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“Most Magical Experience”

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andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 3, 2011

We've just returned from 4 fabulous nights at Phinda Mountain Lodge. From our pick-up at King Shaka airport in Durban, to our drop-off at Thonga Beach Lodge the service was excellent. When we arrived at the lodge in the afternoon we were warmly greeted by Sam, whose husband Paul is the head chef. After explaining some of the details of the lodge, meals times and game drive information we were shown to beautiful bungalows 21 & 22. Each with their own plunge pool glistening in the sun with the Nyala grazing only a few metres away. After a quick refresh we met up at the lodge for tea and afternoon cocktails and were introduced to Felicity, our Ranger, and several other guests that we would be on our 8 game drives with.

The game drives were spectacular and we were treated with a staggering number of encounters with Phinda's large collection of animals. Zebras, giraffes, impala, nyala, wildebeest, buffalo, warthogs, lions, elephants were plentiful along with several sightings of cheetah, both the black and white rhinos, hippos, crocs, and one very special evening of tracking a leopard deep in the reserve. Enough cannot be said about Felicity's commitment and passion for wildlife, her outgoing personality and warmth or her strength of character. Our tracker, John, amazed us several times at his abilities to find just what we were looking for and for a man of such few words was amazingly easy to learn from. It was Felicity and John that made an already great experience one that was truly magical for us all. We thank you both tremendously.

Returning to our rooms after game drives was always a pleasure. Housekeeping was fastidious and was always done without noticing. Our mini bar was always stocked with a full selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and fresh ice was always at the ready. The linens, pillows and towels were high quality and the gorgeous bathroom, with views out over the plunge pool and into the bush was truly lovely.

The food at the lodge was delicious and plentiful. The kitchen would prepare daily specials that were well received or just about anything else that your heart desired. All the staff were friendly and many had been with the lodge for many years. A special thanks to Penny for her laughter and good nature throughout our visit.

I've heard that an African safari can change your life. I now truly believe that.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank ShawnCornell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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289 - 295 of 341 reviews

Reviewed January 3, 2011

We stayed 2 days only but they were so intense in experiencing Africa's wildlife that we felt we had spent one week. The lodge is very luxurious but cozy and homely at the same time. The bungalows are big with private little pool and terrace, shower and bath tub, and the most enormous bed I ever slept in. The lodge has also a swimming pool, a very nice boma and a comfortable bar area from where one can spot all sorts of animals. They had a wedding party going at the time we were there and according to the happy faces of all guests, it must have been a success. Naturally, the best about Phinda is its well preserved wildlife with its lions, elephants, cheetahs, rhinos, hippos, etc. The rangers put every effort in it to show and describe them all, from the smallest dung beetle to the huge elephants. During our stay, we had our "private" ranger. He was very experienced which showed when we almost bumped into a rhino on foot...an experience to remember! We will definitely come back one day, either to Phinda directly or to one of &beyonds other lodges. One little thing to be critical about is the food. Although it is good and tasty, the lodge could ameliorate the quality according to their 5* rating.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank desamu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 8, 2010

This place is outstanding in every way. We went to other safari parks which are overcrowded and did not see many animals. just on the drive from the gate to phina mountain lodge we saw rhino,warthogs girraffe,monkeys,impala and zebra.On the safari drive at phinda we saw the big 5 and various other animals. the guides and trackers are experienced and exeptional. just imagine sundowners in the middle of a game reserve- what an experience! The lodge accomodation and surounding grounds can not be explained it is phenomonal. the staff are so friendly and accommodating this truly is an experience of a life time. we would return in a heart beat

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled on business
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3  Thank sthafrica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 6, 2010

We had an amazing time at Phinda Mountain Lodge. Everything about it was spectacular. The hospitality when we arrived 4 hours late after a 12 hour drive was beyond gracious and warm. The food was fabulous and plentiful - every request was happily taken care of. The rooms were wonderful. And then there was the staff... excellent in every area of the lodge. From the housekeeping, the guides who walked you to your rooms, the hospitality staff, the restaurant waitstaff and of course the amazing, wonderful, incredible and knowledgeable rangers and trackers. I can't imagine being in better hands for the entire stay in every way.

We were a family of 14 celebrating a special birthday and everyone agreed that it was indeed a very special time with thanks to everyone at Phinda.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled with family
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2  Thank soher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 26, 2010

I stayed at Phinda Mountain Lodge in June 2008 with my daughter and the experience for both of us was truly remarkable. From the fabulous accommodation to the attentive staff and the amazing game drives where you get up close and personal with the wildlife, not to mention the knowledge and expertise of the rangers, this experience was the very best. Highly recommended and I can't wait to return in May 2011.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled with family
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1  Thank pearlbox
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 21, 2010

We went during the Christmas season, and let me tell you, Phinda Mountain Lodge was awesome. While a little large at 24 chalets, it still had the feel of a small lodge. It follows the general game reserve structure of early morning game drive, followed by breakfast, then lunch, then an evening game drive, and finally dinner in the boma.

Wildlife:
Because Phinda is such a diverse park, there are grasslands where you can see cheetah, rhino, and other animals easily, as well as rocky hills, a wetland area, and also a forested region. Our first two game drives showed us the Big Five, and we continued to see the animals our entire 4 day stay.

Service:
The guides and everyone else was incredibly friendly, and was very knowledgeable about the park and South Africa in general. Our guide even dined with us once, telling us all about his life growing up in South Africa and other great insight into their culture.

Accommodations:
There are 2 person chalets, each having their own plunge pool in the back. Since the lodge is not fenced in, it is common for animals to walk through the establishment. On one memorable occasion, the housekeeping service found a Mozambique spitting cobra in my luggage, and removed it! They then apologized for unpacking my bag... but their attention was fantastic. You must be escorted by security at night, but it is really only a minor inconvenience.

Overall, the Mountain Lodge was the best lodge we visited while in South Africa, so don't pass up this fantastic location.

  • Stayed: January 2009, traveled with family
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Thank Reefdiver10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 13, 2010

I and my wife along with some family members stayed at this property for 3 nights in September. We arrived late to Phinda from &Beyond's other property, the Ngala Safari lodge.
The manager who attended to us at the reception was a little stiff in the neck, probably we caught in a bad mood. Then we were shown to our rooms which are cottages arranged on a hill slope. The cottages themselves are very very beautiful. There are very well laid out with enough space between two cottages to respect your privacy. There's a plunge pool as well.
But with 40 of them I thought they are one too many for a safari lodge. One more important point is that they are on a steep hill slope so it will be difficult for a disabled or elderly person make to and fro trips from the reception.
The game drives were decent we could see two lionesses in hunting action from real close quarters. Next day we tracked down a female cheetah and her cubs which was absolutely fantastic. There were plenty of Elephants, Giraffe, Nyala and all other usual herd animals. We had Richard as our ranger for first two days who was good but not as great as Dyke, who was our ranger at Ngala. For the last day we had Jaques as our ranger as Richard was going on leave. Frankly he was very ordinary in his knowledge. Betheul, the tracker,on the other hand was exceptional.
As far as food is concerned it was pretty good, although nothing exceptional. Service was also decent but struggleed once the restaurant was full.
So over all it was a good experience with a few caveats.
1. It's a large hotel. Do not expect personalised service.
2. If the lodge is full (as it was when we were there) expect large noisy groups.
3. Game viewing is good but not exclusive. There will be plenty of vehicles (at least 3) about.
The essence of safari for a frequent visitor to the bush is exclusivity, ability to observe animals in peace as long as one wants to and personalised service. All of these are sadly lacking at Phinda mountain.
Another important point is that this lodge is in the southern part of the reserve and one can not visit northern beautiful areas (e.g. sand forest) simply because they are quite far.
Bottomline, nothing wrong with the lodge if you are visiting in a group. But choose smaller property if you want peace and quiet.
And a combination of 2 properties in Phinda, one in south and one in north is ideal to able to enjoy the park fully!

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled with family
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2  Thank vikramghanekar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge

Address: Phinda Private Game Reserve, Phinda Private Game Reserve 3960, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Phinda Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Phinda Private Game Reserve
Price Range: $2,230 - $4,065 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 24
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With wraparound views of the ancient Ubombo mountain range, Mountain Lodge balances itself majestically above its panoramic surroundings. The 24 suites scattered along the mountainside offer complete privacy and luxury. There's no end to the choice of taking in the view - spacious verandas with private plunge pools and layered guest areas each provide their own magnificent outlook. Delicious Pan African meals are enjoyed in the dramatic stone and reed boma, lit by the warm glow of dozens of candles and lanterns. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Phinda Mountain Hotel Phinda Private Game Reserve

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