User Reviews – Phinda GR

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Jennifer H.   –  
United States US
Visited: February 2015 Reviewed: Aug 3, 2015

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The experience of a lifetime!
Overall rating

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!!!

GerryP   –  
United States US
Visited: May 2015 Reviewed: Aug 2, 2015

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

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.

hrosenlund   –  
Norway NO
Visited: October 2013 Reviewed: Jun 24, 2015

Email hrosenlund  |  20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Overall rating

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!

Madeline & Raymond Goodman Visited: May 2015 Reviewed: Jun 13, 2015

More than we expectd
Overall rating

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.

Massai_1 (Carsten M.) Visited: November 2014 Reviewed: May 25, 2015

Overall rating

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

Shridhar Jaju   –  
India IN
Visited: January 2015 Reviewed: Apr 16, 2015

Email Shridhar Jaju  |  20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Everything I'd hoped for, and more!
Overall rating

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.

Gunter32804 Visited: July 2010 Reviewed: May 30, 2014

I loved Phinda for its beauty and variety of experiences
Overall rating

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!

Roy Mauritsen   –  
United States US
Visited: September 2013 Reviewed: Dec 10, 2013

Experience level: first safari

Simply an amazing experience.
Overall rating

There are a lot of different places to choose from for these types of trip in South Africa, But from what my wife and I researched, and later talked with other guests, Phinda was by far, a great choice to make! Everyone will have their own experiences of course. Cost wise, we found Phinda to be surprisingly affordable considering the level of the service, dinning and accommodations on top of the game viewing experience.
The trip from NY was long and transferring from JBerg to Durban went smoothly enough, and we booked to fly in on the single prop Cessna from Durban to Phinda to be the start of the adventure.
We went 1st week of September weather was dry the entire time; chilly in the morning but hot by lunch time. We stayed 3 days at Rock Lodge in the southern end, with a more mountainous terrain, and 4 nights in the northern sand forest and savannah of Vlei lodge. Rock lodge was excellent, intimate with only a small amount of guests at any time and the food and service were outstanding. The room with its outdoor shower and private plunge pool was excellent, even a bit too much considering you are out on game drives from 6 am to 11 am (With coffee breaks in the bush) and then again from 3pm till night ( stopping to watch the sunset with drinks) With lunches, dinners etc. you don't spend a lot of time in your room, but it's really nice to come back to. Matt & John were our guides at Rock and it was amazing to see their knowledge and tracking efforts get rewarded with great game views like lions at night, herds of Elephants, cheetahs with cubs. Guides and staff were very friendly, professional, courteous and went above and beyond to accommodate. Vlei lodge was no exception either. At Vlei, Douglas was the general manager there and he was phenomenal! (Honestly our booking agent Christine was top notch too, taking care off us even before our trip). Regular visitations to the rooms' plunge pools by thirsty animals made for great game viewing right outside the front door. Happiness, the chef made every meal delicious. My wife requires a Gluten-free diet and staff at both lodges took exceptional care of her dietary needs. Phinda is a closed-in preserve, but with a lot of room and a lot of animals it was never an issue and seven days seeing the north and south and all of the animals was just enough. In one evening drive we saw all of the big 5. This was our first safari type vacation and Phinda makes it a excellent first time experience. They are also close to the ocean, with arrangements through them we took a morning to mix it up and get in the water at Sodwana Bay to swim with Whale sharks. We've nothing but love for Phinda and &beyond parent company and I also applaud their conservation efforts and community involvement.

quilttyme   –  
United States US
Visited: February 2011 Reviewed: Jul 30, 2012

50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Evening at Phinda
Overall rating

We did a late afternoon/evening visit to Phinda while on a cruise that spent 2 nights in Richards Bay.

We arrived at Phinda about 3 PM and went directy to the drive. We saw lots of giraffes, zebras and impala in addition to the cheetahs, water buffalo, elephants and nyala.

Without a doubt the highlight of the drive was when we came across two cheetahs eating a freshly killed impala. Our vehicle got to within a few feet of the cheetah and we stayed for half an hour watching them each, pull at the carcass, look nervously about and then return to eating. We could hear them breaking bones and smell the carcass. It was an unbelievable experience that according to our guide and others we met later a true rarity – many people go on numerous safaris and never see big cats eating a fresh kill.

When we left the cats we saw a very sad scene that reminded us of the wildness of the real animal kingdom. We came across a dead baby giraffe with its umbilical cord still attached. Our guide looked at it closely but could not determine what had killed it. There were no bite marks but he theorized it could have been a snake bite or just some birth problem. Another possibility was that it could just have fallen over. A little known fact, at least to us, was that if a giraffe falls over it cannot get up. They sleep on their knees.

When my wife asked what they would do with the giraffe the guide said they would leave it here and it would be eaten by the only two animals that would eat an animal they did not kill – vultures and hyenas.

Following our drive we went to the Mountain Lodge which was used for part of the filming of Out of Africa in 2008. We had an excellent buffet dinner that actually included grilled Impala which was very tender and at least I thought was good enough for seconds.

Following dinner we were treated to a slightly touristy Zulu dance presentation and headed back to the ship arriving at approximately 10:30.

We loved our experience at Phinda!!

wamcclung   –  
United States US
Visited: January 2009 Reviewed: Jul 28, 2012

Email wamcclung  |  65+ years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Unreconstructed urbanite gives the bush a chance
Overall rating

I travel to photograph city things: architecture, sculpture, graffitti . . . but on a cruise from Mauritius to Cape Town in January 2009 I thought that if I was ever going to see wildlife beyond the cats of Rome or the poodles of Park Avenue, now was the moment. It was beautiful and I enjoyed the 2-day, overnight experience. I have no basis, however, for comparing Phinda with other game preserves; one other guest complained loud and long that some park she had visited in Zimbabwe had a lot more critters - she seemed especially vexed by the dearth of giraffes at Phinda. I got out of it what I expected--a novice's introduction. The guides were rugged and handsome and the impromptu afternoon tea on a hilltop was a real touch of colonial nostalgia. What few photos I took are viewable at, in the set labelled "A Beast in View," a line of verse from Dryden.

Average User Rating

  • 4.6/5
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  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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