Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge

Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge

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About

5.0
#7 of 7 lodges in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
4.9 of 5 bubbles
Location
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Cleanliness
4.9 of 5 bubbles
Service
4.9 of 5 bubbles
Value
A wonderful gem in the bush, 4 star, located in the Thornybush Reserve, well known for superb game viewing.
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Property amenities
Wifi
Paid wifi
Pool
Outdoor pool
Free breakfast
Bar / lounge
Breakfast buffet
Room features
Air conditioning
Safe
Room types
Non-smoking rooms
Suites
Family rooms
Good to know
HOTEL CLASS
Star ratings are intended to indicate the general level of features, amenities, and services to expect. This property is classified according to Giata.
4.0 of 5 stars
HOTEL STYLE
Family
Luxury

Location

Guernsey Road, Kruger National Park 1380 South Africa
Getting there
Hoedspruit Airport
Ngala Airfield
23.1 km
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1 Restaurant
within 10 kilometers
140Reviews4Q+A32Room tips
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Detailed Reviews
AilC89 wrote a review Dec 2019
5.0 of 5 bubbles
We had THE BEST time here for 3 nights on our honeymoon over Christmas. I cannot say enough good things about the place, the hospitality and our game drives. André, our guide, was superb and he and Andrés, our tracker, made sure we saw loads on all of our drives. We are now in love with safari. Lené, our host, was fabulous, the effort that she and whole team put into our stay was overwhelming (especially as one day was her birthday too!). We had treats in our room, a candle lit dinner in the hide and wonderful feasts on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The time we spent there was by far the most special of our honeymoon and we will look back ok it fondly forever. We are already organising going back as we cannot wait.
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Date of stay: December 2019Trip type: Travelled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from NKaya_Manager, Manager at Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge
Responded 15 Jan 2020
Good day Ailsa. Thank you for taking the time to write this lovely review, we are glad to head that you enjoyed your stay with us and that we could play a part in your honeymoon trip, we are looking forward to your return. Kind regards.
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Jane H wrote a review Feb 2020
Gateshead
5.0 of 5 bubbles
We visited N’kaya lodge for a 4 night stay and had a fantastic time. The hospitality provided by Andre and Lene was second to none. Food, accommodation and facilities were lovely. However the highlights of our stay were the wonderful wildlife sightings. Andre is so knowledgable and along with our brilliant tracker Andreas helped us to see and experience such a lot of life in the bush. I appreciate that nothing is guaranteed but the great work of Andre and Andreas allowed us to see so much including black rhino. Maybe Andre has a 6th sense....he anticipated we’d see 22 giraffes on the way out of the reserve (having not seen many in previous days) and he came incredibly close as we saw 17!
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Date of stay: February 2020Trip type: Travelled with family
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Miki wrote a review Dec 2015
Bucharest, Romania
+1
5.0 of 5 bubbles
We were not supposed to stay here because we wanted a more luxurious lodge - Jackalberry. But East Cape Tours and Thornybush Reservation Department (Diane and Michelle Naidoo especially) were very incompetent dealing with our request for Jackalberry. We fully paid the 4 nights at Jackalberry and we received the confirmation voucher from Thornybush Reservation Department for our 4 nights stay. (I have the proof of email and attachment sent by Michelle Naidoo). Less than 3 weeks before coming here, Thornybush Reservation Department represented by Diane Naidoo and East Cape Tours (travel agency) send me an email stating that they don't have how to accomodate us for 4 nights so they made a proposal to stay at a cheaper accommodation N'Kaya. I was in London during that time and it was really painful for me to communicate with them knowing that they messed up our fully paid reservation. In the end we decided to go for N'Kaya because there was no availability for a better lodge inside Thornybush.

The Lodge and The Management
It's located in the north-eastern part of Thornybush Game Reserve, 20 mins drive away from Thornybush Reception Area. It has only 4 cottages so you will feel like home. The lodge is protected by electrical wire but this doesn't scary nyalas which are almost permanently living inside the lodge area. When we arrived we were greeted by Andre which together with Lene make the management team. Andre is quite a nice guy, he gave us all the information needed, he spoke with Lene while she was in town to buy a new kettle because the one from our room was not functioning. Lene and Andre are taking very good care of their customers, always helpful and very receptive to the feedback customers give.

Accomodation
There are 2 rooms which comprise bedroom and sitting area. Rooms are very well equipped with A/C (much needed during South African summer), comfy bed with mosquito net, safe, torch, insect repelent, UK and european electrical plugs, coffee and tea making facilities. There are 2 bathrooms one with shower and one with bathtube. Cleaning is done twice per day (when people are in safaris) so you can imagine that we were very satisfied.

Food
All meals are included in the paid package. Breakfast is served after you come back from the morning safari. Eggs are prepared as you like and they are served with bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms. Different types of cheese, ham, jam and pastry complete a very rich breakfast. As drinks water and smoothies are supplied. We are not big fans of smoothies, we would have appreciated more a fresh orange or mango juice.
At 3.30 pm a light lunch is served. Variety is the word that describe the best the light lunch: during our stay we have eaten mini pizzas, quiche, pork ribs. Also the deserts were very appreciated by all the guests during our stay.
Dinner is served after the afternoon safari and it's the most important meal of the day. It includes starter, main and desert. There was a variety of dishes that we tried during our stay: sweet potato pie, springbok steak, kudu, chicken breast, local fish. Last night was a special one: we have eaten in the boma and it was the best night of our stay. Our guide Dean entertained us with wildlife stories and with the actual political situation in SA. It was a bbq dinner and all the employees tried hard to make us feel special.

Drinks
There is a honesty bar just near reception area from where you can serve yourself with drinks whenever you like. Prices are more than decent: a glass of Shiraz wine 40 R, a Courvoisier shot 40 R, a beer around 20 R (Castle Lager, Lite, Windhoek draught), refreshing drinks 15 R, rum 30 R. There is a list with all 4 rooms where you write the items that you took from the bar if nobody from the lodge was at the bar when you picked up the desired items.

Other facilities
The lodge offers wifi for 70 R per device per stay. The wifi is very unstable and you need to relogin several times per day. I think this is an area where the management should improve.
There is also a cottage near the electrical fence from where you can see the animals coming at the waterhole especially built by the lodge. We saw zebras, wilderbeests, capped buffalos, nyala, impalas, giraffe coming here when thirsty.

The Game Drives
There are 2 game drives per day. The morning safari starts with the sounds of nyala horn that Dean makes to wake up everybody. Dean our guide and driver will do the impossible to take you to see The Big 5 during your stay. Andres the tracker often gets off the car to inspect the tracks of lions or leopards. We didn't manage to see a leopard in our first 3 game drives and Dean and Andres made it possible on the fourth drive with the help of Regi the guy from maintenance which was passing an area where a 2 year female was waiting for us.
What I love most on safaris made within private game reserves it's the fact that animals are not stressed and you are just 1-2 meters away from them. Also the covertible 4x4 vehicle makes you feel part of the game. Of course there is also the negative side of not seeing the same number of animals that Kruger or Masai Mara is offering. We were lucky to see 7 black rhinos (including a female with a baby), 6 white rhinos, more than 20 elephants, capped buffalos, 3 leopards (including a female with cub), 6 lions (2 male, 3 adult females and one female cub of 8 months old), wilderbeests, impalas, lesser kudus, nyalas, warthogs, steinbok, zebras, giraffes, cameleons, monitor lizard, squirrels, vervet monkeys, herons, vultures, eagles or storks.

In the end I would like to say a Big Thank You to Dean, Andres, Lene, Andre, Regi and to the kitchen team which did everything to make us feel as we were home.
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Date of stay: December 2015
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
4.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Room Tip: There are only 4 rooms, all rooms are facing the pool area so there is no difference between them.
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from NKaya_Manager, Manager at Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge
Responded 11 Mar 2016
Thank you for taking time to write this review. It was very nice having you here and I am sure you have a lot of photos to share with friends and a lot of interesting stories. Very glad that you got to see the elusive leopard.
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Psip wrote a review Oct 2007
London, United Kingdom
4.0 of 5 bubbles
N'Kaya is part of the Thornybush Reserve which boarders onto another reserve that boarders the main Kuguer park.
Thornybush is approx. 13,000 hectars and although this seems small the reserve does seem expert in the management of the land and animals having a fair variety of animals for the area. We saw the big five within three of our four safari (two night) drive stay. We saw two sets of cheetah and cubs (one with two, one with four; of differing ages), a herd of elephants fronted by an amazing 50 year old bull elephant. White and black rhino, Thornybush have recently purchased a female black rhino to partner their male. The female was pregnant at the time of our visit expecting in Dec. 07 and probably on view from about March 08. We saw a pride of seven lions (they have two prides) consisting of four female and three male and were lucky enough to see the dominant male eating while his two sons played. It is hard to believe how close you get to these animals. The Giraffes are fantastic, minding their own business you seem to come across them quite suddenly. We saw a leopard, black backed jackal, baboon, insect bats, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, many birds and much more.

Two nights was more then enough for us. The animals are well known and tracked on the reserve and all the lodges keep in touch with each other so even if you can only spare one night, unless unlucky, you should get to see what you want.
Bruce was the head ranger and Andreas his tracker. They made a good team. Andreas has worked at the lodge for over thirteen years and is obviously very talented.

The drill is tea at 15:30, setting off on Safari for 16:00. You drive until Sunset when you stop for sun downers (you choose your tipple before you leave) and then carry on until dark when you start the night safari by spot light. The tracker then proceeds to wave the spot light left and right to spot the reflection of different animal's eyes. This lasts for about an hour. You arrive back for about 19:30/20:00 with about 30 minutes to freshen-up before dinner. We were pretty unlucky on night safari's not seeing very much. I did enjoy the second evening when the 4x4 was stopped, the lights turned off allowing us to sit for ten minutes in the dark looking at the stars and listening to all the sounds of the night.

N'Kaya is one of the more reasonable lodges so you are paying more for the quality of the Safari than luxury accommodation. The lodge is owned by a large petroleum company who used it exclusively until more recently. The lodge is considered 4 star which I agree with. There are four small bungalows at the lodge each consisting of a bedroom, two bathrooms and sitting room. They are spacious and homely. The bungalows are of good construction with thatched roofs. The decor and furnishings are a little tired and the bed linen and towels could certainly be of better quality but the place was spotless. Overall we were very happy with the accommodation. The beds have mosquito nets and the sitting room settee can be converted into a bed (with mosquito net) for singles or children. At dusk while you are our on Safari someone comes in to shut the windows, spay the room and turn down the beds. We were not bitten by a mosquito while we were there even though it rained.
Even though you are safe in your room some of the calls of the animals at night seem surprisingly close. Of course part of the experience is to hear these wonderful sounds but I must admit in one instance I could have sworn there was something inside the room but there wasn't.
The lodge has a main dinning/sitting room and bar that you meet at for breakfast and dinner. There are books and games that you can borrow. The lodge is next to a small water hole with hide for closer viewing. The water hole can be viewed from the patio where breakfast and dinner are both held (except in winter) and is lit-up at night. I understand one of the prides of lion's had been seen drinking from it on two consecutive days before our visit.

In the morning you are woken at 05:30 and expected to gather at 06:00 to start the safari. Make sure you take something warm and layer. There is tea/coffee making facilities in the rooms so you can have a hot drink before leaving and you will be offered another hot drink part way through the morning safari. You arrive back just after 09:00 with breakfast/brunch at about 09:45. The rest of the day is your own. There is a pool also.

Dee was the hostess of the lodge and ensured that all the accommodation and food was up to standard. The food was wholesome and tasty. Both Dee and Bruce were welcoming and congenial hosts eating with the guests at each mealtime. Do let them know if you have any dietary requirements as they have to order produce well in advance. The wine selection was good and reasonably priced.

We had a great time. We would certainly recommend the lodge, the safari and the warm personal service we received. Bruce and Dee were exceptional hosts and were eager to make our stay and safari unforgettable. If you are keen to socialise with more than 8 people then you would probably be better staying at one of the lager lodges. We booked through Go2Africa. Whatever means you use to get there, you check into the Thornybush main lodge first. Transfer from/to Kruger airport is approx. 2 hours by car or 40 minutes by private plane transfer, which I can highly recommend. By all means hire a car from Kruger or Jo’burg airport and drive it is great scenery but beware you will need to be careful driving once you enter Thornybush reserve as you will come across animals. Enjoy.
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Date of stay: October 2007
4.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesCheck-in / front desk
4.0 of 5 bubblesService
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
FTG wrote a review Oct 2013
Birmingham, United Kingdom
3.0 of 5 bubbles
We recently stayed at N'Kaya for 2 nights and were somewhat underwhelmed by the experience overall.
The accommodations are very good, well maintained, spacious and comfortable. Not as private as some lodges we have visited as all the rooms face inwards towards the pool area. We liked the outdoor eating areas and the hide over the water hole.
Whilst we had good wildlife sightings during our stay, we were disappointed by the quality of our "tracker" Andrew who added nothing to our game drives whatsoever. We spotted more wildlife than he did and he did not get off the vehicle once to follow tracks - it would have been better if he had not been on the vehicle so we could have had a better view! Dean, our driver, was quite good but somewhat repetitive with his stories and repertoire. It was VERY disappointing to get back from our morning drives at 8.30 and 8.20am respectively (when we had just driven past other trucks just taking their coffee break) when breakfast wasn't even ready until gone 9. At other lodges we have been out till gone 9.30am and brunch is served as soon as you get back. Clearing up the breakfast table just 30 minutes after food has been served and guests were still enjoying coffee and toast is unacceptable. Similarly, the staff cleared up dinner plates very swiftly.
Beckson was the lodge "manager" but seemed out of his depth. Many requests were met with a blank look and had to be repeated several times. No-one mentioned Lianne but she appears on documentation, maybe things are better when she is there?
Wifi is paid for but doesn't work well and was always dropping out. Yes, we were on vacation but needed to keep in touch with home for personal reasons. If you charge for a service, make sure it works properly! We had no problems with (free) wifi at other lodges in Thornybush.
Food was good and tasty, poor selection and too little of it at afternoon tea as several items ran out.
At this price point, bottled water at least should be included.
Would we return or recommend - no, other lodges provide better service and game drives.
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Date of stay: October 2013
3.0 of 5 bubblesValue
4.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
4.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
3.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Travelled with friends
Room Tip: they are all the same
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from NKaya42, Manager at Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge
Responded 15 Oct 2013
Thank you very much for your honest feedback. This is always appreciated and ensures that we can aim to better the standard.
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pizzapartier wrote a review Sept 2017
Chicago, Illinois
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Where to begin?? This place is amazing in every regard, but the staff is the best. Werner, Nikki, Andrees and the rest of the staff made this an unforgettable experience. Every detail is thought out including chocolates and biscuits in the rooms, hot water bottles for early morning game drives, and camera settings tips so you can get the best shots. The rooms are very comfortable and I was surprised and delighted to find two bathrooms in each lodge so my partner and I could each have our own! There is a watering hole right near the lodges so we were lucky to have visits from a herd of elephants, baboons and other animals. Andrees, the tracker, has lived on the property for decades so he knows where the animals are and we were not disappointed in this regard and got to view the Big Five a couple of times over in addition to many, many other animals. Our few days here was the highlight of our South Africa trip and I highly recommend this lodge and game reserve to anyone, but especially groups of friends, families, and photographers.
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Date of stay: July 2017
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Travelled with friends
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Geoff C wrote a review Jun 2008
Robertson, Australia
5.0 of 5 bubbles
The four star N'Kaya Lodge, Thornybush was our final and seventh game lodge, so I feel well qualified to comment. As it happened, we also stayed next door at the Five Star Kapama Main Lodge, which shares an electric boundary fence with Thornybush.

This was our best value for money, and best overall game experience in Southern Africa. Next in line would be Tau Lodge, Madikwe, and Camp Moremi in Botswana.

Johan and his wife have just taken over management of this camp. He is extremely knowledgeable, and has some seven years experience in this park. My partner found him a bit overbearing, but he certainly delivered the goods, and then some. His tracker Andries, is also amazing, and as a team they would be hard to beat.

The accommodation is great, being two large rooms and two bathrooms, and a great huge bed. He managed to rustle up a fabulous bottle of pinotage, when as an Australian I complained some of the wine was a bit thin for my tastes. They have a great wine cellar.

We told Johan that we were not really interested in seeing white rhino, kudu, elephant, giraffe etc, as we had already completed over 20 3 hour game drives, and because we were the only folks in the lodge, he was able to accommodate us. But we had yet to see cheetah. Indeed most rangers just shook their heads and said that their cheetah were dead, or had not been seen for ages. (Cheetah are really scarce in the wild) Johan found us two cheetah, albeit through the fence into Timbavati inside two hours, and then delivered three more cheetah experiences, including one on a kill, and three males having a go at a younger male who was on their territory. We also found leopard, heaps of lion, a caracul, and a side striped jackal. These last two he had personally not see more than five or six times in seven years.

What impressed me most about Thornybush was the co-operation between rangers. There are enough vehicles to get good coverage of the park, and although we were not interested in white rhino, elephant etc, Johan was updating the other rangers as they found spoor, or spotted an animal. Equally he was getting reports. I liked the fact he and Andries wore headphones, so we were not constantly disturbed by cracking radios, as happened elsewhere. I was also impressed that he only used a reddish light on the night drives, to limit temporary blindness in the animals spotted, as also the policy of only having two vehicles at a time on a sighting. Not like Chobe where I counted 17 vehicles on a lion hunt. Equally the rangers were very good at sharing, and moved on to let others come in.

Because this is a private game park, they are allowed to drive off road, unlike the national parks we visited in Botswana. They also happily track the game on foot or by vehicle. This is a very substantial advantage, in terms of locating game, particularly predators. In Moremi (Botswana) we were 100% certain a pride of lions was about 50 meters off the road, but we did not see them that day.

They also have strict rules for not viewing animals with very small young, although I guess we were grateful in Moremi to see two four month leopard cubs with mom on a kill, which probably would not have been allowed here. They have just released two black rhino, and they were not tracking these yet, so we had to settle for looking at the rest of the black rhino yet to be released, and in quarantine.

I felt Thornybush is a good sized game park so that it has the diversity, and is extremely well managed, with fabulous cooperation amongst the rangers which substantially improved the overall game viewing experience.
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Date of stay: June 2008
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
3.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesCheck-in / front desk
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
3.0 of 5 bubblesBusiness service (e.g., internet access)
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Christine B wrote a review Jan 2019
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Me and my husband recently visited N'Kaya Lodge as part of a visit to South Africa for my husbands 50th birthday. I can not put into words how amazing this part of our holiday was, providing truly priceless memories which we will have pleasure in recounting again and again in the future.
From our arrival, we were made to feel totally at home but with the bonus of 5 star, impeccably organised service, provided by Chantelle and team. The lodge itself is small but perfectly formed (4 beautiful thatched bungalows, maintained to a high standard, with wonderful little touches and an abundance of everything anyone would need to make their holiday comfortable and complete; with communal living, dining, bar areas plus swimming pool, and hide overlooking a watering hole, from which animals can be observed whilst enjoying a glass of wine 😊.
Each day consisted of 2 four hour game drives, wonderful meals, provided by a talented chef (thank you Lucky) taken at the central dining table on the veranda overlooking the wild garden and 'chill' time to enjoy the pool, hide or just to observe the cheeky monkeys, squirrels playing in the trees. Lucky and Chantelle even went to the trouble of making my husband a lovely birthday cake and singing happy birthday which made for an even more special holiday 😊.
The game drives themselves were absolutely out of this world...It is absolutely clear that Benjy (safari guide) and Andreas (tracker) are totally passionate about the animals and their conservation, evident by their tenacity and calmness in providing the most gratifying experience aligned to showing respect to the animals and their habitat. These guys obviously love what they do and have incredible knowledge about the animals and their lives which they were enthusiastic to share. I never expected in my lifetime to have the humble pleasure of sharing such a small space (within 10 feet) with prides of lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, zebras, to name a few, in their own home, and witness these animals playing and bathing etc....it was such a joyful education / experience and one I hope to never forget and possibly even repeat with children / grandchildren sometime in the future.
For those seeking an intimate, personal safari experience, in a stunning, natural and tranquil setting provided by a team who make each and every guest feel like family, are passionate about introducing you to their animal family, whilst taking care to respect these magnificent creatures and educate guests along the way, then I can't recommend N'Kaya and team enough, and doubt there is an experience that can match it. Thankyou so much Benjy, Chantelle, Andreas and team for providing unforgettable memories which we will always treasure!
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Date of stay: January 2019Trip type: Travelled with family
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from NKaya_Manager, Manager at Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge
Responded 18 Jan 2019
Good day Christine. Thank you for taking the time to write this lovely review. It sounds like you guys had a lot of fun and I am delighted to year that. Very glad to hear that you also approved on the food, facility and staff, and I trust you enjoyed the birthday cake. Kind regards. André.
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Mary W wrote a review Sept 2018
Paramus, New Jersey
5.0 of 5 bubbles
It had been a dream of mine to experience a real African Safari. I feel beyond fortunate to have chosen N'Kaya Lodge to have made that happen for me. I really never expected it to be as wonderful as they made it. We went on two game drives (safaris) a day. One at sunrise and one at sunset. This is the best time to see the animals since they do not like to be out in the heat of the day, like most of us. Our driver, Benji was so incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, which made it easy to ask him questions. I am sure he has heard these questions hundreds of times, but yet answers them with patience and enthusiasm. One would think that after going out on two games drives a day, it might be hard to still get excited when seeing that elephant or lion, but Benji makes you feel like he is seeing it for the first time, just like you! Then there is Andres. He is the tracker who also comes on the game drives and finds the animals by looking at their footprints so they know which direction to go in. This man is amazingly talented! He sits in a seat which is on the front of the vehicle where the headlights are. This puts him closest to any animal we saw on these drives! Definitely a brave man! He knows his stuff because we saw every animal there is to be seen on a game drive in South Africa. The pictures I got are unbelievable. Benji also stops halfway thru each drive for a break. He sets up a small table and has coffee or tea served with muffins or biscotti in the morning. In the afternoon it is wine, soft drinks and chips, and trail mix.
The lodge is run by Benji and his partner Chantal. Chantal is a sweet person who greets you at the end of your game drive with a hot towel to freshen up any dry dust you might have encountered. She oversees everything and makes sure everyone is content and things are running the way they need to.
Then there is the food. OMG! As if the game drives are not wonderful on their own. The food is to die for. We met the chef, "Lucky" and boy did we feel lucky!! Everything is exquisitely made. I have a gluten intolerance. He always made me something special so I would never feel excluded. Every meal was exceptional.
The accommodations were fantastic! So spacious and clean! It spoiled us for the places we stayed at next. The wifi works amazing too, especially for being so out in the middle of nowhere!
Another bonus was the watering hole right outside the lodge. There is a covered deck with chairs where you can watch and film the animals who come to drink and bath there. It was as if the safari comes to YOU!
One thing I must mention, at night, since N'Kaya is located right where the animals live, you can hear animal calls and wildlife present in the distance. It can be a little scary/exciting for those of us from big cites who are only used to hearing cars horns and people bustling.
Another thing that makes N'Kaya a wonderful stay is how small and intimate it is. I believe there are only 4 or 5 "bungalows" on the property. So, no big crowds there. There is also a small pool, so during the day you can relax and cool off.
I can not say enough great things about this place. Just want to thank Benji and Chantal for their amazing hospitality. It feels more like you are staying with a friend who really knows how to entertain! That is how they make you feel.
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Date of stay: September 2018
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
Trip type: Travelled with family
Room Tip: Bring safari wear- khaki colored clothes and a hat. You want to try to blend in, not stand out in...
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from NKaya_Manager, Manager at Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge
Responded 28 Sept 2018
Dear Mary. Thank you for taking the time to write this lovely detailed review. It is always a pleasure for us to host guests here at N'kaya and to ensure that guests have a satisfied and memorable experience. We hope that one day you might return for another adventure. Kind regards. André.
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Carrie K wrote a review Sept 2017
Chicago, Illinois
5.0 of 5 bubbles
We stayed at the lodge with a large group so we had the entire lodge to ourselves. Everything exceeded expectations. There were 2 bathrooms per room and included a huge bathtub and a rain shower with great water pressure. Everything was super clean and the rooms had toiletries, a hair dryer and even bug lotion. It was too cool for the pool but would be nice in the summer. The food was great and plentiful and we had a variety each day. There is also a hide overlooking the watering hole so we enjoyed our afternoons sipping wine and taking pictures. Although the lodge was great, the guides were the best part! We had Nikki as our host, Werner as our guide and Andres as our tracker. Each safari was spectacular and we saw the Big 5 along with tons more! We had drinks at sunset and Nikki greeted us at the lodge with warm towels and a drink before dinner. Everyone was extremely knowledgeable about the animals, the lodge and the country's history in general and kept us all entertained. The (paid) wifi was not great but who wants to be on the internet when you're on safari!
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Date of stay: July 2017
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
Trip type: Travelled with friends
Room Tip: All the rooms are the same.
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
ladybirdseahorse asked a question Jan 2019
Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom251 contributions135 helpful votes
How many guests are in each jeep? We are both photographers and don't want to be in a middle seat of a full jeep.
Answer from Steve6244
Chatham, United Kingdom616 contributions265 helpful votes
As previous reply. Jeep takes 9 but the lodge only really sleeps 8. Benjy was great at ensuring he moved the jeep so that everyone had good views or photo shots. Also we talked to our fellow guests and swapped seats and tiers on each drive. We also ducked out of each other’s way to ensure a clear view!!
Answer from NKaya_Manager
Hi Lauren, We do not have a dress code, as long as you are wearing something (-; , that's fine. If there is anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are looking forward to sharing our little piece of paradise with you. Kind regards, Lené
Ellen B asked a question Jan 2017
San Luis Obispo, California1 contribution
How can I arrange an airport transfer?
J2775NFrebeccas asked a question May 2016
5 contributions3 helpful votes
Are the rooms heated in late May?
Blythspirit68 wrote a tip Jan 2020
Blythburgh, United Kingdom218 contributions79 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"Room 1 is closest to the main lodge."
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Dan S wrote a tip Nov 2019
10 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"all rooms are the same"
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Sue512 wrote a tip Nov 2018
Kent, United Kingdom31 contributions10 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"All rooms are equally amazing."
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Mary W wrote a tip Sept 2018
Paramus, New Jersey60 contributions31 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"Bring safari wear- khaki colored clothes and a hat. You want to try to blend in, not stand out in the brush."
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KHuy13 wrote a tip Aug 2018
Mechelen, Belgium25 contributions2 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"Not applicable for this accommodation"
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Not the right property for you?
There are more places to choose from in the Thornybush Private Game Reserve area.
LOCATION
South AfricaKruger National ParkThornybush Private Game Reserve
NUMBER OF ROOMS
4
Prices are provided by our partners, and reflect average nightly room rates, including taxes and fees that are fixed, known to our partners, and due at time of booking. Please see our partners for more details.
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THORNYBUSH N'KAYA GAME LODGE - Reviews (Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa)

Frequently Asked Questions about Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge
What are some of the property amenities at Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge?
Some of the more popular amenities offered include free breakfast, a pool, and a lounge.
What food & drink options are available at Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge?
Guests can enjoy free breakfast and a lounge during their stay.
Are there opportunities to exercise at Thornybush N'Kaya Game Lodge?
Yes, guests have access to a pool during their stay.
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