Thornybush Nature Reserve is spread over 14,000 hectares and is literally next door to the much more famous Kruger National Park. The latter is spread over two million hectares is home to a staggering number of wildlife. This is what makes it so famous and attractive to tourists of whom there is no dearth in Kruger. Thornybush, on the other hand, is a relative oasis of peace where you can view animals at leisure.
Thornybush is spread over 14,000 hectares. The big five of the African savannah – lion, rhino, leopard, elephant, and Cape buffalo – can be seen here. The reserve takes no more than two vehicles for a sighting. It makes for a more personal and peaceful sighting.
Over here, you can get down from the jeep and walk with the rangers who will take you as close to the animals as possible. Of course, you need to abide by some rules; a cardinal rule at Thornybush is that you never run. It sends a wrong message to the animal, and all the animals in this neck of the woods can outrun man.
With no hordes of tourists to freak the animals out, you can get close to them. Elephants are pretty relaxed about human company. Seeing an elephant take a dip in one of the lakes is a sight. The big animals then take a sand bath; may appear counter-intuitive to humans but makes sense to these creatures, it helps keep insects and flies away.
Thornybush is an ideal spot to watch lions at play, dozing, eating, or just goofing around. Get ready for an early morning ride to where the lions roar. If one of the cats is in the mood, it might actually saunter toward your vehicle to check you out. It’s as exciting as it can get.
If any sighting can surpass the thrill of viewing a pride of lions it is that of seeing a herd of Cape buffaloes going about their business. These 2,000-pound behemoths are very unpredictable and quite cranky at the best of times. They are extremely agile despite the bulk they carry. A male wallowing in the mud at a distance of 50 yards could be standing next to you in a matter of seconds. Even though you may be tempted to spend more time gazing at the animals, the guides will gently remind you to move away after some time. These are wild animals, and they are quite unpredictable.
Leopards, one of the best camouflaged cats in the wild, are not easy to spot. They are solitary animals. Rangers keep in touch through radio communication and inform each other of sightings. Be it a tamarisk tree or a dried river bed, the sight of a leopard’s silhouette against the setting sun is one that you will not forget easily.
Thornybush offers well-appointed lodges for visitors, and you will be taken on two drives each day. Relax in style; swim, enjoy massages, local cuisine, and liquor.
Thornybush is one of the few national parks in the world that prefers sterilizing its inmates instead of culling them in order to contain the animal population.
Originally posted 2017-06-16 13:37:23.