• Thornybush Game Reserve
  • Thornybush Game Reserve
  • Thornybush Game Reserve
  • Thornybush Game Reserve
  • Thornybush Game Reserve
  • Thornybush Game Reserve

The River Lodge | Thornybush

Embark on a journey into the beating heart of Africa at Thornybush, The River Lodge.

Here you will be wrapped in luxury and surrounded by the finest of game viewing opportunities, secluded in a magnificent setting amid the vast bushveld panoramas of the 14,000 hectare Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, within the greater Kruger National Park.

Rates inclusive of 15% VAT • South African Rand • Subject to Availability

Description 1 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2021
Suites single per day R22 475
Suites per person per night sharing R14 985
Honeymoon Suite single per night R24 760
Honeymoon Suite per person per night sharing R16 505
The Royal Suite single per night R24 760
The Royal Suite per person per night sharing R16 505
Add pax @ Royal Suite R24 760

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  • icon Wedding
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  • Reopening Rates

At Thornybush The River Lodge, patrons are accommodated in Five luxurious suites overlooking the seasonal Timbavati River, discreetly positioned to ensure a personalised and private experience for every guest.

Each suite is spacious and decorated in sophisticated African chic, flowing out on to an elevated deck with private plunge pool and magnificent views.High-lofted thatched roofs add to the ambience, and the bathrooms feature floor-to-ceiling glass doors which open to allow the outdoors in, for ultimate relaxation overlooking spectacular views while you soak in the bathtub.  An outside shower completes the experience.

At Thornybush The River Lodge you can look forward to restful slumber in supremely comfortable beds, draped mosquito nets and air-conditioned comfort, along with the kind of service that dreams are made of.

Room amenities

  • Air Conditioning
  • Swimming pool
  • Lounge area
  • Beautiful elevated deck
  • Outside showers
  • Cotton Linen
  • Serviced Daily
  • Bar Fridge Freezer
  • Coffee Station
  • Complimentary Wireless Internet


N.B. The above rates are per person per night sharing, inclusive of VAT and are subject to a 50% single supplement.

  • Luxury Accommodation
  • All meals, teas, coffees, minibar in room & selected snacks
  • All local drinks (soft drinks, house wine, selection of local beers, local spirits)
  • Dawn and dusk safaris in open land cruiser vehicles (FGASA accredited field guides and trackers) and bushveld walks
  • Wi-Fi


  • Curio, telephone and laundry expenses
  • Spa Facility, anything of a personal nature / anything not specified
  • Simbambili Gate fee at Sabi Sands Reserve (per vehicle/per person)
  • Conservation Fee & TOMSA Levy. Any Increases in any of the above costs

Tomsa Levy And Conservation Fees 

  • Conservation fee of R495.00 per person per booking. The Conservation Fee for guests staying at Simbambili Game Lodge is inclusive of the R138.00 p/p per booking Sabi Sand Conservation fee. TOMSA Levy: R14.00 per person per night (5* Lodges) and R9.00 per person per night (4* Lodges)– The Conservation Fee & TOMSA Levy is payable on reservations invoice / guests are unable to pay / settle these costs at the various lodges.
  • Self-drive guests to Simbambili Game Lodge pay an entrance fee of R310.00 per vehicle and R140.00 per person, which is payable at the
    Gowrie Gate direct. Where road transfers are booked through The Thornybush Collection, these fees are included in the rate.
NB: All the above is subject to availability, increases and our general Terms & Conditions
  • Children’s rates are based on:
  • o 0 – 1.99 years will stay free of charge
  • o 2 children, under the age of 12 years sharing with 2 adults, children’s rates will apply
  • o In the event of 1 child (6 – 11 yrs) sharing with 2 adults the 3rd person will pay the adult sharing rate.
  • o Children 12 and over pay the full adult sharing rate / single rate. In the event of 1 child over 12 sharing with 2 adults, the single supplement will be applied to the 3rd person sharing.
  • Children under the age of 6 yrs are not permitted on game drive. All children permitted on game drive will be at Management’s discretion
  • Babysitting services are available, at an additional cost at lodges equipped to accommodate children
  • Children under the age of 16 yrs are not permitted on bush walks. 
  • Simbambili Game Lodge do not accept children under the age of 16.

Deposit and Payment Policy

  • To secure a booking, we require a 25% non-refundable deposit on confirmation of the booking. The balance is due 40 days prior to arrival. If the booking is made within 40 days of the scheduled date of arrival, in this case full payment is required on confirmation.
  • All other extras must be settled with The Lodge prior to departure.
  • Please note that a reservation is not confirmed or secured until this deposit requirement has been paid in full. We reserve the right, without notice to the client, to release any accommodation held where the required deposit has not been paid in full within the stated period.

Cancellation Policy

Upon confirmation of reservation, we reserve the right to charge a cancellation fee equivalent to:

  • 60 to 31 days prior to arrival at the lodge = 25% Cancellation fees
  • 30 to 00 days prior to arrival at the lodge = 100% Cancellation fees
  • All deposits of 25 % received on confirmation are Non-Refundable.
  • Refunds, are at the discretion of management and if agreed, is subject to a 10% administration fee.

Check-in time 1 PM-5 PM
Check-out time is 11 AM

Imagine exchanging your vows in an African dry river bed at sunset, the bridge being serenaded in by African dancers amidst tribal song. This is just one of the ways weddings can be catered for at many of the Thornybush Nature Reserve lodges or at Simbambili Game Lodge.

Few experiences can be as personalized as a wedding and we therefore realize that each experience will require attention to the finest detail. From Thornybush Nature Reserve, nestled in the heart of big five country, to Simbambili Game Lodge, set among magnificent Knobthorn trees along the meandering Manyeleti River, we can promise you unrivalled big game viewing, complemented by exquisite accommodation and sublime cuisine and above all, a day you will never forget. Your safari style wedding will be a celebration of love, tradition and lasting memories.

Weddings are catered for by Thornybush Game Lodge, Thornybush Waterside Lodge, Simbambili Game Lodge, Chapungu Tented Camp and Shumbalala Game Lodge. It is however advisable to book the lodge of your choice and request exclusive use (depending on the size of your party) ensuring the lodge’s full attention.

Arrangements can be as glamorous or as understated, according to the bridge and groom’s wishes. Consideration needs to be given to weather conditions and the fact that we are in a nature reserve so certain restrictions do apply (i.e. no fireworks). Ministers from most denominations are easily accessible, as are photographers, cakes, hairdressers and florists. Special menus and dining venues can be set aside for the wedding party, when the lodge is booked exclusively.

All you need to do is sit back, relax and leave the wedding preparations up to someone else whilst you enjoy Spa treatments, sunset cocktails and game drives. Our wedding venues are renowned for their beauty and excellent service.

The Standard Wedding Package includes

  • Dedicated Lodge Wedding Co-ordinator: A dedicated lodge Wedding co-ordinator will be assigned to the bridal party to ensure the smooth flow of all aspects and to assist in the set-up and layout of both the ceremony area as well as the dinner; whether it is a private dinner or a large reception event.
  • Wedding Official (local multi-denominational): The minister’s time and travel costs.
  • Wedding Venue: There are various options available, details to be discussed with the Bridal Party. The most popular being the Bush Venue (weather permitting).
  • Ceremony: The dedicated lodge Wedding Co-ordinator will discuss options available. An example of choices; Classic Wedding Ceremony or an African Traditional Wedding which includes the swapping of skins, drinking beer from Ostrich Egg Shells and swapping of beaded bracelets – depending on the wedding couple’s choice. Additional costs may be incurred.
  • Flowers: This includes: 1 x bridal bouquet & 1 x corsage and Groom’s lapel. Additional costs may apply subject to requirements.
  • Wedding Cake: Choice of traditional fruit cake, scrumptious chocolate or carrot cake; all decorated in an African / nature theme.
  • Classic Wedding Reception: This includes standard lodge facilities / equipment. Should the bridal party wish for any additional equipment etc. this may be at an additional cost.
  • Honeymoon turn-down: During the course of the bridal party’s stay, they will be treated to a romantic honeymoon turn-down with complimentary bottle of South African Sparkling Wine, and private in-suite dinner should they choose. In the event of a superior suite being available, the lodge will upgrade the bridal party at no additional cost.
  • It is requested our reservations department be contacted for an individual quotation based on the bridal couple’s requirements.

Additional chargeable items

  • Hair: Bride’s hair to be done at the lodge. In addition to bride – Bridesmaids/mother of bride.
  • Make up:
  • Spa Treatments: Available at Thornybush Game Lodge and Simbambili Game Lodge
  • Decorative candles & stands:
  • Hiring of additional décor : Pending the requirements of the bridal party, should additional décor be required, additional costs will apply.
  • Additional Guests: Should the bridal party wish to include non-residing guests, additional costs may apply
  • Corkage: Should the bridal party choose to cater their own drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) a corkage charge may be levied per item.
  • Photographer: A photographer can be arranged to cater for individual requirements.
  • Tribal dancing:
  • Marimba Band, DJ / music (sound restrictions may apply), Choir, additional staff :
  • Hot Air Balloon Excursion:
  • Confetti Option: Showers of Blessing – Bubble Confetti
  • Notes: no paper confetti, streamers, feathers, rice or butterflies are permitted at any of The Thornybush Collection Lodges.

Thornybush Luxury Game Lodge Collection shall not be held liable for any interruptions of services (i.e. water, electricity, sanitary services).

Whilst every precaution will be taken to ensure the safeguarding of your belongings, Thornybush Luxury Game Lodge Collection will not be held liable for loss or damage to any property whatsoever (décor props, wedding gifts, valuables, etc.). We recommend that all personal and valuable property be removed directly after the wedding.

Any independent wedding co-ordinator assigned by the client to c-ordinate their function will be responsible for and ensure that all deliveries and collections are counted themselves and are present to attend to such deliveries and collections.

Thornybush Luxury Game Lodge Collection will not be held responsible for providing a marquee due to unforeseen weather conditions. The client will be encouraged to discuss a rain plan.


We will require copies of both the bride and groom’s ID books and/or Passports, depending on their nationality as well as any copies of death certificates or divorce certificates should either of them have been married before.


The standard cancellation policy will apply with respect to accommodations dues. In the event that Thornybush Luxury Game Lodge Collection is required to acquire or procure goods and services intended for the event, payment in full for said items will be required from the client prior to ordering.

Cancellation requests are to be forwarded in writing to the Thornybush Luxury Game Lodge Collection.


Amani Spa

Additional charge applicable.

Thornybush Game Lodge boasts a fully equipped Amani African Spa that offers a range of unique holistic spa rituals and relaxing massages in the heart of the natural bushveld, with the sounds of water, abundant bird life and soothing background music, allowing all the elements of the treatments to come together as one.


Additional charge applicable.

Making music together is a proven ancient method of unifying groups, and bringing people together. Each guests receives a musical instrument and participates in the powerful unifying experience.  

Traditional Dancers

Additional charge applicable.

Tribal dancing with pace and a great variety of moves. Traditionally attired they are fast and furious.

Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

Additional charge applicable.

A delightful tour to the rehabilitation centre for a hand on experience in the rehabilitation of wildlife to the bush. This tour includes Blyde River Canyon, where the escarpment rears 1900m above the Lowveld and a visit to the Swadini Dam and Museum.

Canyon Cruise

Additional charge applicable.

After an early morning game drive and hearty breakfast, depart to the Blyde River Canyon. Guests enjoy a stunning picturesque cruise on the dam, including a delightful lunch on board. A full interpretive service is offered on the geology, wildlife, and biology while cruising, including a visit to the base of the Tufa Waterfall that is unique to this region.

Panorama Tours

Additional charge applicable.

Tour guide will collect guests from various lodges at around 09h00, but alternative pick up times can be arranged to suit clients needs. Route covered is usually Abel Erasmus Pass, Grasp (lunch excluded), God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Three Rondawels and other Panorama route attractions. Time is allowed to shop for curios at various excellent shops and local craft vendors along the way. This is one of the most scenic routes in the region. Return at approx. 17h00. Lunch excluded. Terms & Conditions available on request.

Cheetah Breeding Project

Additional charge applicable.

As one of the country's leading private research and breeding facilities, this unique project concerns itself with the breeding and protection of several endangered indigenous wildlife species in Southern Africa. Initially established as a breeding centre for cheetah, this centre soon expanded to include many other endangered species. . Terms & Conditions available on request.

Hot Air Balloon Excursion

Additional charge applicable.

One-hour long flight over the scenic, Lowveld section of the Blyde River, 15 km West of Hoedspruit. The terrain is a mixture of farmland, private nature reserves and wildlife estates. The mountains to the South and West provide shelter from the prevailing winds, thereby affording good flying weather on most days. As the sun rises, the landscape, the vegetation and, if you're lucky, some wildlife will provide photo opportunities. Game spotting cannot be guaranteed but on most flights we see plains game like giraffe and wildebeest. On very calm days, we sometimes offer flights over a Nature Reserve, South-East of Hoedspruit. After the flight, guests making use of transfers will be returned to their respective lodges. Includes return transfers by road to launch site. Whilst bookings for fewer than 4 passengers are accepted, all flights subject to a minimum 4 passengers on the day. Cancellations within a 24 hour period will incur a 50% cancellation fee and on the day/no shows will incur 100%. The Thornybush Collection, upon request, may pre-book on behalf of guests, HOWEVER payment is to be done at the lodge by guests direct. Payment cannot be included on accommodation invoice.

Shangaan Cultural Village

Additional charge applicable.

The Eastern Lowveld of South Africa is home to the proud Shangaan nation. Join us for an enlightening visit to Shangaana or Nyani Cultural Villages to share in the customs and culture of these wonderful and proud people. These tours depart the lodge at midday and return in the afternoon in time for the afternoon /evening game drive. Lunch excluded. Terms & Conditions available on request.


Safari Conference

Additional charge applicable.

The perfect way to achieve a successful conference or board meeting breakaway is to combine business and pleasure.

Thornybush Conference Facilities.

Cinema - 60 pax
Classroom - 40pax
U-Shape - 20 pax
Length of room - 9,4m
Width of room - 10,4m
Height of room - 3m
Total 106m2
2 plug points - 4 sockets
Includes the use of
Overhead projector
Additional equipment can be hired at a nominal charge including Data projector, etc.

Bush Orientation Activity

Additional charge applicable.

This challenging group activity promotes teamwork, planning and meeting objectives and deadlines. The objective of the exercise is for each team to arrive at a specified location within the Reserve with the least depleted budget.

This activity is estimated to take ± 2 hours
Teams are dropped off at a specific point within the Reserve under the guidance of a Ranger
Teams are given a basic map of the Reserve detailing all relevant features
Teams are given a budget of R50,000
The Ranger is a consultant and charges "consultation fees" for information required by the team. The Ranger is also responsible at all times for the safely of the team
Teams are given a location within the Reserve to which they need to make their way to, as a final destination
A guideline to points
The ranger wil lact as a consultant to the team, keeping record of any money spent in achieving the objectivve. The rates are as follows

Use of a road as a path or as a directional marker - R10 per person
Use of a fence as a path or as a directional marker - R10 per person
Questions that require a Yes / No answer - R1,000 per question
Questions that require an answer in the form of a clue - R5,000 per clue
Questions that require a descriptive answer - R20,000 per description
For every minute behind schedule - the team will be penalized by R2,000 per minute
For every minute ahead of schedule - the team will be awarded R2,000 per minute

Thornybush Amazing Race

Additional charge applicable.

The aim of the treasure hunt is to collect all clues and navigate the reserve to receive the tasks and gain the most points. Bonus points are available for completing challenges for addition to your total score.

You will require a bird book, a mammal book, a tree book, information and map provided.

Teams may under no circumstances race around in the bush or in any way act in an unethical manner as they will be penalized and loose 50 points. Take your time and earn your points by completing the challenges and tasks properly, the judges will be awarding the most points to the tasks completed with the best quality and not the first team to arrive at the finish line.

Your ranger and tracker are non-participating members of your team. The rangers are only allowed to help you at a cost of 15 points per item of advice or knowledge.

Main roads and cut lines are only to be crossed and not driven on. Any team caught driving on these will lose 20 points per offence.

Sightings of mammals will be worth 5 points each but must be confirmed by a photograph and only one sighting of each species will count, The Big 5 are worth 10 points each.

Like any competition there is an element of luck to it and responding to another teams sighting is not allowed, the purpose is to spot animals themselves. Rangers will insure this is adhered to and neither trackers nor rangers will point game out unless the team is willing to sacrifice points. A point to note; Waterside guiding teams can track animals down, provided they are in the blocks around where you are driving however this may be time consuming and you may miss further opportunities down the road.

Points are awarded for sightings of the following birds which must be confirmed by the team’s ranger: Saddle billed stork, Ground Hornbill, any Raptor species and the hooded or lappet faced vulture. These will be worth 10 points each.

Snakes and chameleons will be worth 10 points with photographic proof or confirmation of sighting by the guiding team responsible for you.

Bonus points are available for : (10 points each)
Photos of opposing teams looking concerned or worried.
Photos of old carcasses/ dead animals with someone pretending to nibble on them.
Most original photo of a tree hugger. (use your imagination)
Photo of Tracker/ Ranger helping in the hunt.
A porcupine quill

Your African Safari
The River Lodge offers unique exclusive Safari experiences in both open Land Cruisers, and on foot. The private reserve is home to an abundance of species: 147 mammals including the "Big Five", 114 reptiles, 507 birds, 49 fish, 34 amphibians and 336 trees.

The 14,000 hectare reserve is a combination of open savannah and woodlands with a near perfect year round climate, it is the ideal African safari holiday destination.

A typical day

  • The day starts as dawn breaks over the African bushveld. After your early morning wake-up call, coffee, tea rusks are served on the main deck overlooking the riverbed. Shortly after, you depart in your open Land Cruiser with your experienced Rangers and Trackers who will share their extensive knowledge of the bush with you. These drives are undertaken at times best suited for game viewing which vary depending on the season but typically start early morning. Where applicable you may be invited out of the vehicle to see tracks, examine certain plants and follow spoor.
  • After an exhilarating hunt for tracks to see what the animals have been up to during the night, and tracking down whatever you find, you will stop somewhere out in the bush for a coffee or tea break where you'll have a chance to stretch your legs. In winter, we keep our guests warm on the vehicle with hot water bottles & warm blankets.
  • After a sumptuous Breakfast is served back at the camp, guests are offered walks to suit their interests and fitness levels and are accompanied by an armed ranger.
  • Walks allow guests a better chance to see some of the smaller creatures of the bush as well as an opportunity to learn more about the flora and fauna of the region to have a chance to follow tracks in more detail.
  • Our Shangaan trackers will enthral you with their explanations of the medicinal and other uses of the numerous plants and trees along with tales of traditional folklore.
  • The rest of the day is spent at the discretion of the guest, with a delicious lunch being served around 1.30pm.
  • The afternoon game drive is preceded by high tea and extends into the evening to view seldom seen nocturnal species by spot light.
  • Upon returning for a gourmet 3 course dinner, either in the boma or lodge - guests can socialise with a cognac, single malt or cigar around the campfire or lounge before retiring to bed.
  • Where possible, safaris will be tailored to suit individual preferences and interest.

Service Times

  • Breakfast or brunch 08h30-09H00 to 10h30
  • Lunch 13H30
  • Dinner Winter 19h30-20h00
  • Dinner Summer 20H00 - 20H30
  • Meals: Buffet/a la carte/table d'hote/ continental/English breakfast

Morning times that the game drives depart

  • Summer 05H00 Wake up call/ Morning tea 05h30 Depart 05H45
  • Winter 05H30 Wake up call/ Morning tea 06H00 Depart 06H15

Times that the walks depart

  • Summer After breakfast
  • Winter After breakfast

Afternoon/Evening times that the game drives depart

  • Summer 16H00 Afternoon Tea - Depart 16H15
  • Winter 15H30 Afternoon Tea - Depart 15H45


SA Residents Voucher Terms

per person per night sharing


  •  Accommodation
  •  All meals and hot beverages
  •  Early morning and late afternoon game drives
  •  Local Sundowner Drinks included (once alcohol ban has been lifted)

Terms and Conditions
- Available to South African Residents
- Subject to
o A minimum 2 night stay
o Availability at time of booking &/or Voucher purchase
- Booking period
o Until further notice
- Vouchers bookings
o Valid for redemption until 30 June 2021
o Subject to availability at time of booking, excluding peak season 16 December 2020 – 05 January 2021
- Travel dates
o Upon reopening until 30 June 2021
- Payment
o 50% non-refundable deposit required at time of reservation
o Balance payable 30 days prior to arrival
o 100% payment required if booked within 30 days of travel
- Cancellation
o 50% cancellation applies if cancelled outside 31 days
o 100% cancellation if cancelled within 30 days of arrival
o No cancellation fees if cancelled due to Covid-19 travel restriction
- Rates
o Is based on per person sharing
o Excludes Conservation Fee of R495 per person and TOMSA Levy of R14 per person per night
o Is not combinable with any other offers
o Includes all items specified but excludes all other additional items of a person nature
- Children
o No children under 16 years of age

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Need Assistance.

image RSA +27 87 820 4160

Business Hours:
Mon - Fri (09:00 - 17:00)
Sat (09:00 - 13:00)
Time Zone: UTC/GMT +2 hours
E-mail: Reservations
E-mail: Safaris

Why Book With Us?

  • Personal inter-action
  • Lodges with high standards
  • Stay in control of your booking
  • Most special deals by far
  • Secure payment process (SSL)
  • South African based
  • Superior knowledge
  • Expert advice
  • No booking fees

What sets us Apart !

  • Effortless road and air access
  • Ideal for family or small groups
  • Rich biodiversity of game
  • Large elephant population
  • Over 530 bird species
  • Big 5 Game Animals

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