User Reviews – Phinda GR

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

More than we expectd
Overall rating
1/5

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.

Jayhawk80   –  
United States US
Visited: February 2018 Reviewed: Jan 24, 2019

Email Jayhawk80  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Overall rating
4/5

A larger than average Game Reserve and a more "natural" safari experience than smaller game reserves or road side attractions.

Frost family   –  
United States US
Visited: October 2018 Reviewed: Nov 13, 2018

Email Frost family  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Overall rating
4/5

Manyoni game reserve not listed here. Was better than the more commercial phinda.

MiChaH   –  
Netherlands NL
Visited: May 2017 Reviewed: Jul 29, 2017

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

Great tour, beatiful landscape, adventurous, great ranger.
Overall rating
4/5

We went there for a gamedrive with ranger Sam and he was very determined to let us see the beauty of the park and all the wildlife. We were looking for the Leopard and he didn't stop until he had find one. Beatiful spots in a very beatiful landscape

Gunter32804 Visited: July 2010 Reviewed: May 30, 2014

I loved Phinda for its beauty and variety of experiences
Overall rating
4/5

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!

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
4/5

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
4/5

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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/virginiagent/sets/72157612306934389/, in the set labelled "A Beast in View," a line of verse from Dryden.

Ruth   –  
United States US
Visited: February 2020 Reviewed: Feb 23, 2020

Email Ruth  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Overall rating
5/5

The BEST experience. AMAZING

Jacqueline Landry   –  
Canada CA
Visited: June 2019 Reviewed: Jul 1, 2019

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

Overall rating
5/5

The staff at zuka were kind, warm and so inviting! The safaris were always exciting. The scenery was beautiful!

Bryan   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: May 2018 Reviewed: Oct 9, 2018

Email Bryan  |  65+ years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Phinda must offer one of the finest guided game viewing experiences available in South Africa.
Overall rating
5/5

Our stay at Phinda in one of the beautiful game lodges in the Sand Forest section was an amazing experience. Phinda has a fascinating variety of attractive bushveld landscapes including mountains, forest, vlei and open grassland. There is an abundance of wildlife, including the Big Five and many rarer and less easily spotted species, such as cheetah and rhino. The bird life is also a big draw card.

The accommodation is of five star quality and unique. Each couple had their own secluded lodge in the forest a short walk from other lodges, the swimming pool and restaurant but hidden from them. The on-suite bathroom had windows looking out on the forest allowing you to leave the blinds open while taking a bath or shower watching Impala browsing in the forest outside.

Our stay included all meals, two professionally guided game drives each day with a separate vehicle, ranger and tracker allocated for our group of 6 guests. Apart from the first day, the same ranger and tracker handled all our game viewing trips. On several occasions our ranger and tracker joined our group for the evening meal, which provided the opportunity to discuss the days viewing experiences with very knowledgeable experts. It also allowed them to get to know us and helped in planning and personalising the next days outings to suit our particular interests.

The quality of the food was excellent. Apart from the three main meals, snacks and drinks were provided in the bush during game drives and during the afternoon break between lunch and the late afternoon and evening game drive. On two nights the evening meal after the game drive was in the form of a barbecue in an open-to-the sky boma. A highlight was the champagne breakfast in the bush organised for us on our last day.

Weather during our stay was superb. During the early morning game drive it was crisply cool and sometimes misty making the mid-drive coffee break very welcome. You must try Amarula Cream in your coffee instead of milk. The misty landscapes were a photographers delight. The days were warm and very comfortable. We had a few short showers, which added to rather than dampened the experience.

All the staff are very professional, knowledgeable and friendly. They interact with you throughout your stay giving a new meaning to the word hospitality. If it fits within your budget, Phinda is an experience no one should miss.

Average User Rating

  • 4.6/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star 20
  • 4 star 6
  • 3 star 0
  • 2 star 0
  • 1 star 1
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