We are a couple in our late 30s (UK and Greek) that usually stay in upper-middle to luxury accommodation (or very basic camping). I have stayed in game lodges all over Southern and Eastern Africa but for my girlfriend it was her first bush holiday.
Monwana is the best lodge I have stayed in and for many reasons. We stayed for three nights and self-drove to Thornybush. The main reason for this was the efforts of Emma and Jaques, the couple managing the place who were simply amazing hosts.
Clean and spacious with comfortable bed and pillows, excellent view over the waterhole, decorations attractive.
Wet weather whilst we visited but the room had a nice deck.
Large bathroom with separate shower and bath and two sinks and again views over the waterhole.
Food/drink: good quality and good portion sizes. As good as any other lodge I have stayed in or better. Tasty wine list. Excellent boma on the third night.
Safaris: I had actually become pretty demoralised by rubbish guides that are only out to find the big five. Jacques however is not that sort. He was flexible and stopped at other interesting sights (frog spawn in a tree, migrant birds, hunting herons and crocs, a chameleon etc) as well as locating lions (12 in total over two prides, one with a kill), leopards, elephant, cheetah etc. We had just been in Kruger for 5 days and thought we had enough of the big game but he is so knowledgable that I learnt lots every trip about every plant and animal he pointed out. The tracker, Maurice, has the eyes of an eagle. Between them they have made me want to do safaris with a guide and tracker again. I cannot speak highly enough of this team.
Service: Again top notch. I wanted to go on a balloon ride in order to propose to my girlfriend and they were helpful in arranging transfers in the middle of the night. It was cancelled in the end due to the stormy weather and instead Emma arranged a romantic meal in our room and went completely out of her way to help. She and the team could not be helpful enough.
Few notes about Thornywood:
Parking for self-drive is not at Monwana but the main lodge - parking near the front gate would be better for 2-wheel drive cars but roads were passable though slippery in the wet. There is a landing strip and flights in and out are possible - email them directly for info I guess.
It is attractive bush area but fairly thick foliage and if you want large numbers of rhino or elephant or wide-open savannah then go into Kruger itself. They have all you could want at Monwana though so still go there for a few days at the end like we did! It will be worth it!
Get Jacques to take you on a foot safari - he knows a huge amount on most of the plants and animals and it is a completely different experience.
I am not going to try another lodge and if Monwana are booked in the future I will change my holiday dates to go there again. I miss it already.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Monwana Game Lodge, Thornybush Game Reserve, is a Four Star Superior lodge set in the heart of the African bushveld. Offering fantastic Big 5 game viewing, exquisite African cuisine and personalized service. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Monwana Game Lodge Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa