The Outpost is an architectural gem, with twelve unique open "spaces" (accommodation quarters) arrayed along 500 metres of a bluff overlooking the perennial Luvuvhu river and its seasonal floodplain. The spaces have no external walls, and 180º of the exterior opens up to the most fantastic views, with your own private balcony running along the front. Furnishing is elegantly minimal, with the eye drawn out to the floodplain below. Try for room 12 at the far eastern end of the walkway for the best vista, but be aware it is some distance from the main building.
The Outpost is one of only two commercial lodges in the outstanding Makuleke concession at the far northern end of the Kruger. Three countries - South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe - meet at the confluence of the Luvuvhu and Limpopo. This place, "Crooks Corner", has a spectacular history of smuggling and banditry which gives rise to its name.
The Outpost shares private access to one of the Park's unadvertised glories, the Lanner Gorge (see Gallery below). Sundowners can be taken here at a fabulous viewpoint overlooking hippos and crocodiles at the edge of the river, where a former chief is reputed to have thrown his enemies to their death. The gorge is home to the eponymous Lanner Falcon, and offers shelter to the rare Pels Fishing Owl.
Birding is very good here, worth a special trip. The Guides talk about it in our Kruger2Canyons' Makuleke podcast.
Game is relatively abundant here due to the water - the Luvuvhu is one of only five perennial rivers in the Kruger. When other water sources begin to dry up during the winter dry season (March to November), large herds of elephant and buffalo characterise the game. The Limpopo riverbed is a spectacular sight all year round, and it is possible to take a sneaky wander all the way across (500 metres or so) to the bank on the Zimbabwean side when it is dry.
The photogenic scenery is complimented by some extraordinary flora. The groves of gigantic baobab trees are not found elsewhere in the Kruger, and include a magnificent specimen that has been dated to 3,000+ years of age. The fever tree forest creates a colourful shady retreat as the bush drops down to the flats of springs and glades in the seasonal floodplains.
Makuleke's remote wilderness make it an ideal area for walking. This is particularly true as the network of tracks is relatively undeveloped, based on those driven out by Park officials and the military. As well as leaving the vehicle for short strolls on your game drives, you can opt to go out on foot with your Guide after the morning drive. A full walking safari trail is available separately, and is covered elsewhere on the Kruger2Canyons site.
If you are at the Outpost for a few days, a picnic lunch is prepared and served out on Safari, at the riverside or under the baobabs. Good day trips are to the Thulamela archaeological site, or to a current day Makuleke village with one of the Guides from the community, sharing the chequered history of the area leading up to the birth of the Makuleke Contractual Park.
Walking into The Outpost is like entering a design showcase, but one cleverly designed to showcase nature. It's quite unlike anything else in the Kruger. Spacious and minimal, it floats on top of a cliff and invites you to soak up the glorious view below.
It is harder to get to than the southern lodges, but you are well rewarded with a gentle self-drive up through the park the best way to get there and tick off those big five. Allow three nights, stopping off at a different camp each night en route. Or fly if you have to.
The Outpost's position, combined the very low density of development on its large private concession, makes it about as close to wilderness as you are going to get in this country. But what luxurious wilderness. And exclusive access to the bush around here.
Its remote location can make it too quiet as a destination for some. There are not the hordes of the south in the summer, and the lodge is rarely full. There are few active vehicles in the area calling in sightings, so whilst the density of game is good, particularly when the Limpopo comes into spate, you and your Guide have to work harder to "produce" game as it is not habituated to vehicles like at the camps of the south.
But this means that you are in for a good explore in unsurpassed scenery, and a greater reward for your collective skill in interpreting the signs of the bush in making your own luck.
David Manttan is a founder of Kruger2Canyons.com