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“Safari to Remember” 5 of 5 stars
Review of andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge

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andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge
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Kwazulu-Natal, Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
California, London, New York
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Safari to Remember”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2011

There are safaris that are like Afro-Disney and then there are safaris that treat the visitor to far more than zoo animals without cages. Phinda, one of &Beyond’s Eco-tour Safari Camps in South Africa, offers a fascinating experience for a variety of reasons. If you are interested in not only SEEING but also LEARNING something about the many diverse African animals, including “the big 5” and many more exotics from aardvarks to zebras, then Phinda, a “resource reserve camp” with its 7 different habitats, should be the first stop on your safari itinerary.

Before hearing more about the extraordinary rangers, staff and guides, if you love good food, the meals compare favorably to fine restaurants in Cape Town. Thoughtful preparation goes into every meal and the selection of complementary S. A. wines.

The best thing about Phinda and this &Beyond endeavor is the collaboration it has accomplished. The staff is exceptionally gracious and attentive to the your every need. The local African community partners in the effort by leasing what was once farmland to the camps, allowing the land to convert back to wilderness. The camps provide work and an income to the community. Animals that once lived in the bush have been reintroduced, studied, and allowed to establish a natural balance.

Our ranger and tracker were superb. Kyle, our thoughtful ranger who was wise beyond his years, had grown up on a farm on the edge of Kruger National Park. Growing up he spent time in the bush hunting on foot and was a keen observer of the nature of animals. In addition he has taken the time to educate himself and was a wealth of knowledge about the unique aspects of every animal we encountered, be it cheetah, warthog, frog, crocodile, leopard, or lion. He worked in smooth collaboration with Jobs, the highly skilled senior tracker, a 20-year veteran and genial member of the local community. Their mutual respect and consideration of one another was impressive.

In addition, we saw amazing animal interaction: cheetah hunting at lightening speed and the tenacity of a family of warthogs in the face of a fatal assault by a lioness and her three cubs. The action we observed here was far more intense, educational, and memorable than the next highly touted grand safari camp we visited when we left Phinda. You can be certain that you will come away with more than a photos of Africa and the animals when you visit Phinda.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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186 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (61)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
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English first
Orlando, Florida
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2011

My sister and I went on a 4 night/ 5 day safari. It was absolutely fantastic! We saw 4 of the big five on the first game drive and managed to see all of the big five the following day.

On our arrival we were met by the staff of the lodge and walked to our room. After we had settled in we were taken on a tour of the lodge and shown the swimming pool, lounge area and the dining room. Every single staff member that we walked past from wait staff to cleaning staff stopped what they were doing and introduced themselves to us and asked what our names were. Throughout our stay whenever we walked past them they would greet us by name and ask us if we were enjoying our stay, I have never had such amazing staff at any hotel, ever.

The food at the lodge was delicious, there was a 3 course set menu for every meal and if you enjoyed a meal from a previous day they would be willing to make it for you. The chef came out to every guest during every meal and made sure that everything was made to their liking and if we needed anything not to hesitate to call on him. The food was fantastic, it ranged from grilled shrimp to steak for lunch, grilled chicken to ribs for dinner and a fresh buffet of breakfast foods ranging from fruit, cereal, yogurt and then a set menu of hot foods.

The rooms were beautiful and very spacious. All rooms were suites and had a private patio and lounge. The bathrooms had rain showers as well as large soaking tubs with a view outside into the forest. When you lay in bed you were surrounded by large windows that looked straight into the Forrest which was very relaxing. At night there was turn down service and the curtains were closed so that you kept the warmth in your suite as well as the sunlight out.

All in all the trip was an amazing experience and I would go back and recommend this lodge to anyone. LiveAfrica booked this safari and the rest of my Southern Africa experience and they were fantastic. The service was professional and personable. Nothing was too much of a problem and they tailor made our trip until it suited us perfectly.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durban, South Africa
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2011

Phinda Forest Lodge is a fabulous destination for up close and personal game viewing experiences. The rangers and trackers are excellent and extremely knowledgeable about the area and animals that inhabit it.
Service at the lodge is impeccable as well with every whim being catered for.
There is a great ambience in the camp, and the experience is very relaxed and highly enjoyable!

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Australia
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 9, 2010

We have just returned from our first trip to Africa and were absolutely over the moon at how wonderful it all was. One of our stays was at Phinda Forest Lodge which was wonderful. Our cabin was right down the back though and quite a walk so a bit 'thrilling' when it was still a bit dark and we had to walk up to the main lodge for our morning game drives. You can however ask for a guide to walk with you if you are too nervous. The cabins are well set out with everything you could ask for and very private. The staff were wonderful and enjoyed a laugh and the food was terrific. It felt as though if you weren't on safari you were eating which is the perfect holiday for us! The only thing it could have done with is a gym or some other form of activity as you can not go outside the camp and really can't do much in between drives except eat! Loved the game drives and our ranger Thulani and tracker Thomas we wonderful. Also loved having a drink stop during the drive so that you could stretch your legs and have a bit of a chat. Saw all Big 5 together with cheetah, giraffe, zebra and all sorts of different animals. Would thoroughly recommend Phinda to anyone.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai
Top Contributor
102 reviews 102 reviews
45 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
337 helpful votes 337 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 4, 2010

The Welcome was warm and inviting. We were received with refreshing wet towels and welcome drinks on arrival. Our luggage was taken to our Forest Dwellings, and the car was whisked off by the staff to its private villa. Our host took us to the Main Lodge (where we sat on a gorgeous deck overlooking the bush), and we were treated to a delicious lunch.

The Dwellings are nestled into the Sand Forest, and have glass walls overlooking the Forest. They are well spaced, and when you are in your Dwelling... you are not aware of the other dwellings in the Forest. They are spacious, comfortable, and the bathroom is large with a bath and a shower. A lovely deck area allows you to lounge on one of the comfortable sofas, and have a drink from your bar fridge while you take in all the sights and sounds of the Forest.

Meal times were always exciting. We experienced Breakfast, and Lunch at the Main Deck, and Dinner was served in the Boma. One night we were treated to a Bush Dinner... WOW! The food was well portioned, tasty, and our Chef (Sam) was an absolute delight!

Game Drives were simply sublime! Our Guiding team of Kyle, and Gadi were extremely knowledgeable, and kept us entertained. Sighting wise we saw plenty of birds (we went for birding), and were also able to see Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Black and White Rhino, Elephant, and Buffalo. The quality of the game drives were simply fantastic!

The service at Phinda Forest Lodge was extremely attentive, and the staff were friendly, and engaging.

We had a most wonderful adventure! Thank Phinda Team... you excelled in every way!!!

  • Stayed May 2010
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
montana
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2010

Phinda was our first stop in our South African trip, after a very, very, very long flight from London, we where simply exhausted and worst of all our luggage got stray, so after almost two days of travel (we started in NYC) we where desperate to get a good long sleep.

The way that we arrive to Phinda was by air, a 1 hrs something flight from Joburg in a small single engine plane, we landed in a landing strip inside the compound and after that everything was bliss, the Game reserve its amazing with all the animals you expect to see in africa.

We where greeted by a young Namibian hostess with the highest degrees of Customer Service and imediatlly where escorted to our cottage, that is completly made of glass and wood, giving you a sensation that you're in the middle of nature.

Food its incredible, and service outstanding, we got to scuba dive at Sodwana Bay, we went Game viewing

  • Stayed November 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Westbury, NY
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2009

This place was just unimaginably beautiful. The photos do not do it justice. The feeling we experienced as the light streamed through the canopy and glowed through the glass walls of our room could not be captured. We were able to view monkeys, nyalas and suni antelopes right from our room as we relaxed. The bathroom....sigh. It was like a self-service spa (bubbles, bath salts, oils, robes, etc...) The service was exceptional. We were given coffee and snacks before the game drive, an al fresco snack during the game drive (try amarula in your French pressed coffee) and then a giant breakfast to order when we returned. I have to admit, we almost could not handle eating lunch every day because we were stuffed, but we did anyway! During the evening game drive we were given another al fresco snack and cocktail (called sundowner a.k.a. gin and tonic) as we watched the sun go down in a scenic location. Afterwards, we were greeted with another cocktail (different every night) at the lodge entrance before we went in for dinner which was amazing every night. The lanterns and fires in the dining areas made it feel magical.

But what did we go on safari for in the first place? The animals! We saw the Big Five by the 3rd game drive. Our guide, Philip, was excellent (he is the head ranger at Phinda) as was his tracker Zakele. He provided us with so much information and really displayed his respect and love for not only the animals, but also for the insects and vegetation. I learned so much and loved every minute.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge

Address: Kwazulu-Natal, Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Phinda Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Phinda Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set deep in the heart of a rare and beautiful dry sand forest, the award-winning Forest Lodge fuses architecture and conservation. The lodge was hand built by local artisans, with a minimal footprint on the forest floor – not one tree was felled during construction. An exquisite contradiction, floor-to-ceiling glass walls invite the forest inside, while the dense tree canopy shelters and provides privacy. Floating on stilts above the forest floor while dainty suni graze below, the 16 Zulu Zen suites blend harmoniously into the dappled shade. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Phinda Forest Hotel Phinda Private Game Reserve

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