. You enter the park via the Punda Maria gate and from there it will take a further 2 hours or so. Either way you’ll have around 500km to cover. For car hire see our car rental recommendations.
Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.
More on getting to South Africa and getting around
- Johannesburg Oliver Reginald Tambo International 680.0 km JNB
- Grand Central Airport 530.0 km GCJ
- Beach 600.0 km
- Shops 130.0 km
- Restaurant 200.0 km