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“Rock Delivers Unique Experience & Excellent Game Viewing” 4 of 5 stars
Review of andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge

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andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge
Maputaland, Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Houston, Texas
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
39 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
156 helpful votes 156 helpful votes
“Rock Delivers Unique Experience & Excellent Game Viewing”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2013

This was our third &Beyond lodge in South Africa and we stayed 3 nights. We also stayed at Vlei Lodge and Ngala Tented Camp.

Rock is unique. It is built into the rock and has 6 unique rooms. We were fortunate to be at the top of the hill in room #1, which has magnificent sweeping views of the valley below.

All units have a plunge pool which warms to the sun durung the day making it the perfect temperature to relax after the morning game drive.

Rock lodge had a few customer service hicups and mainly it was a lack of comunication from the staff (i.e. food choices were not posted on boards like other properties, group dinner planned for one evening but we were not informed, etc....) but all in all, it is a very special and unique place.

The room is like a cave with a sitting area/bar, bedroom, large bathroom with tub and separate shower. It even has an outdoor shower.

Although this property it is not as posh as some other places (like Vlei Lodge), the character and outside deck/pool make up for it.

We woke up one morning at 4:30AM to Baboons fighting outside our room. One even tried to open the door (which is why they show us how to keep the animals out). Another Baboon sat on the oustide sill of the large picture window and watched us sleep - quite funny. Part of the experience/charm when you bunk in the bush with wild animals.

The game drives were excellent and we were fortunate to have Ranger Callie. She is a pro and quite fun to be around. The seven eco systems make for some interesting animal viewing and we were not disappointed.

Enjoy!

Room Tip: For game viewing and more intimate location, choose #6 at the bottom of the mountain. For sweeping...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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56 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Washington, D.C.
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2013

My wife and I just returned from a trip to Phinda for our anniversary, including two nights at the Rock Lodge. We had an excellent time and would recommend the location to anyone looking for a great combination of luxury lodging, good food and fun game viewing.

The &Beyond team helped us book everything, including our in-country transfers and were always available to answer our many questions while planning our first trip to Africa. Everything they helped with worked flawlessly.

The lodging itself was excellent. We were in lodge #6 which appeared to be a bit more private than some of the other lodges at Rock Lodge. Our windows and deck looked out over a small waterhole and it was a near daily occurence to see game around.

The twice-daily game drives in this part of the reserve were the best of the whole trip. Phinda has 7 distinct ecosystems within the reserve but the ones around Rock Lodge (and nearby moutain lodge) were open enough to accomodate spotting alot of game. We also had an excellent guide, Nic, who did a great job and made the trip alot of fun.

Food was excellent and always very filling. The lodge staff were also very friendly and happy to accomodate any special requests. Also, I hadn't realized in advance but meals and drinks are included in the price of the stay which makes it a good value.

In addition, the service at Phina Rock Lodge was excellent. This always seems to be the difference-maker to me among luxury resorts. At Phinda, everyone was very friendly and took every opportunity to find ways to make the visit enjoyable.

If you are looking for a romantic get-away that is different than just lounging by the beach or pool, Phinda Rock Lodge is a great location.

  • Stayed January 2013, 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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London
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

We spent 3 nights at Rock Lodge and 2 nights at Vlei Lodge, and also got to see Forest Lodge... and out of them all, Rock Lodge was my favourite. The rooms managed to combine spaciousness and luxury with a sense of cosiness and feeling close to nature. I loved the outdoor shower, and the bath that overlooked the bush setting where I could watch nyala's graze. I also adored the outdoor plunge pool where we had an elephant come to drink!

The meals were magnificent, especially those we ate outside on the deck. It was pure luxury, you didn't even have the hassle of choice for breakfast and lunch, they just brought a platter to the table piled high with food -- around 8-10 different dishes. Everything we tried was superb and the only shame is that we couldn't fit it all in!

The safari drives were incredible also and, I guess because of the layout of this side of the park, we seldom saw a fence (unlike on the rides from Vlei). The time we stayed the lodge was not full and so on several drives we had the jeep to ourselves. We saw so many animals and the guide and tracker were both very knowledgeable and friendly. They went out of their way to make it special with some lovely surprising touches, which I won't describe here because part of the joy of them was the surprise. Suffice to say, I had high expectations of Phinda and the experience exceeded them. If you have the chance to go to Phinda, go... and spend at least a few nights at Rock Lodge. It's worth every penny.

Room Tip: Room 5 was furthest away and apparently the one that animals are most likely to visit the pool to dr...
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  • Stayed November 2012, 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.
St. John, Virgin Islands
Top Contributor
59 reviews 59 reviews
46 hotel reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 12, 2012

We flew in from Richards Bay to Phinda Forest Lodge, with 17 cottages....very very nice, but have heard that the smaller Vlei Lodge is even better. Loved Rock Lodge...only 6 rooms, very private & very cozy with fireplaces & luxury all the way around. Games drives twice a day, champagne surprises in the afternoons, outdoor breakfasts on safari, candelight everywhere.
Staff & guides are first class!!!

  • Stayed October 2012, 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.
Warrnambool
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
35 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2012

We travelled in a small group of 12 and had the lodge to ourselves. Rock Lodge is called the Flintstones because of the accommodation lodges style but make no mistake,the accommodation is some of the best you will experience. Fantastic vistas from the outdoor dining area. Rooms have complimentary mini-bar, Leather chairs with binoculars and a decanter of sherry to sip while looking for animals, beautifully comfortable king bed, free standing bath, indoor and outdoor showers (outdoor only for those lodges with total privacy from others),plunge pool ( water was a bit cold), day bed, cantilever umbrella over plunge pool if needed. The lodge even supplies a gym equipment bag for you to do some mini-workouts ( we didn't get to use it).Your room key is a piece of wood that slips between to loops on the door. In the evenings a guard must escort you to/from rooms after dark.

Meals were divine and you are offered so much food - all top quality I think our cook was Lindymay. Nick was a very good host . Callie and Richard were great rangers as were our guides.

I just can't explain how good our experience was - game drives were excellent. Enjoyed our evening 'sundowners' and the rangers/guides did all they could to find the animals we wanted to see. The game drives are well controlled in terms of access to animals and mostly, the animals just do what they do without any thought to the vehicles or people. The welfare of the animal is utmost in the rangers' minds.

We all got hooked on Amarula (like Baileys). Breakfast out in a 'hide' was terrific and different experience. The Amarula was either served on the rocks, in coffee, in hot chocolate, whatever.

Phinda Rock Lodge is a totally amazing experience - like sitting in your game drive vehicle, watching a male lion walk past on the road into the lodge,- just how good is that. The accommodation, game drives, food (and drinks) absolutely first class. We went to Vlei Lodge for a few days after so checkout my review on that experience also.

  • Stayed September 2012, 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
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Chicago, Illinois
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
92 helpful votes 92 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2012

Phinda Rock Lodge was an exceptional place with a wonderful mountain view. My wife and I spent 3 nights at the Rock and 3 nights at the Vlei. Although our stay at he Rock was exceptional as was the food, staff and accommodations, we preferred the Vlei because of its atmosphere and open panoramic views. Both locations are entitled to a 5 star review, however. We chose the Rock and Vlei as they are limited to 6 suites. We were assigned Lucky as a guide, and he put us on lions and cheetahs within hours of our arrival. I highly recommend the combination of the Rock and Vlei if you are looking for quiet and romantic destination.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 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.
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2012

You look at pictures, try to imagine, dream about it for a while, make the decision to go ... and finally you experience... luxurious lodge, your private patio with private pool, shower overlooking the landscape, candle light bathtub ..two safaris per day... refreshing juice waiting for you and served to you after the morning one, or an alcoholic cocktail after the second one ... picknic at dusk in the prairie, daily discussion with the chef about your culinary preferences , dinner by roaring fire (winter time), amazing animals tracking experiences, sunset on the river boat cruise, tanning while nyalas look for food around your lodge, amazing beds and bedding they even have electric beds and the staff turns it on when arranging the room for sleep time right before you come back from your afternoon safari (3 to 6 or 7 pm ).

I booked a 4 nights paid for 3 kind of deal , I had to skip many meals as it was simply too much, the staff was worried that I am not happy and it took some convincing that everything is fine :).
If you go during winter time make sure you have enough layers as in the morning 6.30 or night after 5.30 pm it can get pretty cold in the safari cars. I was wearing 4 layers, and used two blankets (provided in the car).

My only regret is that one of the extra excursions to the Indian ocean beaches was not offered. I could not quite understand the reason as when I visited the Mountain Lodge two days later I saw it in the list of extras offered. I asked the staff and they could not give me a clear explanation either .

Another extra I took is the trip to the rescue centre. I had quite high expectations based on what I have read and heard that there will be more big cats, the only interesting experience for me there was petting a cheetah. i was hoping I can get the same kind of experience with lions (a few of my friends did at different rescue centres). On hindsight I could have probably skipped this one.

One day I did the tour of some other lodges, if I do go back I would like to experience Vlei lodge . Rock Lodge architecture is wood and walls, medieval look, Vlei is very different ..window walls and you can see at all times what is happening around your private lodge. One of the couples I have met stayed two nights at Rock and two nights at Rock, if I return I will do the same ..oh i will make sure I was warmer clothes. I will also make sure I have enough memory cards(one extra 16G was not enough to the amount of pictures an small videos that can be taken) and space on the HDD.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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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Additional Information about andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge

Address: Maputaland, Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Phinda Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 6 Specialty lodging in Phinda Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge looks out over its own lush valley, like a small private castle amidst a tangle of wild African sights and sounds. The suites of this intimate and romantic lodge cling dramatically to steep cliffs with views across the valley. • Six air conditioned suites• Private plunge pools• Not suitable for children• 23 000 hectare private game reserve• Cheetah, black rhino and nyala ... more   less 

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