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“Excellent Lodge, Staff and Game”

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Thornybush Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 22 March 2014 via mobile

I spend a lot if time in South Africa and I have stayed at lots of lodges. This has to be one of my personal favs. The staff are wonderful, friendly and so helpful. The rooms are very comfortable and have everything you need. The public bar and restaurant area are lovely overlooking a river.

All the fancy lodge stuff aside the thing that keeps pulling me back is the excellent game viewing in this concession.

I 100% recommend this property/reserve.

Stayed: March 2014, travelled with friends
Thank Neenals
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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169 - 175 of 371 reviews

Reviewed 27 February 2014

This lodge is more expensive than our other venue (see Toro Yaka), and is much bigger. It is within a fenced reserve, and this seemed to mean that we saw more big wildlife, and much closer.
We did, however get more of a "zoo-like" feel about the game watching process; there were lots of vehicles out at once, often queuing up for the chance to see something. The drivers also thought nothing of charging right though the bush in search of their quarry, trashing all sorts of young trees on the way, and filling the passenger seats with spiders! This may feel too critical, as we saw wonderful sights; the rooms are very comfortable, food is good, as is service. Pity that the pool had some sort of chemical problem when we stayed, and look pretty grim, so no one used it.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank lordcranny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 February 2014

One hour from Johannesburg, 45 minute drive from Hoedspruit airport, this is an awesome bush experience. Superb rooms, excellent service, great attentive management, delicious food, excellent and informative game drive guides. This is not a cheap place for South Africans but the standard is so high that we almost don't mind paying for such a great experience. Of course it is a steal for the tourists from the UK, Europe and US.

  • Stayed: February 2014
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2  Thank LTWells101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 February 2014

Very good service, nice spacious cabins.
The rangers and trackers are very skilled and friendly.
We were unlucky that it rained quite a bit, so you may want to take advice as to the best time of year to visit.
However, we were able to see all of the animals in spite of the weather.

Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
3  Thank Richard D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 January 2014

Thornybush Game Lodge offers the perfect safari experience. The property was beautiful and very private. Very spacious rooms that include an outdoor shower in addition to an oversized bathroom with double sinks, soaking tub and shower with views. Food was outstanding and plentiful. The general manager, Melanie, was extremely hospitable and always available. She's very gracious and gets to know each guest. Charles was our guide/driver and Peter was our spotter. We were very fortunate to have them. They grew up in the area and were very informative. All in all this is 5 star all the way.

Room Tip: All rooms are the same. Each room is an individual building. All have a deck.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with friends
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2  Thank Rosie1Vail_Colorado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 January 2014

Our family of 5 (children aged 9, 7 and 3) stayed here for 5 nights in 2011, and had an amazing experience!! Our guide, Shoes, was amazing, as was our tracker. We went on 1 or 2 safaris a day (letting the kids sleep in some days), and felt SPOILED by the sundowners in the park and the incredible *surprise* night-time, candle-lit dinner for all guests of the lodge inside a dry riverbed!! We had no idea we would be taken there for dinner at the end of our safari one evening!! I don't think I have ever seen anything so beautiful in my life. (They had even tastefully set up a rather fancy outdoor "bathroom" for the guests) -This lodge made our children feel very welcome, which is not typical on safaris, and they even gave us our own private car each day without our asking. (I assume this was to please us AND the other as guests at the lodge, as our youngest was very young.) The room, outdoor shower and private dipping pool were all out of this world. We also loved the lodge's main pool that kept our kids busy afternoons. -Oh, and our kids spent one afternoon baking cookies with the cook one day. - Just beware of the little wild monkeys on the property, as they will steal your food and chase your children around if you don't watch out (something our children will never forget!!)

Room Tip: Nothing to say except that they are all amazing.
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  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank SarahDMD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 January 2014

As I indicated in my previous reviews, we are travel specialists, not the occasional tourists. That means we have the chance to go back to the same hotels and same restaurants over and over again. That gives us a different perspective, and allows us to go above temporary glitches that may occur here and there, and might reflect in a bad review on account of the passing traveler who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

This was our third visit to Thornybush Game Lodge. And as is reflected in my other reviews, we do seem to be lenient and tolerant to what others may react to harshly. But when you stay at a 1,200 USD / night establishment, you can expect nothing short of perfect.

And to be correct, Thornybush is STILL a beautiful lodge, with amazing caring service, and the best safaris any private game lodge can offer. The rooms are all in excellent condition, and are well maintained. And on the whole, the place is run smoothly and efficiently. And the bottm line is that for all the mentioned above, we WILL come back again.

But as I said, you can afford to demand perfect when you pay these sums. And perfect it was not.
We arrived on December 30, in the middle of a 3 day rainstorm. There is no entry to any vehicle other than the reserve’s jeeps from the main gate to the lodge, which is about 15-20 minutes drive on a dirt (or mud in our case) road. As these jeeps are built for off road and in-bush experience, they have no cover. Therefore we were given a sort of rain coat that was supposed to protect us from the rain.

These rain coats were all dilapidated and worn, and needless to say all of us arrived soaked, angry and mostly aggravated to the lodge. The management apologized for the lack of cover, explaining it was on account of the off-road driving that prevented them from putting on the roof. And for the ponchos and rain coats, they gave us a feeble explanation that the ponchos they ordered didn’t yet arrive, and that these are new ponchos that somehow got worn out.

Then, when we started our safari, we asked Ocean, our driver (same one for 3 years running) to get inside the bush to look for the leopard, he said: But no off-road during rain. That really got me crossed, as the off-road was the SOLE reason we didn’t have a cover when we arrived. We drove back to the lodge, and demanded explanation, but no real explanation was given, and only excuses and evasion tactics were employed trying to escape our questions.

On the next day they were expecting a group, so they did all they could to rush us out at 10 in the morning. Even as it was mentioned specifically that check-out is at 11:00. Not that I don’t understand their motive and their stress. But as a client who paid 1,200 USD / night, and still got soaked wet on account of their inability to think outside the box, to put down a wet-day-policy, to equip themselves with adequate rain protection for their clients I was furious. And rightly so. I think this is no way for such a respectable lodge of that caliber to be less than perfect. And I really do hope they will amend their errors, to go back to being the number 1 game lodge in South Africa.

Another point is the internet. The Wi-Fi worked well, albeit in a small and limited space only. I think a hotel that takes so much money can afford to buy a few antennas and access points, as to let people indulge on the Wi-Fi in their rooms. There are solutions nowadays that allow access over 2 Km away from the router, and shame they are not put to use in this hotel. And the worst is that after you paid so much, and have all included, to ask you to pay – even a small amount – is like a worm in the apple. And coming from the world of service, I just couldn’t grasp the necessity of charging for something that is now all over the world an integral part of the room. They should include the Wi-Fi and boost the signal, to be on par with the hotel’s level.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with friends
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8  Thank Yonatan_Glaubman
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: £831 - £1,127 (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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