Thornhill Safari Lodge in the Guernsey Nature Reserve was home base for a three-day, two-night safari in and around Kruger National Park.

Other posts on this South African adventure:

Pictorial Trip Report — Robben Island (Mandela Prison) Tour, Cape Town, South Africa

Climbing Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Trip Report – Cape of Good Hope and Cape Peninsula Tour, Part 1

Trip Report – Cape of Good Hope and Cape Peninsula Tour, Part 2

Review – The Westin Cape Town, South Africa

Priority Pass Lounge Review – Bidvest Premier Lounge Domestic Terminal Cape Town, South Africa (CPT)

Trip Report – South African Express Airways DeHavilland Dash 8 Series Q400 Turboprop, Cape Town, South Africa (CPT) to Hoedspruit, South Africa (HDS)

I met a representative from the lodge at Hoedspruit airport for the drive to the lodge 19 km away.  Much of the drive was on paved roads.

Even the paved roads can be dangerous when taking curves at excessive speed.

Nature and game reserves are located off the beaten track and are accessible only via  dirt roads.

A recently regraded road.

Thornhill Safari Lodge is located in the Guernsey Nature Reserve.  Reserves are fenced.   Fences keep out most dangerous animals including lions and elephants (but not leopards and hippos).

Entrance to Guernsey Nature Reserve.  Lodges in this reserve are listed at the gate.

Upon arrival at the lodge I was greeted by the manager in the reception area.  She explained the itinerary for my stay and described the lodge facilities and times for meals.  A porter assisted with my luggage.

I was assigned Room 6, a standard double room that was located next to the lounge/dining facility.

Room 6 exterior

The room had a comfortable double bed, dresser, ceiling fan, air conditioning, and a private bath.

Bed with mosquito netting
Room 6
Bathroom with shower

The stone floor and shower in the bath was a nice touch.  Mosquito netting was completely unnecessary during my stay but should be useful during the summer.  The lodge had adapters for electrical outlets if needed.  Daily maid service was included.

The lodge consists of several duplex units arranged around the center of the property.  Service was very personalized as there were never more than eight guest during my stay.

Thornhill duplex units

The lodge has a swimming pool.  It was too cold to use in June.

The pool looked inviting.  If only it had been warmer.

The main building at the lodge served as the reception area, lounge, bar and restaurant.

Dining area
I appreciated the fire at dinner.

I thought the food was outstanding especially the evening meals.  Perhaps it was because I had worked up a large appetite during the activities of the day.  Breakfast was simple with juice, coffee, cereal, eggs and breakfast meats.

All of the meals were buffet style.  The first night, dinner was served by the pool.  When we had all gathered, the chef gave a detailed description of what she had prepared.

The descriptions were helpful since some of the dishes were unfamiliar.

Each dinner had several courses including salad, soup, entree and dessert.  Alcoholic drinks could be ordered and charged to the room.

Dinner by the pool
The second night we ate in the dining area by the fire.
I always had at least seconds on many of the items offered at diner.

Although the buildings at the lodge are surrounded by a tall and secure fence, any animal capable of climbing a tree could enter the premises.  The manager stated that she had seen leopards inside the fence.  Leopards, though, are not considered particularly dangerous as they are normally not aggressive to humans.

Monkeys and baboons were the most frequent visitors.  Their proclivity for opening doors and windows meant it was important to keep them locked.

Monkeys drove the pet dog crazy as he continually chased them with no hope of catching one.

Thornhill Lodge has an observation deck built in the treetops that provides outstanding views of the surrounding terrain.

Observation deck


I was fun to sit here in the evening talking with fellow travelers and enjoying the sunset over the Drackenberg Mountains.

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Sunset view from observation deck.

The only disappointment of the stay was that the internet connection was down.  Free Wifi was one of the reasons I picked this lodge.  “That’s Africa” was the response.  I guess so.

Overall Impression

The service and food were top notch.  I wouldn’t call this a luxury accommodation by western standards.  But for being in the middle of the South African bush, Thornhill Safari Lodge provides access to unforgettable nature experiences from an oasis of comfort and safety.