On a 110-year-old railway bridge in the elephant-dappled Kruger, an old train has been reborn. Kruger Shalati is a very bold departure from the safari-camp cliches. It’s the new way to safari in South Africa.
But what happens if you drop your room key into the crocodile-filled river below?
Can You Safari on a Train?
At Kruger Shalati you safari from on high. We’re serious about the crocodiles down below. Elephants, buffalos, hippos, giraffe, zebra, impala…there’s a lot of other wildlife drinking from the river below.
This is the same Sabie River that gave its name to the Sabie Sands safari area. It’s located far in the south of the Kruger ecosystem, a protected area so vast it crosses into two neighbouring countries.
The train doesn’t actually move. But you can walk across the bridge without a guide. And you can watch these animals from your private carriage. Even lions and leopards roam the water 15 metres below.
So don’t drop your camera, because you can’t recover it from a hungry pride. Or the stamp of an elephant.
The Glamour of Old-World Travel
Kruger Shalati doesn’t have the ultimate game viewing. But the perspective is completely new. As is the accommodation.
Vintage train journeys are in fashion right now, the trend led by the restarted and very expensive Orient Express. For one day on the Orient Express you can get a full week on one of Spain’s luxury multi-day trains.
Kruger Shalati consists of 24 renovated train carriages, all of them a contemporary interpretation of 1920s glamour. It’s vintage from the outside, but youthful on the inside, with quirky designs from young African designers.
Each carriage has a single suite. You’ll need to fork out for a Grand Suite to get this amount of space on the Orient Express.
There’s a king-size bed, lounge area, bathtub next to the window, and the feeling of being on a train in wild Africa. The train’s lounge and bar opens onto a deck with an infinity pool.
More than a Train Safari
We don’t recommend Kruger Shalati as your own safari stop in South Africa. While twice daily game drives are included in the rates, the experience is mostly about relaxing in unique accommodation in a very unique corner of the world.
Go to Kruger Shalati for two nights to get some downtime, at the start or end of your holiday. Combine it with somewhere like Sabi Sabi, Londolozi or Singita Lebombo for a more complete safari experience.