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“Nice but a little too big for a genuine safari lodge” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge

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andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Chiplun, India
Level Contributor
17 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Nice but a little too big for a genuine safari lodge”
4 of 5 bubbles 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!

  • Liked — Exceptional rooms.
  • Disliked — Too many people. Too large a lodge.
  • Stayed September 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank vikramghanekar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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307 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (81)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
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English first
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 16, 2009

This was mine and my boyfriends' first time on Safari but after hours of extensive research we chose Phinda and were not dissapointed. We stayed 2 nights at the mountain and 2 nights at the forest. The mountain was by far our favorite. The rooms are huge and the bed is super comfortable. With million dollar views and amazing food the mountain lodge could do no wrong. There is also a safari shop with great clothes for safari and good quality at reasonable prices i might add which is rarely the case at hotels. There is an internet area with 2 computers for your convenience which i never used but liked the thought of it being there. The staff was great and everything was clean and well put together. I wish we had more time there. The game drives are so early and dinner is always communal with whomever was on your game drive. Since we like to be in bed early so on our second night we asked for dinner in our room which was great. When we returned a table draped in linens and a bubble bath surrounded with candles had been drawn. Very nice!
We did the community tour which was somewhat interesting but overpriced. However, if you are planning on bring back alot of presents for family/friends and yourself then the trip is worth it. The last stop is a craft shop where the money for the item goes straight to the artist and is run in a co-operative fashion. There are so many different items and great prices too. For instance we bought a big elephant statue for approx $28 USD and at the airport a comparable one that was not nearly as well made costed nearly $200USD. We bought 3 bags of crafts for about $150 USD and knowing the money goes straight to the people who need it most is great!

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank wwwtravlr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lake Tahoe, CA, USA
Level Contributor
21 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 5, 2009

We chose Phinda for it's relatively large population of cheetah and as a counterpoint to a later safari in the Sabi Sands area adjacent to Kruger. We were placed at Mountain Lodge as it is family friendly. We were not disappointed.

Arriving mid day we were greeted with a cool drink and warm towels and ushered into lunch while our room was prepared. The food was abundant and tasty at every meal. The rooms are semi-detached chalets, with a sitting area (ours had a sofa bed for our daughter), a large king bed, and enormous bath with 2 sinks, a toilet room, a tub and both indoor and outdoor showers. There were 2 decks -- one with a private plunge pool that the 10 year old enjoyed immensely. It was a bit too chilly for my husband or me to "take the plunge".

We had 2 games drives/day and even driving into the lodge one sees animals -- in our case, giraffe, warthogs and nyala. Over the course of the 4 game drives we had, we saw all of the Big Five, including 2 herds of elephant, and numerous white rhinos. We had been on safari in Tanzania in 2005 and our only rhino sitings were in the far distance -- here they were almost close enought to touch! We saw a family of 4 cheetah who kindly entertained us by acting like big house cats. On our last drive, we wanted to see elephants again so our ranger and tracker spent about 2 hours tracking a large herd. finally we saw a solitary young male -- he was so curious about us he came right up the the land cruiser! The ranger told us there wa a large herd of over 25 animals but they wre inthe middle of a thick block of trees and we likely would nto be able to see them,. Just as we were giving up, he spotted an ellie off the track and drove into a small meadow -- it wasnt jus the one animal but the entire herd! We were surrounded by 20 - 30 of these magnificent beasts. After a period of mutual observation, we suddenly heard a large animal crashing through the forest accompanied by loud trumpeting -- it was the dominent bull. The females became agitated and then they and their young ran off, streaming on either side of our vehicle. It was quite exciting!

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank tahoetravellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
brazil
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 14, 2009

Phinda has got everything you need for a five star hotel. we had beautiful rooms and a plunge pool out the back. my room was link to my parents. we had jet bath and a great power shower. however we couldn't go outside otherwise we would get eaten by leopard.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank spikedcorn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
durban
Level Contributor
25 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 13, 2009

A stunning weekend getaway at Phinda Mountain Lodge. We arrived late afternoon on Friday, unfortunately we missed the game drive, but were welcomed firstly by the beautiful Nyala buck that live in the trees surrounding the lodge and then by the staff with friendly smiles and warm welcomes, drinks were offered and a spectacular view of the reserve and a tour of the main lodge area. The lodge has a beautiful open African Zen feel about it and the view point is amazing. We were then ushered to our lodging and oh what wonderful rooms they were. Set in the heart of the lodge overlooking the trees our bathroom was all windows with no curtains, the view from the bath was spectacular, the large sliding doors lead out on to the deck with a private, secluded rim flow pool and two very comfy lounges. The King size bed was stunning, particularly after a wonderful but tiring day of game drives. At dinner we met our Ranger Janus, a large, hearty, robust gentleman with a wonderful knowledge of the bush.
Saturday morning was early rising and off on our game drive. We saw Hyena twice, albeit from a distance, a mother cheetah and her three cubs or pre-adults tucking in to an impala kill. We couldn't have been twenty feet away and it was an amazing experience to see these beautiful lithe creatures in the flesh in their natural habitat. We then chased down two female lions, but they were fairly far from us and we could not approach them and get closer as they were lying on burnt land and the vehicles could not drive on the burnt escarpment due to new shoots growing. The General Game were White Rhino, Giraffe, Nyala, Impala, Kudu, Water buck, warthog etc. The evening drive was even more spectacular, we found two female lions and a young male lion sitting quietly in some dappled shade in the most tranquil dam with flamingos, hippo, crocodile, pelicans and other bird life. The male lion became restless and decided to move and he circled the back of our cruiser and stood right next to the cruiser, walked on and plopped himself down in a more shady spot. At one stage we thought that we would witness a kill, as some Nyala came to drink and the one lioness started to stalk, but she grew disinterested when large noise came from the surrounding trees and it was evident that there was a large elephants bull nearby. As we were about to leave the watering hole we were radioed to say that a herd of elephants was on it's way in our direction and what a sight that was, a large herd of females, males and babies approached, very majestic as they approached the water. The patriach was not interested in our vehicles being any where near his herd and so he was heading straight for us, ears waving, but what a beautiful sight to behold, truly God's Country! We ate at the Boma that evening with the roaring fire and candlelight ambiance. The Venison braai was particularly good. We found the staff extremely friendly, helpful and the facilities first class. We definitely hope to go back some day. A wonderful wonderful stay.

  • Liked — Luxury all the way in the most beautiful bush setting.
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed September 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank proudlysaDurban
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
Level Contributor
45 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 29, 2009

My husband and I travelled with a group of 40 people on a two night excursion from a cruise ship. Mountain lodge turned out to be so much more than we could have imagined. From the minute we stepped off our coach from Durban, everything was first class. We were met with wet towels to freshen up after our trip and a champagne cocktail to get us ready for our first game drive. We went straight from the coach to our safari vehicles, 6 of us in our jeep + our fantastic driver Dumi and tracker Mlosi, both Zulus. In just a few hours we had seen 4 of the big 5 game animals, had drinks under the stars and fallen in love with Phinda and her beauty. Things were just as good back at the lodge were we were taken to our private bungalow which had everything we could ask for and more. Dinner in the restaurant was wonderful and needing to take a guard to take you to your room just added to the feeling of really being in Africa! The following day was just as good with an incredible early morning drive with al fresco breakfast in the bush. The evening drive was fantastic - Dumi found us some hippos in a waterhole and we had drinks on the edge of the water with the splashes and noises from the animals close by! We even saw a black rhino which is very rare these days. All in all the very best experience and we only wished we could have stayed longer.

  • Stayed June 2009
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank tdeadman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edmonton
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 2, 2009

Our stay at Phinda was on balance great and with almost last minute organizing on our part, there was limited space at game lodges at the times we wanted, so we were lucky to get a spot at Phinda Mountain Lodge. We had amazing game sightings and the staff was great. Richard our ranger was exceptional - he has an amazing instinct for finding animals and will provide interesting color commentary during all of the drives.

Phinda Mountain Lodge is larger than most of CCAfrica's S. African lodges and was not our first choice because of the size (20 rooms = +40 guests in contrast to a place like Dulini which has only 4 bungalows). The larger size of the lodge makes it attractive for family reunions and corporate groups and if this is what you are looking for, I'd highly recommend this place. But for couples or small families, I'd go for one of the smaller lodges instead.

It was our unfortunate luck to have the board of directors and their spouses from a Canadian mining company (30 people) book into the lodge for a three day corporate retreat at the same time we arrived. They ended up dominating the facility to the point where other guests were left feeling like they had crashed a private party and this was especially apparent in the dining room and during the pre-game drive gatherings in the bar.

We high praise for the lodge staff who worked very hard to accommodate all guests, but it was evident that the staff were stressed, especially when they had to turn over 15 rooms at once . They worked very hard to minimize the effect of hosting a company retreat alongside other guests but with such an overwhelming number this almost impossible. We were told by the manager that they typically will segregate large groups (e.g., having the group dine in the boma and others in the dining room, and vice versa the other night) but they were short of staff at the time of our stay and weren't able to make these adjustments.

The lodge manager was sympathetic to our concerns and explained that with CCAfrica's central booking system, there is no process to advise prospective guests when they are looking at stays alongside other large groups, so there was no way we could have been warned.

  • Stayed August 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank vivera100
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
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 
Also Known As:
Phinda Mountain Hotel Phinda Private Game Reserve

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