The decision of which safari destination to choose can be daunting, with so many incredible attractions available in both Thornybush and Kruger. So, whether you’re after a thrilling, close encounter with wildlife or an immersive bush experience, read on to discover which destination is right for you.
Size and Accessibility
The Kruger National Park is an unmissable destination for safari-goers. Spanning 19,000km2, it’s one of the largest and oldest parks on the continent and is managed by the government. With a variety of accommodation options (from camping sites to luxury lodges), entrance gates, rest camps, picnic sites, and shops, there are plenty of ways to explore the park. Your budget should inform whether you’re driving your own vehicle or going on a guided tour.
The Thornybush Game Reserve is a private game reserve that covers an area of about 14,000 hectares (140km2). It is part of the Greater Kruger Park (GKP), which consists of several private reserves that share unfenced borders with Kruger National Park. This means that animals can roam freely between them. However, access to Thornybush is restricted to guests staying at one of its lodges or camps. You cannot drive your own vehicle or enter without a reservation.
Wildlife and Game Viewing
Kruger National Park and Thornybush are popular safari spots, home to an incredible array of wildlife. From the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo—to giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, hippos, and crocodiles, these parks make for an unrivalled bush experience.
However, there are some differences in how you can experience them:
In Kruger National Park,
- You have more freedom to explore on your own or follow your own schedule.
- You can drive on well-maintained roads that cover most of the park’s terrain and habitats.
- You can also stop at waterholes or viewpoints where animals often congregate.
In Thornybush Game Reserve,
- You have more exclusivity and intimacy with nature.
- You can only go on guided game drives or walks with experienced rangers who know where to find animals and how to approach them safely.
- You can also drive on off-road tracks that allow you to get closer to wildlife than in Kruger National Park.
- Another advantage of Thornybush Game Reserve is that it has fewer visitors than Kruger National Park. This means less traffic noise and disturbance for animals and guests alike. You can also enjoy more privacy and tranquillity at your lodge or camp.
Lodges and Camps
Kruger National Park offers a wide range of accommodation options for different budgets and tastes. From camping sites offering basic facilities like ablution blocks and communal kitchens to luxury lodges with all-inclusive services such as meals and activities, there is something for everyone. Bungalows with en-suite bathrooms, cottages with multiple bedrooms, and guest houses with self-catering facilities are also available.
Thornybush Game Reserve offers fewer but more exclusive accommodation options for guests who want a more luxurious safari experience. You can choose from eight lodges or camps that cater to different needs, such as:
- Honeymooners or solo travellers. All of them offer en-suite bathrooms,
- Private decks,
- Plunge pools,
- and other amenities.
Some examples are:
· Simbambili Game Lodge:
A romantic retreat with eight suites overlooking a dry riverbed where leopards often visit.
· Thornybush Game Lodge:
A family-friendly lodge with 20 suites surrounded by gardens and lawns where children can play.
· Saseka Tented Camp:
A contemporary camp with eight tented suites that blend into the bushveld landscape.
· Kamara House:
A private villa with four bedrooms that can accommodate up to eight guests.
· Jackalberry Lodge:
A cosy lodge with seven chalets nestled among jackalberry trees near a waterhole.
· Little Saseka:
A secluded camp with two tented suites ideal for couples who want privacy and intimacy.
All lodges or camps in Thornybush Game Reserve include:
- Game drives,
- Game walks
- And other activities in their rates.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference when selecting between Thornybush and Kruger for a safari destination. Both offer unique experiences with a variety of wildlife, landscapes, and activities that make them both desirable for travellers. Deciding between options can be difficult, but weighing the pros and cons of each can help you determine which is best suited to your individual needs. So, whether you choose Thornybush or Kruger, you can be sure that an unforgettable experience awaits!