Mdluli Safari LodgeMdluli Safari Lodge is a luxury 50-tent safari camp, located within the southern borders of the Kruger National Park. The project is a 50-50 partnership with the Mdluli Community, and it’s taken years of dedication towards the realisation of this project since a development like this is dependent on establishing a harmonious relationship between tourism, environment, and community.
Luxury Frontiers conceptualized and realized the architectural and interior design of the lodge and managed the development of the lodge from start to completion this January 2020.
Mdluli Safari Lodge was the largest physical project completed to date by Luxury Frontiers, a firm known for the development and revival of bespoke lodges. The lodge’s site features topography which leans towards the river, offering amazing vistas across the Park. It was, however, no easy design task to position 50 luxurious tents, ensuring that each share in the spectacular view while enjoying complete privacy.
Limiting the ecological impact, which is a Luxury Frontiers trademark, required careful consideration on a project of this scale. In collaboration with the Park’s environmental specialist, the location was assessed to ensure minimal damage and a light ecological footprint in both building methods and construction materials. The numerous Marula trees were identified as integral to the site layout, and the designers planned carefully around them.
TheMain AreaThe reception, dining, and swimming areas were positioned around a majestic, centrally positioned Marula tree. These main area structures are set against the picturesque backdrop of a Silver Cluster leaf valley. The layout around the Marula tree pays homage to the traditional lekgotla, which translates to a meeting place for village assemblies, court cases, and meetings of village leaders. A life-size bronze sculpture of the late Chief MZ Mdluli, sculpted by renowned sculptress, Zelda Straud, stands proudly in the shade of the Marula tree, with outstretched arms that welcome guests to this special place.
The luxurious main area consists of a lounge and bar area that overlooks the adjacent riverbed, treating guests to frequent wildlife sightings. The main restaurant consists of a larger and a more intimate area, separated by a screen detail made with recycled gumpole offcuts from the site. The main area also houses an infinity swimming pool and lounging deck area, which is ideal for those typical hot African summer days.
AccommodationThe true safari-style tents are tucked away in between the trees on a low-impact substructure raised above the natural ground, providing elevated views of the bushveld. Once each tent was positioned to provide guests with an entirely private space allowing for a close encounter with nature, no luxury was spared. Standard tents were modified with a stud wall structure, splitting the unit into two areas which include a luxurious bedroom and a bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers.
The grey, green, and natural timber palette is inspired by the tones and textures found within the surrounding landscape, showcased in subtle detailing such as the chunky woven carpet and cork desk lamp representing the bark of the Marula trees.
Community InvolvementMdluli Safari Lodge is a blueprint for community development projects in South Africa. The lodge is a sustainable tourism initiative and the Community, who live in villages adjacent to the Park, receive direct financial and indirect social and economic benefits from the lodge’s operations. “I am really excited about this project, which was started 20 years ago by our late father, Inkhosi MZ Mdluli. It was his vision to see the Royal Family and the entire Mdluli Community benefiting through education and community development. I took over from where he left off and I am committed in ensuring that under my leadership and guidance, his vision becomes a reality.” says Inkhosi MI Mdluli, Senior Traditional Leader, Mdluli Royal Family, and Mdluli Traditional Council.
The Cultural Immersion Centre, due for completion in 2020, will journey guests through the 3 core pillars on which the lodge is created—namely, a partnership with the Mdluli Community, wildlife conservation and preservation, and ecological design.
Mdluli Safari Lodge is a celebration of the African safari experience, for locals and internationals alike. Each guest’s stay will have a far reaching, positive impact on the vitality of the Mdluli Community now and into the future.