Dave Patterson from The Africa Safari (Bwana Dave on Tripadvisor) handled all of our travel planning and was extremely thorough with the details and suggestions he provided to us. I highly recommend him! We had two nights at Tshukudu Game Lodge (see separate posting) two nights to Kirkman's Kamp (see separate posting) in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, on to Dulini Lodge for three nights. After five nights in Capetown, we flew to Durban and rented a car and drove the 3.5 hours to Phinda Forest. Easy drive once you get used to being on the other side of the road.
Each room was in it's own building with a large deck. The view was just forest but there were monkeys and various antelope around. The minibar (included) with snacks was in a cabinet on thhe deck which I found odd. There were no locks on the doors to the room - just a latch that you put on as you left. No key. There was a safe that you could put valuables in. This lodge didn't offer butler service that we had at the two other & Beyond lodges we stayed at and it really felt like one step downgraded because the butler really got to know the guests and vice versa. There were two computers on property to use the internet but there was no wifi on premise.
We were latew for our first afternoon drive and were taken to the group that had already left. Our ranger was Kyle and tracker was Abel. There were four other women in the Landcruiser. We saw great animals - baboons, warthog, red duiker, zebra, nyala, make leopard walking in the dark and thenm crawled under a fence to another lodge, wildebeast, three female lionesses with six cubs who were 6-9 months old - they were eating a one day old giraffe (which we didn't see get killed). The dinner that was in the boma was good but we sat at individual tables - versus sitting as a group at all other places we stayed. Also, the staff didn't sing or dance - very disappointing.
On our first full day, we saw two wild dog. This is a big deal as Phinda is a fenced property, and they NEVER have wild dog. So they immediately called conservationists (wild dog are endangered). Because we were in the car that found the wild dog, we were allowed to follow the conservationists who wanted to dart and tag at least one so they can track it and relocate it to a lodge 50 miles away that had four female wild dog. So we came back for breakfast and one hour later, we started on our extra game drive to find the dog. On the way, we found four cheetah cubs who had been separated from their mother for almost 24 hours. They were crying for her - it was heartbreaking. The our tracker found the mother a bit away and the story was there was a dominant male cheetah wanted the mother and she led him away from the cubs. The problem was that he wasn't letting her go. it was like watching a national geographic special that you knew wasn't going to end well. We had to leave them and get to the dogs, but found out later that mother and cubs were happily reunited. WHEW! The lodge dropped off a lunch for us and we had a picnic off property. There was a curious warthog who was very interested on what was on the table and came right up to us! Back to the dogs - the local experts were having trouble tracking them and we waited hours. After dark, the team found them, darted one and we gor to see the tagging process. We weren't offered a choice about doing this for an entire day and if I had the choice I would have gone back to the room to relax as we didn't get back until 7:30 pm. It was a really long day.
For our last full day, it was lightly raining- the first rain we had all safari. We actually found the wild dog again! In the afternoon, we were the oly ones in the car and went to the hyena den and saw the cubs, who were only a few weeks old. The mother is one tough lady - she lost half of her lips in a battle, along with her tail and she had an open wound on her back. She had another cub who was a few months old and he was tormenting the cubs. Our last morning, we were with one new couple from Capetown and had great sightings of zebra, white rhino (we couldn't find any black rhino), two male cheetah brothers, a large faily of giraffe, wildebeast, baboons and a rock monitor lizard.
So overall, we had great sightings - we hadn't seen wild cheetah or wild dog anywhere else and we saw the most cubs at Phinda. But it lacked a river on property - it had a waterhole right off the dining room, but we really loved having sundowners at various river points at Kirkman's Kamp. We also really missed having the butler service we had at our other locations. There was nothing wrong with Phinda, but we would recommend staying at the Sabi Sands properties instead.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Phinda Forest Hotel Phinda Private Game Reserve