Hiding in plain sight. KwaMbili Game Lodge. Thornybush.

"KwaMbili Game Lodge provides an authentic safari experience at an affordable price. KwaMbili is situated in the Thornybush Game Reserve near Hoedspruit, within the Greater Kruger area. The reserve is home to the Big Five as well as an abundance of other game and bird species". Official website





Hello and WELCOME! The car park/ arrival area of KwaMbili Game Lodge (a place of two) For my wife and me this was a welcome sight as we had been driving around the reserve for almost an hour after having missed the turnoff to the lodge not once but twice, our fault no one else’s. But although we were stressed at the time, all’s well that ends well and we turned the 20km trip into a mini-game drive. We had food and water with us and were prepared to spend the night in the car if we were not ‘rescued’.




A phone call, once we found a signal, and reinforcements were dispatched and we were brought safely and with much laughter to the car park, where we were greeted by the manager and one of the staff to help unpack the car.

Never had a welcome drink been more welcome! The water bottles were gifts for us and have come in most useful since our return home.




My favourite spot in camp. The reception is combined with the bar area so that paperwork and welcome drinks can be enjoyed simultaneously. The draped curtains made me think of an old theatre setting with animals rather than actors strutting their stuff outside.




Out of Africa, an American-British film, released in 1985, based on events in the life of Karen Blixen-Finecke, who wrote under the name Isak Dinesen. It starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and was known for its beautiful cinematography.

The film was the inspiration for the lodge decor in both the public areas as well as the accommodation. I kept an eye open for Meryl and Robert, but neither was around, unfortunately.




The decor is eclectic and with so much to investigate, it became something of a treasure-hunt as to what I could discover. From skulls and warthog tusks in the glass cabinet to old 7-single records in a rack on a side table.




The view from the opposite end of the lounge/dining room. Book, books and more books. Comfy furniture so that you can relax outside of your accommodation and interact(or not) with other guests given the current COVID protocols that are enforced.




The pool was well utilised by the guests in camp to cool off…despite the one evening downpour, the weather was hot while we were there. The average temperature for this part of the country at the height of summer can reach in excess of 42C!




Before the rain came… and come it did. A glorious thunderstorm that only the Lowveld can provide. Lots of thunder and much lightning activity while the rain bucketed down. But until that occurred this was a great place to sit and relax…and the only smoking spot in the public space.




The air-con in the room was most welcome so a LOT of time was spent here between game drives or visits to the above-ground hide close by.




I have never been in any lodge where there was a chandelier in the bedroom. This was my view through the mosquito netting.




Death on the path. This looked like a party of ants had tackled one of the flying ants that came out in droves after the rain. But can this be recorded as a kill? I suppose that it can.

At the end of the day, safari experiences are just that, experiences. And they can happen right under your nose. So keep an eye open to record instances like this.




The hide as seen from the patio in front of our chalet. This above-ground hide overlooks a small waterhole that I am told can produce some interesting sightings.

Like all wildlife sightings, nothing is guaranteed and guests that spend time in the hide need to be patient and alert.




And the reverse…the accommodation in the distance is our chalet. (We are due to return later this year and we will be staying in one of the safari tents on that occasion.




The hide is multi-purpose as I discovered one morning when I found visitors from a neighbouring lodge having breakfast with the owner of KwaMbili.




Guest are able to access the hide day and night should they wish to, but proper security protocols need to be followed as the camp is unfenced.




My wife thought that it was comfortable enough to lie and read while I waited for anything to visit the waterhole.




It has been a long time since I have been caught in such a heavy downpour during a game drive. Luckily for those on board, we were not too far from camp, but that did not stop us all from getting soaked to the skin despite all wearing waterproof ponchos.




Just to prove that the food that exits the kitchen is not all meat and potatoes, the chef is able to conjure up a delicious dish like this as a dinner starter.




My Veldskoen Shoes, drying in the sun. The leather of the shoes is hydrophobically treated and they dry quickly and without any watermarks either inside or out. The treatment makes water droplets roll off the leather, instead of being immediately absorbed into it. That being said, I was glad that I had a second pair with me in order for these to dry totally before having to put them on again.




In my opinion, KwaMbili Game Lodge, with its current specials for local visitors is an affordable Big 5 destination. Their attention to detail, food offerings as well as highly knowledgeable field guides makes this a destination that you would want to return to time and again.




To find out more about what this stunning lodge has to offer, click on the logo





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