Overview – Thornybush GR

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Thornybush used to be a small, fully fenced, private game reserve. In March 2017, the reserve started dropping its eastern boundary fence with Timbavati NR, which has open boundaries with the world-famous Kruger Park. Animals can now freely move in and out of the reserve, which has become part of a large ecosystem. All large safari animals including the Big Five are easily spotted, but wildlife is less abundant than in nearby Timbavati and Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The thick bush makes off-road driving more difficult as well.

Best Time to Go May to September (Dry season)
High Season October to March (Crowding is rare)
Size 140km² / 54mi²
Altitude 445-579m / 1,460-1,900ft

Pros & Cons

  • Good wildlife viewing with all of the Big Five present
  • Day and night drives and walking safaris available
  • Off-road driving in open vehicles
  • Lodges catering to different budgets
  • Wildlife less abundant when compared to Sabi Sands and Timbavati
  • High density of camps, so less exclusive
  • Emphasis on checking off the Big Five species

Thornybush GR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Thornybush offers good general wildlife viewing – all of the Big Five are regularly spotted. There is a good chance of seeing black and white rhino and cheetah as well. Lions are regularly seen, and wild dogs move in and out of the property. Giraffe and a good variety of antelope are present as well.

Scenery

The terrain consists of mixed woodland and open savannah with patches of tangled thickets and thorny bush, hence the name. The reserve is bisected by several dry riverbeds.

Weather & Climate

Thornybush steams its way through the summer Wet season (October to April) when daily downpours combine with high temperatures to make life unpleasant. The heat starts to back off in March, signaling that the milder months of winter (the Dry season: May to September) are near. The humidity and rainfall pretty much disappear in the drier months.

Best Time to Visit

If you visit Thornybush during the wetter months (October to April), you’ll be rewarded with the appearance of baby animals and migrating birds. The landscape, fed by the continual rain, will also be a rich green and the air nice and clear. But the heat is a burden, and the wildlife, in general, will be easier to spot when the vegetation recedes in the Dry season (May to September).

Want to Visit Thornybush GR?

Thornybush GR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Stephen Cunliffe  –  
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

Wildlife without the Wilderness
3/5

Thornybush, situated within the Timbivati region of the Lowveld, boasts some high quality Big Five and cheetah viewing; but, this 19,000ha private reserve has one major drawback: I dislike that it is separated from the rest of the Timbivati...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Haven H.  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Sep 22, 2019
5/5

Thornybush has a rich array of wildlife and an apparently healthy ecosystem to support it.
Our camp was fully solar powered, small and intimate, which added to our enjoyment.

Full Review