Though luxury hotel openings have slowed to a trickle this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are still a few exciting new properties opening their doors to guests in 2020.Among the most intriguing of the bunch is Kruger Shalati: The Train on the Bridge.Now under construction in South Africa, this unique luxury resort sits partially on the historic Selati Bridge over the Sabie River in stunning Kruger National Park.As the name implies, a newly refurbished train featuring 24 carriage rooms will be permanently stationed on the bridge’s disused tracks.
The opening date is still up in the air given construction has been paused due to Covid-19, but staff tell CNN Travel they’re confident it will be operational by December 2020.The glass-walled, large train rooms, all of which overlook the river, feature decor created in collaboration with local artists, while there’s also a separate dining area and swimming pool — also on the bridge. Now comes the bad news for families with young kids. Only travelers 12 years and older will be permitted to stay in the train carriage rooms, though another seven land-based family-friendly “Bridge House” rooms will be added to the property in early 2022.Even the bathrooms inside the carriage rooms offer river views. Courtesy Kruger Shalati: The Train on the Bridge
Inspired by history
Kruger Shalati pays homage to the national park’s origins as a travel destination nearly 100 years ago, when the first visits to the park were permitted in the early 1920s. At the time, trains would park overnight in the exact spot where Kruger Shalati will be positioned.The resort is adjacent to the Skukuza Camp inside Kruger National Park, where the so-called “Big Five” — lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and African buffaloes — roam freely.
Rates, which start from about $520 per night per person, will include all meals, house-drinks and two daily game drives. The resort’s name was inspired by Shalati, an African warrior queen who, according to legend, was one of the first female warrior chiefs of the small Tebula clan, part of the Tsonga tribe that lived in the bush around the Murchison Range in the present-day Limpopo Province. As for the national park itself, Kruger is one of the largest game reserves in all of Africa. Covering 2 million hectares of land, it’s filled with hundreds of animal species as well as cultural heritage and archaeological Stone Age sites. The park closed on March 25 as part of South Africa’s nationwide lockdown to combat coronavirus but has recently reopened to self-drive excursions for day visitors.