Thornybush Game Reserve

Thornybush Game Reserve

Whilst the 14,000 hectare Thornybush Game Reserve is fenced off from the neighbouring reserves and Kruger, there is still a very high density of animals, including all of the Big 5.

Thornybush Game Reserve

Traverse 14,000 Hectares in search of Africa's Big 5

The Thornybush Game Reserve is a 14,000 hectare private reserve tucked away just west of Timbavati and the Greater Kruger Park. A mixture of open savannah, rolling lowveld and rambling prickly scrub with a dramatic backdrop of the Drakensberg Mountains, it’s a reserve that really captures the spirit of South African safari.

Although the reserve is fenced off from Greater Kruger, the density of wildlife within Thornybush is very high, so you can expect an eye-popping Big Five safari that will stick with you forever. As well as the Big Five, the reserve is home to a further 142 mammals species, 114 kinds of reptile, 507 types of bird and 336 tree species. This makes it a superb safari haven for both wildlife and nature lovers.

Staying at one of the lodges within the reserve, you’ll be treated to sunrise and sunset game drives to explore the hills and valleys of Thornybush on the lookout for wildlife with an expert tracker and professional game ranger. As the reserve is private, the rangers are not limited to the roads, so you can stray deep into the bush in search of close encounters with exotic animals. This adds an extra dimension of excitement to the whole safari experience. What’s more, you can also opt for spot-lit night safaris and guided nature walks, both designed to give you a different take on the South African bush.  

The great news is that Thornybush is wonderful for wildlife at all times of year. During the peak tourist season to South Africa, from December to April, the landscape is lush and green due to the summer rains. At this time of year, Thornybush is brilliant for birders and a-buzz with newborn animals, which in turn brings out the predators. Then, from May to October, the weather is cool and dry, with the sparse bush making for easy wildlife-spotting in comfortable temperatures. In October, the build up to the rainy season begins and temperatures start to soar, bringing a steady flow of animals out to the waterholes until the rains return again in December.  

The standard of accommodation in Thornybush is excellent, with several of the lodges within the reserve bagging prestigious awards. There’s a handful of atmospheric alternatives to choose from, ranging from vintage-style safari tents to rustic thatched chalets and hidden forest suites. Each lodge is kitted out with a full range of creature comforts, from private viewing decks to spa treatment rooms and swimming pools perfect for refreshing dips between game drives.

Several of the lodges in Thornybush Game Reserve welcome children, offering spacious family suites or rooms and a great variety of activities for kids. These family-friendly lodges include Jackalberry Lodge, Monwana Game Lodge and Thornybush Game Lodge.

If you’re seeking a more romantic safari escape, Chapungu Lodge, Royal Malewane, Shumbalala Lodge and Serondella Lodge are intimate lodges with added emphasis on luxury, making them perfect for starry-eyed couples of all ages.


Chapungu Luxury Tented Camp

Safari Lodge

Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings

Chapungu Luxury Tented Camp accommodates a maximum of 16 guests in 8 air-conditioned en-suite tents. Each safari tent is authentically furnished in colonial splendour, enhancing the ambience and comforts typical of a bygone era.



n'Kaya Game Lodge

Safari Lodge

Combining luxury with natural simplicity, n`Kaya offers 4 spacious air-conditioned double suites, each with private lounges and twin en-suite amenities that ensure optimal space for the astute guest. Stylishly decorated in warm earthy tones and indigenous woods, n'Kaya Lodge blends luxury with natural ease.



Serondella Game Lodge

Safari Lodge

Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings

Serondella Lodge can accommodate guests in 3 suites and one family suite (with 3 bedrooms), all under deep African-style thatch and lining the banks of a dry riverbed nestled amongst magnificent tall trees.  Suspended wooden walkways link treetop hides to the luxuriously appointed suites.



Monwana Game Lodge

Safari Lodge

Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings

Monwana Game Lodge is designed with Africa in mind, from draped bed posts to wraparound wooden verandas. There are 5 suites in total - 1 Family Monwana Suite, 3 luxury Kingsize Suites and 1 elegant Honeymoon Suite, each with its own private deck or patio overlooking rugged bushveld or the peaceful Monwana watering hole.



Jackalberry Lodge

Safari Lodge

Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings

Accommodation is in rustic chalet style rooms. All the rooms open onto patios, and in addition to a mini bar and air-conditioning, all have a sumptuous en-suite bathroom with a feature bath, double hand basins as well as indoor and outdoor showers.



Shumbalala Game Lodge

Safari Lodge

Accommodation is in 4 luxury suites. All the suites have overhead fans, air-conditioning, open fireplaces, and designer 'picture window' bathroom suites that includes an additional outside shower for the more adventurous and a private viewing deck.



Thornybush Game Lodge

Safari Lodge

Guest Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 based on 2 ratings

Thornybush Game Lodge offers 18 stylish suites and 2 family/safari suites accommodating a maximum of 40 guests. The luxury suites line the banks of the seasonal Monwana River, all with spectacular views of the active water hole and the surrounding savanna.



Royal Malewane Safari Lodge

Safari Lodge

Each of the private suites rest in harmony with its magnificent surroundings, with a rich deck wood terrace, thatched gazebo and spillway pool finding easy residence in nature. The suites feature a palatial air-conditioned bedroom/sitting room with a fireplace, antique furniture and canopied kingsize bed as well as an extravagant bathroom with a window-side Victorian bath and indoor and outdoor showers.



Kwa-Mbili Game Lodge

Safari Lodge

Guest Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 based on 4 ratings

Kwa-Mbili offers guests a choice of accommodation. The thatched chalets are decorated in colourful African style.


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Thornybush Game Reserve


  • 14,000 Hectare Fenced Reserve
  • Big 5 Safari Reserve
  • Game Drives in Open Vehicles
  • Bush Walks at Some Lodges
  • Malaria Area
  • Flights to Hoedspruit Airport


It's great to have choice, however sometimes it can all be a litte confusing when you are planning your first trip to an unfamiliar area.

If you'd like to talk to one of our friendly experts, then please give us a call on +44(0) 1932 428380+44(0) 1932 428380 or alternativley you can enquire via the website.

Arriving By Air

The nearest airport to Thornybush Game Reserve is Hoedspruit Airport (HDS), and this is the airport that visitors should use if possible.  Hoedspruit Airport has direct flights from Johannesburg only.

Guests flying to Hoedspruit Airport will be met at the airport and transferred to the lodge at no additional cost. The transfer time is approx 30 minutes

Top Tip: If you book with Travel Butlers, we will ensure you have the most appropriate transport arrangements for your safari.

Arriving By Road

If you have a hire car you can drive to any of the lodges in the reserve, however you will need to make sure you allow enough time to drive through the reservbe to your lodge from the entrance gate. Details ablout distances in the park are available on request.

Malaria Risk

The Thornybush Game Reserve is located in a malaria area, so we strongly advise that you check with your doctor to find out what malaria tablets you will need, and when you should commence the course.

If you do not want to have to take malaria tablets then have a look at our guide to safaris in  malaria-free areas.

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