It’s no industry secret that Joss Kent, CEO of the travel outfitter andBeyond, likes to challenge the safari status quo. The bar was already set incredibly high in Sabi Sands, where exceptional luxury lodges like Singita and Royal Malewane are just as famous as the resident leopards and elephants. Still, Kent felt that this private reserve located within South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park was ready for a makeover. “Existing properties in the Kruger/Sabi Sands can be quite dated, or don’t deliver value on money, or both,” says Kent. “We intend to change that dynamic with Tengile.”
Opened on December 1, andBeyond Tengile River Lodge lays out Kent’s vision for the future of safari and embodies the brand’s holistic approach to travel—combining audacious design with sustainability and transformational experiences. In terms of aesthetics, Tengile gives guests what Kent believes they crave most: space. The lodge has bragging rights for the largest rooms in the reserve—with the smallest clocking in at 2,150 square feet. A distinct departure from the classic safari tent, these nine suites look like modern cabins and are perched on stilts so that they appear to hover above the Sand River. Inside, they have been designed to be cocoons of tranquility (tengile means “tranquil” in the local Tsonga language), with each feeling totally private and boasting its own unique river view. Upgrades, such as spacious decks complete with swimming pools and outdoor showers, bring the outdoors in, as do details like slatted wood ceilings and terrazzo floors, the latter laid with stone from the Selati Railway. Muted colors are offset with rain forest–green marble, which is a strong accent throughout the property; its swirling patterns evoke the view of the river and its tributaries that guests see while flying over the reserve.
The design of the main lodge, where guests gather for meals and sundowners, is meant to tell the story of Harry Kirkman, the big game hunter turned conservationist who worked as the warden of the reserve and once lived next door to where Tengile now sits, in the original homestead that has since become andBeyond Kirkman’s Kamp. Here, the interiors combine masculine elements overlaid with touches of laid-back, colonial-style glamour. Almost all of the furnishings were made locally, while the fabrics for curtains and upholstery are individually hand-painted in prints featuring wildlife and elements of nature by a group of artists in Cape Town.
Energy-efficient design and a state-of-the-art wastewater management and treatment system help keep the lodge’s footprint as light as possible. andBeyond will also be closing some rooms at the nearby Kirkman’s Kamp to ensure that exclusivity and low land impact are maintained. “The experience here will be quite different to the western sector of the Sabi Sand, which is very busy and where we feel the guest experience is compromised,” says Kent. “This private land has some of the most pristine traversing of any lodge in the world, and we plan to keep it that way.”