- Private lodge for no more than eight people
- Excellent game drives and optional guided walks
- Scenic location in the reserve
NKaya Lodge is one of a dozen different properties that make up the Thornybush Collection. These properties are scattered throughout Thornybush Nature Reserve, a private game reserve that’s approximately 14,000 hectares in size and mostly consists of open savannah. NKaya Lodge is one of the more private options for those looking for overnight stays in the reserve because of its rather remote location and its small number of suites. It’s situated on a hill crest and looks out onto the spectacular Drakensberg mountain range. Those who stay here have plenty of chances to explore the reserve and see some of its abundant wildlife.
There are just four suites at the lodge. All of them can accommodate two people, so at any one time there are no more than eight guests at the lodge. This makes it much more peaceful and quiet than other places in the reserve; it’s an ideal choice for anyone after a more exclusive getaway. All of the suites have air conditioning and come with a private lounge, as well as an en-suite bathroom with both a shower and a bathtub. While the suites are designed to be four doubles, they can be arranged as eight singles on request.
For many, the highlight of staying at the lodge is the game drives. These are included in all rates and take place twice a day: there’s an early morning drive before breakfast and a mid-afternoon drive that can be extended into the evening if there’s a chance of some nocturnal animals being spotted. The drives are led by experienced, knowledgeable tour guides who are keen to make the drives as educational, engaging and worthwhile as possible. Thanks to the reserve’s favourable year-round climate, guests are able to enjoy high-quality game drive experiences at any time of the year. As well as game drives, guided walks are offered every morning after breakfast. While out on walks, guests can spot some of the reserve’s smaller animals and get a closer look at its diverse vegetation. The reserve has an unfenced border with Kruger National Park, with animals able to roam freely between the two protected areas. It’s home to nearly a hundred and fifty animal species (including the Big 5), over a hundred reptile species and more than five hundred species of birds.
When not out on walks or drives, guests are free to make use of the lodge's facilities. There’s a swimming pool with sun loungers, along with a well stocked bar, a public lounge and the main dining area where three meals are served daily. There’s also an outdoor boma area where guests can enjoy delicious meals and snacks by the campfire as the sun goes down.
Note that children aged five and under aren’t allowed on the game drives. There are no babysitting services available here.
We had a fantastic time and all the arrangements worked perfectly.
We were very impressed with the quality and service levels of all 4 locations visited and it was truly a holiday of a lifetime.
Thank you to you and to Lisa for giving us this experience.
Particular highlights for us – really the whole experience, but of particular impact:
Breathtaking scenery at Cathedral Peak Hotel
Rhino Ridge game drives incredible, thanks to guide (we had their head guide, Hala, who’s knowledge, enthusiasm, kindness, interaction, ability to spot wildlife was out of this world)
Luxury of Rhino Ridge (shower, food, views, service)
Immersion in nature, torch lit meal on last night and beach trip at Kosi Forest Lodge
Level of service, quality of food throughout
Catherine F reviewing South Africa Safari, Beach and Wetlands on 04 September 2019
We had a fantastic time. Thank you and it went smoothly in the main except for British Airways!
The trip had the right degree of luxury and relaxation (for me) and adventure (all of us).
A few points:
Driving directions to Umlunghi Lodge were slightly wrong. The driving directions should read at the 4th roundabout take the first exit and turn right over the railway. We loved it there. Anton, Bianca and her son and Harriet were very informative and entertaining. The snake talk and handling, night walks and seeing scorpions and the walk in the bush and "bumping" into a giraffe were really special. The kayak trip to Makuzi pan that the lodge organised was good and Tomaz was very informative and kept a respectful distance from the hippos.3 nights was plenty.
Rhino River Lodge game reserve was incredibly luxurious and we felt very looked after. The lion siting in camp the day we arrived sent an extra frisson of excitement down our spines. It was easy to forget there were predators that could attack us with all that luxury. The staff and guides (Karl) were knowledgeable and invested in their set up. We saw rhinos with baby, cheetahs with young, porcupine, Genet, wildebeast, Impala, Lion with young, buffalo, a puff adder, ostrich, zebra and giraffes. 4 nights was also plenty.
They all served great food but I felt Ghost Mountain Inn topped the lot. The variety was amazing. We arrived at 10.30 but could not get into our room until 2 ish. The service was not so personal I guess because it is larger (far more than 50 rooms). We had been a bit spoilt at Rhino River! My daughter and I had some treatments at the Spa and loved it. We also went on a large boat trip on Jonzi and had a closer encounter with a large bull hippo and also a hike up Ghost Mountain with Patrick who was very informative and passionate about his people and his country. Isaac the other guide there took us on the boat trip and pointed out the sugar cane harvest on the way. he was very informative also.
Lastly, Lalaria Lodge was fabulous and we all piled into the surf of the Indian Ocean. There was hardly anyone on the beach. It was "too cold" according to the landlady. The view from her terrace was of the ocean and whales breaching in the distance. I could have sat there all day. She very kindly provided us with a Scrabble board of her own for us to play. We took a Microlight ride from Ballito over the coastline in the hope of seeing whales and dolphins but no luck. If we had stayed longer we might have gone on a boat trip from Durban. We had a meal at a restaurant called Mozambique which was great fun with vast portions, plenty of carbs and fresh seafood!
The value of the Rand to the Pound was excellent and therefore we felt that we got excellent value which also played a large part!
Katrina P reviewing South Africa Bush & Beach Safari For Families on 02 September 2019
Hi, just back home now as stayed in London last night. It was fab! We loved it! Amazing all round- Thankyou. Best holiday ever!!!
Accommodation great at both places, guides lovely, staff great. We saw more animals than ever expected: giraffes, lion, elephants, water hog, wilder beast, impala, white rhino, crocodiles, hippos in lake Sybia, monkeys in trees at Tonga.
Beach beautiful, but a bit windy, waves v rough but didn’t deter my boys. We snorkeled which was fab but too rough on day we booked to do ocean experience.
My boys swam in all pools!!!
Weather better than we expected!
Must go and do some laundry, but hope that helps?
Nicola B reviewing South Africa Luxury Safari & Beach Holiday on 24 July 2019