Thornybush report

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Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:18 AM
  #1
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Thornybush report

Hi all, first apologies if I post this twice, my computer is on the blink, this is the second part of my report on my families ( Myself hubby and 10 year old Carmen) travels over the new year and January. We finally flew with my rather poorly daughter (stomach upset) from Livingstone to Jberg. From there we picked up a hire car to drive to Dullstroom and overnight there to pick up the panorama route the next day. Well of course nothing went smoothly they couldn't find the reservation for the car for 2 hours! Finally they discovered it booked for the 5th rather than the 3rd. So we set off with the prospect of driving in the dark in SA which I had hoped to avoid. To help things along we got some Sat Nav – what a joke, it only had about 3 towns in it and 2 addresses in each town. No matter what way I looked at it and which buttons I pushed – just don't bother! Anyway London it isn’t – with not that many roads and a simple tourist map the route is very easy to follow. Rumors of night time muggings and car jacking seem to have been exaggerated we proceeded, safely, even in dark to Dullstroom. What a weird place - like a little bit of Scotland flown into SA. The landscape is soft and rolling with pine trees and trout farms everywhere. Crickle Hackle Lodge goes further with multiple personality disorder. A little bit of Sweden ( pine clad everything) Scotland ( stuffed animal heads ) and SA ( well actually I’m not to sure what was African) all mixed together.

We enjoyed a delicious trout meal there, although I did have a strange moment when I wondered what that metal thing was floating in the food “Mum” said Carmen, “that’s your tooth” Oh yes the gold cap off my back tooth, well at least it wasn’t their cooking. We could easily have lingered to try a little fishing if the road had not called us with promises of grand vistas - and the Blyde River Canyon certainly lived up to the hype, truly beautiful, even after being spoilt by Vic Falls, well worth a day off safari.
By 4.00pm we arrived at the entrance to Thornybush Lodge . We had got a last minute deal from MTBeds, who were really great ( I can recommend them ) I guess we paid about half price even though it was over New Year and really busy everywhere. As we drove down the dirt track from the entrance gate we understood why the name. Everywhere was dry brown scrub, thorny bushes and absolutely no sigh of life. Definately not pretty. Possibly not just MT Beds but MT game park we jested!

The minute we got to the lodge we were greeted by the lovely Jorgia,.In fact the staff were all great, the lodge is elegant and our room spaceous and well designed in a kind of Africa minimal chic. The food was excellent as well. However the river bed it lies on is dry and I think it’s probably nicer having a river view as I am sure you get in Sabi ( maybe next time) The contrast with Zambia is huge, the game isn’t littered you have to look for it, but at the same time the guides actually do track rather than just drive around. We almost immediately found the lions who, as usual, were just lying around doing nothing. Of course our real aim was to find leopards and we spent one entire fruitless morning searching and searching the river beds for tracks and signs and seeing absolutely no sign of any kind of life. However the next day someone had found them and we were rewarded with not 1 but 2 nearly mature cubs lying, in all their beauty, along tree branches. At last! more than just a fleeting glance a real encounter with leopards, pity I’d dropped the camera in Livingstone and ruined the zoom, I bet no one will believe me.
Meantime Carmen was getting more and more sick. She refused to admit it, so was she to miss nothing but by the second morning she was burning up and occasionally vomiting. Jorgia arranged for us to take her to a nearbye military hospital, but they refused to treat her, despite kindly informing me she was “really hot” and off we went to a rather down at heal Township to see the local doctor. He had a smile at all the pills and medicines we had tried to cure her and prescribed about 5 more including disgusting tasting antibiotics, and a suppository! (apologies for too much detail) poor thing she hadn’t eaten in days and could keep nothing down.

Not deterred she insisted on going on the next game drive with extra sick stops! We saw about 5 Rhino and the cutest, smallest baby elephant. My conclusion about Thornybush was it nice but I missed eating together with other guests and found it a little formal, from the sounds of it the Sabi Sands experience is better so I’m saving up for that one.

So maybe latter I’ll finally get to our Mozambique finale… coming back soon
YvonneM is offline  
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:41 AM
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Thanks for posting! Sorry to hear about Carmen's illness. Hope she's well now?

Had you booked private vehicles, by the way? With the best will in the world I'm not sure I'm compassionate enough that I wouldn't be annoyed at frequent interruptions to a drive for a fellow passenger to be sick.
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 11:07 AM
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That's why you have open vehicles - you just lean over the side and let rip.
napamatt is offline  
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 11:15 AM
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Actually we did have the vechile to ourselves for quite a few of the drives, but shared it with a lovely Italien family on a couple of other occassions. Carmen generally held out to the rest stops so didn't really annoy anyone. She was a star.As an aside I know some people are really keen on having their own vechile, I actually enjoyed the company of fellow safari buffs and definately wouldn't pay extra for my own vechile.
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 11:32 AM
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Yvonne-
Thanks so much for sharing your report. Your daugther sounds like quite a tropper!

I can't wait to hear about Mozambique too.
How would you compare your safari experiences at Luangwa River Lodge and in Thornbushy? Both places, along with Mozambique, are possible destinations for us next year.
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 11:55 AM
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Luangwa River Lodge and Thornybush are totally different. If I had to choose one it would be Luangwa. It has Tara and Barry whom I loved, beautiful scenery loads of game, but actually probably more vechiles around especially I think if its the high season, no off road driving and really not great tracking. I think at Thornybush the staff are really committed to game, and because its a private reserve they can find the game better, but.... Zambia is Zambia, Roccco is right its special, I can'r really define it you must go. Now I'm going to write up Mozambique now, I'll post it under that title. The best for last that's all I'll say... Just suberb!
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 12:16 PM
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We haven't booked our own vehicle to date, mostly for budget reasons. In an ideal world I would like to book a private guide/ vehicle for a lot of the drives but not necessarily all of them.

BTW Do you have any photos that you or Carmen (or hubby) took that we can view online?
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 12:31 PM
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You know I don't think I would spend money on a private vechile as you might get one anyway by chance and all the other people I met on safari were great. we're all there because we share a common interest. I'm just trying to write up Mozambique and after that I'll try and master the art of posting photos, anyone have any advice on that?
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