Phinda Game Reserve

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By Chris Bridger from United KingdomGB
| 20-35 years of age | Experience level: first safari
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Wildlife
Scenic beauty
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Visited: October 2016  -  Reviewed: 21 Dec 2016

A truly awe-inspiring holiday in beautiful surroundings.

Our trip to Phinda Game Reserve was as a present for my Dad's 60th, and it did not disappoint. Our accommodation (we stayed at the Mountain Lodge in Phinda) was beautifully laid out and equally good for both seclusion and socialising - whichever you prefer. The rooms were incredibly generous in size with decking out the front and even a plunge pool for those that are feeling brave. The grounds of the lodge were kept in immaculate condition, the swimming pool was literally a 2 minute walk from your room, as was the outdoor and indoor dining area which hosted the majority of breakfasts, lunch and dinners. Prepared by head chef Neo (who made a point of individually welcoming you to your table and explaining what was for dinner every night, a really nice touch) and his team, the food was always of impeccably high standards as was the presentation of it. We couldn't have been more impressed at the level of service from the in-house team of hosts. They could not do enough to make your stay a more memorable one, from how you'd like your eggs done, to birthday gifts they really did provide everything and were a large factor behind why I feel the holiday was such a successful one. Keep an eye out for Mandla particularly, who I didn't see without a smile on his face for four whole days.

The weather was amazing for the duration of our stay, including some breath-taking electric thunderstorms on our first night. As for when you're out on safari, it does get quite cold when you're out after dark, so despite it being really sunny when you set off, take a jumper. Blankets are provided which was unexpected, but very much appreciated! It was my first safari and will take some beating - we managed to see everything we wanted to, leopards and black rhino's included...and as a keen photographer I was afforded plenty of time to take photos at will of the amazing animals on show. Our guides were totally receptive to what we wanted to see and put on a wonderful breakfast in the bush one morning, as well as taking us on some great walks when there was a bit of downtime.

My only minor criticism would be that considering you spend 7 hours a day in them, the Jeeps weren't the most comfortable form of transport. I'm a little over 6 foot 2 and the legroom in the Jeeps wasn't really adequate for me, the seats weren't very well padded either - but really once you'd gotten over it this didn't detract at all from my overall enjoyment.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Phinda Game Reserve to anyone, it was an unforgettable experience and we owe much to those who hosted us and made our stay that little bit more special.
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By Michael Potts from NetherlandsNL
| 35-50 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
Overall Rating
Wildlife
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Birding
Visited: October 2015  -  Reviewed: 29 Dec 2015

Perfect Safari

I have been to Phinda a number of times but this visit was by far the best. The accommodation, food and location is unsurpassed in the Natal area. What made this trip special was the luck we had with the game sightings. Game sightings are often down to luck however in this occasion we were spoilt, great quality sightings and the rangers spent a nice amount of time with each sighting. The rangers are fantastic at Phinda and they make the safari.

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By CarolynEaton from United KingdomGB
| 35-50 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
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Visited: July 2015  -  Reviewed: 4 Nov 2015

A truly wonderful experience for a family holiday.

Phinda is rich in some wildlife- rhino, cheetah for instance we saw in abundance and these are both animals that are often difficult to view, but other animals proved more elusive to us, the drought at the time we were there had moved elephants further north so we saw very few. On the whole we saw a good range of wildlife and the rangers and trackers always got us close to them. Accommodation was luxurious with great attention to detail. Food was abundant and delicious. Service from all staff was first class, friendly, hospitable without being intrusive. I particularly like the ethics of this company, their commitment to conservation is evident and they also do a great job to support their zulu comunity which meant staff were happy which means guests are happy.

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By Jennifer H. from United StatesUS
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Wildlife
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Birding
Visited: February 2015  -  Reviewed: 3 Aug 2015

The experience of a lifetime!

Our trip could not have been more perfect from the moment of our arrival. Giraffes crossed our path from the jeep trek from the landing strip to our beautiful accommodations at Phinda Mountain Lodge, and my husband and I felt like kids all over again in our excitement. The friendly staff greeted us from the moment we arrived with a refreshment and cool towel. Our room was spacious and beautifully appointed; and the meals we had were simple and delicious during our 5 day stay. Ian, our amazing guide, was extraordinarily knowledgeable and the passion he has for his work was contagious. There were so many photographic opportunities that I was starting to feel like the paparazzi of the Animal Kingdom, and I came home with some incredible moments to treasure forever. I cannot wait to go back!!!

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By GerryP from United StatesUS
Overall Rating
Wildlife
Scenic beauty
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Birding
Visited: May 2015  -  Reviewed: 2 Aug 2015

Phinda combined the best of nature with the best accommodations, service and food!

We have been on many safaris and Phinda was one of, if not the best. We felt completely connected with nature , while still having Five Star amenities--accommodations, food, and service. This was one of the few lodges where I felt this way. The animals, the landscape, the design of the individual lodges at Vleit were just spectacular. I would recommend Phinda Vleit for anyone interested in having a phenomenal wildlife experience.

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By hrosenlund from NorwayNO
| 20-35 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
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Visited: October 2013  -  Reviewed: 24 Jun 2015

My time here was amazing. I did not stay at any of the lodges, so I cannot speak of the quality of the accomodation, altough I've heard it is excellent. The wildlife here is fantastic, and I saw a lot without looking too hard, both in terms of large mammals and in terms of birds. The scenery is awesome and classic Africa!

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Visited: May 2015  -  Reviewed: 13 Jun 2015

More than we expectd

This was an amazing few days. The time in the early mornings and late afternoon going out in the bush were beyond what we expected. It was a great time of year to be around the park as the weather was not too hot and visibility was excellent. We were lucky to see th big 5 and many, many more animals and birds besides. Phinda itself was a lovely place to stay with lovely friendly &helpful staff,great accommodation and terrific meals.

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Visited: November 2014  -  Reviewed: 25 May 2015

Best Rhino viewing, great accomodation, great guides. Black Rhino Walk, great scenery (maybe the best).

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By Shridhar Jaju from IndiaIN
| 20-35 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
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Visited: January 2015  -  Reviewed: 16 Apr 2015

Everything I'd hoped for, and more!

Phinda Private Game Reserve was the first stop on my South African Honeymoon trip. At the end of that trip, I joked to my travel agent that she should always schedule Phinda as the last stop in every tour since nothing you visit after that is going to match up!

Our accommodation was the Phinda Vlei Lodge - a luxurious secluded collection of six cottages with excellent views of the wildlife across the grassland while you take a dip in your private pool. Once you're done with that, the chef Happiness cooks up a stunning meal and later serves it with the biggest smile on her face.

And then there are the game drives. Our tracker and ranger, Muzi and Darren, made an excellent team and we saw a wide variety of wildlife on our six game drives, including four of the big five. We missed out the leopard, but our car did spot one on the first day when we had opted out of the drive as we'd travelled 18 hours to get there. Had we not been so tired (read: "lazy"), we'd have caught all of the Big Five.

The forest at Phinda is beautiful and varied. There's grassland, sandforests, hills, and such other beautiful variety of landscapes too. And the best part, easily the highlight of our stay there, was going for the optional Turtle Trip. Late in the evening, we were taken to Sodwana Bay and we spent a good three hours driving on the beautiful beach searching for turtles in the moonlight. It was a magnificent experience, bettered by the fact that we managed to spot a Loggerhead Turtle that had come on to the beach to lay her eggs.

If ever I get a chance to do so again in my lifetime, I'll definitely visit Phinda once again.
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Visited: July 2010  -  Reviewed: 30 May 2014

I loved Phinda for its beauty and variety of experiences

My dad and I visited Phinda Game Reserve on a safari to South Africa a few years ago. It had been recommended to us as a nice alternative to the private game reserves outside of Kruger. We had spent a week in Timbavati and Sabi Sands and wanted to safari in a different part of South Africa. Phinda is an excellent place to do that. We stayed at two properties in Phinda: Vlei Lodge and Rock Lodge in order to get a feel for different parts of the reserve. The lodges and rooms are first rate. Great views of the surrounding wilderness, plunge pools and big bathrooms, outdoor showers and mini bars---I can't think of anything they missed.

But I'm more about the wildlife than the accomodations and we had been told that Phinda is the best place in South Africa to see cheetah and had some great sightings in the few days we were there. A mother and cubs, and then two brothers hunting (we didn't see a chase). Other guests were intent upon photographing cheetahs hunting and I'm not certain if they were successful, but it's definitely a good place to observe cheetah.

Rhinos both white and black are also a feature of Phinda and we saw both while we were there. We watched a black rhino mother and calf casually feeding for a half hour or so. We also saw several white rhino including mother and calf as well.

Other highlights included elephant and lions and giraffe. Night drives are possible as well. There's really a great variety of activities and we took advantage of them. We went fishing in the Indian Ocean out of Sodwanna Bay and caught tuna and saw humpback whales. We took the Flight of the Fish Eagle to get a lay of the land and it was absolutely stunning! We left out of the airstrip in Phinda and flew over the sand forest, the estuarine areas and lakes and then over the dunes and out over the ocean. This was a spectacular flight. We spotted numerous whales (humpbacks) and even a whale shark. We loved the perspective from the air!

We also visited a zulu village for a little local culture. I thought it was a beautiful place with a lot of unique things to see and do. The only negative comment and it really shouldn't be taken negatively is that, to me, it had a little of that "managed" feel. I've been to Africa multiple times and there is a slight difference between one of the national parks and a privately managed game reserve. I would highly recommend it as a supplement to your South African safari and there are definitely some unique things to see and do here!

If you'd like to see some of the videos I took while at Phinda---search Phinda and Gunter32804 on Youtube and it will give you a flavor of the place. Hope this is helpful!
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