Thornybush and Sabi Sand share a fenceless border with the Kruger National Park, allowing a steady stream of free-roaming Big 5 wildlife. The consistent sightings of Africa’s iconic animals are a key factor in the success of our lodges. Guests will see much more than just elephants and lions, because Thornybush is well known for the vast diversity of wildlife, indigenous to this area. All this is brought to life by our expert guide-and-tracker teams who have a deep understanding of the African bush with an inherent knack for finding the action.
Our guests go on game drives twice a day, at sunrise and sunset – enjoying exclusive access to wildlife sightings. There are never more than three vehicles on a sighting, which means no jostling for position. You’ll also get exceptionally close to that leopard in a tree or elephants in a riverbed as our vehicles can go off-road, so you’ll never miss a moment.
Few things are as thrilling as setting off on foot in the African bush, as you feel a closer connection to the landscape and wildlife. We love showing our guests the smaller things up close and in a different way, while also knowing that the chance of a Big 5 encounter is always there.
Big Five Safaris Experiences
Thornybush runs a non-profit organisation that aims to uplift the surrounding local communities that many of our staff members come from. Exciting initiatives such as community owned agricultural businesses, food security, youth focused conservation awareness, sustainable procurement and infrastructure upgrades are all major focus area’s of ours.
A pink dawn, birds stirring and a chance to see the wildlife begin their day – welcome to a morning drive at Thornybush. You’ll need to be up before the sun and in the vehicle after a quick snack to see the best sightings. This is when the land is cool and the animals are most active, when anything is possible and sightings come quickly. After a couple hours of roaming the reserve you’ll stop at a special spot for a coffee break before heading back for a delicious late breakfast.
Following a lazy afternoon, most likely spent by the pool or on your deck, we’ll meet for afternoon tea before climbing into the game vehicle for a three-hour drive that leads into the evening. The sundowner stop at one of our favourite viewpoints will take in one of the iconic sights – a sunset casting golden light across an African savanna. As night sets in, new animals stir adding another level of excitement to the end of the drive.
Following a morning game drive, our guests can be treated to breakfast in a beautiful bush setting. While the savannah stirs to life, we serve a wide variety of breakfast dishes that our guests enjoy surrounded by the untouched Afican wilderness.
Dinners at Thornybush are roaming affairs – locations can range from lantern-lit bomas to starry riverbeds, but the most memorable meals are often enjoyed in the privacy of your own deck. While the night sounds of the African bush ring through the air and mysterious eyes watch you from afar, you get to enjoy superbly prepared meals accompanied by South Africa’s finest wines.
A walking safari offers something quite different to a game drive: the thrill of being on foot in a Big 5 reserve and a chance to engage with the smaller things. You learn about tracking, insects and flowers. It’s a chance to have an immersive experience where you get down and touch and smell what’s out there while at the same time you never quite know what you’ll encounter around the next corner, and there’s little that compares to the experience when you do.
A wildlife wonderland
Incredible density of game
Through a combination of good rivers, vegetation and terrain, wildlife are drawn to the Thornybush and Sabi Sand reserves. The large numbers of plains game attract predators, which sets the scene for one of nature’s most fascinating battles. As our guides and trackers like to say, ‘There’s always something happening out there’.
World-class guides and trackers
Our guides and trackers are among the best in the business – their ability to read the signs of nature and predict where the animals will be always astounds our guests. They also understand that the more our guests know, the better it gets for them and love to explain how everything in the ecosystem is connected.
This special place is wonderful. It’s a private reserve – open to the Kruger wildlife but without crowds. Twice-daily drives offered intimate encounters with the big five and much besides; seeing a leopard on a tree just metres away is amazing!
Looking for a different Safari Type?
Finding the Big Five on Safari
Finding the Big 5 on safari is the dream of many guests and at Thornybush the chances are very high – but do you know which animals form part of this group? Rea
Thornybush Joins the Greater Kruger National Park
Thornybush forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park, which allows the free movement of animals across 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 sq mi) of land.