Thornybush Private Game Reserve has a long history of providing excellent game viewing – including, of course, the Big Five – within the context of luxurious accommodation and sumptuous food. The reserve, which adjoins the Kruger National Park, offers an unforgettable bush experience.

Did you know?

Apart from the Big Five, Thornybush boasts 140 species of mammals and nearly 500 bird species.

As the early morning bird chorus starts to reach a chirruping crescendo, there’s a discreet knock at your door – the Thornybush Private Game Reserve wake-up call.

You dress quickly, pulling on your khakis, grabbing your binoculars and bird book. It’s that magical time just before the dawn and the wild animals are stirring. A cup of coffee and a rusk (a kind of South African biscotti on steroids) and you’re on your way. The air is sweet and fresh.

You’ll be unlucky if you don’t see a few if not all members of the Big Five, but if not, the sheer experience of being out in the wild, seeing leopard tracks, colourful birds, encountering graceful antelope, giraffe, comical warthogs and zebras is a treat in itself.

Back for a superb breakfast on the deck, then if you’d like to walk it off, there’s the option of a bush walk with the ranger.

A blissful light lunch, a peaceful facial, massage or swim (or maybe just a nap), then it’s time to gather your binoculars, bush hat and a warm jacket for the afternoon game experience. You’re right next to the unfenced border with Kruger National Park, so the game viewing is excellent.

Just before dusk, your ranger will stop so you can admire the view and have a sundowner with a few South African snacks.

Then it’s the chance of the night animals. A spotlight might reveal a genet cat, an owl, a nightjar blinking in the road, or a pride of lions on the hunt. Perhaps a leopard.

Back at Thornybush, supper is always something of an event, with excellent food and the best South African wines.

And then, back in your luxury chalet, you’ll find a sweet surprise on your pillow before you fall asleep between fine linen sheets, listening to the plaintive yelp of a jackal in the distance.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

The Thornybush Collection
Tel: +27 (0)11 253 6500
Tel: +27 (0)15 793 1976
Email: or

How to get here

You could fly to Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit, which has two daily flights from Johannesburg. From there, Thornybush will organise a 30-minute transfer to the lodge. If you're driving from Johannesburg, the journey will take around six hours. Take the N12 eastwards, which eventually becomes the N4. About 60km from Middelburg, take the R540 to your left and drive through the towns of Belfast, Dullstroom and Lydenburg. Take the R36 to Hoedspruit. From there, turn right towards Bushbuckridge, past Eastgate Airport and onto the Guernsey road. Follow the signs from there.

Best time to visit

The bushveld is splendid in spring and early summer − around September to November. There are plenty of baby animals and it's not too hot. From April to August is also agreeable because winter temperatures cool the subtropical heat. That said, Thornybush is lovely at any time of the year.

Around the area

Since you're very close, why not visit the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre and/or the world-famous Kruger National Park?

Length of stay

A rushed visit to the bush is never satisfying. Set aside three nights to give yourself a chance to see all the sights and enjoy the facilities.

Where to stay

You can choose between the luxury suites or the family suites.

What's happening

Don't miss the splendid spa facilities.

Related articles