Thornybush Game Reserve, Greater Kruger

Waterside at Royal Malewane


Bold and bright

Situated in the private Thornybush Reserve, one of the Kruger area's most game-rich areas, Waterside joins its sister Royal Malewane as one of the most luxurious safari lodges in South Africa.

Expansive and uniquely colourful maximalist-style rooms include six suites, one two-bedroom set up and the four-room Waterside House. Each opens out into the bush with solar-heated swimming pools and a watering hole that runs past many of the rooms a draw for wildlife.

Illuminated pathways lead to the main lodge with its dining and bar area, spa, gym and a games room that’s great for kids. There’s also a sunken hide where you watch elephants, rhino, giraffe and more come to drink.


At a glance

  • Six double and one two-bedroom suites with plunge pools

  • Four-bedroom Waterside House

  • Dining area, bar and wine cellar

  • Spa, gym, games room and wildlife hide

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  • Royal Malewane Game Drive

    Game drives

    Situated in the Thornybush Reserve, you can mammals including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. Bird life her is also wonderful, with over 300 species to spot.

  • Royal Malewane Game Drive Night

    Night drives

    On your way back to the lodge after your afternoon game drive, try and spot some of the nocturnal animals using a spotlight.

  • Royal Malewane Elephants

    Nature walks

    Explore the flora and fauna of the Kruger by foot. You’ll notice the smaller animals and plants as well as being able to listen to the noise of the bush.

Community & Culture

Royal Malewane continuously supports and uplifts various educational facilities in nearby villages. They have ensured the addition of classrooms, bathroom facilities, kitchen and dining area, boreholes and vegetable gardens as part of their partnerships. All guests are welcome to visit either of the crèches, which are approximately a 20-minute drive from the main lodge.

The Royal Malewane Apprenticeship Programme takes on two apprentice rangers on a rolling two-year cycle before sending them out into the industry in order to raise the quality of guiding in Southern Africa. Tracker and ranger’s apprenticeship programmes ensure that valuable knowledge about wildlife is passed down to the next generation. The aim of this two-year apprenticeship is for a mentor, who has a minimum of ten years’ experience, to share and impart critical knowledge and an understanding of the complex nature of the professional field of guiding.


Royal Malewane is a founder member of the Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Foundation (GKEPF) which is a unique anti-poaching initiative whose objective is to protect all wildlife in the central Kruger area to the border with Mozambique. The GKEPF’s initial mandate is to protect wildlife in its natural state, as well as playing an active role in combatting the illegal international trade in wildlife.

In addition, Thornybush Private Nature Reserve has its own anti-poaching initiative including a Counter Poaching Dog Unit is made up of several remarkably capable and highly trained dogs, and a team of armed, special-forces handlers, many of whom have seen military action and have undergone intense counter-poaching training.

None of these initiatives would be possible without the valuable patronage of guests, many of whom generously contribute additional funds after coming face to face with these majestic creatures at Royal Malewane.


Waterside runs with sustainability and its carbon footprint ever in mind. Air-conditioning is a state-of-the-art hydronic system, which uses solar power and recycled water to heat and cool the lodge. The lodge will record and monitor our carbon-emitting resources, conducting regular carbon footprint analysis and undertake ongoing research to identify new opportunities for creating or purchasing clean energy.

What makes us different

Why Niarra

Niarra Travel is a forward-thinking travel company headquartered in London born out of a passion to do things differently.

In Swahili, a Bantu language spoken by millions in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, the name Niara means "with utmost purpose" and our team are united by a passion for exploration and a belief that the right kind of travel can make the world a better place.

Our Travel Researchers are here to create incredible trips with a positive impact for you.

  • Unforgettable experiences

    Creating your trip is entirely collaborative and our Travel Researchers are here for every step.

  • Positive impact

    Curated sustainable experiences and accommodation that maximize the benefits to local people and place.

  • Fairness and transparency

    An open, competitive pricing structure that ensures more money goes to where it's needed in the destination.

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