Kruger Shalati: The Train on the Bridge was one of Africa’s most anticipated hotel openings. Located in the heart of the Kruger National Park in South Africa, this luxury hotel is something exceptionally special and makes for a memorable occasion and stay for all who visit.
Built on history
This luxury experience incorporates the iconic and still original Selati railway bridge at Skukuza Camp where the Park’s first warden, James Stevenson-Hamilton, welcomed visitors nearly 100 years ago. These guests would retire to the train in the evenings before it moved to the next part of its journey.
As part of the process to develop this new hospitality offering, Thebe Tourism Group through its subsidiary Kruger Shalati Pty Ltd - the company spearheading this project - sourced 13 railway carriages circa the 40s and 50s through their contractor from a location in Ladysmith and commenced work on modifying and engineering them to form the shell and turn the carriages into what is now a stunning hotel.
Sustainable building has been key
The technical and maintenance team behind the build of the new Kruger Shalati Train on the Bridge Hotel were adamant that elements of the build should pay tribute to the history of the Park and the structures that were there before them. This luxury train hotel uses many reclaimed items salvaged from the surrounding area and the demolition of previous structures to use as building materials, features and decor.
“From concept through to construction of the site, we always knew that we had to celebrate what was there before,” says Judiet Barnes, Brand, Sales and Marketing Executive Manager for Kruger Shalati.
“The Kruger Shalati Train on the Bridge Hotel is a very special hospitality development. Not only are we using a historical bridge on the old Selati line over the Sabie River that is no longer being used, but our train carriages themselves are recycled carriages used in the 1950s which were scrapped years ago and have been converted into a luxurious hotel and positioned on the disused Selati railway line above the Sabie River in the Kruger National Park,” shares Barnes.
A name fit for a queen
The train name is inspired by Shalati, an African warrior queen. Shalati warrior hosikati (queen) was no ordinary woman. While most queens wanted a brave king to come and save them, she wanted a bayonet war axe so she could save her clan.
She was a warrior for her clan as well as humanity. During her chieftainship, she learnt how the world worked, but had a vision of a perfect world, one without crime, war, and inequality.
The origins of Shalati’s rule go back to the 19th century. According to oral tradition, Shalati 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.
Something for everyone
This exclusive hotel consists of 24 train rooms stationed on the Selati Bridge, spanning the gorgeous Sabie River from bank to bank. There is also a spectacular bespoke lounge carriage with an opulent bar and deck offering a stunning pool for relaxing and game viewing opportunities from the vista atop the river. At a later stage, seven land-based rooms will be available in what will be known as Bridge House; positioned next to the bridge, also overlooking the river and the Train on the Bridge.
When booking, the rates are inclusive of all meals, house-drinks, and two game drives daily so that guests can take in all the beauty of the Park. Once open, the Bridge House Restaurant will offer African-inspired fare complemented by breathtaking views of the majestic Sabie River. Out on the game drives, however, guests can see these stunning creatures up close. A professional ranger will share in-depth knowledge and stories of the fascinating wildlife and the surroundings.
For those guests wanting to leave with a little memento or two, there is a Kruger Shalati gift store to do some shopping.
Location, location, location
There is perhaps no accommodation better positioned within the Park. This unique hotel sits on the iconic Selati Bridge. When staying here, visitors will have unparalleled and unrivalled views of the Kruger National Park and the Sabie River below - a popular watering hole for animals within the Park. Imagine sitting in your room or on the pool deck and you see some of the world’s most majestic creatures sip from the river below you!
Getting to The Train on the Bridge is easy. Situated as a gateway to the Kruger National Park with the Big 5 roaming freely, adjacent to the Skukuza Camp, Kruger Shalati offers an express entryway to freedom, relaxation, and meaningful connection. Kruger Shalati guests have convenient access to all that the Park has to offer and a diverse range of other major attractions in the area such as the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Library, Skukuza Golf Course, Skukuza Airport, and two hours away from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. Access to the hotel is through the Paul Kruger Gate. Airport Transfers to/from Skukuza Airport are included in the rate.
To learn more about Kruger Shalati, visit the hotel’s website at https://www.krugershalati.com/