User Reviews – Phinda GR
Email Marleen | 50-65 years of age
50-65 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Loved the prides of Lions! The hospitality of our guides were fun as they spread out a table topped with a checkered table cloth andadorned it with Happy Hour goodies..right before a huge thunder and lightening storm! We left in blackness while our guides shined bright lights on glaring eyes in the woods
Email Erick Cuellar | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Excellent. Great accommodations, and wonderful wildlife.
We had a great experience. It was kind of cold and little rain, but we enjoyed our stay. Since we entered the reserve, we started to view wildlife (giraffes, wilds hugs and we were lucky to see a Lion in the middle of the road). People are really nice. Phinda was great. Excellent food, well organized tours, luxury accommodations. We saw a lot of wildlife including, Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Wild Dogs, and many more.
20-35 years of age | Experience level: first safari
As perfect a safari as I could imagine
This was an absolute highlight of my visit to South Africa. The variety of wildlife was simply unreal as we saw every animal that I could possibly think of. It's a beautiful location with a combination of open expanses, hills and forests, plenty of dirt roads to get you into the middle of the reserve and rarely was another safari vehicle seen during the 3 days we were there.
The accommodation is five star and involves private villas in the middle of the reserve, each village as luxurious as can be. Transportation involved excellent condition, super comfortable safari vehicles and our guide and animal tracker were knowledgeable, friendly and just brilliant people to spend time with.
A special place where the best of African nature is coupled with luxury and personal hospitality
My wife and I were born in Zimbabwe/South Africa and have been fortunate enough to have had exposure to African wildlife and scenery from a very early age. We now live overseas and every year when we return we fit in a short break and Phinda has been our recurring preference. Each time we have stayed in the Forest Lodge camp, as our experiences have been nothing short of spectacular, and whils the temptation is to try something different, I also subscrive to when you find the best in class there is no need to change.
There are a number of things that make up a good wildlife experience and Phinda more than meets all of these criteria:
- the scenery is diverse, the multitudes of ecosystems at Phinda make it somewhat unique with the Sand Forests, the Grass plains, the rocky hills and the dense scrub in the north.
- The guides are superb, knowledgeable and engaging and I am continually staggered by the diversity of their knowledge and understanding of the animals, plants, behavioural patterns and local traditions. EVERY time we go, we learn something different...every time...I love that!
- The accomodations and the touch of personalisation and luxury of the camp. As I said, we live overseas now and have travelled a fair deal, what Phinda offers is a touch of class. The glass bungalows in the forest, the restuarant and bar areas, the infinity pool are all phenomemal
- The "unique" experiences. The evening bush dinners and mid game drive stops for drinks are fantastic. We also did the "Flight of the Fish Eagle" which took us north of the reserve and across to Sodwana Bay and back down the coastline whilst spotting whale sharks, turtles, hammerhead sharts and dolphins....superb
- The animals!!! By far the most impressive part of any trip. A lot of people write off the fact that a small piece of land has the big 5 all on hand, but at Phinda you certainly don't feel like it is a confined space. For visitors with a short amount of time it is fantastic that within a few game drives you can see what you hoped, and in our case we even got lucky with a daytime leopard sighting
One last comment.... I think one of the success factors of Phinda is that the pre-agreed rate and the lack of cash exchanging hands at dinners or on game-drives or at the bar ADD massively to the whole experience. The staff and guides seem to have a unwavering focus on making your stay as memorable and spectacular as possible. I think the absence of paying for things continually support this and guests can tip everyone at the end on departure.
Overall I can not speak highly enough of what Phinda offers. It is a special place, a chance to de-stress and take in the sounds, sights and smell of nature in it's finest. I have referred many people who have without exception had a fantastic time. It's a real gem!
35-50 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Luxury Accommodation and Terrific Wildlife
We stayed at Phinda Vlei for three nights in Oct 2007. The accommodations were very luxurious and very comfortable. We were very happy with the game drives taken and enjoyed abundant wildlife sightings. Although a private reserve, it is still large enough with varied terrain to avoid redundancy when staying multiple nights. We'd certainly recommend it.
Experience level: first safari
Simply an amazing experience.
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.
Email Shridhar Jaju | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
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.