South Africa is one of those places that you keep dreaming of going back to, and The Outpost Lodge isn’t any different. It is without a doubt in my Top 3 most impressive and luxurious hotels/retreats I’ve ever stayed in! Staying at The Outpost Lodge was definitely a highlight of my South Africa trip, simply for its pure attention to detail they went in making sure my stay was a once in a lifetime experience.
I stayed for a total of 2 nights at The Outpost Lodge, which in all honesty wasn’t enough, I just loved the whole experience they offered so much that I didn’t want to leave! I could have easily spent a full week here and seen different wildlife on every game drive! The diversity is second to none up in the far north Kruger National Park.
The Outpost Lodge is located in Far North Kruger National Park in the Pafuri. It is without a doubt the most diverse and scenic area of The Kruger. Bordering Zimbabwe and Mozambique you can even visit the famous Crooks Corner where all three countries meet on the Limpopo River. Make sure to look out for hippos and crocs!
Don’t miss out on Lanner Gorge! One of the most incredible views over the whole park! This was our last game drive and it is one I will always remember.
More than 80% of Kruger’s diversity is up here, and for avid bird lovers this is absolute paradise.
From Johannesburg it is around 6 1/2 hours (600km) to the Pafuri Gate. I drove the whole journey on the way to the airport, it is a long drive but definitely do able.
The Outpost Lodge Overview
Upon arriving at The Outpost Lodge, I had already seen 3 elephants driving into the lodge. I instantly knew this was the real Kruger, with hardly any tourists and rental cars. I didn’t see any cars from the gate to the lodge, which I instantly fell in love with. I was greeted by such a warm welcome from the staff, there was even valet service for my car!
There were warm towels, welcome drinks and snacks all waiting for me at the bar and lounge area. Instantly the whole ambiance and tranquility took my breath away! The Outpost is elevated on the edge of a cliff overlooking the incredible Luvuvhu River. From up here, you can spot The Big 5, the ancient baobabs which flood the area and the vast landscape of the Pafuri.
Luckily I arrived just before 4pm and had time to change and get ready for the evening game drive. I took a click glance at my suite for the next 2 nights, my jaw instantly dropped! I didn’t have time to really appreciate it as I was tight on time, but they saw first impressions are key, and The Outpost definitely delivered on that front.
Below is an overview of the schedule that The Outpost Lodge runs on:
5:15am: Wake up
5:15-5:30am: Tea/coffee and biscuits
5:30am: Morning game drive
9:00/9:30am: Breakfast at the lodge
10:00am: Rest and relax
4:00pm Afternoon game drive
5:00pm: Drinks and snack on game drive
7:30pm: Return from game drive
Yes you heard that correct, 5:15am! But trust me, it is worth it and you get used to the timings very quickly! Nearly all safari camps will wake up at this time for the first game drive, purely because dawn and dusk are the best times to see game. Especially the Big 5!
A huge benefit to the mornings starting so early is that you have a huge amount of time to relax or catch up on your much needed sleep during the day before heading back out on a game drive. When you arrive back at camp, you will find your suite all turned down and perfected with a personal touch every morning and evening. Take a relaxing warm bubble bath overlooking the whole savannah after the mornings game drive! This became a daily ritual for me, and it was so relaxing!
The Outpost is an all-inclusive lodge meaning bush walks, twice-daily game drives, all meals, juices/coffee/tea, laundry services and transfers from Pafuri airstrip and included in the rate. Rates exclude conservation fees, gate entry fees, spa treatments, alcoholic beverages and other activities.
The Luxury Suites
The Outpost has 12 awarded architecturally beautiful suites all dotted along the cliff top overlooking the Kruger. All 12 suites are stilted stand alone units and spaced apart to allow complete privacy, all with uninterrupted views. They are all connected the the central bar and pool/dining area by a raised walkway.
As I mentioned earlier, first impressions are key and The Outpost delivered above all expectations. The suites are completely open on three sides allowing for panoramic views, and with a touch of a button they can be closed by automatic blinds. When you first open the area, it simply takes your breath away. From my balcony I watched elephants traverse along the river, I heard many hyenas calling at night and the sound of animals nearby. You really are at one with nature here.
The first night I slept with the blinds closed, but on my last night I slept with the blinds completely open! This was a true wildlife experience, and waking up watching the sunrise from my 4 poster bed was second to none.
Now onto my favourite part of the luxury suite and gets top spot for the best bath tub in any room I have ever stayed in! You really have to experience it to grasp just how incredible it is. Fill it with bubbles, watch the elephants, drink some wine/champagne and immerse yourself in just how lucky you are to be here!
Features of this impressive suite include: concrete floors sealed with beeswax polish, stone bathtub and shower, a king size 4 poster bed with mosquito net drapes, and two daybeds – one in the suite, and the other on the wraparound balcony. There is also a sliding shelving unit and luggage rack, which can be used as a divider when showering.
11 suites are the same, and one suite is a Honeymoon Suite.
Pool and Lounge Area
The entire communal area is open area and leads straight onto the pool and decking area. I spent quite a bit of time by the pool, relaxing and chatting with the friendly staff. There are plenty of comfy sun loungers, sofas and seats to accommodate guests, and nearly every time I had the area to myself, complete bliss!
As well as the decking area by the pool, there is also a quiet sitting/reading area with plenty of books about the area which is a great spot to have more relaxation, and shade from the midday sun.
The bar area is always open during the day and serves a vast array of local spirits and drinks as well as beer and first class South African wines.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Breakfast and lunch are served in the open plan dining area, each couple/suite has a separate table and a menu of roughly 4/5 dishes to choose from. The food portions are huge! You can order what ever you want, for instance I ordered pancakes and some scrambled eggs and toast on the side. Safe to say I was rather full after eating.
The quality of food is very high, and the head chef came out after every meal to ask how it was.
Breakfast is served after the morning game drive, at around 10:30am. A typical menu has a range of different choices including – pancakes, eggs your way, muesli, eggs Benedict and fresh fruit.
Lunch can be served whenever you are ready, with a great selection of filling meals like boutique house made pizza, burgers, salad, fish and much more.
Dinner is certainly a special occasion, they bring the table and chairs out to the pool area around the fire. You can see the stars above with the fire roaring whilst you eat your 3 course a la carte affair. A typical sitting would include soup for starts, fillet steak for main and creme brûlée for dessert.
All credit goes to Sam are incredible tracker and driver for all our game drives! The most down to earth, passionate and knowledgeable game driver I’ve come across. He really made my wildlife experience at The Outpost. His wealth of knowledge about the bush is world class, especially with birds which are in abundance up in the Pafuri.
Northern Kruger does not generally have the high concentrations of wildlife that are found in the southern end especially the Big 5, but with a little more work you can certainly see nearly all of your dream African animals. And if you like to feel a sense of solitude in the wilderness, heading to the top of Kruger may well be worth your trek.
One thing I loved about each game drive was how different they were. Our first game drive we spotted a herd of over 40 elephants! They completely surrounded our safari vehicle, which was exhilarating but at all times I felt completely safe in Sam’s hands. The second game drive we headed down to the Luvuvhu River for a magnificent sunset and sundowner drinks spotting crocs and hippos.
The next day we spent at Crooks Corner and our final game drive we bush walked up to Lanner Gorge! Traditionally game drives are sitting in a vehicle tracking the Big 5, however these game drives were much more hands on and adventurous, which I loved!
If you’re an avid bird watcher, Sam is the guide for you! He would point our specks in the distance and instantly know what species of bird it is.
One of the cutest sightings, which wasn’t on the game drive itself was spotting Bush Hyrax across the whole lodge! They are the closest relative to elephants, however look more like a Quokka/Squirrel! They are SO cute!
As I mentioned at the start of my review, this luxury lodge is in my Top 3 places I have ever stayed, so I’m sure you can guess what is coming next. If you have the budget for it, and want to experience true nature and wilderness in ultimate luxury, The Outpost Lodge should be your top choice.
I couldn’t fault anything about my stay. The staff were professional and friendly, the suites was world class, the game drives are diverse and fun and the food is exquisite.
Don’t just take my word for it, lets just say their reviews on TripAdvisor are out of this world! Click here to view what others have said.
Check out their website: The Outpost Lodge by Rare Earth
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The Outpost Lodge Review Disclosure: The Outpost gave me a two night complimentary stay. All reviews are my own honest opinion.