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Royal Malewane

When To Visit Thornybush Game Reserve:
When To Visit Thornybush Game Reserve:
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"Royal Malewane is one of South Africa’s most luxurious properties and the safari lodge of the Royal Portfolio. Very high standards throughout, with a major focus on the hospitality experience overall."


Royal Malewane is listed in The Royal Portfolio. This was the company’s first property, opened in 1999 and to this day run by Phil and Liz Biden and their family. Four more successes followed – Birkenhead House (Hermanus), La Residence (Franschhoek), and The Silo and The One Above (Cape Town). Royal Malewane combines old-world charm and luxury living to excellent effect, not least in some seriously fine dining! The accommodation is booked on a full-board basis, including all meals, all snacks, a selection of alcoholic and soft drinks, mini-bar drinks, two daily game drives and bush walks, transfers between the property and Jackalberry Airstrip, parking, Wi-Fi, and a laundry service. The lodge is open all year round.


The lodge is accessed via road transfer from the airstrip at neighbouring lodge Jackalberry. Flights to Jackalberry are available from the airports of Hoedspruit and KMIA. Royal Malewane is situated in the south-eastern region of the Thornybush Reserve, to the west of the mighty Kruger National Park and overlooking a popular waterhole!


Guest accommodation consists of six 1-bedroom luxury suites, two 2-bedroom royal suites, and one exclusive-use 6-bedroom bush villa. All options are nothing short of phenomenal! The suites occupy timber, stone, and thatch structures, raised above the ground. Each luxury suite features four-poster king-size bed with mosquito netting, bedside tables and lighting, a writing desk and chair, and a separate seating area complete with cosy fireplace. The décor is really very grand, certainly regal in its overall effect. In-room amenities include air conditioning, tea-and-coffee station, and mini-bar. The spacious en-suite washroom offers separate flush toilet, twin washbasins with mirrors over, and freestanding roll-top bathtub with shower attachment. There’s an outside shower too! And doors from the bedroom lead out onto a generously proportioned private deck, with lounge and dining furniture, and plunge pool. Both royal suites benefit from all the features of the luxury suite as well as an extra bedroom. And the exclusive-use bush villa, Africa House, is a fantastic option for larger groups, boasting lavish living spaces and no fewer than six bedrooms, all en suite!

Royal Malewane’s communal lodge is approached from the guest accommodation along raised wooden walkways. Also constructed from timber, stone, and thatch, and elevated above ground level, it houses numerous opulent lounge and dining areas. The sumptuous main lounge features a medley of plush sofas, high-backed armchairs, and chaises longues around coffee tables strewn with reading material. In the indoor dining room, upright winged chairs are set up around ornate tables, ready for fine dining! An impressive variety of alcoholic and soft drinks is available at the bar, including wines from the property’s own cellar. Guests can also tuck in to delicious fare on the main lodge’s deck, all the while marvelling at views of the busy waterhole. The outside boma is another popular location for meals. A little quiet time can be enjoyed in the library, and you can have fun browsing for souvenirs in the property’s shop. And the spa, Waters of Royal Malewane, has been voted Best Safari Spa in Africa! It has a beautiful bush setting and offers a fabulous range of pampering treatments, a small hair salon, a fully equipped gym, and a peaceful courtyard with heated lap pool. There’s an additional plunge pool close to the main lodge, which is perfect for a refreshing dip between activities in and around the reserve.


An impressive assortment of activities is available, within Thornybush Reserve, Kruger National Park, and farther afield.

  • Expertly guided game drives take place during the morning and the afternoon into evening, providing opportunities to see a real wealth of wildlife!
  • The Kruger and its surrounding areas are home to all Big Five – lion, rhino, leopard, elephant, and buffalo.
  • You can also look out for smaller predators and herbivores such as cheetah, hyenas, jackals, wild dog, hippo, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, and all sorts of antelopes.
  • Birding safaris feature many of the region’s specials, among them martial eagle, Kori bustard, thick-billed cuckoo, and bearded scrub robin.
  • Specialist photographic safaris are led by Royal Malewane ranger Rudi Hulshof, a highly accomplished wildlife photographer.
  • Bush walks are ideal for anyone interested in close scrutiny of insects and plant life, and this activity involves big game tracking too!
  • You can also go on a village visit, to find out about the local people’s ways of life.
  • Things to do at a greater distance from the lodge include hot air balloon rides over the lowveld area of the Blyde river, helicopter flights over the Panoramic Route, cruises on the Blyde river canyon, horseback trails on the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate, golf at Gary Player’s Leopard Creek, and trips to Moholoholo wildlife rehabilitation centre, for close contact with big cats, remarkable raptors, and more!

*This property is unfenced and located in a wildlife area, so large and potentially dangerous animals do pass through. If you opt to stay here, always be alert when walking around the camp and request for a member of staff to escort you if you have any concerns. Any guest is escorted after dark as a matter of course.

Thornybush Game Reserve

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