Escape to South Africa - Part I

I've always had a love affair with the African continent and have traveled to many amazing places there. However, I had never been to South Africa and as such, it seemed like a natural choice for Liam and my next adventure!

Being such a vast country, it was tricky to narrow down where to go. After much research and consultation with our South African friends, we decided we would spend about 5 days visiting two different safari camps, hit up the wine region in the Eastern Cape for a few days and then relax in Cape Town for the remainder of the trip. We had no idea just how amazed we would be by our first stop - the Outpost Lodge.

The Outpost is in the Northern reaches of the Kruger National Park bordering Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The lodge was designed by an Italian architect, Enrico Daffonchio in a minimalist style which somehow makes the amazing location all the more breathtaking.

Our days started with a 5 a.m. wake-up call which sounds early but the view of the sunrise each morning from bed, more than made up for it! After our game drive, we were welcomed back to the lodge where the most delicious breakfasts were served, and generally spent the day lounging by the pool or enjoying the views from our very private and luxurious room. As a lover of baths, I was in heaven each day enjoying a bath while I looked out to views of Mozambique in the distance.

At 4 p.m. we gathered for afternoon tea in the main area of the lodge with the other guests and set off on our afternoon game drives soon after. As is the tradition at most of the lodges in Africa, a few hours into the drive, we would stop for "sundowners" as they are affectionately known to the South Africans... aka cocktails in the middle of the bush enjoyed while watching the sunset!

The Outpost was an incredible place to stay for its sheer aesthetic beauty, the incredible knowledge of the guides, the delicious food but also importantly due to the positive social impact of the lodge. The land on which the lodge sits, was owned by the Makuleke Community for around 140 years before their forced removal in 1969 due to the apartheid policies of the country at the time. After South Africa's return to democracy in the 1990's, the Makuleke’s lodged a successful land claim resulting in the return of their land. This return was conditional on the land being used only for ecotourism and subject to the environmental management of Kruger National Park.

The Makuleke Community then awarded a 30 year concession to the Outpost. 10% of the revenue of the Outpost goes back to the local community directly and at the end of the 30 year period the lodge will be returned to the Community to fully own and run themselves. On a visit to the local village with Langu, one of the managers from the Outpost, we learned about the positive impacts the revenues from the lodge were having on the local community including in the areas of electrification, education and other community based projects.

The Outpost is most definitely one of the most amazing places I have EVER stayed and I truly hope I can visit again in the future.

Top tips:

  • Getting to the Outpost required a short internal flight to Polokwane Airport and then a 4 hour drive. It was WELL worth the trip.

  • South African airports are very quick to get through which helps cut down on travel time.

  • We rented a car and drove ourselves from the Airport to the Outpost and then onto our next Safari Lodge. It was COMPLETELY safe and super easy.

  • If renting a car, be sure to rent an SUV! Although the roads are mostly paved, the dirt track into the Outpost is not great with a small car. We had a tiny Toyota Corolla and are fairly sure it had no bottom left when we returned it!

  • We stayed for 3 nights and 2 days which was the perfect amount of time although you could easily stay for longer as the setting was so peaceful.

#SouthAfrica #Wanderlust #LuxuryTravel #ResponsibleTravel #Safari