Thornybush Game Reserve


Thornybush Private Game Reserve is set in the heart of the rolling Lowveld savannah and is adjacent to Kruger Park in South Africa. Home to the Big Five and a variety of other African wildlife species, it has a near perfect year round climate, making Thornybush a perfect destination for a family safari.The range of Thornybush accommodation options caters for most guests, from rustic comfort to exclusive luxury. Warm African evenings under the stars make Thornybush Game Reserve your home away from the world. The sheer enjoyment of unspoilt nature, the invigorating air and the spectacular open vistas will leave you relaxed and energized for your return to civilization.

Why Go:

  • Excellent wildlife viewing
  • Home to the Big Five
  • Day and night drives
  • Off-road driving in open vehicles
  • Thornybush is child-friendly
  • A lot of accommodation option to choose from


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.

More About the Wildlife


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.

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).

More About the Best Time to Visit

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.

More About the Weather and Climate

Wildlife & Animals

Thornybush has dropped fences with Timbavati, which is open to Kruger Park and is, therefore, part of a large ecosystem. All of the Big Five are regularly seen as well as spotted hyena, cheetah and hippo. Since the fences have been dropped, wild dog have been denning in the park, offering great viewing opportunities.
Abundant Common Occasional Rare None
  • Elephant


  • Giraffe


  • Hippo


  • Buffalo


  • Zebra


  • Wildebeest


  • White Rhino

    White Rhino

  • Black Rhino

    Black Rhino

  • Lion


  • Leopard


  • Cheetah


  • Hyena


  • Wild Dog

    Wild Dog


Best Time to Visit

May to September is the best time for wildlife viewing and the best time to visit Thornybush, in general. These are the winter months, and they coincide with the Dry season. This is a time of drought when wildlife gathers around permanent water sources and foliage recedes, making animals easier to spot. As an added attraction, this is also the low season for tourism, making the park quieter and less crowded.
  • Best Time to GoMay to September
    (Dry season)
  • High SeasonOctober to March
    (Crowding is rare)
  • May to September

    Dry season

  • October to March

    Crowding is rare

  • April to September

    Excellent time for wildlife viewing

  • April to May

    Mild weather and little rain

  • September to October

    Mild weather and little rain

  • June to August

    Chilly mornings and nights

  • December to February

    Hot and humid

May to September
- Dry Season – Winter
October to April
- Wet Season – Summer

Weather & Climate

Winter (May to September) is dry with mild temperatures, while summer (October to April) is wet, hot and humid. Be sure to pack warm clothing for morning and evening game drives during the winter. Thundershowers are typical during the Wet season, although the rain rarely lasts the whole day.
Climate Chart
- 445-579m / 1,460-1,900ft
Averages based on 50 years of monthly climate data, taken from 1km² (0.39mi²) interpolated climate surfaces.
© chart & park data: SafariBookings. © climate grid data: WorldClim project. All rights reserved.
Dry season
- May to September – Winter

The dry winter season is from May to September, which is also the best time to visit Thornybush Game Reserve.

Wet season
- October to April – Summer

October to April is the wet summer season and temperatures can increase to uncomfortable levels.

Getting There

O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg is where visitors usually arrive from abroad. Once there, a connecting flight to Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit is possible. This airport is close to the reserve, and a transfer can easily be arranged. Another possibility is to hire a car in Johannesburg and drive to the park. Thornybush is situated on the R40 near Hoedspruit, to the west of Kruger National Park. The 450km/280mi drive will take about 5 hours.

Getting to the Thornybush Game Reserve by air

Eastgate Airport: The reserve is 20km or a 25-minute transfer from this our closest airport.

Transfers to Thornybush and Simbambili can be arranged. Daily flights by South African Express Airways link Eastgate Airport to Johannesburg, Sun City and Cape Town.

Charter: Thornybush has two landing strips on the reserve, the bigger of the two is a 1,2 km tarred runway and is able to accommodate up to a 16 seat aircraft. Siyabona Africa is always happy to assist with the booking of a charter flight.

Getting to the Thornybush Game Reserve by road

Road transfers and self drive route east from Johannesburg on the N4, until the Belfast turn-off is reached. Proceed through Belfast and on to Dullstroom, continue through Lydenburg and Ohrigstad, on to Hoedspruit and follow signs to Thornybush.

Directions from Johannesburg to Thornybush Game Reserve:
• The N12 to Witbank, where the N12 highway links up with the N4 highway.
• Continue with the N4 in the direction Nelspruit.
• Approximately 60 km past Middleburg take the R 540 to your left.
• Travel though the towns of Belfast and Dullstroom to Lydenburg
• Take the R 36 (which becomes to R 527) towards Hoedspruit, passing through Origstad and descending down the Able Erasmus Pass.
• At Hoedspruit take the R 40 south towards Bushbuckridge.
• Continue 6 km and turn left at the Eastgate Airport sign / Argyle Road.
• Continue 14 km (tarred road) and turn right onto Guernsey Road (following the signs to Thornybush Reserve)
• Continue 9km (gravel road) and turn left into the Thornybush Game Reserve gate.

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