​Expert Reviews – Thornybush GR

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Stephen Cunliffe   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Multiple times (Lived here for 3 years)

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

16 people found this review helpful.

Wildlife without the Wilderness
Overall rating

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 and Greater Kruger Park by a fence line. Animals cannot wonder freely in and out of the reserve, as is the case with neighbouring Timbivati. Thornybush lodge owners argue in favour of the fence because it helps ensure that their safari-visitors stand an excellent chance of seeing all the flagship large African wildlife species during a brief two- or three-day stay. It’s also true that elephants periodically push the fence over to wander through anyway and wild dogs have been known to crawl under and visit the park for a few days; but, in a day and age of expanding conservation areas and fence removal, I would love to see Thornybush open up completely and increase its sense of real African wilderness. In the meantime, what goes without saying is that this park has some of Africa’s finest safari lodges, top-quality guides, and excellent year-round wildlife-viewing of all the Big Five.

Harriet Nimmo   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Multiple times

Harriet is a zoologist with more than 20 years’ experience. She has the privilege of working with the world’s top wildlife photographers and photo-guides.

4 people found this review helpful.

Great First-time Safari Destination
Overall rating

Thornybush is part of the cluster of the Association of Private Reserves that are open to the Kruger National Park with no internal fences so the wildlife is free-roaming.

Thornybush makes for a great first-time safari destination. It is easily accessible from Hoedspruit airport or a five-hour drive from Johannesburg airport. It has a great reputation for sightings and if you’re lucky you should be able to see the Big Five during a two- or three-night stay. Wild dog are also possible, especially during the Dry season.

There is a variety of upmarket lodges, all part of the Thornybush Collection. They vary in price according to levels of luxury. The wildlife sightings are pretty much the same, whichever lodge you choose to stay at.

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.5/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

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  • 4 star 1
  • 3 star 1
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  • 1 star 0
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