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“We loved our visit!!”

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Thornybush Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 26 September 2013

This is a fabulous place to stay. The entire staff is excellent - they are friendly, well-trained and congenial. After one day (we stayed for 4 days, 3 nights), the staff knew our room, our habits, our preferences. They constantly strive to please you.

When you arrive you are assigned a Ranger and a Tracker team who you remain with for all game drives. They quickly learn your preferences (cats, birds, leopards, whatever) and work to accommodate them. There is a morning game drive (wake-up call at 6am) and an late-afternoon game drive (leaves about 4pm). Game runs usually last a few hours.

You start your day with a wake-up call; have an early snack (coffee, tea, muffins); go on your game drive, and then return for a delicious breakfast. There's a nice array of cold breakfast items - fruit, cereals, bread, yogurt, cheese, sweet cake - and eggs (and bacon, etc.) made to order. There's a delicious lunch (very, very good) at about 1pm, followed by tea at 3.30pm (tea, coffee, cake); and when you return, it's time for dinner!! Feel like you eat all day? You can! and it's wonderful. The chefs are very good and very creative. The lodge also surprises you at dinnertime on occasion, but I won't give up that secret.

During the day you are free to use the pool, the television room, the outside sitting areas (that are wonderful and lovely), or simply return to your room and relax. The rooms are very comfortable. There is both an indoor and outdoor shower (both are wonderful) and a large bathtub with bath salts provided. The rooms have a rather large deck as well.

The rooms are spotless. All amenities are well thought out: umbrellas, tea, water, bug spray, flashlights, slippers, robes). If it's a cold night, you will return to find that your bed has been pre-heated.

During our stay we saw the big 5 (actually, we saw the big 5 within the first 24 hours); lion cubs; a lion kill; black rhino; and everything else you go to Africa to see.

We had breakfast one morning with giraffes grazing nearby; we heard lions roaring nearby as we returned to our room one night; it was an amazing experience.

For safety reasons (there are no gates/fences that separate the Lodge from the Bush), you must be escorted to/from your room in the evening.

Gratuities are handled at departure. Suggested gratuities are as follows;
R200 per room, per day for the guide; R100 per room, per day for the Ranger; and Rand 50-100 per room, per day for the Staff (the Staff gratuities are divided up between all Staff equally at the end of each month).

Thornybush is special because it is a private reserve and they go off-road and track the animals; Thornybush Game Lodge is special because the staff is so extraordinary and because they do everything within their power to make your visit special.

We highly recommend this Lodge.

Room Tip: We were in Suite 1 (there are 18 suites), which some may think is a bit far to walk - we didn't...
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank elaine212
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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187 - 193 of 371 reviews

Reviewed 25 September 2013

We loved every minute of our stay at Thornybush. The safari experiences were wonderful and we saw 4 of the Big 5 on our first trip. Christoff, our guide and Henrick our spotter were wonderful and full of knowledge. Our room was great and had a nice balcony overlooking the "dry" river. It seems that we were fed constantly and the "sundowners" on safari were a real treat. The staff was very helpful and friendly. It was an experience that we will never forget and hope to get back there some day soon.

Room Tip: If you don't like a walk ask for a room close to the lodge.
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  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with family
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Thank Cjwebfoot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 September 2013

Lovely, laid back, no fuss place. Loved the cheeky monkeys doing whatever they can to steal the food, the view from the main terrace deck onto a water hole and the bush, where we saw, and heard, lion,warthogs, impala, kudu and more. The camp staff is kind and helpful. Our ranger did his absolute best to get us to see all big five. And we did.

The food is wholesome and generous, though it may not the latest gourmet fare. Every day a different sweet offering came with tea before going out to the afternoon drives, muffins, cakes, etc. breakfast is very good, lots of choices, freshly baked bread and pastries, good yogurt, decent coffee.

The usual drinks at sunset with biltong and some other snacks were offered too,

The rooms are very spacious, nicely decorated, with balconies from which to relax and watch the bush.

On the lawn there is always some interest: warthog, niala, baboons and even an occasional elephant who wondered into camp...

The Amani Spa was much enjoyed by some of us. The shop stocks some nice crafts, better than the usual collection in such places.

Room Tip: We were very happy with 4 and 5 but haven't seen the others.
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank Capetonian14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 September 2013

We stayed 4 nights at the Nkelenga tented camp, part of the Thornybush collection of game lodges in the Thornybush private game reserve.
This camp is for self catering with a main house with one bedroom sleeping two and a loft with 4 beds, ideally suited for children and a very well equipped kitchen. In addition there are 3 en-suite airconditioned tents for 2 persons each. A ranger, tracker and game vehicle accommodating 9 people are at your disposal. The accommodation is serviced, all you have to bring is food and drinks and do the cooking. Wood for fire is provided.
The location is superb, we had wonderful game sightings, including 2 cheetah and 2 leopard kills. One cheetah kill was right outside the fence of the camp. We were bush having lunch, when suddenly a cheetah pounced on an impala and killed it right in front of us!
This camp is highly recommended, it is a cheaper option to the "full board"" main lodge.

Room Tip: You book the whole camp, ideally for family or friends
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank Erwin M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 September 2013

We spent 2 nights in Thornybush Game Lodge and we enjoyed it very much!
The entire staff was so friendly and gracious, especially Grant our Guide – with his profound and consolidated knowledge  Thanks a lot for imparting and sharing with us!
The room accommodations were great with a comfortable bed, big terrace and a lovely bathroom (we loved the outdoor shower).
Game drive was superb and we saw almost everything…..Cheetah’s, Leopards with a kill, Rhino’s, buffalo’s and much more.

We highly recommend Thornybush Game Lodge.

Thanks a lot for incredible stay.
Eileen & Anke

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Eileen H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 August 2013

We stayed at the Thornybush Lodge and this accommodation exceeded expectations on every level. Our rooming accommodations were superb. Very comfortable bed, private soaking pool in back of very private room. Beautiful bathroom with outside & inside shower as well as a soaking tub. The food was top quality and in abundance. The service of all the staff was incredible. Donna was exceptional at making you feel welcome and being very attentive to our every need. The spa was phenomenal, my son & I had one hour massages that were great (the only thing I was confused about was how to tip the spa personnel, since they didn't allow you to pay at the spa-bill to your room, we left tip in the staff box in the lobby, however not sure if this was the correct way to do this--I hope they received the tip). The safari was amazing. Greg (not Craig) was our ranger & July was our tracker & they did an exceptional job getting us up close & personal to an abundance of wild animals. Greg was also very informative & really allowed us to enjoy these amazing animals, encouraging us to not only photograph, but really take in these animals. This truly was a life changing experience & would recommend taking a safari at least once in your lifetime & do so through the Thornybush lodge. My only regret is I bought a great hat through their souvenir shop & lost at our farewell dinner-great hat & souvenir--bummer.

Room Tip: All rooms are great rooms. If traveling with kids, request a family suite but all the rooms are con...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank Jed C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 August 2013

Thornybush Lodge was a wonderful way to begin our visit to South Africa.

Grant, Mel and their staff were all very warm and welcoming and made sure that every need was met. We loved the lodge, especially the dining and lounge area that are beautifully furnished and overlook the waterhole.

On our first drive I mentioned to Grant and Aubrey that it was my ambition to see a leopard in a tree - and they said that hopefully we would see leopard, but in Thornybush Reserve it was not common to see a leopard in a tree as there are not so many hyenas and so not much need for them to protect their food. However on our very next drive we came across a mum leopard and her 9 month cub walking along the river bed which was wonderful to watch in itself - and then the cub darted up a tree closely followed by his mum - and so I got to watch and photograph my first leopards in a tree!

There were so many other highlights including the warthog and bushbuck mowing the lawns at the lodge, a black rhino coming out the bush to investigate whilst we were having our sunset G&T (we quickly moved into the jeep for a closer encounter), great ellie and lion sightings and luckily even more amazing leopard sightings and of course all the other wonderful game such as giraffes, zebra, kudu, bushbuck, inyalas, waterbuck, etc etc. Sunsets were magnificent and the African bush incredible.

Our room was lovely, comfortable, with a lovely outlook of the bush and as it was at the last cottage away from the lodge it was very peaceful - except for a couple of baboons that had taken residence in a tree just outside the room and could be fairly noisy as we woke up for the dawn bush drive. It was quite a walk from the lodge to the room, but in the evenings and early mornings you are safely accompanied to and from your room by a guard. The meals were excellent with a wonderful variety of food, wines and dining experiences. The pool and sunbeds overlooked the waterhole, so you can watch the game come and go as you relax in the midday sunshine.

We really hope to go back one day.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank PerthJMC
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

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 Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 12 Speciality Lodging in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Price Range: £843 - £1,132 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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 part of the Greater Kruger National Park, with a huge diversity of mammal and bird species, lies 14 000 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 Cruisers 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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