Do you love wildlife? Do you love the nostalgia of train travel? Staying aboard the luxury Kruger Shalati train-on-a-bridge is a once in a lifetime experience designed just for you!
We absolutely love Kruger National Park in South Africa and have travelled there many, many times over the years. Skukuza is the main rest camp in the heart of southern Kruger with a great restaurant overlooking the reed-lined Sabie River. Looking down river from the restaurant we always comment on the old railway bridge spanning the river and did some research when the kids asked why it was there.
Well, it was the main transport route between Johannesburg/Pretoria and what was known as Lorenzo Marques (now Maputo) – the capital of Mozambique. It was originally conceived of in the late 1800s and the Selati Line was opened in 1912. Rail traffic on the line was halted 1973 leaving the iconic bridge standing proud but empty.
Looking at the bridge, an amazing location right above the Sabie River, we also thought how amazing it would be to be able to go onto the bridge and what an incredible view it would have.
We weren’t the only ones thinking this and during the COVID years Kruger Shalati made a dream a reality. First, they found some old South Africa Railways carriages from the 1950s. The carriages were then stripped back and refurbished over many months and after being brought back to life, the Shalati train on a bridge opened in December 2020.
The converted carriages are thoughtfully and tastefully designed and decorated. Each room is half of a carriage with modern decor and an African twist doing true justice to the unusual space – highlighting the magnificent full length east facing panoramic windows on one side of the room, giving the narrow carriage a sense of space by accentuating the length of the room, and ensuring comfort with a gorgeous comfy bed (I had the best night’s sleep), an open style bathroom with a bath tub with a view, a separate toilet and a small balcony hovering right above the river.
What a location! Your carriage room literally soars above the Sabie River and with one side all windows your view is directly down the Sabie River to the east, affording you the most amazing sunrises! During my 2 day stay I saw elephants coming to and from the river, buffalo wallowing in the river below me and kudu crossing through the reeds. At night I lay awake listening to the sounds of the bush all around me, a big smile on my face as I heard the lion roar.
A carriage in the middle section of the train is dedicated as a lounge car with decking and an incredible plunge pool with a view. At one end of the bridge, Shalati House is the main bar, lounge and restaurant with another swimming pool overlooking the river.
The Shalati train-on-a-bridge is an all inclusive experience with food, drinks and game drives all included. Do note that Shalati in not located in its own concession but in the heart of Kruger National Park. Hence, your game drives are on the main national park roads with the general public. However, Shalati game vehicles are allowed out onto the roads at least an hour earlier than the general public, can stay out an hour and half later, and can go on national park maintenance roads which the public can’t access. Although their vehicles aren’t allowed to off-road it’s important to remember that you are in an absolutely prime wildlife area with the roads to Lower Sabie, Kruger Gate and Pretoriuskop all known hot spots for amazing Big Five sightings.
We can include a stay on the Shalati train on a bridge in any of our tailor-made trips to southern Africa. You might want to consider combining it with other amazing Kruger experiences such as another luxury lodge, a guided safari, your own self-drive safari or even a walking safari! You could also easily combine your stay on the train before or after a visit to Cape Town or Victoria Falls. See the following Travel Africa itineraries for ideas and then contact us to put together a bespoke itinerary made just for you:
- Deluxe Kruger – 4 days
- Captivating Kruger Safari – 4 days
- Kruger Under Canvas – 5 days
- Self-Drive Kruger Magic – 5 days
- Self-Drive South Africa: Kruger Family Magic – 9 days
- Kruger On Foot – 4 days
- Self-Drive South Africa: Cape Town & the Garden Route – 11 days
- Victoria Falls Magic – 4 days
- Victoria Falls & Chobe Combo – 5 days