The River Lodge at Thornybush, in South Africa
Let’s pause for a deep breath… Before beginning to write about the lodge, I need to say that it was undoubtedly the most exclusive and most luxurious hotel I have been in my entire life. Talking about this place will be both easy and difficult at the same time, because perhaps nothing I say or explain here will truly bring the essence of this place where we can be submerged by nature completely. The River Lodge is located in the private reserve of Thornybush. The name is referred to a plant that has giant and very hard thorns, present in all the reserves that we have been. If you already want to see the video of the lodge, you can check this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmE5nF5D4VE
Thornybush is a special reserve among all the others. In fact, they are all special in their own way, but in this we have seen huge groups of almost all animals. Huge and carefree herds. It was also there that we were kind of frightened about the elephants. They are cute, but they do not enjoy much any sort of approach. I’ll tell you everything. At Thornybush, they have all the animals we can find on the Savannah, even the crocodiles, but we did not see them because the river in front of the lodge is dry during the Winter.
Before writing about the structure of the lodge, I want to tell you a bit about the reservation. The Thornybush reserve has easy access by road and they do airport transfers from Hoedspruit in case you want to go there by airplane. Alê and I went by car, which we could easily arrive by the road (an excellent one, by the way). Setting up destination on google maps (which works better than Waze there) you can get there without much trouble. We spent a few minutes inside the reserve and we could see that it is very different from the others. Even though there are elephants, most of the trees are intact. They have large herds of elephants, but they did not destroy everything, as they did on Sabi Sand.
Inside the reserve, there are other lodges as luxurious as The River. But, in The River, it is likely for an antelope or an elephant to come and drink water from the pool, or wake up with a leopard by your bathroom door. We had breakfast with baboons jumping around the trees, the elephants passing by and giraffes parading across the dry river. Perfect scenery for those who want to start the day well.
At Thornybush Reserve, we saw the largest groups of animals. Many rhinos, hippos, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes and lions together… They were really big groups getting along very well. I confess that I was somewhat afraid of the group of 8 hippos that were in one of the lakes. I might take you by surprise, but the hippopotamus only looks innocent. It is actually the animal that kills people the most in Africa. Usually, people who enter the lakes or rivers to bathe or fish, then they suddenly attack. Because they are very territorial, they attack mercilessly. Their bite is fatal. My tip (ridiculous, actually) is that before entering in any lake or river in Africa, wait for 10 minutes (hahahaha). Trust me. Hippos do not dive for longer than 6/7 minutes. This way you do not get an unfortunate surprise.
The ranger that was with us during the game drives had a gun. In fact, he was the only ranger we saw with a gun on all the safaris we did. I was intrigued, but I let it go. I found the reserve to be the wildest of all we’ve been through. The animals there are wilder, I do not know how to explain. It felt like we were right in the middle of the wilderness – the real wilderness! It was awesome!
The elephants! We got frightened at times. These giants do not really like our approach and they like it less when we need them to get out of the way for us to drive the car. A young elephant was destroying his tree, having super fun, when we decided to pass. He snorted, shook his head, then left complaining a lot. But he picked up a piece of the tree sort of threatened to hit the car with it. And then we stopped to watch the hippopotamuses and he came kind of hurrying in our direction. The ranger burst out laughing that we had spoiled the elephant’s fun. It was awesome.
We saw a lazy group (what a surprise) of lions that did not even bother to raise their heads or wake up to say hello. We also saw a group of more than 100 African buffalo. But what excited me the most (again, I know), were the rhinos. We were able to approach a group of 6 white rhinos that were eating their grass quietly. They did not even bother the car. There, they keep the horns of the rhinos, because they are against the policy of removing the horns. I was emotional again, seeing myself surrounded by these animals that I love so much. I think it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
Well, you must have already figured out how special the safari is in the Thornybush reservation, where The River Lodge is located, didn’t you?! Now, I want to tell you all about the lodge, which is a true 5 star. A true paradise for those who appreciate good taste, luxury, and pampering all the time. It’s jaw-dropping.
Firstly, there are only a few rooms there at The River Lodge. We stayed in a suite that was just breathtaking. To begin with, the suite had a huge wooden deck with chairs for sunbathing and a heated (that’s right, heated) pool for people to enjoy. All of it just for us. We went into the pool at night after dinner and waited to see some animals, but it did not work. The next morning a cute impala appeared to drink water from the pool. I waited for a leopard to come and pay us a visit, but he did not come (hahahaha). The view from the deck is the dry river, so I kept thinking about the number of animals around there by the time the river is full…
The room inside is magnificent. A huge, warm bed for well rested nights. A huge bathroom with a shower on the inside with a door to the Savannah and another shower outside to shower in the middle of the Savannah. That’s right. We bathed in the middle of the African Savannah and it was too much fun. A gorgeous, huge closet for the ladies (hahahaha) to go nuts. A beautiful, well decorated room with African themes, for those who want to read a book or watch television.
Another cool thing is that the whole room has a glass windows around the deck, so that we can admire the landscape all the time. Stunning. I do not even know if you are aware, but this place is perfect for honeymooners. The whole destination itself is perfect for that special trip. But this lodge has all that romantic charm that standouts from all the other places I’ve ever known in life. I even joked with Alê saying “we are using up several destinations and hotels, I want to see where we are going to travel on our honeymoon eventually” (hahahahaha).
The meals there at The River Lodge are also very special. In the morning, at 5:45, before we left to the safaris, we ate something light and left. The real breakfast comes after the game drive. Crammed with tasty things, fresh fruit, amazing bread and a lot of attention to details coming from their staff. I was mesmerized by the people’s politeness and consideration. I’m sure that all the affection they gave us helped to make the trip even better.
Dinner was in the campfire. At a place of the lodge where there was no fence, so we were literally in the middle of the Savannah with nothing to protect us, should any animal come. However, we must not forget that animals are not stupid and they do not approach “things” that they have no interest. In this case, we. So, even when there was a group of hyenas singing right beside us (again, they were really haunting me hahahaha), our ranger said “There is not the slightest possibility of them approaching us, so you can relax.” And we stayed cool. We had a wonderful dinner with a very beautiful typical African chant, lots of delicious food and lots of drinks from their country. It was an unforgettable experience.
Oh! I almost forgot to tell you. The River Lodge has a pool area for those who want to use a larger pool (since the pools in the room are not very large). The advantage is that the water is cooler (good for hot days) and the view of the Savannah is larger. Every day, while we are not doing the safaris, the safari is there. In just half hour sitting, admiring the scenery, we saw giraffes, elephants, antelopes, and wild pigs. I think that if we had stayed longer, we’d see more animals. It was awesome!
Well, I do not need to continue too long. I’ve written too much and I know the photos and videos speak for themselves. The cool thing is that we will have unforgettable moments in every trip we make, but some are more special. I’m not saying this because the lodge has an expensive overnight or anything, but I say it because of everything we lived there. At the hotel, on the safaris, at the wonderful dinner (which was both beautiful and tasty), in everything. Everything was special. Impossible not to fall in love with The River Lodge and I already want to go back when it’s the full river season. I want to see that river flowing and bringing life and color to everything.
For honeymoon trips, romantic trips, trips between friends, trips between mother and daughter, father and son, parents and children, etc. The River Lodge will embrace you and provide you with one of the most exciting experiences you will ever have in your life. I have no doubt of that. So go to their website and get to know them! It’ll be worth it.
The River Lodge at Thornybush
Access their site http://www.thornybush.co.za/lodges/the-river-lodge to meet this and other lodges of the network. I’m sure one will win over your heart.
Este texto foi traduzido pelo Professor Rodrigo Guth, que dá aulas na English Partner.
www.englishpartner.com.br e o Instagram como @english.partner