Everyone has heard of the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands but very few dwell into the northern reaches of the Greater Kruger, making it one of South Africa’s more exclusive Big 5 safari destinations. Located near Hoedspruit and between the Kapama and Timbavati reserves, is the pristine Thornybush Private Game Reserve - a prime safari location with a collection of luxurious lodges. To ensure that you have the best experience, we have put together a list of our top 5 lodges in Thornybush Game Reserve.
Top 5 Lodges in Thornybush Game Reserve
The suites at Royal Malewane are surrounded by untouched wilderness, making it the perfect spot for some well-deserved relaxation.What makes this lodge special: Top 20 Resorts in the World - Conde Nast TravelerStar rating: 5 StarsAn inside look: Royal Malewane is loved by travelers around the world for its contemporary design, luxurious comfort and exceptional hospitality. The staff at Royal Malewane genuinely care about their guests, going out of their way to make sure one feels right at home - from the General Manager of the lodge to the waiters and guides. It is impossible to leave Royal Malewane without fond memories. Every guest that Safari.com has had stay at Royal Malewane has complimented the lodge’s well-appointed suites, comfortable guest areas and exceptional safari experiences led by a team of incredibly knowledgeable guides. Royal Malewane has a total of six luxury suites, two royal suites and an exclusive-use bush villa for larger families or groups of friends.Each private air-conditioned suite is equipped with opulent en-suite bathrooms, outdoor showers, heated towel rails, luxury amenities, underfloor heating, lounge areas, fireplaces and private viewing decks with thatched gazebos and swimming pools.The cuisine at Royal Malewane is of international standards, with chefs designing personalized menus every night and paired with a collection of incredible South African wines. Christy's experience - "I have been to South Africa several times and this has got to be one of the best places. The staff, the rooms, the food, everything is wonderful. Small touches everywhere and the game viewing is excellent. This is a special place. You will not be disappointed. The staff makes you feel so welcome. I would return in a heartbeat. Ryan and Terrence are so great at finding animals and adding their touches. Thanks to everyone."
The dry riverbed at Saseka Tented Camp - the venue for romantic starlit dinners.What makes this lodge special: Luxurious tented suites & breathtaking river viewsStar rating: 5 StarsAn inside look: Saseka Tented Camp is a brand new addition to the lodges in Thornybush Game Reserve, opening its doors earlier this year. Named after a resident female Leopard, Saseka Tented Camp has managed to combine sustainable architecture with cutting-edge design to produce one of the most beautiful lodges in South Africa. Constantly commended on their decor and luxurious finishings, the eight tents offer a private space in which to enjoy nature - whether it be from the outdoor shower or from the viewing deck and swimming pool. The lodge succeeds in offering a romantic ambiance, making it the perfect destination for couples who seek both privacy and luxury comforts. The camp prides itself on operating on an extremely personal level.Dining in the riverbed is one of the highlights during a stay at Saseka - guests rave about the experience of a candle-lit dinner served under a canopy of stars. Dawn and dusk open-vehicle game drives are led by a professional team of rangers and trackers who make every effort to get the best up-close wildlife encounters, particularly with the famous Big 5.
The comfortable deck area at Thornybush Game Lodge which overlooks the Mowana River and the animals that come down for a drink.What makes this lodge special: Evenings under the stars & unrivaled big game viewing Star rating: 5 StarsAn inside view: Thornybush Game Lodge is one of the larger lodges in Thornybush Game Reserve, accommodating a maximum of 40 guests. Although large in size, the self-contained luxury suites manage to provide the privacy and solitude that most couples and families seek. Set beside the seasonal Monwana River, each suite features en-suite bathrooms, outdoor showers and private decks with spectacular views of the savannah and waterhole. Families absolutely love the two family suites as they are bigger than the luxury suites and have a lounge area and day bed to accommodate a maximum of two children under the age of 12 years. The suites also have a larger deck and there own plunge pool for families to enjoy in the hot summer months. The safari experience is the top highlight of your stay at Thornybush Game Lodge, with professional rangers and guides leading early morning and late afternoon open-vehicle game drives, as well as walking safaris. The reserve is home to 147 mammals including the famous Big 5, and 507 bird species. A visit to the award-winning Amani Spa is a must when visiting Thornybush Game Lodge, with a unique range of spa treatments that aim to bring balance to the physical, emotional and mental well-being.Sue's experience - "My husband, and two children (8 and 10) spent 4 nights at the Thornybush main lodge in August. It was wonderful. they brought out a cake for my daughter's 11th birthday and made her feel very special. Of course we saw the big 5. Our safari guide and tracker made sure of it. The entire experience was surreal. It was amazing to be 5 feet away from a lion and not have any barriers between us and the animals. This was supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip, but we can't stay away. We have already booked for next year. A couple of things we learned this year that will come in handy. There are no mosquitos in Kruger in December. We threw away our malaria medicine and none of us got sick. Also, we were quite unprepared for how chilly it got some nights. Also the guides prefer it if you wear dark colored clothes so as to not stand out. Another mistake we made this year that we won't make next year."
Outdoor dining is a highlight on a safari at Shumbalala Game Lodge - surrounded by lanterns and a roaring campfire.What makes this lodge special: Ultra-luxurious suites with picture window bathroomsStar rating: 5 StarsAn inside view: Shumbalala Game Lodge has been described by guests as a destination where one’s senses are heightened and their soul is taken on a memorable journey. Designed with privacy and luxurious comfort in mind, there are only four luxury suites and 1 presidential suite. Each of the superior air-conditioned suites boast an opulent bedroom and lounge, en-suite bathroom and large glass sliding doors that lead out onto a private viewing deck that overlooks an active waterhole.A must when staying at Shumbalala is a dinner in the underground wine cellar which is in full view of the river - a perfect addition to a romantic getaway. The safari experience at Shumbalala is very exclusive, with dawn and dusk open-vehicle game drives providing the best up-close viewing of the Big 5 and other fascinating wildlife. A highlight on the afternoon safari is the stop in a scenic area of the reserve for drinks and snacks whilst watching the magical sunset. Janet's experience -"My wife and I have stayed at five star properties all over the world, but there is none that can compete with Shumbalala. From the moment of greeting by Steffi, the innkeeper, to the moment of departure from Wayne, our guide, everything was PERFECT. The accommodations, the food, the setting, the game drives. the service, the wines...everything was ideal. If you ever consider a visit to the Kruger region of SA, you MUST book into Shumbalala."
The suites at Jackalberry are eye-level with the surrounding bushveld, allowing guests to completely immerse themselves in nature.What makes this lodge special: Down-to-earth hospitality & well-appointed luxury suitesStar rating: 5 StarsAn inside view: Jackalberry Lodge nestles on the edge of the Kruger National Park in the private Thornybush Game Reserve - an exclusive safari destination that is perfect for couples and families alike. Guests always commend the lodge on their incredible attention to detail and genuine hospitality. With only 7 cottages, one can expect to experience complete peace and tranquility - and not to forget the spectacular views of the bushveld and very active waterhole. Each intimate cottage is equipped with an en-suite bathroom, air conditioning and private patios.Open vehicle game drives, guided bush walks and bird-watching safaris are all part of the experience at Jackalberry Lodge. Guests consistently rave about the game viewing, many even claiming to have seen the Big 5 three times over. There is no doubt that Thornybush Game Reserves provides an unforgettable safari adventure. Jan's experience - "This lodge and the people are excellent. They want your stay to be perfect. The main lodge gathering point for meals, and socializing is lovely. It is open so you can see the animals and there are plenty to see. They come very close. The meals are delicious and more than you can eat. Twice a day you go out to view the animals, we saw the big 5 and more. Ocean was our ranger and Lucas our tracker they find the animals and they are great!!! You stay in individual chalets. Very private. Great bathrooms with large tub an indoor and outdoor shower, all the luxuries you could want. Our bed was an over sized king bed. Atasha was wonderful. She is a manager at the lodge. If you want to go on a safari and see ALL the animals up close with all the luxuries this is the place. We will return! This lodge is outside Kruger park. Kruger doesn't allow going of road to see the animal in this reserve you can so you get better viewing, without intruding on them. It is all about the animals their safety and yours."If you've enjoyed our Top 5 Lodges in Thornybush Game Reserve and are planning a safari vacation, rest assured that you won't be disappointed when booking any of our favorites. We want you to experience the safari of your dreams and therefore recommend that you speak to one of our African experts who will choose the best lodge for you based on your specific travel needs.