Experience exceptional private game viewing on this 5 day Exclusive Budget Safari to Thornybush Big Five Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park without any of the crowds. Stay in comfortable walk-in tents or chalets with en-suite facilities, and immerse yourself in the African bush that the big Five call home. With all your meals prepared by the professional staff at the lodge, let all your cares fall away. Enjoy brunch, lunch and dinner in the open-sided thatched dining area alongside the swimming pool where you look out over our watering hole and onto the open African bush beyond.
Twice daily game drives by highly trained guides provide excellent opportunities for you to sight the Big Five - rhinoceros, lion, elephant, buffalo and leopard. Smaller wildlife species are also abundant, including antelope, baboons and much more, while the birding Thornybush Game Reserve is unforgettable. The camp is proudly solar-powered, and your stay helps support the many conservation efforts of Thornybush Game Reserve.
Today's route to our luxury tented safari camp in Thornybush Game Reserve takes us along one of the most scenic drives in South Africa, a magical beginning for your trip. The Panorama Route, a destination in itself, winds along the awe-inspiring 33km of the famous Blyde River Canyon, the third largest in the world. The Blyde River Canyon of the Drakensberg escarpment is even more exceptional because it is full of lush green vegetation. You’ll stop at various viewpoints such as God’s Window and Lisbon Falls en route, to take comfort breaks and photograph the outstanding views. See birds of prey spiralling as they search out prey on the rocks below, and keep an eye out for the many primates – from vervet monkeys to baboons – as well as antelope, as you travel.
We arrive between 7 and 8 hours later at our luxurious tented safari camp in Thornybush Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park. Freshen up in your luxurious chalet or walk-in tent with its own en-suite bathroom, or take a quick swim – just relax into being in the heart of the African bush.
This evening, we set out on our first game drive, in a custom-made open-sided 4x4 safari vehicle, looking out for the Big Five and abundant other game, which roam freely between the unfenced Thornybush Game Reserve, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and the Kruger National Park. After sundowners at a look-out point in the African bush, we make our way back to camp. A lantern-lit dinner awaits us in the thatched boma, or on the deck, while we soak up the sounds of the African night all around us.
Our day starts very early, and after coffee or tea and a snack, you set off with your guide, waking up with the animals and birds of the Kruger area. Our guides know the Thornybush Game Reserve incredibly well, and your guide will notice the broken branches that show a herd of elephants have passed recently or birds that have been disturbed because of a predator on the move. You could see elephant and buffalo browsing, and keep an eye out for the mighty lion, rhino and elusive leopard. You’ll be charmed at the smaller game too, from warthogs to herds of antelope drinking or grazing on the savannah.
You return after this 2 to 3-hour game drive with a healthy appetite for a satisfying breakfast at the lodge. After that, you have the rest of the day to relax, take a swim, and chat with the other guests. Lunch is served in the communal dining area under the shade of the thatch, looking out over the savannah to the Drakensberg Mountains on the horizon. Enjoy the early afternoon on your private patio or by the pool, with the African bushveld all around you.
In the late afternoon, you set off to enjoy more of the wonders of the famous Kruger wildlife. Your guide will find the perfect spot for you to stop and have a drink as the sun sets over the vast horizon. Dark sets in fast in Africa, and on your journey back you could see some of Kruger’s amazing and quirky nocturnal animals in the Thornybush Game Reserve.
Various small cats – civet, caracal and serval – are waking now, and leopard can also be active at night. Honey badger and porcupine are also setting out to look for food, as are pangolins and aardvarks. Driving in the African bush in the darkness, on your way to a wonderful dinner under the stars where you can sit back and chat about the day’s experiences – this is what a great African Safari is all about.
On this Thornybush Safari, you also have the option of taking a guided bush walk instead of one of your morning game drives. Your guide and tracker will show you amazing secrets of the African bush - from recognizing spoor to the wonders of the African termite and their mounds – and you may actually encounter game as you walk - an unforgettable experience.
The next three days follow the same rhythm - rising early for the morning game drive, being spoiled with a delicious brunch and lunch at the safari camp, followed by the evening game drive to round off the day, and then dinner looking out into the African skies deep in the Greater Kruger National Park. Every game drive is a unique experience, as we never know what nature has in store for us, and be assured that your personal guide will be working hard to ensure you see the most of the all the wildlife that Thornybush has to offer.
There is one final game drive for you on your last morning in Thornybush Private Nature Reserve. Enjoy the birdsong of the bushveld all around, while you look out for the Big Five, and see zebra and other antelope on the move. Soak up the magic of your last morning of this intimate budget African Safari in the Greater Kruger Park of South Africa.
After breakfast at the safari camp, you board the air-conditioned vehicle for your return journey to Johannesburg, keeping an eye out for wildlife as we drive out of Thornybush Game Reserve. You can make arrangements if you want to fly out via Nelspruit if you prefer. After the 5 to 6-hour drive, say your goodbyes to the driver and your tour mates as you take up your onward journey.
Our authentic African tented safari lodge is fully-serviced by friendly staff, so you can relax as you feel the rest of the world disappear, and ease into being in the depths of the African savannah. With ten accommodation units sleeping only two people each, you will never feel crowded at our lodge. You’re free to relax alone on the private patio of your twin-bed chalet or luxurious walk-in tent with African décor, wooden floors and an en-suite bathroom. Or join other guests in the thatched open-sided dining room and lounge next to the swimming pool, take a dip, and have a drink at the bar. From the common area, you look over the pool onto the waterhole, where thirsty elephants and other animals come to drink at dusk and dawn. The African Lowveld savannah of Thornybush Game Reserve stretches out to the horizon - peppered with clumps of camel thorn and bushwillow trees - and no human traces to be seen.
At the lodge, our daily routine matches that of the wildlife, who are most active in the coolest parts of the day. You are greeted early with coffee or tea and a snack as you set out on your morning game drive, returning after two or three hours for a hearty brunch. You can relax at camp until after lunch, and then we go game viewing again in the late afternoon when the animals are stirring, returning in time for a delicious dinner looking out into open African skies.
The lodge's professional guides know Thornybush Game Reserve intimately and will amaze you with their wildlife knowledge on your morning and afternoon game drives in specially designed open sided game 4 x 4 vehicles. All the guides in Thorynbush work together sharing news of interesting sightings, and because it is an exclusive private reserve game, there are no crowds here. Your guide may take you off-road to see something special, and you will be able to spot nocturnal game coming out in the evenings as you return to base for dinner.
You also have the option of exchanging a game drive for an escorted bush walk at our luxurious, affordable Safari Lodge, accompanied by your guide and a tracker. Guided bush walks offer the chance to immerse yourself in the African savannah, taking a close up look at the eco-system. You’ll see how trackers examine spoor and animal droppings, learn about the plant life and the amazing termites, and you might possibly encounter game on foot – a truly exceptional experience.
This tour does take children.
Children over the age of 12 are permitted.
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