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Marula Camp – Thornybush Game Reserve


The Greater Kruger National Park, also referred to as the Greater Kruger, is an area which covers a massive expanse of unfenced wilderness. The Greater Kruger consists of a group of private game reserves, one being Thornybush Game Reserve, that collectively form a protected conservation area that lies in and around the Kruger National Park.

Thornybush Game Reserve

Renowned for its exceptional wildlife viewing, offering an authentic safari experience. The richness of its plant and animal life was recognised in 1955 when its 14 000 hectares were mapped out as a conservation area of outstanding value.

The Reserve shares unfenced boundaries with the Kruger National Park, an intact ecosystem of more than 2 million hectares, and one of the world’s most pristine wildlife areas

Game viewing in Thornybush ranks as some of the best in Southern Africa, home to a vast and prolific diversity of wildlife and birdlife, and wildlife enthusiasts and keen birders can expect exceptional and exciting sightings and encounters.

Game viewing is excellent during the drier months of April to October and the southern night skies appear to be studded with more stars than usual. The vegetation thins out during this dry season and animals congregate at the water holes.

Marula Camp

 Marula Camp is a small, intimate Bush Camp, located within the Thornybush Game Reserve, with access to nearly 15 000 hectares of pristine and wildlife-rich woodland savannah. Habitats include Bushwillow-Marula woodland, Riparian thicket and thorny savanna interspersed with large, dry riverbeds and earth dams


Nestled in a grove of Marula trees, this small private lodge has four comfortable en-suite, air-conditioned chalets (double and twin rooms). Each chalet has a large veranda with uninterrupted views of the bush. The camp is unfenced and features a central lounge and dining room, a fully equipped kitchen, outdoor braai boma, swimming pool, and a very special ‘sunken’ game viewing hide adjacent to the camp waterhole which offers superb photographic opportunities.

The camp is booked on an exclusive basis, making it ideal for groups.

Game viewing

Game viewing on the reserve is conducted in comfortable, open game drive vehicles over an area of 15000 hectares. Habitats include Bushwillow-Marula woodland, Riparian thicket and thorny savanna interspersed with large, dry riverbeds and earth dams

The early morning and afternoon game drives are undoubtedly the highlight of the day. Marula Camp caters for guests who are looking for an authentic, relaxed bush experience – open safari-style 4×4 vehicle, sundowners and snacks in the veld, knowledgeable game guides. There is never an over-crowded feeling, never any noise or intrusion of privacy.

The abundance of perennial rivers, good groundwater levels, varied ecosystems, multiple landscapes, and distinct vegetation draws an incredible diversity of plains game to Thornybush , which, in turn, attracts a large variety of predators, including the African Big 5. From trumpeting Elephant herds along riverbeds, the roars of a Lion pride echoing through the reserve, and the thrill of a close encounter with a stealthy Leopard, to rare and remarkable sightings of mighty White and Black Rhino and the magnificent African Buffalo – Thornybush is the ideal place to see the icons of the African bushveld.

Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Spotted Hyena, Genet, Civet and Caracal are some of the other predators which may be encountered.


Beyond the reserve’s exceptional predator and Big 5 activity, the Reserve is home to an abundant and diverse variety of wildlife species, including Giraffe, Zebra, Hippo, Warthog, and several species of antelope.


The birdlife is prolific with over 400 species having been recorded on the reserve.

White-backed, Lappet-faced, White-headed and Hooded Vultures are seen at kills. Large birds of prey are well represented with Martial, Tawny, Wahlberg’s (summer), Bateleur and African Hawk Eagles being regularly sighted. Black-chested and Brown Snake-Eagles occur while Steppe and Lesser Spotted Eagles are frequent summer visitors.

Other raptors which are encountered include Dark Chanting, African and Gabar Goshawks, Shikra and Little Sparrowhawk while African Cuckoo Hawk is occasionally seen

Owl species to look out for are Verreaux’s and Spotted Eagle-Owls, African Barred, and Pearl-Spotted Owlets. The iconic Southern Ground-Hornbill, Kori Bustard, Black-bellied Bustard, Senegal Lapwing, and Bronze-winged Courser (at night) are some of the terrestrial birds which we can expect to see

Insectivores, mixed feeders, and seedeaters are well represented throughout the area

The relaxed atmosphere and general still of a small bush camp with its tall marula trees, fever trees and paperbark acacias allow for some quality close-up birding. Some of the birds that it is possible to see include the Eastern bearded scrub robin, Gabar Goshawk, African Harrier Hawk, Bearded, Cardinal, and Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, White-browed Robin-Chat, Ashy Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher, and Southern Barn Owl. These are but a few of the many resident birds in and around the camp.

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