If getting out of the city and into nature is your idea of a dream holiday, you will absolutely love the Kruger National Park. It’s one of the best places in the world to see wild animals in their natural habitat, unfenced and roaming free. The park is enormous – literally bigger than some European countries, with thousands of kilometres of roads to explore. It’s a beautiful part of the world and even a short visit makes you feel alive and in touch with the bush. Staying at The Outpost Lodge in the Kruger Park is an incredible, luxurious experience, allowing you to soak up the best of the bush in beautiful style.
The Outpost Lodge | Kruger National Park
Getting to The Outpost Lodge
Driving to The Outpost Lodge from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is easy, with good roads connecting the lodge to the city. It’s quite a drive, at around 650km (about 6,5 – 8 hours depending on traffic) so I recommend leaving Johannesburg early in the morning to arrive by lunch time. This will give you enough time to settle into your beautiful room before heading out on your afternoon game drive.
The charter flight from Johannesburg is just 1 hour and 40 minutes long, so if you have the budget and you’re short on time, this is the way to go. You can ask the lodge to assist with booking your charter – just make sure to check the plane’s luggage specifications before you leave home as most charters require luggage to be soft, small and under 20kgs in weight.
Staying at The Outpost Lodge
The Outpost is like no other bush lodge I’ve ever stayed at. Set on the Big 5 Makuleke Contractual Park, spreading across 26 500 hectares, it’s way up north and shares a border with both Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It’s a uniquely un-hurried part of the Kruger, where you’re unlikely to spot other vehicles while on a game drive. The lodge itself is open and airy, with the whole property incorporating the bush and amplifying the amazing views at every opportunity. The reception area, dining space and bar feel like a spacious, luxurious tree house, with trees poking into the space. The turquoise pool looks super inviting, even in the middle of winter. It’s all luxury from the moment you arrive. We were greeted with cold towels and a drink, as our car was valet parked. The staff greeted us by name and asked about what we were hoping to see and experience during our stay, which would help them to curate our experience.
The rooms, or “spaces”, are all separate and very private. Our room, space 12, was set right at the top of the property and I actually gasped as we opened the automated blinds to an uninterrupted view that encompassed mountains, the Levuvhu river, a sprinkling of Baobab trees and the vast blue sky. A deep bath overlooking it all was waiting for me to the left, and to the right, a day bed with a chilled bottle of Kay & Monty bubbly conveniently placed. Our bed was canopied by romantic netting (which is obviously functional during mosquito season but feels very romantic either way) and set right in the middle of the space, with more than 180° views.
Within our first couple of hours, we were treated to two teenage elephants putting on a trumpet show just below us, down by the river. A warm wind was blowing through the space as we sipped our bubbly, read our books, and stared at the view. I wasn’t wasting any time and drew a bath just as the sun was starting to set. From my warm bubble bath, I watched the setting sun paint the African sky pink, then orange, then dark blue before the first pin pricks of stars began to scatter the sky with light.
A three-course dinner was served under the stars, next to a roaring firepit. The early mornings in the bush take their toll, so we went straight to bed as soon as we’d eaten. I fell asleep reading my book before 9pm and that night we slept with the blinds up, since we were so far off the ground and completely safe. It’s such an amazing experience waking up to see the sun rise all around you. I wish I could see it every day!
The great thing about The Outpost is that your experience is entirely customisable. We chose to skip the option of pre-dawn game drive so that we could watch the sunrise from our room. Our absolutely fantastic guide, Nick Smith, packed us a picnic and we set off to explore the bush just after 7am. We were preparing for a day of landscape hunting, but a short while into our drive we were lucky enough to see something incredibly rare – three beautiful cheetahs. This group hadn’t been spotted in the area for the last 10 years, and even Nick, who is in the bush for hours every single day, hadn’t seen cheetahs in the 3 years he’s been in the area. It was very special to be part of a small group of only 5 people in the presence of the cheetahs – something unique to the north.
By lunch time, we had worked up quite an appetite. Nick stopped the safari van in the middle of a shockingly green fever tree forest for lunch. I was expecting a sandwich to eat in the car, but that’s not how The Outpost does things. While we took pictures, Nick set up a table, chairs and even an ice bucket for two. Under the trees, as we sipped on glasses of bubbly, wraps, salad jars and a cheese platter were laid out with care by the best ranger in the world. It was such a special and memorable way to spend the afternoon, and just another reminder that The Outpost is not your everyday safari experience.
If you’ve already visited the southern Kruger and you’d like to explore more of the South African bush, The Outpost is a must-visit destination. Their attention to detail starts as soon as you arrive and does not stop until after you’ve arrived home. It’s the kind of place where everyone remembers your name, where nothing is too much to ask. I’ve stayed at many of South Africa’s top properties, and The Outpost is in a league of its own. What I really loved was the opportunity to learn about the bush and birds from Ranger Nick and to be the only car at a sighting. Especially in the summer months, the southern Kruger can feel very crowded, so being up north would be a more authentic experience, for sure.
Book your stay at The Outpost Lodge
The Outpost offers a special rate to locals, which includes luxury accommodation, three meals and high tea and two game drives per day. If you’d like to book a visit, contact the lodge directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them I sent you.
*My visit at The Outpost Lodge was hosted. As always, I am under no obligation to share rave reviews on my blog, and my opinion remains authentic.