The 140km2 Thornybush Game Reserve is located near the town of Hoedspruit on the western border of the Kruger. The famous Big 5 - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo - roam freely in the reserve while great numbers of plains game like giraffes, kudu, zebra and waterbuck can also be seen.

Thornybush’s collection of twelve luxury lodges cater to solo travelers, groups of friends, couples and families alike. Your options here include intimate lodges like the picturesque NKaya lodge that only host 8 guests at a time, deluxe private suites at The River Lodge overlooking the Monwana river and five-star villas at Simbambili Lodge that come with all the luxury trimmings you could possibly wish for.

enter image description here Thornybush The River Lodge

For the budget conscious traveler Thornybush provides a neat feature in its self-catering tented camp, called Nkelenga. This is a great option for groups or families looking for a balance between doing-it-yourself holiday living while still enjoying creature comforts like a full kitchen, housekeeping and swimming pool.


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• Daily game drives in open 4x4 vehicles with experienced trackers greatly enhance you game viewing experience. Unlike in the public areas of the Kruger, guides are allowed to track animals off-road or at night.

• Photographic opportunities are excellent at Thornybush. Your whole safari experience, including game drives and walks, can be specifically tailored to meet your photographic needs.

• Guided nature walks give you the chance to experience the African bush first hand and the rangers are keen to share local knowledge.

• With over 300 species in the reserve, birding is excellent. Tailored game drives with an experienced guide will have you tick rare and unique species off your list of bird sightings in no time.

• Extensive conservation studies have been done at Thornybush on the ultra-rare Pangolin. This elusive anteater is the most trafficed animal in the world and is critically endangered. While never a guarantee, your chances are good to spot one on a night drive at Thornybush.

Practical information

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• Thornybush is about 5 hours drive from Johannesburg. Several daily domestic and international flights depart from OR Tambo International airport. From OR Tambo you can choose to fly to a local airport (Hoedspruit, Nelspruit, Skukuza or Phalaborwa) close to the reserve. From here where a short transfer will get you to Thornybush.

• Bring warm clothing as it gets cold at night and a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen to protect against the heat in the day. Light long sleeved clothing serves as good protection from the sun too.

• Thornybush is situated within a malaria region. Speak to your doctor before you travel for advice on anti-malaria medication.

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