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“An amazing way to experience Kruger National Park” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Thornybush Game Lodge

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Thornybush Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Nashville, Tennessee
Level Contributor
275 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
“An amazing way to experience Kruger National Park”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 November 2012

We actually went back in 2006, but it deserves the Excellent rating, and I wanted to put my two cents in.

The food was always delicious and the staff was attentive. The animal viewing, the game drives and the suites were all outstanding. This trip was a dream come true for me and Thornybush helped make it so.

A couple warnings or notes:

Listen to the staff when they tell you to lock your doors at all times. In early morning before dawn, a troupe of baboons came through and tried to get into rooms. They were on top of our hut. We could hear them trying to open the big sliding doors of the next door hut. Make sure you get the escorts during the evening and night hours. Wild animals are all around the property and they do come through the property.

On our last night, we found a nest of ants in our bed. We think it fell out of the mosquito netting above the bed. We had to call the front desk and house keeping had to be woken to come and change the sheets. We felt bad about it, but it had to be done. So, just check your bed at night. You are in the bush in Africa, and this type of thing will happen, even at the best of places.

The game drives were amazing! We saw all of the Big 5. Our guides were wonderful. Again, listen to the guides, and keep your butts sitting down! Do not stand up in the vehicles. These are wild animals you are viewing and not to be taken lightly. Be respectful of the experts, they are there to keep you safe.

We went on a group trip with my husband's company, so we had some extra things added to our stay. They set up a dinner one night outside the lodge and in the bush. It was beautiful and exhilarating. Nothing like going to a bush style porta-potty and sitting across from a sizable scorpion. We also had a Swahili children singing and dance group perform for us. They were outstanding and very moving.

I highly recommend Thornybush.

Room Tip: We had a hut with a plunge pool. Very nice. We also loved the outdoor private shower. Again, make su...
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  • Stayed December 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank greengirl68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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331 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (78)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
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English first
Dubai
Level Contributor
24 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 October 2012

Spent 3 nights at Thornybush and had an amazing time. The staff there do everything. We were welcomed by the manageress who was later serving in the restaurant. We had a ranger and tracker for the safari drives (same ones each time) who were so knowledgeable and very good at finding the animals which we wanted to see. We had seen all of the big 5 and more by the third drive! Vehicles are modified Landcruisers which go anywhere. There are also blankets and waterproofs if the weather is less than perfect. We were met after the evening drives with a welcoming drink and after the morning drives by a huge breakfast. During the evening drives we stopped for sundowners and snacks and in the morning drive it was coffee with a shot of Amarula to warm us up. Later, our ranger was also barman! The rooms are stunning with huge windows overlooking the waterhole and river bed. Beds huge, very comfortable and completely enclosed by mosquito nets. Incidently, I didnt see a single mosquito while we were there.There is even an outdoor shower. Food is excellent and plenty of it. There is even a spa on site offering all kinds of treatments. Great value for money,

Room Tip: All rooms are separate chalets that overlook the waterhole
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  • Stayed October 2012, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Sue G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Punta Gorda, Florida
Level Contributor
321 reviews
58 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 October 2012

We stayed here for three days and every one was memorable. The accomodations are great. And the food is wonderful and so plentiful we were too full to take advantage of every dining opportunity. The setting is amazing with animals roaming freely. We went on every game drive and bush walk which I would recommend if you want to truely experience this fantastic locale. Be sure to dress in layers too with clothing that spans chilly mornings to very warm afternoons. Grant is an amazing guide with an encyclopediac knowledge of wildlife, flora and fauna. We learned so much. And we saw the Big 5 in abundance and so close it was hard to believe! His wife, Melanie is a lovely hostess and the dinners in the bush and at the boma were superb. We loved the morning cofee breaks and sundowners too. Amarula in our coffee nearly became an addiction. It was a perfect stay from beginning to end. We would return in a heartbeat!

Room Tip: I don't think there are any bad accomodations.
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  • Stayed August 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank janiewa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 October 2012

Stayed here as part of a South African Airways package. We went during the "wrong" time of year (summer, when the area is at its hottest and leaves are on the trees/bushes supposedly making it harder to see animals), but we saw the Big 5 and more nearly everyday we were there. And to be honest, turning a leafy corner in the jeep and unexpectedly coming upon 5 giraffes was maybe even more special than spotting them first from far away. Accommodations were clean, comfortable. We were woken up by a noisy troop of baboons on our balcony one morning and were regularly visited by wandering impalas in our back yard. Food was good, plentiful. Staff was extremely kind and helpful. I opted to go for a walk with our guide during down time one day - while we didn't have any major animal sightings, it was thrilling to get out of the jeep and walk around in the terrain that we'd spent days driving around - highly recommend it.

  • Stayed December 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank noname212
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Johannesburg
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 October 2012

We've just returned from Thornybush and were lucky to get one of the private camps situated within the reserve. We had the main house (sleeps up to 6) and three tented rooms, each with its own en-suite shower room, and sitting on timber decks. My tented room was very comfortable and had A/C, which is a must in those hot afternoons between game drives. We were a large group of 8 so we were afforded our own privacy, and we could do what we wanted. We had our own dedicated vehcile, tracker and guide (Cedric and 'Shoes', who were outstanding), plus a maid who looked after us every day. This is a self-catering option, so we made good use of the fire-pit and braai every night. The twice-daily game drives were a minmum of 3 hours each, and we were extremely lucky to see the big 5, cheetah and wild dog as well as the ubiquitous 'nabi' - "not another bloody impala..'. Morning coffees and snacks, as well as the evening sundowners were much appreciated. It's worth your while looking at the more secluded' private camp' option if you have the numbers - you are well away from the main lodge and completely at one with the surrounding bush. There's nothing better than sitting round a blazing fire, under clear, starry african skies, or drifting off to sleep to the sounds of lion and hyena. Amazing.

  • Stayed September 2012, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Jozicelt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dubai, UAE
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 October 2012

This was our first Safari experience and my family was very hesitant about it. We are a family of six and we stayed at the Thornybush Main Lodge for 3 nights during August 2012. The experience was BEYOND any of our expectation! Every single detail of out trip was perfected by the staff at the lodge and I cannot even explain how thrilled m entire family was!

First, the rooms were very clean and cosy. The housekeeping staff was very good in making the room that my sister and I stayed in look tidy and clean (we are very messy girls) every time we returned from our game drives. We had a couple of unwanted visitors (spider and lizard) in the room which the hotel staff immediately took care of as soon as we told them. The bathroom is huge with relaxing bathtub, shower, and outdoor shower!

I was a little bit concerned about the food because we are a big family which means people have different preferences and some of us are picky when it comes to food, but we were blown away! As muslims, we do not eat pork nor drink alcohol which was the first thing we informed the staff upon our arrival. They made sure that for our entire stay all our meals and snacks are prepared especially for us. Every meal was different, no dish was repeated throughout our stay. Desserts were HEAVENLY, and they even took us on a surprise exciting bonfire barbecue dinner in the middle of the bush where we had dinner with our ranger, Greg, and got to know him more.

July and Greg were our ranger and tracker during our stay. We went on a total 6 game drives which were all eventful and exciting. We got to see all the Big 5 and much more. Snacks and drinks were provided during the game drive. Greg was very friendly and informative. He is passionate about birds and it shows. I was very excited to see the Big 5 and asked for us to go closer every time we saw one, and I can't believe how closer Greg took us!! Amazing!!

Everyone in the staff is very well informed about almost everything in the lodge and we even saw the lodge manager wearing an apron and helping out the staff setting up the buffet! However, for those of you planning a trip, keep in mind that you should stay for the sole purpose of relaxing and enjoying game drives because this is what everything is set up for. Internet access was limited to the lodge library which almost made my family freak out, but turned out to be great because we were able to bond and enjoy our family trip away from our smart phones and laptops.

Please make sure you bring everything you need with you. Even though the lodge has a little gift shop, there isn't much of an option when you realise you forgot something you needed!

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Shamma88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
South Africa
Level Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 October 2012

I can only concur with all the excellent reviews, but wanted to add some tips based on our experience as a couple from 21-23 September 2012 at Thornybush Game Lodge.

- No need to take any snacks - there is so much food at regular intervals that you will not need anything in between.
- Bottled water and coffee/tea always available at no extra cost. Free bottled water in your room is replenished regularly and the bar fridge is well stocked (but expensive).
- Drinks are expensive. You may take your own wine to dinner - a corkage fee of ZAR45 is charged but this works out cheaper than buying a bottle of wine from the bar (but they do have an excellent selection).
- Beware of the monkeys during breakfast and lunch - they steal food out of your plates, even while you are sitting down to eat!
- No toilet facilities on the game drives, which take about 3 hours. Take a jacket, even if the drive starts out warm. We came back to an unannounced bush dinner in the veld and were a bit cold without our jackets at dinner (although blankets were provided).
- Evening game drive stops for snacks (nibbles) and sun downer drinks, which include soft drinks, bottled wine, beer and spirits.
- Do not walk outside after dark without a ranger - wild animals do roam the lodge, even lions and leopards. You are really taking a big, stupid chance after dark on your own.
- Do not leave your room doors open when you are not there, or at night when you sleep. We saw a civet cat on our deck at 2am and rodents also roam the deck. We were told that someone one morning woke up to a leopard sleeping on their deck! Use the air conditioner if needed.
- All toiletries are available in your room, you only need to take a toothbrush and toothpaste. Bath salts, soap, shampoo, hand and body cream, towels, slippers and a gown, bug spray and candles are provided. You also get a torch and umbrellas.
- Your room has a large safe, big enough to hold your camera equipment, cell phones/wallets and even a smallish handbag.
- Tipping guidelines are ZAR200 per day for the ranger; ZAR100 per day for the tracker - can be added to your bill at your own discretion. Cash is only needed for tipping the housekeeping staff - a communal box is provided at reception and the tips are distributed equally by the lodge.
- No ATM facilities at the lodge, but you will not need any other cash.
- Self-drive: the lodge is about 15 mins drive on a gravel road from the main gate at the reserve entrance, plus another 15 mins on a good gravel road outside the reserve before you reach the first tar road. Take it easy in the reserve, especially with a sedan/vehicle with low ground clearance.
- Driving in the reserve is not permitted - the lodge keeps your car keys for the duration of your stay. The twice-a-day game drives are more than enough though.
- MTN cell phone reception is poor - some patchy reception in the parking area where the game drives depart. Vodacom reception is apparently good.

Room Tip: Room 17 is the most secluded at the very end of the row. In general, rooms 10 through 17 offer more...
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  • Stayed September 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Spydr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Thornybush Game Lodge

Property: Thornybush Game Lodge
Address: Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 12 Speciality Lodging in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Thornybush Game Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Thornybush Game Lodge (Graded 5 star by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa)- 18 luxury suites & 2 family suites (40 guests). Nestled in the heart of Big 5 country adjacent to the Greater Kruger National Park, with a huge diversity of mammal and bird species, lies 11 500 hectares of pristine African Bushveld, this is the Thornybush Nature Reserve. The elegant and exclusive Thornybush Game Lodge awaits discovery by the discerning traveller. Unrivaled big game viewing is complemented by exquisite accommodation and sublime cuisine. Thornybush Game Lodge boasts 18 stylish air-conditioned luxury suites and 2 family suites, all with extensive living areas overlooking the seasonal Monwana River. From within the luxurious suites, each with full en-suite facilities and private decks, sweeping vistas can be enjoyed over the savannah and an ever-active water hole. Superb attention to detail and highly personalised service make for a memorable stay. Enjoy exciting dawn and dusk safaris in open Land Rovers and on walking safaris, take a moment to browse in the intimate library or simply enjoy a treatment in the Beauty Spa or relax at the pool with your favourite cocktail as you bask in Africa’s glorious sunshine. An African safari can be a life-changing experience. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Thornybush Game Lodge Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa

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