Conservation-led travel company &Beyond has opened the brand new Tengile River Lodge, taking the level of luxury in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve up to a new level.

Drawing inspiration from the history of Kirkman’s Kamp, &Beyond’s existing property in the reserve, Tengile River Lodge offers a fresh and contemporary take on the safari aesthetic that is a refreshing break with tradition. Nine exclusive guest suites are tucked deep into the riverine forest on the banks of the Sand River.

Each offers 180º views over the river, looking out onto one of South Africa’s most wildlife-rich conservation areas. “Tengile River Lodge boasts a fresh design that gives our guests what they crave the most – space,” says &Beyond CEO Joss Kent.

At over 200 square metres (2 150 square feet) per guest suite, the lodge has some of the largest rooms in the Sabi Sand. With the emphasis on both comfort and privacy, the rooms are designed to highlight the magnificence of the setting, with bespoke materials and designs that echo the colours and textures of the bush.

Bespoke touches cleverly combine the classical and the contemporary, drawing on the area’s colourful past for inspiration. For example, stone from the Selati Railway, which used to run through the area, connecting the gold mines of Johannesburg with the port city of Maputo, has been used to create the terrazzo floors. The stones have been carefully laid out to make the most of the contrasting colours, including dark greens, shades of rust and black.

Slatted raw wood is used for the ceiling and extends down onto the walls as cladding to create the illusion of a cabin. The high ceilings create beams of natural light that illuminate the rich interiors. In keeping with &Beyond’s ethos of sustainability, the lodge design makes use of a great deal of repurposed material with a connection to the setting. The stone cladding has been sourced from a local quarry and the railway sleeper cladding pays tribute to the Selati railway once again. Rusted metal sheets are a contemporary take on the conventional metal sheet roofing of the colonial era.

The roofs have been covered in sand from the site itself, which means that, when viewed from overhead, the lodge site has minimal impact on the area. Décor pieces have been specially made and designed in collaboration with a selection of local designers. The lights, couches, beds and chairs are all locally designed, as are the screen designed and shop fittings. The fabrics for curtains and upholstery are individually hand-painted by a group of artists in Cape Town and feature wildlife prints and elements of nature.

The contrasting colours and contours of the landscape when viewed from overhead are reflected in the use of green marble as a design highlight. The stone’s colour was chosen to reinforce the idea of the river and its tributaries. The remainder of the colour palette has also been chosen with the setting in mind, utilising shades and hues that may be found in the surroundings. Hand-painted animal print fabrics make an appearance throughout the lodge.

An additional touch is a Wellness Centre overlooking the river, which includes a gym and pool, as well as massage rooms and a sunken deck from where guests can enjoy the tranquil surrounding while awaiting their treatment.

Sustainability elements at &Beyond Tengile River Lodge design include thermal efficiency, a minimal ecological footprint through careful environmental auditing, as well as state-of-the-art waste water and sewer treatment systems. Situated in one of the most renowned wildlife viewing areas in South Africa, game drives traverse an area of 10 500 hectares (26 000 acres) and strict vehicle limits at sighting ensure the exclusivity of the game viewing experience.

Source: &Beyond