A bush escape at Thornybush Waterside Lodge MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

A Thrilling Adventure at Thornybush Waterside Lodge

When I arrived at Thornybush’s Waterside Lodge, it was pouring rain. Our little car struggled through the muddy dirt roads, making me question if this was the right way to start a bush getaway. However, as soon as we stepped into the lodge, our spirits were lifted by the warm reception and the comforting touch of hot towels.

I’d like to tell you about a recent adventure I had during a stormy weekend in the bush. My friends and I took shelter in our cozy room, sipping on delicious Amarula and enjoying long, relaxing baths. We even hoped to catch a glimpse of some wildlife from the comfort of our window. To pass the time, we watched movies in the lodge’s lounge, waiting for the storm to pass.

And pass it did! The next morning, the sun was shining and the storm had cleared. We were filled with anticipation as we woke up at 5 am, ready for our adventure to begin. The bush was still and quiet, its darkness adding to the sense of excitement. It was a perfect silence before the birds started their morning chorus.

But what made this experience even more incredible was that we were heading out on a game drive after a rainstorm. The rain had kept us cooped up indoors all weekend, so we were especially eager to get out and explore. The rain had refreshed the bush, bringing forth new scents and sounds.

As we ventured out, we marveled at the beauty around us. The air was clean and crisp, the colors of the landscape had deepened, and the animals seemed even more vibrant against the backdrop of the refreshed earth. We spotted different wildlife, each one gracefully adapting to the post-storm environment.

This weekend in the bush taught me that even a storm can bring unexpected beauty and excitement. The rain may have kept us inside, but it also transformed the landscape, making our game drive all the more memorable. It reminded me to embrace every experience, even if it means facing a little rain along the way.

As I woke up, bundled up in cozy blankets and cradling warm water bottles, I braved the outside world. It was a mix of water and land, a peculiar sight. Buffalo lazed in massive puddles, their faces seemingly content. Smelly terrapins gleefully swam across little lakes that had sprouted along the road. It was a haven for water-loving creatures.

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But that wasn’t even the best part. We were lucky enough to spot all of the Big Five animals, except for the elusive leopard. We had an exciting adventure tracking down a pride of lions. We followed their footprints and the sound of bones cracking, leading us to a fresh wildebeest carcass that they were gleefully devouring.

Let me tell you about my favorite sighting. It happened just after the sun had gone down. Earlier that day, we had heard from some other people on the safari that they had seen lions in the northern part of the reserve. So, we decided to go and look for them.

Our guide, Shaun, thought that the lions might be on the airstrip around that time of day. The asphalt there would still be warm from the sun. We hurried to the airstrip, hoping to find them. But when we arrived, there was nothing. We didn’t give up, though. Shaun stopped the car and we waited silently, hoping to catch a glimpse of the lions.

Suddenly, we heard a deep growl. It sent shivers down our spines. Out of the bushes came three lionesses, followed by a male lion. They walked slowly and confidently right up to our car, as if they were looking straight through us. Then, without a care in the world, they moved on and lay down on the airstrip.

There’s nothing quite like unexpectedly coming face-to-face with these majestic lions in the darkness. It was an incredible sight that I will never forget.

Once upon a time, Waterside Lodge was located on a different property, owned by Kapama, separate from the rest of the Thornybush private reserve. But things changed last year when the fences between Thornybush and Waterside were removed. Now, when you go on game drives at Waterside, you get to explore the entire 14,000-hectare Thornybush property.

This means you’re in for an amazing game viewing experience. The guides and trackers from all nine lodges in Thornybush communicate with each other through the radio. So, they share the latest wildlife sightings, ensuring that you don’t miss out on any exciting sightings.

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Let me tell you, the guide and tracker team at Waterside Lodge is something special. We were lucky to have the A Team because they always spotted the big animals first. And there were times when we had these sightings all to ourselves for a little while before other cars showed up.

I felt like a lounging lizard during the breaks between game drives. The sun’s warmth embraced my body as I stretched out on the deck next to the pool. Without budging from my lounger, I could witness a wondrous sight below – buffalo, giraffe, and buck gathered at the river to quench their thirst. Perhaps our laziness was a result of the abundant feasting we indulged in during our time here.

Food was never far from me (and it was all amazing). We started eating early, with yummy red velvet and chocolate muffins during the morning game drives. Then we had a huge buffet for breakfast with cheese, cold meats, fruit, and cooked eggs. For lunch, there were interesting salads like caramelized pear and gorgonzola, along with vegetables, pasta, and roast meat. At high tea, we had scrumptious carrot cake and refreshing homemade spiced iced tea. And for dinner, we had three-course meals, with the soups being the absolute best. They also treated us to a fireside boma feast to end the day.

As a vegetarian, I usually expect bland veggie meals at bush lodges, but the chefs at Waterside really surprised me. They went above and beyond to create creative and delicious meat-free dishes. And for all the meat lovers out there, they couldn’t stop raving about the meat options, especially the lamb shank. I definitely need to remember to bring more stretchy pants next time.

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Welcome to Thornybush Waterside Lodge!

Imagine a peaceful lodge nestled on the edge of a waterhole, where majestic wildlife frequently pays a visit. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Thornybush’s Waterside Lodge. Our lodge boasts 20 spacious thatched suites, each thoughtfully designed for ultimate comfort. With giant beds, sunken bath tubs, and balconies, you’ll feel like royalty.

As you stroll through our lush lawns, keep an eye out for the graceful nyala, unafraid and leisurely grazing by your side. These beautiful creatures create a serene atmosphere as you meander along the path.

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Start your day with a refreshing breakfast on our outdoor deck, shaded by umbrellas and surrounded by trees. Munching on your meal while immersed in nature’s symphony, you’ll feel a sense of tranquility like never before. For lunch, continue to indulge your senses with another al fresco dining experience. The crisp air and open surroundings will invigorate your spirit.

At dinnertime, step into our spacious and airy dining area, where you can savor a delicious meal in a relaxed setting. Feel the warm ambiance as you converse with fellow travelers and share tales of adventure.

If you need a break from the excitement, our indoor lounge offers a cozy retreat. Kick back on our comfortable couches, catch up on your favorite shows with DStv, or simply gaze out at the breathtaking view from our deck overlooking the waterhole.

But what truly sets us apart is our attentive staff. We pride ourselves on anticipating your every need, even before you realize it yourself. You’ll feel taken care of and pampered throughout your stay, with our team going above and beyond to ensure your experience is nothing short of extraordinary.

Nestled in the Thornybush Private Game Reserve, near Hoedspruit in Limpopo, our lodge is ideally situated. We are neighbors with the renowned Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, offering you easy access to the world-famous Kruger National Park.

Rates for a thrilling safari experience begin at just R3421 per person. This exciting package includes two exhilarating game drives each day, where you have the opportunity to witness incredible wildlife up close, as well as three delicious meals, snacks during the game drives, and a delightful high tea.

If you’re interested in booking this unforgettable adventure, you can easily get in touch with us. Simply give us a call at 011-253-6500 or send us an email at [email protected] To learn more about our safari offerings, you can also visit our website at www.thornybush.co.za.

We hope you’re as captivated by the photographs taken by Sarah Duff and Joseph C Lawrence as we are. They perfectly capture the magic and beauty of our safari experiences.

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