Thornybush, Kapama & Others

Thornybush Private Game Reserve comprises 11,500ha of bushveld adjacent to the greater Kruger National Park. Other reserves include Kapama, Balule and Makalali...


There are several game reserves close to the Kruger National Park. These are make up the Greater Kruger Park. Choose between safaris in Thornybush, which has an open border with the Timbavati, or Kapama. Other options include the Klaserie and Manyeleti game reserves which both have open borders with the Kruger. However all offer an excellent safari experience, nevertheless.

Safaris in Thornybush Private Game Reserve

Thornybush Private Game Reserve comprises 14 000ha of bushveld adjacent to the greater Kruger National Park. The biodiversity of Thornybush attracts a wide variety of wildlife and bird species including good sightings of the Big Five whilst on safari. Thornybush has an open border with the neighbouging Timbavati, which in turn has an open border with the Kruger. So the animals can wander freely.

Safaris in Kapama Private Game Reserve

Kapama Private Game Reserve lies adjacent to Thornybush, a 13 000ha private reserve which has four camps. An added benefit of Kapama Reserve is that you can easily visit the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre for endangered animals which lies close by.


Balule, Klaserie & other reserves

North and east of Hoedspruit are the private Balule Game Reserve and Klaserie Game Reserve. Makalali Private Game Reserve lies slightly away from Kruger but its size enables it to offer the Big Five as well.

The Manyeleti Game Reserve lies just north of the Sabi Sands. It borders the Kruger National Park to the east. So diverse is its habitat and wildlife that you have an good chance of spotting many of the Big 5 – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. Leopard are less frequently seen at close range.  But the Manyeleti is unusual in that it only has three private safari concessions. This allows for an exclusive game-viewing experience.

Thornybush cheetah


Cedarberg Africa has visited nearly every safari lodge in this area. The important issue to evaluate is the quality of the game-viewing and not just the price!


Why you may love it

  • Smaller reserves close to the Kruger, but they still offer great Big Five safari experiences at good quality safari lodges.
  • Great diversity in habitat and wildlife so you have a good chance of spotting many of the Big Five, but the leopard might a little more elusive.
  • Access is quite easy with direct flights into Hoedspruit from Johannesburg or Cape Town. You can opt for a private road transfer to your safari lodge or if you are comfortable with driving there are car rental options available.

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Thohier’s review of nThambo Tree Camp

This rustic camp is one of the more affordable options in the Klaserie/Timbavati area. It will not suit everyone as it is quite open to the elements. But for others that is part of its charm.

I actually liked the overall ambience of the camp. The treehouse-style chalets are raised on wooden stilts, with thatched roofs and canvas walls. With the rooms being highly elevated, it gives it quite a unique feel. Plus when the canvas sides are rolled up, you look out over the plains, waterhole and the Drakensberg Mountains in the distance. However the swimming pool is quite small though and it is more like a splash pool, than a pool!

With only five (solar powered) treehouses it could work very well to take on an exclusive use basis for a group of friends or a multi-generational family. (Especially as there is no single supplement).

They offer a full board or fully inclusive rates, which includes selected local drinks. They find that most people prefer to be booked on the fully inclusive package, once they learnt about that option in camp. The difference in price is not that great.

We didn’t find this part of the Klaserie Reserve to be very attractive as far as vegetation goes. But the camp is still one of the most moderately priced options.


Cedarberg : Natasha Jantjies
Did you know
  • ParkThornybush is managed as an eco-tourism destination
  • HistoryKapama Game Reserve was founded 1993

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Gloria Darvall

Africa Travel Specialist

Hi I’m Gloria, I’m here to help you plan your ideal holiday experience

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