Expert Reviews – Phinda GR
Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
6 people found this review helpful.
Big Five viewing in Zululand
KwaZulu-Natal’s answer to Sabi Sands, this exclusive 230 sq km private reserve offers world-class Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) viewing on guided game drives in open 4x4s, based out of a handful of stylish small lodges that represent the ultimate in safari chic. Guided game drives in open 4x4s Phinda seldom disappoints when it comes to the Big Five, and while leopard sightings are somewhat erratic, it is one of a handful of African reserves where the endangered black rhino can be tracked down with reasonable ease. It also offers perhaps the finest cheetah viewing I’ve had anywhere, and all wildlife is very habituated. Guiding standards are also very high. Although it is the Big Five that attracts most first-time safarigoers, the reserve protects an interesting diversity of more localised habitats, notably is a tract of rare sand forest, where the secretive suni antelope and red duiker can be seen alongside localised birds such as Neergard’s sunbird and pink-throated twinspot.
Emma is an award-winning travel writer for Rough Guides, National Geographic Traveller, Travel Africa magazine and The Independent.
6 people found this review helpful.
Much more than just a superb Big Five reserve
If you’ve already ticked off the Big Five, at least once, then the mere fact that Phinda harbours elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo and rhino may not be enough to attract you. But there’s a world of difference between seeing these magnificent animals in the drier regions further north and seeing them in Phinda’s lush surroundings.
This famous private reserve reserve encompasses a supremely rich variety of habitats including vivid subtropical woodlands, grasslands, mountains and wetlands, and it lies close to the Indian Ocean coast, making it every bit as interesting to the tree and plant enthusiast in me as to the wildlife enthusiast. Another feature which, to me, makes Phinda stand out is the fact that it’s a great place to see cheetahs and rare antelopes such as nyalas and red duikers.
It’s also a tremendous bonus that it’s owned and managed by &Beyond, a company that is wholeheartedly committed to sustainable tourism and community responsibility. Its lodges, though pricey and, in the case of Rock Lodge, a little eccentric (its “hacienda-style” rooms remind me a bit of children’s sandcastles), are comfortable and sympathetic to the environment, and there’s a host of activities on offer.
Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
4 people found this review helpful.
The cheetahs of Phinda
Phinda is easily the best private game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. It is the Zululand equivalent of some of the better Sabi Sands reserves. Game drives are centered on finding the big five. True to its reputation of being the best place for cheetah, I’ve had some of my best sightings here of these graceful big cats. The lodge and food is of the best standard, as can be expected from ‘& Beyond’. The quality of guiding is excellent as well. The very beautiful nyala is the common antelope here as it is throughout the parks in KwaZulu Natal. The red duiker, which can be found in coastal forest in this province, is easily seen around the chalets of Phinda Forest Lodge.