The Outpost – where less is indeed more.

A secluded architectural beauty

Driving up to the lodge I was reminded of a phrase popularized by minimalist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – Less is More. At the Outpost less is indeed a lot more. The contemporary and minimalistic architecture ensures that it is all about the stunning views. The Outpost was designed by Italian born architect Enrico Daffonchio. His use of simple, clean lines and the combination of steel and concrete emphasizes and frames the sweeping landscape perfectly.

We were met at the door by Barbra and Conrad and ushered inside to enjoy our welcome drinks in the cosy sitting room in front of a burning fire. This was a real treat as it was raining and chilly when we arrived. The first thing you see when entering the main building is the modern bar which defines the lounge and dining area. The stylishly decorated lounge flows out onto a beautiful deck and inviting swimming pool. I could just imagine myself lounging next the lap pool on one of the luxury daybeds drinking a G&T.

The Outpost offers 12 stand-alone ensuite living spaces cantilevered on a hill overlooking the Levuvhu river. These living spaces are connected to the main lodge by a half kilometre long walkway made of Zimbabwean teak. Walking along this walkway is a pleasure as every few metres affords you a new vantage point of the river and surrounding valley.

We followed Nompie along the walkway to our little piece of architectural heaven, stopping every few metres just to take in the view. Upon entering our room, the king size bed immediately caught my attention. Each spacious room also has its own outdoor terrace with a daybed – ideal for a lazy afternoon of reading or sunbathing (unfortunately the weather did not permit any sunbathing). As I sat down on the couch happy to call this beautiful room my home for a while, Nompie opened the retractable remote-controlled screens and we were treated to a 180-degree view of the river valley below. It was as if someone had pulled a sheet off a magnificent painting. The view was breath-taking. Needless to say, those screens stayed open during our whole stay, but for one evening when the wind was very cold. My favourite part of the room was the ensuite bathroom that offers you a full view of the surrounding bush veld. I can honesty say this was the best bath I have ever had. I was almost sad to leave our room for our afternoon game drive.

Activities

The Outpost lies in the northern most part of the Kruger National Park. This region, called the Makuleke Region, is bordered to the north by die Limpopo River and Zimbabwe, and to the east by Crooks Corner and Mozambique. The Outpost is situated in the most biodiverse area of the Kruger Park. The diverse terrain of the region includes Mopane woodlands, Fever tree forests, Acacia thickets and some of oldest and largest Baobab trees. The area is home to large herds of elephant and buffalo, and if you are lucky you might spot the rare Tsessebe antelope. The area is renowned for its birding and guests may be able to spot Broad-billed and Racket-tailed Rollers, Wattled-eyed Flycatcher, White-faced and Pel’s Fishing Owl.

The Outpost goes out of their way when it comes to offering guests an authentic bush experience.  Guests are offered game drives in the morning and again in the late afternoon which many times extend into the early evening. The vehicles are not restricted to public roads and mostly make use of tracks formerly reserved for the use of Park officials, which means guests see parts of the park they would not be able to otherwise. On our afternoon drive our brilliant guide, Conrad, took us to visit the magnificent Highland floodplains. On our way there Conrad pointed out interesting plant and amphibian species. We arrived at the RAMSAR site just in time to enjoy a sun downer. The highlight of the afternoon had to be the three Dwarf Bitterns we spotted roosting near the edge of the water.

The Outpost also offers guests the opportunity to experience the bush on foot. Walks are conducted in parts of the region not accessible to vehicles including the spectacular Lanner Gorge. Due to the rainy weather, we unfortunately missed out on our excursion to Lanner Gorge, but the full-body massage Rosta en Vidah treated us to certainly made up for it. The Outpost specializes in Spa treatments in the privacy of your own room. Nothing beats enjoying a massage while listing to sounds of the bush.  

Wine and dine

The Outpost has an impressive wine cellar stocking wines from some of the best South African wine farms. Chef Gemma strives to create dishes that tie in with their African surroundings. Plated breakfasts are served in the dining area in the main building with views of the Levuvhu River Valley. Guests can enjoy a picnic lunch out on safari on the banks of the river or under the Baobabs. On our last evening we were treated to a traditional South African braai with all the bells and whistles. Unfortunately, the rain did not allow us to enjoy our dinner under the stars.  

Historical and cultural heritage

The region has a rich historical and cultural heritage. The Outpost provides guided visits to Crooks Corner and the Thulamela archaeological site. It is definitely worth asking to visit both these sites during your stay.

The Outpost cherishes their relationship with the Makuleke Community. The history of the Makuleke people is best explored by a visit to the Makuleke Village. Guests can take a full day excursions to the Village in the capable hands of a local guide.

Getting there

The Outpost is located 20km from the Kruger National Park’s Pafuri Gate and only a 6 and ½ hours drive from Johannesburg. If that drive seems to long there are daily scheduled flights from Johannesburg or Cape Town to Hoedspruit or Nelspruit airports.

It is in the detail

The staff went to great lengths to make our stay at The Outpost unforgettable. Upon returning from our evening game drive, we not only found our room prepared for the evening with a note and something sweet on our bed, the staff had also drawn us a bath. And when the time came to say goodbye, we did not leave empty handy. They had packed us a lunch for the long trip home.

The Outpost has been on my bucketlist for some time and I can honesty say it did not disappoint. I have a feeling I am going to struggle to find a room with that view anywhere else. And that bath! The Outpost is undoubtedly one of the best luxury safari experiences I have ever experienced. The Outpost is part of Rare Earth’s portfolio of luxury lodges and hotels, and is definitely a destination every traveller should have on their bucketlist. There are currently some great post-lockdown rates running. Do not miss out – book your stay now.

Reservations can be made by contacting Rare Earth – reservations@rareearth.co.za or +27 11 568 0384. Alternatively The Outpost can be contacted directly on +27 13 735 8907

Facebook: @theoutpostlodge 

Instagram: @TheOutpostLodge

Image credits: Fay van Eeden, Peet van Eeden (Facebook: Creation Through My Lens)

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