This first-of-its-kind hotel development to the Kruger National Park is hoped to increase international tourists numbers to Mpumalanga
AN AFROCENTRIC LUXURY TRAIN TO BE STATIONED ATOP THE HISTORICAL SELATI BRIDGE AS NEW ICONIC AND UNIQUE PRODUCT IN KRUGER
Having become a leading destination for travelers the world over, South Africa is well positioned to tap into the global luxury tourist market. With this in mind, Thebe Tourism Group has embarked on an exciting initiative which will see the opening of a new upmarket offering completely unique in the world. The new venture will open this year still.
The project incorporates the iconic and still 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 into 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 project will see the restoration and upgrading of a train that will permanently rest on the original tracks running across the bridge, high above the waters of 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 expected traditional train compartment-style room – complete with floor-to-ceiling windows welcoming the unsurpassed views from atop the Sabie River into the room. To further enhance this unique product offering, the old block-house next to the bridge will be used as the base for an innovative pool deck designed with an overhanging pool meters above the river flowing below with unique viewpoints over the Big 5 roaming below.
The project will also 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. Furthermore, successful landcClaimants, through a legal entity will have equity in the operation. the impact on the flora and fauna will be minimal, if any.
The Kruger Shalati team is working very closely with SANPARKS to ensure minimal disruption to the KNP, says Barnes: “We have put into place all the necessary measures needed to ensure the impact on the environment is minimal and the Fauna and Flora is not disturbed.”
The train coaches, which are currently being restored in Johannesburg, will only be transported onto 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.