Thornview Ranch

It’s all about horses, open spaces and a forgotten lifestyle



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It’s all about horses, open spaces and a forgotten lifestyle
Thornview Ranch offers you horse trails and safaris such as you have always dreamed about.
Ride out over endless grass plains, headed for that tree-shaded knoll in the distance, with only your well-schooled horse, riding companions and the plains game for the company. Or amble along in the shade of the huge willow trees alongside the chuckling Mooi River in the late afternoon. If you are feeling more adventurous, our 3-day trails and 5-day safaris; both with mobile tent camps or secluded rondavel accommodation; run on almost 25 000ha of wide open Highveld plains and thorn tree covered hills — typical of much of the South African landscape — may be more to your liking. Whichever trail or riding option you select, you will always be assured of our legendary hospitality, well mannered and forward going horses, and of course, a truly great horse adventure. Thornview Ranch is a historically interesting working livestock ranch near Potchefstroom in the malaria-free North West province of South Africa. It sprawls over grass plains before gently sloping down to the tranquil and historic Mooi River where it flows from the Boskop Dam. The ranch is the site of two extremely strong springs from which the original town of Potchefstroom – originally situated some 5km from the farm before its relocation to the current site about 25km further south-west – drew its water. The remains of the water furrow dug by hand by the Voortrekkers (early European settlers) can still be seen.
In addition to our very popular horse trails, we also offer a variety of non-riding farm-based activities like mountain biking, birdwatching, riverside picnic baskets and walking trails where you can experience true South African farm life or merely soak up the tranquility of the outdoors.
For the keen equestrian, a selection of very popular horse trails as well as multi-day overnight safaris with mobile tented camps and rondavel accommodation are certain to capture your attention. No matter your reason for spending time with us, Thornview Ranch is sure to appeal to all who love the outdoors. Select your overnight accommodation from either self-catering chalets or camping with full ablution facilities.
An easy 100-minute drive on tar from Johannesburg or Pretoria, Thornview Ranch offers horse riding of the memorable kind. The historically rewarding town of Potchefstroom is only 25km from the farm and offers all the facilities and attractions of a large modern town: museums, movies, restaurants, doctors, and hospitals. In addition, the Vredefort Dome World Heritage site is only an hour away. We provide transfers to and from the above major centers as well as the Johannesburg International Airport for guests who require this service.
Come and experience true South African farm hospitality, good horses, friendly hosts, traditional South African cooking on the overnight safaris, silence and tranquility, a wide horizon, clear skies and fresh air.
We offer riding trails for most levels of ability
Thornview Ranch; operating in the malaria-free Northwest Province of South Africa, offers a number of diverse horse riding trails, multi-day bush safaris, and related activities. We host guests with riding skills ranging from beginner with at least a basic level of riding ability through to experienced riders comfortable in the saddle and able to canter and gallop.
All horse trails are led either by Johan Steyn, an experienced, competent and qualified guide with over 13 years guiding experience or a skilled assistant guide or both guides on some of the longer trails. Johan’s broad general knowledge, intimate understanding of the veld, the environment, and African history combine to make your riding experience that much richer. He is assisted by a team without whom the trails would not run as smoothly: Christa van Wyngaardt (who runs the lodge and keeps all our guests well-fed and watered), Simon, Albert, Renney, and Betty complete the team that handles the essential behind-the-scenes work to ensure everything runs smoothly.
All trails are run on guest demand and developed to be flexible in nature, thus we have no fixed departure dates nor minimum rider numbers. Most trails, however, accommodate a maximum of 4 to 6 riders in order to stimulate interaction while allowing us to devote our full attention to the needs of guests. Most trails can be modified to suit guests’ requirements and schedules.
Please note that riders should have a basic level of riding ability. Only experienced and riding fit riders are accommodated on the 3-day trail and 5-day safari due to their demanding nature. All guests are required to sign an indemnity and rider profile prior to participating in any activity. Thornview Ranch strongly recommends the use of riding hats by all guests.
Should you wish to use your own horse on any trail or to spend some time riding him at Thornview, you (and your horse of course!) are very welcome. There are secure paddocks with good grazing and grooms available at no extra charge.
Thornview Ranch is bordered by the Mooi River and the Boskop Dam and is also blessed with two of the strongest springs in the area that feed a number of dams. With all this water an abundance of waterfowl and other birds can be observed on the farm. Many species breed here among the reeds and trees. In the adjoining Boskop Nature Reserve are two breeding pairs of African Fish Eagle and their typically African call can be heard on most days.
Among the species which the avid birder can see include:
Owls & Raptors
• African Fish Eagle
• Lanner Falcon
• Black Harrier
• African Marsh Harrier
• Jackal Buzzard
• Steppe Buzzard
• Tawny Eagle
• Black-breasted Snake Eagle
• Brown Snake Eagle
• Yellow-billed Kite
• Black Shouldered Kite
• Secretary Bird
• White-backed Vulture
• Barn Owl
• Spotted Eagle Owl
• Marsh Owl
• Goliath Heron
• Grey Heron
• Purple Heron
• Black-headed Heron
• African Spoonbill
• Curlew and Wooded Sandpiper
• Egyptian Goose
• South African Shelduck
• Spurwinged Goose
• Whitefaced Duck
• Hammerkop
• Brown-hooded Kingfisher
• Giant Kingfisher
• Pied Kingfisher
• Black Crake
• Moorhen
• Red-knobbed Coot
• Black-winged Stilt
• Lesser Flamingo
• Red-billed Teal
• Reed Cormorant
• White-breasted Cormorant
• Darter
Francolin and Guineafowl
• Black Korhaan
• Spotted Dikkop
• Swainson’s Francolin
• Redwing Francolin
• Helmeted Guineafowl
• Sacred ibis
• Hadeda Ibis
• White Stork
• Abdim’s Stork
Other Birds
• Yellow-fronted Tinker Barbet
• Cardinal Woodpecker
• Red-billed Woodhoopoe
• Speckled Mousebird
• Redfaced Mousebird
• Diederick Cuckoo
• Jacobin Cuckoo
• Red-chested Cuckoo
• Blacksmith Plover
• Crowned Plover
• Hoopoe Cape
• Turtle Dove
• Laughing Dove
• Rock Pigeon
• Crested Barbet
• Cattle Egret
• Yellow-billed Egret
• Burchell’s Coucal
• Rufous-cheeked Nightjar
• Fiery-necked Nightjar
• Greater Striped Swallow
• White-throated Swallow
• European Swallow
Walking & Mountain Bike trails
The gentle topography of the farm makes it ideal for enjoying the variety of walking trails. These vary in duration from a 20 minute meander down to the dams near the lodge to a 3-hour trail up to the Boskop Dam wall and its overflow. Explore the mysteries of the large poplar forests alongside the Mooi River, gaze across endless vistas of grass plains or meander along the peaceful irrigation canal that forms part of the Mooi River irrigation system.
A number of easy mountain bike routes allow you to explore the area at your leisure. Take an easy ride along the canal road or, for the more inquisitive, follow the dirt track up to the top boundary of the farm which provides some impressive views of the wide horizons. Late afternoon will almost certainly give you the most awesome sunsets. For the really energetic, there are some longer rides of up to 20km in the Boskop Nature Reserve or for the round trip on the local farm roads. These routes pass interesting historical sites like Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius’ original farmhouse. This includes the site where he hid his wife and children to prevent English forces imprisoning them in concentration camps during the 2nd Anglo Boer War.
Riverside Picnic Baskets
The beautifully tranquil Mooi River winds its lazy way along the SE boundary of the farm and here, under stately old willow trees, guests can enjoy a peaceful afternoon with a specially packed picnic basket. Bring along a rug for snoozing though as the chuckling water is sure to lull you to sleep.
Baskets are packed for two people and usually contain fruit juice, soft drinks or a flask of freshly brewed hot tea or coffee and muffins with fresh preserves, maybe a bottle of champagne for those special occasions — the picnics are particularly popular for wedding proposals! — crisp bread rolls with tasty fillings, fresh fruit, chocolates, biltong and a salty snack.
This tempting basket is packed along with comfortable folding chairs, a small table, and a soft rug so that you are sure to enjoy a really lazy morning or afternoon just relaxing and taking in the peace and quiet that only the riverside can offer. In summer a profusion of wildflowers and wetland lilies grow along the river, turning the area into a veritable Eden.
Advance booking is essential as all baskets are freshly prepared and packed for you to enjoy.
Farm Vacations
Bring along the kids for an experience to remember: true farm activities only a working farm can provide. Here they will discover that milk comes from cows and not bottles, that small foals grow up to be working horses, and that keeping animals and livestock carries with it a certain responsibility.
• Dairy visit
• Herding goats to the kraal for the night
• Ear tagging
• Dipping and dosing of livestock
• Checking fences
• Stacking of bales
• Feeding of horses and goats
• Grooming of horses
• Please inquire about special holiday camps for children.
• Note that certain activities are only available in season.

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