South Africa: Safari

[{"id":20361,"title":"andBeyond Phinda Homestead","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-20361\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/phinda-private-game-reserve\/hotels\/beyond-phinda-private-game-reserve\/\">andBeyond Phinda Homestead<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">KwaZulu-Natal<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-27.84720753938823,32.33067138671868","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":215309,"title":"Cheetah Plains","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-215309\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/sabi-sands-game-reserve\/hotels\/cheetah-plains\/\">Cheetah Plains<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Sabi Sand Game Reserve S36, South Africa<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.7385459,31.5756535","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":78584,"title":"Dulini Lodge","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-78584\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/sabi-sands-game-reserve\/hotels\/dulini-lodge\/\">Dulini Lodge<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.783734450999415,31.380558013916016","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":20354,"title":"Kwandwe Private Game Reserve","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-20354\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/kwandwe-private-game-reserve\/hotels\/kwandwe-private-game-reserve\/\">Kwandwe Private Game Reserve<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Grahamstown<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-33.130472,26.537391999999954","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":78581,"title":"Leopard Hills Lodge","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-78581\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/sabi-sands-game-reserve\/hotels\/leopard-hills-lodge\/\">Leopard Hills Lodge<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.79250074693073,31.3679838180542","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":20356,"title":"Lion Sands Game Reserve","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-20356\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/sabi-sands-game-reserve\/hotels\/lion-sands-game-reserve\/\">Lion Sands Game Reserve<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\"><\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.939958388554867,31.52563235961918","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":20358,"title":"Londolozi Private Game Reserve","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-20358\"><h3><a 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class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/madikwe-hills-game-reserve\/hotels\/mateya\/\">Mateya<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Madikwe Hills Game Reserve, North West Province<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.730470772004512,26.338536143302917","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":78594,"title":"Molori Safari Lodge","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-78594\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/madikwe-hills-game-reserve\/hotels\/molori-safari-lodge\/\">Molori Safari Lodge<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Madikwe Hills Game Reserve, North West Province<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.72005309156955,26.38087749481201","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":78587,"title":"Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-78587\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/sabi-sands-game-reserve\/hotels\/sabi-sabi-earth-lodge\/\">Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.936490810824978,31.59942626953125","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":20377,"title":"Singita Boulders Lodge","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-20377\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/sabi-sands-game-reserve\/hotels\/singita-boulders\/\">Singita Boulders Lodge<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.786237,31.429","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":20403,"title":"Singita Ebony","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-20403\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/sabi-sands-game-reserve\/hotels\/singita-ebony\/\">Singita Ebony<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Sabi Sand Reserve<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.787498526852385,31.426326253051798","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":20387,"title":"Singita Lebombo Lodge","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-20387\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/kruger-national-park\/hotels\/singita-lebombo\/\">Singita Lebombo Lodge<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Kruger National Park, South Africa<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.4522416,31.978066","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":194633,"title":"Singita Sweni","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-194633\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/kruger-national-park\/hotels\/singita-sweni\/\">Singita Sweni<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Kruger National Park, South Africa<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.4540506,31.9805825","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":20399,"title":"Tswalu Kalahari","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-20399\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/kalahari-desert\/hotels\/tswalu-kalahari\/\">Tswalu Kalahari<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Kuruman, Northern Cape <\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-27.223618,22.479059000000007","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":20426,"title":"Ulusaba","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-20426\"><h3><a class=\"more\" target=\"_blank\" href=\"https:\/\/\/destinations\/africa\/south-africa\/south-africa-safari\/sabi-sands-game-reserve\/hotels\/ulusaba\/\">Ulusaba<\/a><\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Sabi Sand Game Reserve<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.7821524,31.359881200000018","type":"hotel","show":0},{"id":20365,"title":"Royal Malewane","content":"<div class=\"markercontent\" id=\"markercontent-20365\"><h3>Royal Malewane<\/h3><div class=\"popup-address\">Thornybush Private Game Reserve, Hoedspruit, South Africa<\/div><\/div>","coordinates":"-24.5178222,31.1642341","type":"current","show":1}]

Royal Malewane

PlusPicksIndagare Index

Lavish, beautifully designed, hotel-lodge

Thornybush Private Game Reserve Hoedspruit, South Africa +27 15-793-0150

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At a Glance

There’s no place like Liz Biden’s hotels, in large part because they all started as her family’s vacation homes. In 1999, the former fashion entrepreneur transformed the Bidens’ property in Thornybush Private Game Reserve into Royal Malewane, and hospitality in South Africa had a new star. La Residence, in the Cape Winelands and Birkenhead House, on the coast, followed. While the properties—and their locations—are distinctive, what’s consistent is the personal touch in both the design of the spaces and the service. Royal Malewane’s intimate boutique lodgings seem as transporting as its location—the uber-stylish, privately owned bush camp more closely resembles a luxurious six-star hotel than a safari lodge.

The Standout: Taking over the six-bedroom Africa House or three-and-a-half-bedroom Farmhouse with a chef and butler
Don’t Miss: A bush walk with Africa’s most qualified guiding team or a visit to the Conservation and Research Center to see Kruger wilderness conservation at work

Indagare Loves

  • The lavish décor designed by design maven Liz Biden, who also created the La Residence in the Cape Winelands and Birkenhead House in Hermanus
  • Personalized service, which makes Royal Malewane feel more like a home than a safari lodge
  • The award-winning spa, a serene escape after a long day in the bush

Royal Malewane Review

From the moment you drive up to Royal Malewane and are welcomed with cool drinks and warm greetings, every detail conspires to make your visit feel like a stay with your dear friends from forever who just want to spoil you. Owned by Liz Biden (who also owns the fabulous La Residence in the Cape Winelands and Birkenhead House in the Western Cape), Royal Malewane is a jewel of a property in Thornybush, a private 11,500-acre game reserve on the southwest edge of Kruger National Park. The property is made up of a main lodge (with just eight suites) and a private six-bedroom villa called Africa House. All guests have use of the marvelous award-winning spa, which has a lap pool, private casitas for relaxation or treatments and a fitness center. The warm and ever-accommodating staff is but one of the ways the property is special–most have worked at the lodge for many years and will make you feel right at home.

Set in the woodland savannah (aka the bush), Thornybush Game Reserve is an intimate setting for incredible game viewing, and Royal Malewane offers twice-per-day game drives in open-top Land Rovers. One of the few locations where extensive off-roading is allowed, Thornybush enables safari-goers to have up-close-and-personal encounters with the animals. This is a rare and special occurrence that often trumps the fact that most game drives share the experience with vehicles from neighboring camps (Thornybush is home to 11 separate lodges). Royal Malewane’s team of highly skilled trackers and guides—the most qualified and experienced team on the continent of Africa—make the safari experience utterly unforgettable; guests are basically guaranteed to see the Big Five up close.

People who like properties full of personality will feel supremely at home here. Couples will adore the luxury rooms, which are equipped with fireplaces, outdoor daybeds and plunge pools that are heated in the winter, while families or couples traveling together will love the two-bedroom royal suites, which offer enormous living rooms and swimming pools. Larger groups will find Africa House, the six-bedroom former home of the Biden family, ideal. Africa House is designed to ensure a sense of safety and seclusion as the high, fortress-like walls and hand-carved Tunisian wooden doors surround the villa, offering protection from game, so children can roam freely in the courtyard. Each bedroom is individually decorated with artwork and furniture from various different cultures: African beaded necklaces are strewn around Japanese screens while British botanical prints and Chinese porcelain share shelf space–yet somehow it all works perfectly. All accommodations have been decorated by the revered Liz Biden, with wonderful touches that allow the uber-luxe rooms to still have a sense of place.

Who Should Stay

Oriental-meets-Colonial interior design aficionados and picky couples, families and groups looking for a remote, but supremely luxurious vacation.

Comments (3) OpenClose


  1. Indagare
    2:36 pm | July 22, 2015

    From Indagare member K.C.: “One of the highlights of a three week safari to Africa, from which my husband and I returned three days ago, was luxuriating in the incomparable Royal Suite at the aptly named Royal Malewane camp.

    We had been told by Indagare that each of the Royal Malewane Suites was the pinnacle of refinement. This description, for us in the Royal Suite, was a major understatement. The appointments: two exquisite bedrooms, a dining area, full kitchen and living room, huge outdoor deck with a plunge pool and numerous relaxation areas were deeply beautiful. Just inhabiting that suite, going on magnificent game drives, succumbing to spa treatments and enjoying delectable meals made us regret that we had only booked for three nights. A minimum of a week would have been satisfactory; a month or more is now on our bucket list.

    We were cosseted by the decor and sublime appointments and taken care of by an expert team. Special kudos to our tracker Solly and guide Nik, whose game drives conjured up lions, zebra, elephants and, wild dogs, nyalas and beautiful birds. One evening we sat stark still in our open vehicle as a pride of nine lions and their young, awakening from a nap, walked so closely along both sides of our vehicle that we could have touched them. When you can see the whites in the eyes of a lioness, you know that you have experienced something truly special.

    Ah… the spa, run by the lovely Renee Rosettenstein. Renee and her staff were caring, quiet and knowledgeable. Our first appointment (and we made many) included an alfresco peppermint foot scrub, a treat that I will never forget. Nor will I forget hearing a rustle outside the massage room. I opened my eyes to find a nyala buck drinking water from the little stream abutting the glass wall. The buck was soon followed by his herd, also coming for sundowners at the stream. A special first: the masseuse informed me, “Don’t mind the snake. It’s rubber. It keeps the monkeys away.” Only at the Royal Malewane, I thought, before succumbing to the soothing presses of Mary, the gentle yet strong masseuse.

    I can’t write about Royal Malewane without mentioning the cuisine. Oh, those starter soups. Why can’t I do this at home? When told that I liked sorbet, the chef asked me what kind I might like for dinner the following evening. I was treated to sublime coconut and pistachio varieties the next night.

    In short, Royal Malewane is truly a perfect place in the bush where service, accommodations and the coddling exceeded all our expectations. Now that I’m semi recovered from the 16 hour flight back to the US, I’m counting the days until we can return.”

  2. Indagare
    1:48 pm | August 24, 2017

    From Indagare member Paisley Kelling: “We were in an unbelievable suite at Royal Malewane. We basically had a private chef with the Royal Suite and it was unbelievably amazing. There were 17 elephants outside our room, drinking from our plunge pool.”

  3. Indagare
    6:16 pm | December 6, 2017

    From Indagare member C.O.: “We loved Malewane. The people were so nice. We saw so many animals up close.”

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