Things to do near
Thornybush Game Reserve
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
Hoedspruit (8.3 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Last chance to see? Hopefully not but don't miss seeing some of the rarest of Africa’s breeding wildlife at an amazing centre in the Limpopo. Situated on over 100 hectares within the Kapama Private Game Reserve, the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre was initially established as part of a breeding programme for cheetah.Today the centre has expanded to breed and conserve other African species for reintroduction into the wild. You will be able to see breeding cheetah and wild dog; both on the critically endangered species list. Fanatical attention is given to create perfect conditions for the sensitive cheetah to breed.Day trippers are treated to an in-depth tour of the centre. Hourly trips in safari vehicles with knowledgeable guides take visitors to the various enclosures to view cheetah, wild dog, lion, black-footed cat, African wild cat, ground hornbills, sable antelope and more.Watching the feeding sessions of rare African vultures swooping down into the ‘vulture restaurant’ is an awesome experience. Here you can see white-backed vultures, hooded vultures, occasionally the lappet-faced vulture and Cape Griffon, Marabou Stork and bateleur eagles.Visitors also have the option of going on an elephant-back safari, enjoying excellent wildlife viewing from the elephant’s high vantage point. These trips take place in the early morning or late afternoon and are always an unforgettable and awe-inspiring experience. The Camp Jabulani herd of elephants are renowned for their lovely temperaments and excellent physical condition.Contact Reservations for daily tours - Tel: +27 15 793 1633 Mobile: + 27 83 654 2299 Email for the Elephant Back Safaris: firstname.lastname@example.org
Acornhoek (10.5 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Pop in to see an enterprising group of Shangaan and Mapulaneng Sotho women at work in their rural studio near the village of Acornhoek.
Each item they make is an original work of art – entirely hand-made and exclusive. Rugs, tapestries, bags, and other woven masterpieces are made from wool or cotton that they have spun and dyed using age-old techniques. After spinning and weaving, they carefully weave each piece according to their own or custom-ordered designs.
A fun thing to do is go on a guided tour with one of the weavers who will take you through the 30-year history of the project that brought the two cultures together. After meeting the women at work, your guide will take you to visit a traditional healer who will share with you the spirit of the ancestors.
From there you will have the chance to see a traditional potter and a local grass weaver at her shebeen (an African bar serving home-brewed beer). From there you will meet the teacher and the children of the Katlego Community Creche. Don’t miss this heart-warming community experience!
Wonder Mbetsi 072 691 0021 Judy 082 864 2181
Hoedspruit (14.7 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Experience the thrill of riding elephants. The tour is provided at the Kapama Private Game Reserve and lasts for about an hour. Learn how to get onto the back of an elephant. These gracious animals tend to grab a grassy snack along the way. You are returned to the elephant boma after the ride. Videos can be made on request.
Hoedspruit (23.3 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
A visit to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is a moving and worthwhile experience It's also a convenient day excursion if you’re visiting the Orpen Gate side of Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Pilgrim's Rest, Graskop or Sabie. The centre provides a home for abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife and is a respected contributor to wildlife conservation. Animals that you may see are lion, leopard, serval, cheetah, hyena, honey badger, eagles, vultures and various baby animals.How it all beganMoholoholo started from small beginnings in 1990 – with a crowned eagle and a day old zebra. Word got out that the manager was able to care for and release wild animals and birds, and so Moholoholo grew.Sadly, some of the animals are not suitable to be released back into the wild and remain as ‘permanent residents’ at the centre. They give visitors an ‘up close and personal’ experience, highlighting the problems that wildlife are facing. The main focus at Moholoholo is to create awareness in order to preserve our wildlife.Often Moholoholo receive calls to rescue animals such as baby rhino that have been abandoned or leopards that have been injured by cars or caught in snares. The team are also actively involved in collaring and relocating ‘problem animal’ control on farms and tribal areas. Many leopards’ movements have been monitored with these collars.Moholoholo have tagged and released hundreds of vultures brought in due to poisoning or electrocution. Tracking harnesses were fitted to some individuals, astonishing researchers with the range of their movements.Another important function of the centre is breeding. Staff have successfully bred and released crowned eagle, serval and many other endangered animals.Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is self funded and also covers all the relocation costs of 'problem animals'. There is a small fee for guided tours which last about two hours – your visit to the centre helps this awesome project.
Kruger National Park (25.3 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Home to the famous ‘White Lions’, Timbavati Reserve has long basked in the spotlight.
Although no white lions have been seen at Timbavati for years, several white lions are regularly seen in other parts of Kruger National Park and they could easily appear in the Timbavati prides again.
Forming part of the Greater Kruger Park, the reserve features 12 luxury tourist lodges and is a convenient five-hour drive from Johannesburg. Kruger National Park lies on the east, Klaserie and Umbabat Private Nature Reserves are to the north and Thornybush Private Nature Reserve is just west.
Wildlife roam freely between Timbavati and the 2,000,000-hectare Kruger National Park with no hindrance of fences. Thrilling sightings of lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, giraffe and even shy leopard and cheetah are regular occurences. This is definitely one of Africa’s best!
Hoedspruit (26 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Take to the sky in a hot air balloon for the experience of your life! Sun Catchers Hot Air Ballooning offers one-hour long flights from Hoedspruit over the scenic Blyde River.
Soar above a mix of farmland and private nature reserves at the foot of the Drakensberg Escarpment. Weather permitting, Sun Catchers also offer flights over the Kapama Nature Reserve.
Hoedspruit (26.1 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Discover the secrets of silk and the extraordinary little creatures that produce it.
Experienced guides will take you on a journey through silk’s fascinating history and an interesting behind-the-scenes tour.
Currently Bombyx Mori Silk Estate is South Africa’s only commercial silkworm farm. Here you can find out about their organic farming methods and how the cocoons are processed into wonderful products and the life-cycle of the mulberry silkworm.
The species farmed at Bombyx Mori is the mulberry silkworm, not the ‘zebra’ worm that most of us kept as pet worms when we were kids! These remarkably industrious insects spin cocoons from a single strand that measures up to one kilometre.
A visit to Bombyx Mori wouldn’t be complete without popping into the Ivory Room and Gallery. Here you will find silk-filled duvets, pillows and numerous other silk products to purchase as well as local crafts, selected interior finishes and original artwork.
Blyde River Canyon (34.7 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Lace up your hiking boots and hit the Hippo Trail into the Blyde River Canyon. The adventurous hike is not for the faint hearted or unfit!
This 18 km round trip should be started early, as the hike needs to be completed in daylight. Collect a permit from Forever Resort (not open on a Sunday).
Blyde River Canyon (34.7 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Situated along the Mpumalanga Drakensberg Escarpment, the reserve covers a large area extending from the Pinnacle and Gods Window in the south to beyond the mighty Marieps Kop in the north, and ending at Swadini. The reserve is administered by the Mpumalanga Parks Board and is known primarily for the outstanding natural beauty of the canyon as well as the numerous endemic and endangered fauna and flora species present.
Graskop (34.8 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
The magnificent red sandstone Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga forms the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment. There’s so much to do in Mpumalanga but most visitors come here just to sight-see, especially along the striking Panorama Route. This scenic meander includes the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes, the Three Rondawels, Swadini Dam, God's Window and many beautiful waterfalls and spectacular vistas.Covered with lush subtropical foliage, the Blyde River Canyon is the largest 'green canyon' and has some of the deepest precipitious cliffs of any canyon on the globe. The canyon is 26 kilometres (16 miles) in length and is around 800 metres deep. The highest point of the canyon, Mariepskop, is 1 944 metres above sea level whilst its lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 560 metres above sea level. This means that by some measure the Canyon is over 1 400 metres deep!
Hoedspruit (35.6 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Enjoy a lovely boat ride on the Blyde Dam, where you can savour the splendor of the Blyde River Canyon.
Your tour guide will take you to the Kadishi Tufa Waterfall and the majestic Three Rondavels. Wildlife is abundant; you'll be able to spot hippo, crocodile, as well as fish eagle. During the cruise, you can learn more about the history of the third biggest canyon in the world.
Departure times: 9:00, 11:00 and 15:00;
Minimum guests: 6 people;
Maximum guests: 50 people;
Duration: 1½ hours.
Hoedspruit (36.8 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
This herpetological haven is well worth a stop!
Formerly known as Swadini Snake Park, Khamai Reptile Park is home to some of South Africa’s deadliest snakes. Experienced guides will show you the scariest beasts - black and green mambas, boomslangs and Mozambique Spitting Cobras.
If that isn’t enough to get your pulse racing then check out the Nile crocodiles and water lizards or get up close and personal with scorpions, baboon spiders and puff adders. You can also check out an awesome array of reptiles and amphibians from the rest of the planet.
Khamai Reptile Park is owned by Donald Strydom, who has appeared as the ‘house expert’ in a number of BBC, Discovery and Animal Planet channels television features. A well-known black mamba handler, he also worked with the BBC to enable the filming of some unique footage of the Nile Monitor Lizard in its natural habitat.
Donald and his team also capture and relocate over 300 ‘problem’ snakes in the region. In addition to that, Khamai Reptile Park have an educational programme for locals about the vital role reptiles play in the ecosystem and to dissuade the ‘kill on sight’ approach to the venomous snakes.
Blyde River Canyon (38.2 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
The impressive rock features of Bourke’s Luck Potholes marks the start of the extraordinarily scenic Blyde River Canyon and is one of the tick-offs on the well-beaten path of the Panorama Route.The giant potholes have been carved over centuries by pebbles swirling around in poolswhere the Treur River plunges into the Blyde River. Bourke’s Luck had nothing to do with the potholes but rather a lucky strike in this gold-rich area.Not far off is the main tourist viewpoint, God’s Window. Graskop is the closest town to the canyon if you are planning to stop over and spend quality time rather than grabbing fleeting glimpses through a tour bus window of this stunning region.
Mpumalanga (47.1 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Berlin Falls is located in the Blyde River Canyon area on the Panorama route in Mpumalanga. Shaped in the form of a huge white candle, the falls flow down for 80 m into a deep dark green hole surrounded by red cliffs.
The waterfall's name comes from European miners who came to try their luck in the days of the gold rush, and named individual falls after towns and places in their home countries.
Visitors can enjoy a swim and a picnic around the falls, and explore the surrounding areas.
Graskop (47.9 km from Thornybush Game Reserve)
Visit an active silk farm and be amazed by the silk making process at this unique African development venture. After taking an interesting tour, you can spoil yourself purchasing silk clothing, silk-filled duvets or even silk skincare products.
Guided one-hour tours are offered on the farm for a minimal fee. These tours take place from Monday to Sunday.
After the silk farm tour visitors can relax at the Deck Restaurant for light meals and refreshments. The ice-cold homemade gingerbeer is a winner.