Take me down to the River

Thorny­bush Na­ture Re­serve’s best-kept se­cret has been re­vealed… Lucy Meyer tells us more.

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents -

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.

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