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FIVE STAR BIG FIVE SELF DRIVE

Located in the far south of the Thornybush Private Game Reserve, The River Lodge is the latest accommodation offering in the Thornybush Collection, which has a further 11 incredible and diverse safari experiences in the portfolio: ten lodges perfectly scattered throughout the same reserve, and one in the Sabi Sands.

Although T.S. Eliot held that “the journey, not the destination, matters”, when traversing the grasslands and Bushveld of northern South Africa, even Eliot would concede that every rule must sometimes yield to an exception.

Even when one’s carriage is the exceptionally sleek Range Rover Vogue, The River Lodge in the Thornybush Collection is a destination worthy of veneration.

Previously a private lodge, The River Lodge recently opened commercially and is as intimate and distinctive as they come. With only four villas (one of which is the spacious two-bedroomed Royal Suite, complete with private kitchen, dining space, and lounge area), the lodge offers privacy at its best. The suites are expansive, each with their own plunge pool, shaded deck, and spacious bathrooms with beautiful and deep freestanding baths, as well as indoor and outdoor showers. All suites overlook the Monwana River, so guests are able to game watch from their decks. The décor is modern and understated, yet 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 guests are also able to book the entire establishment for exclusive use, which is perfect for large families and groups 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 a 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 dining around the campfire in the nearby boma – look up into the night sky and marvel at all the stars. The extremely bubbly Liza Huismans and her team run everything like a well-oiled machine – they will take care of your every request, or just entertain you with amazing stories and insights about the lodge, the game, and the surrounding area.

Days are spent relaxing on the deck, beside the pool, either in your own suite if you prefer privacy, or in the communal area. 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, antelope running through the veld, and a few cheeky monkeys swinging through the trees. The reserve is home to prime game including the Big Five, hippo, African wild dogs, giraffe, zebra, and so much more. The game rangers and spotters are extremely knowledgeable, with very sharp eyes and attuned ears – they are easily able to spot a snake in a dark hole of a tree trunk, a rarely-seen bird atop the highest branches, or hear the sound of lions roaring in the distance. They will also happily trundle through the bush in their 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 would be hard-pressed to find a more luxurious and secluded residence in which to enjoy a holiday in the African wilderness.

For more information, please visit www.thornybushcollection.co.za.

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