A birder's paradise deep within a remote thorn-tree wilderness
The Outpost Lodge lies in the 26,500-hectare Makuleke Contractual Park, a huge and remote wilderness area bordered to the north by the Limpopo River and Zimbabwe and to the east by Crooks Corner and Mozambique. The Italian-designed lodge is a sleek steel and canvas getaway in this wild setting, home to large herds of elephant and buffalo, nyala and tsessebe (antelope rarely seen in the southern regions of the park) and 350-plus recorded bird species. Vegetation here needs to survive drought, so you'll find mopane woodlands, fever trees, thickets of acacia and some ancient baobabs, the upside-down tree.
At the lodge
The communal lounge and dining areas are centred around a bar that serves beverages for every taste. Take your drinks onto the deck, where the views are wide and wild, and the large pool lures you to cool off. Despite its remote setting, The Outpost's cuisine is imaginative, very fresh and really delicious (although just two meals per day are served; there are snacks to ward off hunger pangs inbetween).
The 12 stilted rooms are linked to the main area by a half-kilometre-long walkway of Zimbabwean teak. The rooms, although modern in design with foldaway glass windows and mechanised canvas walls, sit comfortably in the surroundings. The views of the Luvuvhu valley are stupendous, especially from the stone bath, where you can soap yourself while gazing across the veld to Mozambique. Each room has an outdoor terrace and daybed, and an indoor lounge and bedroom with a large net-drapedbed. Travelling in winter? Take warm clothing.
Apart from the customary game drives, you can take early-morning or late-afternoon guided hikes or birding bush walks through areas not accessible to vehicles, such as Lanner Gorge, deeply carved by the Luvuvhu River. Visit historical Crooks Corner, where gun runners, ivory poachers and other outlaws once hid from the law, or explore the Thulamela archaeological site, where artefacts dating from 1460 to 1640 have been found. Take in local culture at Makuleke Village or simply have a massage.