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“Top quality bush experience”

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Thornybush Waterside Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 24, 2013

We had a wonderful stay at Thornybush Waterside Lodge. In particular, the food and service were outstanding. Some of the best food we've had at a bush lodge (and we've been to several). The staff were great, especially our butler. The rooms are not the most luxurious we've stayed in but very comfortable. Game viewing was good but slightly hindered by the thick grass and vegetation.

  • Stayed: March 2013
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1  Thank Stofro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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167 - 173 of 280 reviews

Reviewed March 15, 2013

Such an amazing place! Wonderful staff and environment. Suitable both for the overseas and local guests. Game drives and individualised guest treatment made it a truely memorable experience. We are planning to hold our wedding at Waterside.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Avoprincess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 18, 2013

I have stayed there for 3 nights in Feb/2013 and it was perhaps the best lodge I ever stayed, even compared to some other places we stayed around South Africa and luxury resorts elsewehere. The service is impeccable, with our designated butler available for whatever my friend and I wanted very promptly. Food was delicious and with a lot of variety. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, were served in different places to take advantage of all the vantage points. Rooms were clean, very well organized and decoration was a high point. Staff very polite and getting out of their way to make you feel relaxed, which you'll certainly will. Drinking wine gazing at the stars was awesome.

Game drives are another top mark of the lodge. Jamie and Abraham, our guide and tracker, were extremely efficient and knowledgeable. There was nothing they didn't know about the reserve or the animals. Their amazing skills led to spot a chameleon, at night, while driving at 30km/h!. So the result was the Big 5 in 4 game drives, including lion roaring at about 3 metres away, which was the highlight, for sure. Also, don't underestimate the other animals, they are all a lot of fun and very very interesting when the guide know their stuff. And this was certainly the case.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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4  Thank wiucksch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 23, 2013

I'm a little late with my review, we stayed at Waterside Lodge July 25th for 4 nights with our 2 children aged 9 and 6. It was our first visit to South Africa and Waterside Lodge completely BLEW OUR MINDS!!!

The accommodation was top notch, we had 2 interconnecting rooms with plenty of room for the 4 of us. The beds were like clouds and I particularly enjoyed coming back to our rooms after dinner to find the electric blankets cranked and mosquito nets down. Didn't see any creepy crawlies.

The food was consistently great, fresh salads, local flavours and always a unique dessert! Dining is outdoors on the patio with braziers and fleece blankets for your lap at night (we were there in winter).

Of course the main event is the twice daily safari drive, we saw so many gorgeous animals up close and personal (didn't really need the zoom lens I purchased). Our ranger Morne was so full of information about the animals and the bush and Wille our tracker was truly amazing. We saw elephants, lions, buffalo, wilderbeest, zebra, giraffe, warthogs, monkeys, vultures, cheetah and rhino. As hard as the boys tried, we never did find a leopard - was that a ploy to get us back? The vehicles are really comfortable but you need to dress warm in winter for the drives as the trucks are open air and it was the coldest in the mornings before the sun came up. They do provide fleece blankets and of course a stop mid safari for refreshments and discussions and to use the bush loo!

They were kind enough to cater to our children by making our drives slightly later in the mornings and slightly earlier in the evenings which worked out better for all of us. On return from each drive we were always met by a line of staff members enthusiastically asking about our drive, handing us refreshing cloths and a shot of something warm before dinner. They treated us like their family, lining up for hugs and a wave off when we left at the end of our trip, thought I would cry!

This was truly the most amazing holiday we have had as a family. We are planning our return trip and this time we'll stay longer and plan on seeing that elusive leopard!

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank auskat73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2013

Spent 28, 29 and 30 December 2012 at this game reserve: it was our first stop in on a nine day vacation in South Africa and quite easily the most memorable two and a half days of our trip. The lodge had everything you expected; great rooms, good meals and very well-planned game drives- both early-morning and evening conducted by a knowledgable ranger and expert tracker.
We saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, buffalo, lions, leopards, impala galore, wilderbeast,rhinos , hippos, many types of buck and deer, baboons, bushbabies and even a pangolin on our drives and Floris and Richard ( ranger and guide, respectively) did their best to ensure that different drives concentrated on different animals and imparted a wealth of information on the local fauna and flora.
The rooms at the lodge were top-notch and had every amenity one needed including REAL coffee ,meals were above average and the staff were all unfailingly courteous and helpful. THIS IS A REALLY TOP- CLASS VACATION DESTINATION; my only complaint was that we were totally cut off from the outside world....I can understand having no TV but a daily newspaper would have been welcome!

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank gammo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2013

The Waterside Lodge was booked for us by the company Go2Africa and we spent several days there, including Christmas 2012. Perhaps I am not used to 5 star service, but this was an experience unlike any we have ever had. Our "butler" (Peter), game guide/driver (Floris) and tracker (Richard) as well as the kitchen and house-keeping staff provided our family an absolutely unforgettable experience. Highlights including seeing lions feed from a zebra (4 meters away), close encounters with white rhinos (and babies) and elephants (an equally almost uncomfortably close proximity) as well as off road drives in the bush to see a leopard and her cubs. All this with morning tea breaks and evening G&T breaks. The rooms were beautiful and the meals, complete with a very attentive and conscientious chef, were superb. We had two vegetarian daughters who were very well looked after. While the private game park didn't provide the spectacular landscapes of Chobe (where we went next), we saw a great deal of animals and birdlife and left immensely satisfied.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank Ben C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 4, 2013 via mobile

We stayed here for 5 days and 4 nights just after Christmas. We booked directly with the Thornybush Group, which I recommend- they own a number of properties on private game reserves in the area, and can help with accommodations across all properties if the first one you want is full, etc. It's a little but inconvenient to make the reservations via email, but we managed due to the 10 hour time difference. I thought it was a little pricey when we booked originally, but I didn't understand what we were getting for the price- 8 game drives, all meals, drinks on the game drives and exceptional, personalized service. Don't expect this kind of service anywhere else in South Africa. We didn't see anything like it. On top of that, the rooms and hotel in general are beautiful and very comfortable. It was basically the exact opposite of "roughing it". I'm sure you can find the tented camping experience somewhere else, but this is not it.

Our safari guides and trackers were amazing, and also some of the nicest people we met on our entire trip. Doug, Vusi, Floris and Richard made the game drives really special. They all had different styles, but a big theme for everyone at Thornybush appears to be conservation and respect for the environment and animals, as well as the native tribes. Most of the trackers are Shangaan/Tsonga - very different from the dominant Zulu, and they have learned their tracker skills from their fathers.

The private reserve is awesome, and very large. On my 8 game drives I saw the big 5 multiple times plus all kinds of antelopes, giraffes, cheetahs, monkeys, hundreds of bird species, and many smaller animals. Because it's a private reserve, we were able to get very, very close to the animals. It was really magical - I can't think of a better word.

if you're there for as long as we were, which I recommend - 2 nights is not enough- make sure you get to do a walking safari with your guide. You'll see much more and you might even get chased by a Cape buffalo, but no promises. Also, it might be possible to arrange a private tour to the surrounding mountains - we wish we had done that.

In terms of areas of improvement for the lodge, I recommend that they try to serve more local food. We only had Kudu one night, and it was absolutely delicious. I'd much prefer native/local meats and other food to stuff you can get anywhere.

Also, I was continuously disappointed by the website and general marketing. We really had no idea what an amazing place it was. None if the information online does it any justice. Please get a good photographer and someone to write marketing copy, and redesign the website to be useful! Of course I am always available for consulting - happy to work on trade ;)

Thanks again to everyone at the lodge who made our safari wonderful.

  • Stayed: December 2012
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1  Thank Lisa B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Thornybush Waterside Lodge

Address: Guernsey Road | Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 9798, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Price Range: $489 - $1,527 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Thornybush Waterside Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Thornybush Waterside Lodge(Graded 5 star by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa)20 Luxury Suites (40 Guests)Set on the banks of a tranquil lake encompassed with breath-taking views of the African bushveld, Thornybush Waterside Lodge affords instant relaxation.The lodges 20 comfortably appointed air-conditioned Thatched Suites blend into the natural habitat and are located along pathways surrounded by an abundance of trees and manicured gardens. En-suite air- conditioned accommodation tastefully decorated by crisp white bedding.Highly skilled rangers and trackers ensure Big 5 game viewing opportunities during dawn and dusk safaris, whilst bushwalks are for the more adventurous. Guests are invited to relax and take in the African surrounds after breakfast on the main deck area overlooking the lake, the swimming pool or alternatively retreat to the comfort of your suite.Thornybush Waterside Lodge will from mid-January 2012 have access to an even greater Reserve making game viewing some of the best in the Country. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Thornybush Waterside Lodge South Africa/Thornybush Private Game Reserve

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