Take me down to the River
Thornybush Nature Reserve’s best-kept secret has been revealed… Lucy Meyer tells us more.
Seen one safari lodge, seen them all? Yes, I also once thought like that. And while many lodges do often mimic each other in everything from the general offering to décor and more, the same cannot be said for Thornybush Collection’s The River Lodge. Located in the far south of the Thornybush Nature Reserve, The River Lodge is the latest accommodation offering in the Thornybush Collection, which has a further 11 incredible and diverse safari experiences in its portfolio – ten lodges perfectly scattered throughout the same reserve, and one in the Sabi Sands.
Previously a private lodge, The River Lodge recently opened commercially and is as intimate and unique as they come. With only 5 villas, (one of which is the spacious Royal Suite with two bedrooms en suite, complete with private kitchen, dining space and lounge area), the lodge offers privacy at its best. The suites are spacious, each with their own plunge pool, shaded deck and roomy bathrooms, with beautiful and deep freestanding baths, as well as indoor and outdoor showers.
All suites overlook the seasonal Monwana River, with game spotting straight from the deck very likely. Décor is modern and understated yet still plush – and the king-size beds guarantee the best sleep of your life.
The suites are situated far apart, surrounded by uninterrupted views of the African bush, with wildlife grazing beside the pathways and buffalo tanning lazily alongside the river. The lodge caters to individual travellers and couples, or guests are able to book the entire place for exclusive use, which is perfect for large families, groups or friends travelling together – it also means you can do as you wish with no itinerary or schedule, just the indulgence of enjoying downtime in the bush and setting your own pace.
The main lodge is where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, either on the sunny deck that overlooks the river, around the large dining room table next to the open-plan kitchen or in the beautifully decorated lounge area. When the weather is good, plan for an evening spent eating dinner around the campfire in the nearby boma – look up into the night sky and marvel at all the stars.
Days are spent relaxing on the deck, beside the pool, either in your own suite if you prefer privacy, or in the communal area if you’re in the mood to be social. The lodge is completely secluded and the only noise you will hear is that of nature at its finest – birdsong, the wind through the trees, maybe a scuttling buck, running through the veld, or a few cheeky monkeys swinging through the trees.
Which brings me to the game viewing. The reserve is home to prime game – the Big Five, as well as nyala, hippo, African wild dogs, giraffe, zebra and so much more. The game rangers and spotters are extremely knowledgeable, all with very sharp eyes and attuned ears – easily able to spot a snake in a dark hole of a tree trunk, a rarely-seen bird atop the highest branches and the sound of lions roaring in the distance. They are also anything but restrained – they will happily trundle through the bush, off track, in the hardy 4x4s to ensure that you get the best game sightings possible.
In an age where the greatest luxury is time – and time well spent – you’d be hard-pressed to find a more luxurious, unique and secluded residence to enjoy your holiday. As AA Milne so eloquently wrote: “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day”. And the same is true at The River Lodge – leave your daily life at the door and revel in the magic, peace and languor of the incomparable African bush.
All photography was taken in the Thornybush Nature Reserve.