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Which Lodge for Safari in Thornybush Private Reserve?

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Oct 8th, 2013, 10:37 AM
  #1
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Which Lodge for Safari in Thornybush Private Reserve?

Hi,

We have the opportunity to go on a last minute trip to South Africa next month and are trying to decide which lodge to choose for the safari portion of the trip. We are a married couple in our 30s and will be staying for 3 nights. We like nice accommodations but don't need luxury although that would be nice. Not sure if this will be a factor, but we do not eat pork. I am trying to decide between Thornybush Game Lodge, Shumbalala Game Lodge, Jackalberry and Chapungu. Does anyone have any experiences at any of these? How is Chapungu since it is a tent camp? Is it as "roughing it" as I imagine?

Thanks in advance.
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Oct 8th, 2013, 11:49 AM
  #2
 
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Why Thornybush? If you are not limited to Thornybush, check this 5* place out for a 3 night package. The price is unbeatable as are the reviews on TripAdvisor. If you've never used Luxury Link before, it is a great website and I've used it a half dozen times for trips all over the world.

http://www.luxurylink.com/5star/hote...e-game-reserve
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Oct 8th, 2013, 01:13 PM
  #3
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I have heard great things about Thornybush from family who have been and online. I will check out this link as well. Thank you. Do you have any personal experience with Mkuze Falls Private Game Reserve?
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Oct 8th, 2013, 01:43 PM
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I went in January 2013 (never finished my trip report, which reminds me...). I was deciding between a few different lodges, including some in Kapama, Thornybush, and Sabi Sand.

I ended up going with Elephant Plains in Sabi Sand, partially because I was a bit turned off by the idea of a fenced reserve (which Kapama and Thornybush both are). While Elephant Plains doesn't have the largest traversing rights in the reserve, the animal population is mobile between all the areas of Sabi Sand and Kruger National Park.

For nice but not ultra luxe and more budget friendly, the best choices in Sabi Sand proper are Arathusa, Elephant Plains and Umkumbe. Timbavati Game Reserve also has some budget friendly lodges that are nice (I think Shindzela was the one I looked at, and maybe Simbavati).

Another poster on an older thread provided a good map providing relative scale of the different game reserve areas: http://www.mediafire.com/imgbnc.php/...742e07286g.jpg
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Oct 8th, 2013, 02:07 PM
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Cranberry,

No personal experience with Mkuze Falls but I trust the Trip Advisor reviews and doubly trust the fact that Luxury Link deals with Mkuze Falls. Luxury Link has never let me down before and gets me into 5 star properties for half price.

If you do a search on Mkuze Falls, there are a couple others on this forum who have personally visited and speak very highly of it.

I will be making my first visit to Mkuze Falls next June as I booked a Luxury Link package. You just cannot get a 5 star safari lodge for the price it is being offered on Luxury Link.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...ulu_Natal.html
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Oct 8th, 2013, 02:23 PM
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These reviews are more current:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...ulu_Natal.html

But, if you don't mind spending a bit more, you cannot go wrong with a less expensive place in the Sabi Sand be it Elephant Sands or Nkhoro Bush Lodge or with a less expensive place in the Madikwe Private Game Reserve.

Although Sabi Sand gets all the rage, personally, I like Madikwe better for its landscape and unlimited traversing areas. In the Sabi Sand, all the properties have designated traversing areas while in Madikwe, you pretty much can go wherever yet the game sightings are no more crowded than in the Sabi Sand as there are agreements in place as to a maximum amount of vehicles at any one spotting.

But, you'll find that each of these destinations will probably be more expensive and not the same luxury that you'll find at Mkuze Falls. Also, take into consideration how far each place is from wherever else it is you are visiting and whether you are self driving or flying. Flying into these safari lodges can cost an arm and a leg, sometimes nearly as much for two people as a 3 night stay, itself.

Finally, I've never used this site myself, but here is a site that specializes in last minute travel and with your trip quickly approaching, you may find some deals here...at a minimum, you'll see enough different choices to make your head spin and open up your mind to more than just Thornybush (that's not a slam against Thornybush as much as it is a statement that there are a lot of great places out there besides Thornybush).

Best of luck.
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Oct 8th, 2013, 02:24 PM
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www.mtbeds.co.za (last minute bookings)
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Oct 8th, 2013, 05:43 PM
  #8
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Thanks to you both for the information. I will check out these places as well. I'm still interested in hearing about Thornybush if anyone else has any experience there!
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Oct 10th, 2013, 08:06 AM
  #9
 
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We just got back from SA last Friday and spent 3 nights at the Serondella Game Lodge in Thornybush. Amazing! It's fenced and abuts Kruger but the fences are a bit ridiculous and do nothing to stop the animals from moving about. We went on 2 game drives each day and saw all types on animals. The accommodations were very comfortable and the food was very high quality. The couple who runs Serondella, Neil and Christie, were very welcoming and knowledgable. I would definitely return and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
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Oct 11th, 2013, 04:53 AM
  #10
 
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>> the fences are a bit ridiculous and do nothing to stop the animals from moving about

I think you have seen the fences around your lodge.
The fences in between Thornybush and other reserves (or the townships) are double, electrified, and 2,4m high. I wouln't call that ridiculous.

There's a reason why Thornybush lions are on the pill. They cannot get out, so their number needs to be controlled. Idem with their elephants.

Not to say that fenced reserves cannot give you a good safari experience. In fact, game numbers are typically somewhat higher, due to those fences. So number of sightings might be higher than in the non-fenced reserves. But of course, it can feel a bit zoo-like.

If you're looking for a good lodge in Thornybush, I'd pick one of the "Thornybush Collection" (Google it). The reason why; because it's a huge number of lodges all sharing traverse. And a lot of traverse means the best chances to see all there is to see, and a better chance of staying away from fences (not pretty).
There's a number of "solo players" in the reserve as well, but their traverse is not that good. For instance, Kwa Mbili sits on a 500Ha plot and has access to one other plot of 1000Ha next door.

An even better option IMHO is to look at an unfenced reserve, but if you want to keep it affordable, one that is less known than Sabi Sands.

In other words;
- Manyeleti. Check Pungwe Bush Camp.
- Timbavati. Check Simbavai River Lodge and Shindzela.
- Klaserie. Check nThambo and Africa On Foot.

Ciao,

J.
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Oct 11th, 2013, 05:09 AM
  #11
 
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Pixelpower- I have seen the fences and wasn't impressed. To be fair, I live in a rural area where electric fences are common so the concept of electric fences may make more of an impact to those who don't. I can't comment about lions being on contraceptives since I don't have any personal knowledge of that. I will note, however, that we saw at least half a dozen lion cubs (and young leopards, young giraffes, and even a black rhino that was quite small) so perhaps this isn't widespread. Additionally, regarding the fences, we learned that animals make their way across the fences and a particular lion was pointed out as having come from Kruger. This is merely my experience and I'm sure the OP will be interested in hearing from everyone.
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Oct 14th, 2013, 06:01 PM
  #12
 
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I almost booked at Thornybush but heard so many say that game viewing is better and more "authentic" in unfenced reserve so now am looking at Klaserie and Timbavati reserve lodges. Found several for price similar to Thornybush. For ex, Kambaku or Simbavati. That's where I will likely end up. It is so overwhelming to sort thru it all and often I see particular places championed by travel agents, which is either great or suspicious. Difficult to navigate, for sure.
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