National Parks

Thornybush Private Game Reserve in South Africa

A secluded paradise, private and uncrowded, Thornybush Private Game Reserve offers visitors an intimate safari experience with up close and personal interactions with the Big 5 and other exciting wildlife.

game drives (1)

Game drives

walking safaris

Walking safaris

bird watching

Night safaris

Everything you need to know about Thornybush Private Game Reserve

Thornybush is one of the oldest private reserves in the country, with a history dating back to 1955, when 14,000 hectares of land was fenced off from the rest of the rolling plains of the Limpopo lowveld. The reserve was made into an even more impressive wildlife hotspot when it dropped its fences and became part of the Greater Kruger National Park in 2017, embracing a new era of biodiversity into the savanna making it a truly celebrated safari destination in South Africa.

Where is the reserve located?

The reserve is ideally located near one of the Kruger National Park’s most popular airport hubs, near Hoedspruit, in the Limpopo province. Like its popular neighbour, it too is easily accessible from South Africa’s two major international airports – Johannesburg and Cape Town – with regular scheduled flights. It lies north-east of Johannesburg which is a mere five hours away by road, and one hour by plane.

About the reserve

What can you expect from the terrain?

As its name suggests, Thornybush reserve supports a varied diversity of grasses, mixed woodland trees such as the iconic marula and acacia, as well as wild patches of tangled, thorny thickets and bush. There is however an abundance of perennial rivers and fantastic groundwater levels meaning a range of vegetation of plains game like impala, eland and kudu, which naturally attract predators making for some thrilling game viewing experiences.

What type of wildlife will we see?

A nature lover’s paradise, Thornybush places conservation at the heart of its ethos, and efforts are constantly being made to keep the wilderness as untouched as possible. As a result of this,  and the attractive terrain, the reserve is teeming with a dense array of wildlife with over 140 mammal species, including the Big Five, giraffe, the rare wild dog, spotted hyena, cheetah, leopard and many more, as well as an abundance of reptile and bird species. It is a private paradise for a safari and guests can expect intimate experiences with animals and extended game viewing times on exciting sightings – of which there are many.

Top experiences to enjoy at Thornybush Private Reserve

A visit to Thornybush just isn’t complete without a thrilling night-lit game drive in search of the more secretive nocturnal animals, as well as the big cats that move through the reserve at night. The 12 luxurious lodges within the reserve offer something for everyone, from family safaris to honeymoons, photographic safaris and more. The holistic approach to the wildlife experience is best experienced on a walking safari where the expert guides and trackers can reveal their passion for all aspects of the bushveld, even the often unseen smaller creatures.

When to visit

Like the neighbouring parks, the best time to visit Thornybush all depends on what it is you want to experience. The colder winter months of May to October are dry, which means less vegetation and easier game spotting. The summer months, though hot and humid, provide lush green scenery with an array of birds and very cute baby animals.

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Ker & Downey® Africa > Destinations > South Africa > Parks > Thornybush Private Game Reserve in South Africa