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“First Class Safari Lodge” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Thornybush Game Lodge

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5.0 of 5 Specialty Resort   |   Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Oklahoma
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“First Class Safari Lodge”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2012

Every facet of my visit was amazing, the accomodations were clean and comfortable. The meals were excellent, the lodge was spectacular, and my guides (Greg and July) were simply the best. Want to see all of the "Big Five"? I did, and my guide made sure it happened. A vacation to remember, that's for sure!

Room Tip: All of the rooms have a wildlife/river view, any room is a great room.
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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191 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (48)
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Aberdeenshire
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2012

We stayed in Thornybush Main Lodge in February 2012. We had previously stayed at Tinga a few years ago. Tinga was our first safari, and we were within the Kruger National Park boundaries. We were a little apprehnsive about being within a private game reserve, as opposed to a concession within the Park. We had been concerned about thinking the animals were 'fenced in.' These worries disappeared very quickly!

We learned a HUGE amount about Africa's wildlife whilst at Thornybush. They are doing a spectcular job of trying to conserve some amazing species in very challenging times. We felt absolutely privileged to encounter rhinos, cheetah, leopard, elephant, buffalo, kudu, lions, zebra, giraffe, monkeys, silver backed jackal, numerous beatiful birds.... I could go on. We were also given the opportunity to track cheetah and rhino on foot - I was grinning from ear to ear for hours afterwards. Thornybush had just acquired the neighbouring site when we were there (Kapama/Thornybus water lodge) and were about to rip down the internal fences to open up the two sites.

Greg (ranger) and July (tracker) were so knowledgeable, friendly and generally wonderful hosts. There was never a dull moment - I cannot praise them highly enough. When we stayed at Thornybush, there had been serious flooding the week previously, meaning Greg and July had some pretty challenging conditions to deal with. Nothing seemed to phase them, and they always went about their work with smiles on their faces. Likewise, the whole lodge was running like clockwork - even though it was close to being swept away at one point!

Everyone back at the camp were excellent. The food is marvellous (bush dinner was a particular highlight), the facilities are great and the rooms/villas are beautiful. Huge, comfortable bed, outdoor shower, indoor shower, bath, large terrace.... They REALLY know how to look after people here.

It is not a cheap way to holiday and having already been on safari in 2009, we thought we would 'get it out of our system' and go again in 2012. We failed miserably. We shall definitely be back! The whole Thornybush experience was excellent.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
George, South Africa
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2012

Our booking was scheduled for just after the horriffic floods in the area in late January 2012 and were well prepared for the hardship which so commonly coinsides with a natural disaster.
A real suprise awaited us as there was no evidence of any shortfall in service or logistic supply chain. From the smiling reception committee to the most helpful porter seeing us to our chalet.
The accomodation is superb, the big double bed surrounded by a white mosquito net which I feel leans more to the romantic than the threat of malaria(out of Africa and other maligned naughtiness in Africa). Then the coup de grace, in the bathroom a door to the outside shower which opens on to the river and the bush and the whole of Africa.. wonderful.
The cusine is truely Africa and we had the good fortune to be treated to dinner on the runway by oil lamp and the most wonderful star canopy of an African sky.
The morning and evening game drives were fabulous and we were treated to nature at its best,the big five and a plethora of other wild life which was shown to us by the most knowledgeble guide Mr Ocean.
Added to this was the damage wrought by the floods on the roads which turned every game drive into a 4X4 rally through some very tricky situations, the guides showed their driving skills for which they must be commended, not once did we have to call for help, well done.
Overall a really magnificent stay I reccomend for all, congrats to JB and his crew.
Serengetti is just a name, "THORNYBUSH" IS the African experiance.

Room Tip: All the rooms are wonderful
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bathurst, Australia
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 5, 2012

This place is amazing. It was our first safari lodge and it set a very high benchmark for those that followed. Even before checking in we were wisked off on an afternoon safari drive and the first animal we saw was a cheetah, quickly followed by buffalo, a lion, rhino, giraffe..almost the big 5 in one afternoon. It was freezing, having actual snow/sleet fall on our way from Joburg, but the vehicles were well equipped with rugs and ponchos and when we got to the lodge we were greeted with sherry to warm us in front of an open fire. Our beautiful little cabins were warm with aircon and electric blanket already turned on - a fabulous hot shower with a monkey audience in the tree outside and we were ready for the delicious dinner.
The staff and management of the lodge make it a wonderful place to base a safari trip and the abundance of animals made it a perfect introduction to Africa.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Haven, CT
Top Contributor
132 reviews 132 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
102 helpful votes 102 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2012

From the moment we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by a cheerful and warm staff, and when we were led to our cottage, we knew we were going to love every minute of our stay. Our cottage was a huge suite all to ourselves, sort of hidden in the woods, with wide windows opening onto the bush: great to admire the beautiful sunsets! We had wanted to go on safaris to see the Big 5, little did we know that the Lodge itself would be so comfortable and so perfect in every way from the waitstaff to the chef, to the naturalist guides and trackers... Even some of the tamer animals, unsollicited, welcomed us: a mother warthog and her two little ones were busily mowing the lawn, and the little black-faced monkeys comically observed us, hoping to steel an apple or a cookie, half given the chance.
We will never forget the experiences we were privvy to, from the leopard who had just caught a baby warthog, to the 2-year old cheetah brother and sister, on their own for the first time, to the blue head birds looking like small turkeys... Even the humans were delightful, attentive and helpful; we happen to form a group with a couple from Ottawa, Canada and honeymooners from Sao Paulo, Brazil and a neighbour (practically) as she was from Massachussetts. Everything contributed to our well-being and to or immense satisfaction.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Athens, Greece
Top Contributor
296 reviews 296 reviews
47 hotel reviews
Reviews in 104 cities Reviews in 104 cities
146 helpful votes 146 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 5, 2012 via mobile

It is a small but luxury lodge. The owners and the stuff was extremly friedly.We stay 2 days. The food was home made.

  • Stayed November 2011
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Chicago IL
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2012

The Thornybush exceeded our expectations in every way possible. The lodge has a rustic, natural feel, yet is luxury in every aspect. The staff puts this place in a league of it's own - everyone from the host / hostess', the cleaning staff, cooking staff, waitstaff and especially the rangers and trackers go out of their way to make your staff utter perfection. Special thanks to Greg and Donna (and congratulations to the two of you!) for making our vacation extra special.
My husband and I stayed for three nights / four days at the end of Nov. 2011. The weather was good - we had a day of rain on and off and a few beautiful days where it heated up mid-day. The drives were still cool at this time as it was early morning and in the evening, be sure to bring a jacket.
Our room was fantastic - they are all private little 'huts' which have a private balcony, bath that is full windows with an outdoor shower. Bed was very comfy and you definitely feel secluded in the middle of the bush! We loved every aspect of the lodging. The meals were incredible, all very fresh and the dinners allowed for a little exploration with different meats if you so desired.
The game drives are what this is all about and they could not have been better. We saw everything - lions (male and female), a cheetah lunching on an impala, giraffe around every corner, a herd of elephant, zebra galore, water buffalo, crocs, rhinoceros, many baby animals due to the time of year, and the icing on the cake - a leopard kill! Greg has a wealth of knowledge on all the animals and has an extreme love of birds which were surprisingly so fun to see and learn about. You walk away from each drive with so much more knowledge just from his teachings - he made our trip and you should request he and July (the tracker) if you're able. G Money and July we loved you! Take an afternoon walk as well, learning about the trees and different plants, insects, etc is very interesting.
We walked away from this trip feeling fulfilled, it was relaxing, fun, informative, and we truly felt that we saw the circle of life. Everyone should experience this if they can, we will be back!

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
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
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 12 Specialty 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 
Also Known As:
Thornybush Game Lodge South Africa/Thornybush Private Game Reserve

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