Luxury Frontiers, a San Francisco/Johannesburg-based design and development firm, has completed Mdluli Safari Lodge. The luxury 50-tent safari camp, located within the southern borders of Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, grew from a 50-50 partnership between Mdluli Safari Lodge and the local Mdluli Community.
Luxury Frontiers focused on limiting the ecological impact of Mdluli Safari Lodge through careful consideration and collaboration with the environmental specialists of Kruger National Park. The topography of the site leans toward an offshoot of the Nsikazi River, with design involving complex positioning to ensure that each of the 50 tents looks out onto vistas across the park.
The location was assessed to ensure minimal invasion and a light ecological footprint from building methods and construction materials. Preservation of numerous Marula trees was essential to the layout, as designers took care to plan carefully around them. The layout pays homage to the traditional lekgotla—a village meeting place in several Southern African tribal languages—with a life-size bronze of the late Chief MZ Mdluli by sculptress Zelda Straud standing in the shade of the tree with outstretched arms to welcome guests to the lodge.
The tents are situated amid trees on low-impact substructures raised above the natural ground, providing elevated views of the bushveld. Each tent is modified with a stud wall structure, splitting interiors into two areas with a bedroom and bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers. The interior palette of gray, green, and natural timber is inspired by tones and textures of the surrounding landscape and showcased in subtle detailing, from chunky woven carpet to a cork desk lamp representing the bark of Marula trees.
Photo: Courtesy of Luxury Frontiers