Mdluli Safari Lodge : Where communal development meets a luxurious bush experience

Mdluli Safari Lodge in the southern Kruger National Park, is not only a luxury getaway, but also the vision of Inkhosi MZ Mdluli to see the Mdluli community benefiting through employment, education, and communal development, that came to fruition.

The lodge with its 50 luxury tents, is the closest luxury lodge within the park to Johannesburg and Pretoria and lies at the Numbi Gate. Discover another luxury safari experience here.

An aerial view of Mdluli Lodge

An aerial view of Mdluli Lodge

Luxurious Bush Experience

Each of the custom-designed tents has en-suite bathrooms and can comfortably sleep a family of four. The oversized patios offer views into the park and the elevated tents are equipped with all the amenities you will need. Relax in the swing chair on the patio or enjoy a book on the comfortable couch under the ceiling fan.

The ultimate luxury camping

The ultimate luxury camping

Fine attention to detail in every corner

Fine attention to detail in every corner

Canvas, timber, and natural materials give each tent a true safari feel. The interior palette takes inspiration from the tones and textures of the surrounding environment. The ambiance and décor of the lodge are a carefully curated fusion of raw timbers and canvas textures with the authentic charm of Siswati tradition.

Animal Sightings By The Pool

The deck, restaurant, boma and oversized infinity swimming pool are cleverly positioned around the lodge’s open architecture and proximity to the lodge’s fence line to allow guests to enjoy nature while a herd of elephant or buffalo amble past to the river beyond. At night dinners are enjoyed under the stars in the boma and guided game drives leave for sunrise, sunset, or full day drives within the park. The lodge also offers bush walks and luxury Mdluli-Amani spa treatments in the comfort of your own tent.

A swim and an elephant sighting

A swim and an elephant sighting

A family of elephants crossing the road

A family of elephants crossing the road

Sustainable Tourism

It has taken years of dedication towards the realization of this project where a harmonious relationship between tourism, environment and community and their private sector partners MDM Fund 1 supported had to be established. Mdluli Safari Lodge is a blueprint for best practice community development projects in South Africa.

Mdluli Safari Lodge is a sustainable tourism initiative that was developed through a partnership between the Mdluli Royal Family and community and Grovest Corporate Advisory, the pioneers of Section 12J. The lodge is founded on four core pillars, a partnership with the Mdluli Community, wildlife conservation and preservation, ecological design, and the stories that guests will carry with them.

Sunrise, sunset and full day tours are offered at the lodge

Sunrise, sunset and full-day drives are offered at the lodge

Get lost in the bush veld

Get lost in the bush veld

After a long journey of land restitution, the Mdluli community has freehold title of 850 hectares of land inside the borders of the iconic Kruger National Park. This luxurious private safari lodge was developed for the sustainable uplifting of the 45 000 strong Mdluli community who live in villages adjacent to the park.

The development of Mdluli Safari Lodge employed nearly 200 local laborers. Many of them had never worked before, and it gave them financial benefits and developed their skills. Currently, nearly 90% of the staff are from the community.

The chief passed away before the lodge opened, but his son followed in his father’s footsteps.

Wine & Dine

Their rate includes breakfast and dinner, and the lodge has an impressive wine list. Enjoy a wide variety of wines from wineries such as Beyerskloof, Leopards Leap (Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon), Rustenberg Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; Simonsig Labyrinth; Vriesenhof, Unwooded Chardonnay, Pinotage 2009, Grenache, GSM  Conservation Pinotage NV, Kallista 2017 and Pinot Noir 2018. Shop South African wines here.

A selection of fine wines can be enjoyed at the lodge

A selection of fine wines can be enjoyed at the lodge

Sundowners can be enjoyed on your own private deck

Sundowners can be enjoyed on your own private deck

Chef Alicia’s slow-cooked lamb shank recipe is the ideal pairing with the Vriesenhof Pinotage 2009 or Vriesenhof Conservation Pinotage.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

Slow cooked lamb shank

Chef Alicia’s Slow-cooked lamb shank


4 lamb shanks, around 400g each

1 tsp each salt and pepper

2 – 3 tbsp olive oil, separated

1 cup onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup carrot

1 cup celery

625 ml red wine

500 ml beef stock

5 sprigs of thyme

2 dried bay leaves


Preheat the oven to 350F/180 degrees Celsius. Pat the lamb shanks dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy-based pot over high heat. Sear the lamb shanks in 2 batches until brown all over, about 5 minutes.

Remove lamb onto a plate and drain excess fat (if any) from the pot. Add olive oil & brown the carrots, celery, onion & garlic.

In an oven tray: spread the browned vegetables, and add the thyme & bay leaves. Placed the lamb shanks on top of the vegetables. Add the red wine and beef stock. Cover the oven tray tightly with foil.

Transfer to the oven for 2 hours.

Remove from oven, remove foil, then return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Check to ensure lamb meat is tender (use 2 forks) – if not, cover and keep cooking. The ideal is tender meat but still just holding onto the bone. Remove lamb onto a plate and keep warm. Pick out and discard bay leaves and thyme.

Strain the sauce into a bowl, pressing to extract all sauce out of the veggies. Pour the strained sauce back into the pot. Bring to simmer over medium heat and reduce slightly to a syrupy consistency)

Taste and then add salt and pepper to taste.

Nothing beats dinner under stars. What are you waiting for, your next travel destination awaits!

Nothing beats dinner under the stars

What are you waiting for? Your next travel destination awaits!

Follow Sip & Read to discover more exotic travel locations and shop your premium wines from around the globe here. Cheers!

BY Maryke Roberts | June 17, 2022

Maryke is an award-winning, Cape Winelands based journalist who has been writing about local and international wine and travel for over three decades. When she's home, her days are almost exclusively concluded with a walk on the beach and a glass of South African fine wine or spirits.

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