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Looking for a wedding venue to book exclusively in the Kruger to host much-loved friends and family for an unforgettable safari experience? Or been searching for stylish-but-affordable base to explore the Kruger? Mdluli Safari Lodge, on a private community concession at Numbi Gate, is your answer. It has 50 luxury tents and is not only a Luxury Frontiers project (expect beautifully designed and uber-comfy luxury tent interiors) but a unique community project. It’s taken no less than 22 years and a long journey of land restitution to come together but one that investors are justifiably proud of… a quintessentially South African success story.

Graham Labe at Luxury Frontiers was the design consultant behind it. His approach is uniquely holistic as no one understands what both the operator and guest is looking for like he does: he managed an Orient Express camp (now Belmond) in Botswana in the mid 90s, then became Abercrombie & Kent’s design and development director. By 2009 he started his own design consultancy. Today, Luxury Frontiers truly understands that experiential travel is what Graham calls going back to basics. ‘The experiences guests value and remember are often ones that are astonishingly simple. It’s not about how things look or the glitz and glamour – it’s about how things feel’. And there’s no question that staying at Mdluli feels good: besides its strong environmental design principles and design detail, it’s about ‘travel with a conscience’ and giving back to communities. The lodge has just opened and 90% of the lodge’s team is from the community and the community has a 50% share in the lodge – a promising model for us all to support and the way forward in Africa today.

 

What we love!

  • The location: you can fly direct into Nelspruit (KMIA) and be swinging in your hanging deck chair on your tent deck in just over an hour. 
  • Expect convenient rows of discreetly built-in international plugs on either side of the bed, decent-sized safes for laptops, and both indoor and outdoor showers for all weathers. 
  • Sofa beds are included for younger children so each tent can sleep a family of four.
  • That weddings couldn’t be easier here: 50 tents sounds like a massive camp, but it’s so well laid out among the trees and thick bush that you cannot see more than about ten tents at a time and golf carts silently drive you to your tent if you don’t feel like walking back at night (it’s fenced, by the way!).

Need to know…

  • Game drives and morning bush walks are booked through a company called Echo Africa and they can either take you through the concession or into the Kruger itself – we did an evening drive to a magnificent high vantage point for a sunset view.  Self-traversing on the Mdluli concession is also possible, giving you 850 hectares to explore yourself. Pack your Wild Card for Kruger drives.
  • There are flexible payment plans for exclusive-use weddings until March 2021 (when enquiring, request a ‘Pay at Your Pace’ quote).
  • Honestly, the only negative for a large safari camp like this (not usually our style, but ideal for weddings or milestone 40ths or 50ths) is that there’s a train that rumbles every so often in the distance but once you know what it is you can ignore it, knowing that it’s not a wild animal!

Some background: This is a unique community investment project: the Mdluli clan lived on the land adjacent to Pretoriuskop camp in the Kruger National Park and in the 1960s the apartheid government relocated the community to expand the Park to today’s boundaries. The land claim process to reclaim the land 22 years ago, the (late) chief of the Mdluli Royal Family and Community and after a long journey of land restitution, it was granted. Chief Mdluli’s son, Inkhosi MI Mdluli has worked with private investors to build the lodge that realizes the Mdluli royal family’s dream. It’s a blueprint for best-practice community development in SA.

Reviewed by Michelle Snaddon

 

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Kruger National Park

Looking for a wedding venue to book exclusively in the Kruger to host much-loved friends and family for an unforgettable safari experience? Or been searching for stylish-but-affordable base to explore the Kruger? Mdluli Safari Lodge, on a private community concession at Numbi Gate, is your answer. It has 50 luxury tents and is not only

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