The Monwana River is the lifeblood of Thornybush Private Nature Reserve – not just for the animals that call this place home, but for the people who visit here too.

Of the twelve lodges in the Thornybush offering, the following are located on the river or its tributaries:

  • Monwana Game Lodge
  • Thornybush Game Lodge
  • Serondella Game Lodge
  • Shumbalala Game Lodge
  • Saseka Tented Camp

The Monwana River itself is a tributary of the Komati River, which flows into the Olifants River, ultimately joining up with the Limpopo just before it empties into the Indian Ocean.

Although the Monwana’s flow is seasonal and heavily dependent on rain, the river supports a diverse and thriving ecosystem along its banks. You can expect to find around 56 mammal and 300 bird species, just around the riverbed, and it’s a treasure-trove of rewarding game spotting opportunities.

When the river is not flowing (which is the majority of the time), the dry riverbed makes the perfect place for bush dinners and evening sun-downers!

What can you expect to see?

Look forward to spotting zebra, blue wildebeest, eland, waterbuck, bushbuck, giraffe, common duiker, kudu, impala and steenbok from the camps alongside the Monwana River during the day, while evening lures the leopard and spotted genet from their daytime hide outs.

The banks of this watercourse are lined by riparian forest, interspersed with magnificent specimens of Jackalberry trees (Diospyros Mespiliformis), sycamore figs (Ficus sycomorus) and rain trees (Lonchocarpus capassa).

These are much favoured by African green-pigeons, white-browed robin-chats and sombre greenbuls. The African white-backed vulture and Wahlberg’s eagle often nest high in the branches along the banks of the river.

The surrounding mixed Lowveld Bushveld supports bushwillows, silver clusterleaf trees and many species of acacia which provides homes and sustenance to a large number of birds like hornbills, African hawk eagles, owls, nightjars, rollers and weavers.

Herringbone grass, blueseed grass, curlyleaf lovegrass and bushveld signalgrass offer forage for the antelope species, while a wide variety of shrubs such as hairy corkwood, wild grape and sickle bushes provide for those who prefer to browse.

The Natural Order of Things

Although places of water are intrinsically linked with life itself, it can also be said that water sources can be a place of death in nature. For it is here that the predator awaits its prey, concealed in the verdant undergrowth, and it is also here that the prey species must approach to seek the life-giving sustenance of the river.

This is their meeting place, and the place where you as the safari-goer may get to witness the fascinating balance between life and death, and the harsh realities of the African wilderness.

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