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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Thornybush situated inside the Kruger National Park?

Thornybush Private Nature reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. This is an area that covers a massive expanse of unfenced wilderness, allowing wildlife to roam freely between the Kruger National Park and a vast number of private concessions.  Thornybush has 4 lodges, 3 in the Thornybush Nature Reserve and 1 property situated in the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve.

What is the best time of year to come on safari?

Each season has its own beauty and in an ideal world, one should try and experience the bushveld in the winter and in the summer to enjoy the two contrasts. Our summers are hot but tolerable as the air is very dry. Spectacular thunderstorms occur during the months of November through to March. Winter is dry and generally easier to view game as the bush is not as dense. The winter days are fantastic as temperatures average a moderate 20 degrees Celsius. When traveling in the winter months it is recommended that you dress warmly for both morning and evening game drives.

How do I get to the lodge?

SA Airlink and CemAir offer 2 scheduled flights daily between Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) and Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) which takes approximately 55 minutes, and 1 daily flight between Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) and Hoedspruit Airport (HDS), which takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. Transfers can be arranged on your behalf from Hoedspruit Airport to the Reserve, at an additional cost. This transfer takes approximately 30 minutes by road.

Scheduled charter flights taking you directly into one of the Thornybush Nature Reserve Airstrips can be booked through our reservations department.

Private charters are available through several reputable private charter companies. Enquiries / quotes can be obtained through our reservations department.

Directions are available for guests opting to self-drive. Driving time from Johannesburg is approximately 6 hours.

How long should we stay?

In order to have the most fulfilling safari experience, we would recommend a minimum of 3 nights stay, enabling you to enjoy your safari in a leisurely manner.

Will I see the Big 5 at Thornybush?

Thornybush and the Sabi Sand are big 5 reserves, so yes, the chances of seeing them are very high. We can however not guarantee what will be seen on safari as wildlife roam freely. However, we will do our utmost to ensure you get to see everything you have come to see.

What is an open safari vehicle?

This is a modified four-wheel-drive vehicle, designed to carry between 6 and 8 guests and is used to bring you to within close proximity of the animals. The vehicle does not have a roof or sides and allows for maximum all-round visibility. Our ranger and tracker teams are well qualified and take your safety very seriously. They will communicate the rules of driving on this type of vehicle in the open bushveld before departing on your first game drive.

What is the weather like?

Daytime summer temperatures (September – April) are high and may soar above 36°C/97°F. Evenings and early mornings are warm. Winters (May – August) have chilly nights and crisp early mornings (minimum 3°C/38°F), but the days are fine and warm. Rainfall occurs predominantly in the summer months from October to April in the form of magnificent late afternoon/evening thundershowers.

What if I have specific dietary requirements?

Your specific dietary requirements should be communicated with the reservation’s consultant at the time of confirmation, this enables the lodge to ensure your preferred meals are available and supplies are ordered in time for your arrival.

What should I pack for my safari?

The dress code is informal and neutral colours are recommended. A warm jacket for winter and evening safaris. Comfortable walking shoes, a bathing costume, binoculars, camera and video camera. Sunhats, sunscreen and sunglasses. A select range of safari clothing and amenities are available for purchase in our Curio Shops.

Download our recommended “What to Wear on Safari” Guide here.


What happens in medical emergencies?

Thornybush subscribes to a medical team and evacuation service. However, it is recommended that you include this on your travel insurance policy whilst travelling.


Should I bring binoculars?

On game drives you do get quite close to the animals but if you are an avid bird watcher we recommend a small lightweight pair of binoculars to enjoy your bird viewing. Most rangers have a pair on the vehicle but it is recommended that you travel with your personal pair which suits your eyesight.

Questions on photography?

Safaris are a photographer’s paradise; video or still-equipment should be in sturdy photographic cases.

Malaria prophylactics?

The lodges are situated in low risk malaria area. Precautions are taken annually to treat the lodges and minimize risk. We recommend you consult your medical practitioner on anti-malaria prophylactics.

What is the dress code?

Bushveld casual, neutral colours are recommended. Most guests wear long trousers for dinner and always ensure you have a light sweater or windbreaker handy. During summer a bathing costume is recommended to enjoy down time around the swimming pool.

What is the difference between National Parks and Private Reserves?

National parks are administered by South African National Parks Board which ensures a standardised level of accommodation – facilities and the rates are usually kept low. These parks are mainly self-drive destinations. Game viewing in the Nation Parks are restricted to tarred roads with no offer of off-road safaris. The game viewing in a private park is less restrictive to that of the national parks. Game drives are enjoyed in a private open safari vehicle with a trained guide and tracker team ensuring up-close and personalized game viewing experiences.

Is the fruit safe to eat?

The fruit supplied by the lodges is perfectly safe to eat, however DO NOT pick fruit from trees or pick any berries or fruit up off the ground without consulting your ranger as they may be poisonous.

What extra costs will I have at the lodge?

The rates for Thornybush are all-inclusive, however there may be some additional costs. For a full list of lodge inclusions,  refer to the relevant lodge rates page.

Do the game drives go off road?

Yes, game drives are in 4-wheel drive game viewing vehicles, so if the opportunity arises, your guide will go off-road. None of the roads in Thornybush are tarred, they are all maintained dirt roads.

Is there a spa?

There is a full-service spa at both Thornybush Game Lodge and Simbambili Game Lodge. The Thornybush Game Lodge spa is accessible to most of the lodges within close proximity.

A typical day on safari?

You will be warmly welcomed by a friendly member of staff who will assist with the check-in process and orientation of the lodge. You will then be shown to your room, after which a light late lunch will be served, followed by your first afternoon safari which lasts approximately 3 hours, during which time you will stop at a selected venue to watch the sunset and enjoy a beverage. You will return to the lodge early evening for dinner. The following morning at day-break you will meet in the main area of the lodge, where refreshments and snacks will be on offer before departing on your morning drive which lasts approximately 3 hours. You will be given the opportunity to stretch your legs during this time whilst enjoying a coffee break. On return to the lodge, you will enjoy a full breakfast after which you will have some down-time to make use of the spa or lounge by the pool before lunch is served, followed by your late afternoon safari.

Do I need any vaccines for South Africa?

Please consult your general practitioner or medical travel clinic for detailed information regarding possible vaccines required

Are nature walks included?

Yes, nature walks are included, however, these are at the discretion of your guide. As the lodges are situated within a big 5 reserve, your safety is our primary concern. Kindly note, no children under the age of 16 are not permitted on bush walks.

Can we request something special for our Honeymoon or special occasion?

Absolutely! Please inform our reservations department when making your booking should you wish for something special to be arranged.

What does my safari package include?

The rates at our lodges are all -inclusive which means accommodation, meals, snacks, early morning and evening game drives and optional guided bushwalks. For a full list of lodge inclusions, refer to the relevant lodge rates page.

Is the water safe to drink?

The water in all the lodges is perfectly safe to drink, however all lodges have bottled water available for guests.

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