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Thornybush Game Reserve

Thornybush, Kruger National Park

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This collection of 12 lodges dotted around Thornybush Private Nature Reserve is the ideal choice for those looking for a good value safari experience, without compromising on the quality of game drives. Guests can choose from different camps, including the flagship Game Lodge, the larger but good value Waterside and the boutique-style Serondella and Monwana. Located within the greater Kruger area, Thornybush offers better value than more famous areas, such as the Sabi Sands.

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Thornybush Game Reserve
  • rooms

    Guests can choose from a vast array of lodges, many of which are in the four-star category, making this a good value option for those who don’t want to splash out on luxury lodgings, but still want to experience the Kruger at its best. All the lodges have their own individual style - from the personalised service at Waterbuck Game Lodge, which has only four, luxurious suites, to the convivial dinners at Thornybush Game Lodge, which can accommodate up to 40 guests in 18 suites and two family suites. Monwana has a honeymoon suite, while the ensuite tents at Nkelenga are more stripped-back, reminiscent of the colonial era of exploration. The variety of options here means there’s something to suit all type of traveller.

  • facilities & activities

    All the lodges offers safari experiences, both on land and on foot. The guided trips offer guests the chance to spot some of the reserve’s 147 mammals including the Big Five, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 336 trees. Each of the lodges has its own individual facilities and style. Highlights include the spa at Game Lodge, which offers special treatments for couples and “bush baths” (other lodges with spas include Chapungu Tented Bush Camp, Nkelenga Tented Camp and Serondella Game Lodge). Nkelenga Tented Camp offers self-catering accommodation, while Simbambili Game Lodge offers luxury suites with private terraces and plunge pools. Thornybush supports charity projects, such as local schools and community farms. Hot air balloon rides and white water rafting on the Blyde River or Olifants Gorge can also be arranged.

  • dining

    Food is of very high quality in all the lodges, with a self-catering option in Nkelenga Tented Camp. There is the option of buffer and a la carte, as well as private dining - with many lodges having tables that overlook the reserve. Executive chef Maria Kgohloane ensures dishes are prepared using ingredients that are local and fresh where possible, and highlights include delicious homemade pickles and jam. 

  • family

    This is an excellent choice for safari-keen families. A number of the lodges have family rooms, such as Game Lodge, which has rooms that can accommodate two children sharing (up to the age of 12). Monwana has the option of connecting rooms, ideal for families with teenagers, while Serondella Game Lodge can be booked as a family unit with three ensuite bedrooms. Thornybush Waterside Lodge has two interconnecting suites, ideal for parents who want their children close by with their own privacy if required.

    Children’s can have a special programme prepared for them prior to arrival, including complimentary children’s packs, tailored drives and activities and special child-friendly walks. A children’s menu and a babysitting service are also available upon request.

  • location

    Eleven of the 12 lodges are located in the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, with one in the Northern part of the Sabi Sand. Bordering the Kapama Game Reserve, Thornybush is an 11,000 hectare area that is home to the Big Five, as well as other animals including zebra, impala, giraffes and monkeys. As it’s a private reserve, vehicles can go off-road, maximising your chances of spotting wildlife. The reserve is a 25-minute transfer from Eastgate Airport (with daily flights from Johannesburg, Sun City and Cape Town), and just under six hours from Johannesburg by road.

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