Thornybush is a 13,816 hectares private game reserve offering good value big five safari in the Greater Kruger area. While it’s home to more than its fair share of wildlife, it’s fenced off from the nearby Kruger National Park, meaning that it offers much less of a sense of wilderness than the larger Timbavati, Sabi Sands or Mala Mala Game Reserves.
For accommodation, there are eleven options within the reserve itself to choose from. They cover a wide range of budgets and tastes, with some offering more authentic tented camps and others offering luxury, well equipped lodges. Accommodation is generally of quite a high standard, with guests well placed for spotting wildlife right where they’re staying. All of the options are all inclusive except for one, which is self-catered. About half of the options are family friendly; some of the other smaller ones will welcome children if the family books the entire camp for themselves.
As with others in the area, the reserve is a hotspot for spotting the Big Five. The reserve is privately owned, so it’s not too busy or overrun with tourists. Game drives take place both in the early morning and the afternoon; they’re led by expert guides with years of experience who are always keen to impart their knowledge of the area and help visitors make the most of their safari experiences. While here, visitors can also learn about the various ongoing conservation efforts that over the years have led to certain species, such as the cheetah, being reintroduced to the area.
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The safari trip was excellent! The stay, the food and the people were all very nice. We were happy to have Ryan and Stanley as our game drive guides they brought us up close to the animals and Ryan gave very good information throughout.
Would definitely recommend to friends who are interested in safaris :)
Also, thanks much for your help, particularly keeping the room for my Brother and his wife they’ve enjoyed the safari very much too!
Woan Chyi L reviewing Cape Town & Kruger Safari on 16 October 2019
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