A 100-year-old train, suspended over a river, has been transformed into a luxury hotel in South Africa. Tourists can now stay in a repurposed vehicle to enjoy the Kruger National Park.

Imagine being able to watch a baby hippo wander around his natural habitat from your bedroom. This is one of the many reasons wildlife-lovers have flocked to South Africa’s newly opened Kruger Shalati hotel: The Train on the Bridge.


During lockdown, the hotel was an unexpected success. It is literally a century-old train sitting on the Selati suspension bridge, which looks over the crocodile-and-hippo-inhabited Sabie River.

It has been lovingly restored and offers 24 carriage rooms, a wildlife viewing deck, and even a swimming area that juts out beyond the tracks.

The train’s restoration is a tribute to the past. The last train that ran along the Selati railway line was in 1973. Before then, guests could stay on the bridge for a safari or overnight experience to see the animals.

“I thought that we were taking a huge risk. Justice Muchinya, cabin manager, says that she never imagined the hotel would be able to host guests and operate during this time. The hotel was a huge success.


Muchinya says, “Ever since our opening, we had many guests who would extend or return to us and that’s not something that normally happens with lodges.”

Kruger Shalati is also a lifeline to locals who are in dire need of work amid record-breaking unemployment rates of almost 35%. The hotel employs almost 200 people since its inception.

Since the Omicron variant was introduced late last year, the business has seen a 20% drop in revenue. Many international tourists have cancelled. Visitors are now returning to the site, despite travel restrictions being lifted.