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Over Crocodiles and Under Stars: A Unique Hotel on a Railway Bridge

Over Crocodiles and Under Stars: A Unique Hotel on a Railway Bridge
photo: / Public domain/Hotel on a railway bridge
21 / 02 / 2024

Have you ever heard of a hotel located directly on an old railway bridge, where the hotel rooms are repurposed train carriages? Such a unique hotel exists in South Africa, nestled within Kruger National Park.

An old passenger train is permanently stationed on the disused Selati Railway Bridge, transformed into a luxury hotel amidst the breathtaking beauty of Kruger National Park. This bridge, once traversed by steam trains through the national park, now supports refurbished railway carriages that once carried passengers across the region. / Public domain

The hotel boasts 31 rooms, including 24 contemporary suites with glass walls, offering luxury accommodations, floor-to-ceiling windows, and bathtubs for guests to enjoy the sunset in one of Earth’s most enchanting locales. Every room provides stunning views of the park and the Sabie River, allowing guests to observe Africa's wildlife from the comfort of their suite. Moreover, the hotel features a swimming pool situated directly above the river, giving guests the thrilling experience of swimming safely over crocodiles, hippos, buffalo, and elephants below. / Public domain

Named in honor of Shalati, the African warrior queen from the 19th century, the hotel celebrates her legacy as one of the first female warrior chiefs of the Tebula, a clan within the Tsonga tribe. Unlike typical queens who awaited a brave king for rescue, she wielded a war axe to protect her people.

Jerry Mabena, CEO of the Motsamayi Tourism Group which owns the hotel, drew inspiration from the 1920s, an era when steam trains were a common sight in the national park. Much of the railway track has since been dismantled, with trains ceasing operation over the bridge in the 1970s. / Public domain

The concept of converting an old train into a luxury hotel emerged in 2016, following Mabena's acquisition and extensive refurbishment of several train carriages. By December 2020, the hotel welcomed its first guests, offering an unparalleled experience from its historic bridge.