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“Lovely, Restful Stay...Really Special” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Monwana Game Lodge

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Monwana Game Lodge
4.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Thornybush Game Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Lovely, Restful Stay...Really Special”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 14, 2013 via mobile

Emma (the hostess and manager), Jacques (the ranger) and Morris (the tracker) made my three day stay very special. The photos on the site are truly representative of my experience, and you just cannot beat the extremely welcoming and warm service. Among the very special bits, I would mention the chef. Rarely have I had the opportunity to have such fine cuisine in the "bush." I will surely be back. Thanks Jacques and Emma, for a much needed bush break! Nancy

Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
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153 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (47)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
35 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2013

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.

Room itself:
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.

Summary:
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.

Room Tip: They all look pretty good but clearly having a waterhole view is ideal.
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  • Stayed December 2013, 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco Bay Area
Top Contributor
59 reviews 59 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2013

None of these places are cheap, but some offer better value. This is one.

Nice place, with so few cabins.

Guests were more diverse and personable than at some other locations.

The hosts were relatively new the location but already getting well integrated.

Meals: No problems, not bad, nothing special for vegetarians though they did their best to accommodate us -- otherwise I'd call it a five star location.

We would recommend the place to friends.

The preserve provided ample and fortuitous sightings. The terrain is not exciting, but we would not have noticed that if this was the only place we had visited since we saw so much great wildlife. The game on view is excellent including things like BOTH black and white rhinos, etc.

This was one of the only places we stayed at during out trip where some of our fellow guests were South African, which was cool.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 4 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.
Bedfordview, Gauteng, South Africa
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2013

The only way to describe Monwana is as the gem of Thornybush! We had a fantastic stay and really enjoyed every aspect of this lodge. Jacques & Emma, and their stand-ins, Chewie & Monica went out of their way to ensure we felt right at home.

Every meal tasted like it was made in Mom's kitchen, the portions were perfect and really tasty.

The accommodation was so comfortable and private, and our unit had a great view over the waterhole.

The animal sightings were excellent, we got to enjoy the Big 5 as well as the many smaller interesting things the bush had to offer us. A huge thank you to Morris our tracker for finding all the things we would never have spotted on our own! We were never bored for one minute, the bush walks were so enjoyable & educational but the highlight was learning how to track lions in the dry riverbed that runs in front of the lodge.

A big thank you to the whole Monwana team for making our stay unforgettable, we hope to visit again soon!

  • Stayed November 2013, 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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Dallas, Texas
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2013

Monwana exceeded my high expectations in every way! The facilities are wonderful and the setting is of course beautiful. What I did not expect was the absolutely amazing food, impeccable service and unbelievably gracious hosts. Emma’s welcoming manner instantly makes you feel comfortable, and the small touches like a drink and warm cloth after a chilly game drive take hospitality to another level. I can’t say enough good things about the menu she has developed. Jacques is everything you could ask for in a ranger, knowledgeable, interesting and patient. His enthusiasm for nature is infectious and you will walk away knowing more about the local wildlife that you ever dreamed. There seem to be no limits to his customer service, as Jacques is also a great photography instructor and quite the bartender! Every aspect of our stay at Monwana was simply amazing and I can’t imagine a better experience!

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • 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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Chicago, Illinois
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2013

Monwana is over-the-top fantastic! Emma is a gracious and accommodating host, Jacques the perfect guide - we saw the Big 5 straight away and got up close and personal several times! Loved sitting on our patio watching the Cape Buffalo and many other animals drink from the watering hole. The food is amazing - the dinners were stunning but the high tea presentations were also to-die-for! I am asking for recipes. Our room was really wonderful, we faced the watering hole and enjoyed watching the Nyala from just a few feet away. I specifically appreciated how the guides work together to locate animals so each group can get a peak, but also time it so there are not mobs at one place. Thank you Thornybush, thank you Monwana!

Room Tip: Facing the watering hole is a bonus!
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • 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.
London, England, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 19, 2013 via mobile

To be honest I might well run out of superlatives by the end of this review, our experience here really was that good.

We stayed at Monwana for 4 nights and thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the experience. Firstly Jacques and Emma (the Lodge Managers and also Ranger / Hostess respectively) were excellent at making us feel like we were part of the family whilst we were there. Nothing was too much trouble and there were loads of thoughtful little touches. We really enjoyed the fact that, as it is a small lodge (up to 10 guests), we were able to spend time getting to know our fellow guests during mealtimes, as well as during game drives but with the option to seek privacy in our room if we wanted it. The room was stunning - spacious and overlooking the water hole so that we could lie in bed and watch the animals drink.

The game viewing was incredible. Over 4 days we had 2 mornings where we saw the 'big 5' in a single game drive. On top of that we saw a myriad of other animals, it wasn't like the small stuff was passed up. One aspect that was great was that Thornybush only allow 2 vehicles per animal sighting which meant that the sightings never felt crowded, however the flip side of this is that it meant that sometimes the vehicle had to move on to make room for others. A special mention goes to the Tracker, Morris, who plunged in to the bush on a number of occasions in search of animals. Seeing 4 leopards come to the water hole by the Lodge to drink whilst we were eating dinner was definitely one of the highlights of the stay.

So in summary, we would recommend Monwana with absolutely no hesitation. We were genuinely sad to leave, as despite only have been there for a few days.

Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Additional Information about Monwana Game Lodge

Address: Thornybush Game Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 11 Specialty Lodging in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Monwana Game Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 5
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 
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Monwana Game Lodge South Africa/Thornybush Private Game Reserve

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