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“Nice lodge for game viewing”

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andBeyond Phinda Vlei Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
South Florida
Level 5 Contributor
72 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Nice lodge for game viewing”
Reviewed November 9, 2013

Having just returned from the andBeyond Vlei lodge at Phinda with my wife and son (23), I would say that overall this was a great experience. The only reason I can't overly "glow" with this review is that we had just spent 3 days at the andBeyond Leadwood Lodge in Sabi Sands, which was just perfect. Having said that, the staff, Rangers and Trackers did just about everything they could do to make our stay memorable, and it was. The game was plentiful, and the sheer numbers of animals here is astounding. We especially enjoyed "tracking" and observing what we came to call "our cheetahs", a mother and her two cubs, for multiple hours on several days, as they hunted for prey. Our Ranger, Martin, had a wealth of knowledge that was amazing, even knowing the page numbers in the books of birds and animals that he would bring along on each drive! In addition, his sense of humor kept us laughing throughout. Our Tracker, Abel, was great, as were the staff of the lodge, including Happiness the chef, Irene, Precious, France, Michael,and Sarah.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with family
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1 Thank lauderdaletraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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211 reviews from our community

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Manama, Bahrain
Level 5 Contributor
37 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed November 3, 2013

We stayed for 4 nights at Rock Lodge followed by 4 nights at Vlei and whilst I would definitely recommend that you should stay at both lodges if you have the time & finances available, Vlei Lodge was my personal favourite. The rooms are superb (pure luxury) but designed in such natural surroundings that the animals really do wander freely around. This provides photographic opportunities that you wouldn't believe are possible until you have stayed at Phinda.
There is so much written on Trip Advisor praising PPGR but this praise is truly well deserved and it is really worth the money spent to stay here. As someone else has pointed out in their review; if you are scrolling through these reviews to learn more about the lodges at Phinda, don't waste any more time go ahead & book your holiday; it will be the trip of a lifetime with so many magical memories!
The service at Vlei Lodge is tailored to suit each guest's individuality so much so that you actually feel like a valued family member. This kind of service cannot be taught, it comes from within and all the staff that we came into contact with were so friendly, kind & attentive. You might expect the Manager, Ranger & Tracker to be superb & they were (Thank You Douglas, Daryl & Abel ) But even the Security Guide that led us to & from our room in the hours of darkness went that little bit further; taking time to point out animals that were hiding in the trees at night such as bush babies. He seemed so proud to be working at the lodge and this was a noticeable attitude, as all the staff appeared happy with their working environment and truly proud to have us stay as guests in their wonderful Private Game Reserve.
Another guest has written that they went to Phinda to see the animals but will return for the people, this is also very true for our experience. The seven different habitats in the reserve were so beautiful & diverse in nature; the animal viewing was awesome & so close to us but it is the warmth & charm of all the people that would make me say choose Phinda for your holiday. Rock Lodge is architecturally beautiful; built as it is into the sides of the mountain but Vlei is luxury redefined & simply magical.
We were so impressed that we have planned to celebrate our wedding at Vlei Lodge next year. I cannot think of anywhere more special to host our memorable day and it is great to know that we will Return.

Room Tip: Room 2 has the only outdoor shower.
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Vanessa600
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eastsound, Washington
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed October 21, 2013

Here at PPGR animals roam wild; the guests are the captives: the ultimate wilderness immersion experience unfolds. The accommodations, community facilities, rangers, staff & wilderness venues were superb.
We were introduced to the 'Big Five' & well beyond. PPGR reflects 'Out of Africa' imagery. Seven eco-systems are incorporated within the reserve. In the sand forest surrounding Vlei Lodge the environs are stressed. Flora struggle competing for nutrients. Fauna exist dependent on nature's food chain dictating survival of the fittest. Perhaps, such environs serve as the conscience for areas more well endowed.
Our guide, Ranger Devon, was a true spirit of the northern KwaZulu-Natal sand forest & bush. His acute intuition guided us to memorable animal moments. One evening at dusk we witnessed a herd of 50+ elephants on a mission to march through an arid marsh with a few pausing to drink; the youth & elders sauntered forward as we repositioned our vehicle to avoid their advance.
Also discovered at dusk was a male lion resting in the bush following an absence from his Pride. His action: enormous & voluminous roars to his female companions. He required their response to 'GPS' his navigation home to his chosen.
The intrigue of a river cruise through Devon's experienced eyes: within the Mzinene River environs there were no silences. The tour boat navigated ruffling the seamless waters. Land bound nyalas drank at river's edge while green leafy clad fever trees rustled above their heads. Small Malachite Kingfishers flitted erratically posing their colorful feathered bodies on lifeless looking branches. Various waterfowl strutted on shore breaking from periodic flight. All of the foregoing failed to disturb the river's unchallenged masters: the formidable 'crocs.' The crocodiles at different stages of life were available for view. Devon pointed to the youngest discreetly hidden among boroughs & branches at river's edge. The mature sunned themselves upon dampened riverbanks with several displaying ferocious teeth surrounding massive tongues. Even Ranger Devon displayed proper respect for these tenacious carnivores relating the tale of a young female ranger whose experience was almost perilous.
Fortune presented our own independent encounter with nature at our lap pool's edge. A nyala arrived to casually drink from our pool. I walked slowly to the opposite side. He was camera ready. Completely undisturbed by a click, his head nodded with horns lifted. His chin then bowed as he continued to have a drink. Birds fluttered into the pool, joining the drinking & festively bathing.
As the late afternoon game drives concluded, evening approached. The sun only set dramatically in South Africa, especially at Phinda. Brilliant whites & lemon yellows muted into tangerine oranges. Spectacular images were captured with trees in the forefront, moonbeams behind. An andBeyond nocturnal moment was one evening's dinner drama: screeching hyenas protecting their kill disturbed the evening quietude. Our meal was secure on our plates; theirs was obviously at risk. Had lions arrived for their dinner?
Vlei Lodge's private bungalows were well appointed. The communal dining facility dressed in local decor was the guest gathering place for each beginning & end of the day. Vlei Lodge cuisine was diverse with specialization based on individual preferences. Chef Happiness was perceptive & personable creating tremendous camaraderie with her guests. The entire staff was welcoming & solicitous with marvelous discretion.
Phinda lodges pride themselves in warm welcomes & memorable farewells. Your final night's suite is appointed with candles & chilled champagne. Our departure to catch a flight was prior to post game drive breakfast. Sans breakfast was a non-issue. A picnic accompanied our luggage. Small touches create large memories. In our future is a planned return. Incidentally, the translation of Phinda from Zulu: 'The Return!'

Room Tip: We enjoyed Suite #3 which faced a small plain where animals grazed then came to drink in our pool...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank YelnatsTM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed October 4, 2013

We recently spent 3 lovely nights at this very special lodge and certainly agree with the rave reviews posted by previous contributors. From every perspective, it is very hard to find any room for improvement. My wife and I are both keen birders and were fortunate indeed to have Sam as our ranger. He has been at Phinda for more than 20 years and is the undisputed doyen of game rangers in the area. The rest of the staff, without exception, were friendly, professional and helpful. This was certainly one of the best safari experiences we've had anywhere in Africa.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank benrose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
39 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed September 21, 2013

Having thought we had hit the heights at Rock Lodge, Vlei was another experience all together. The lodge transported you into a true game reserve experience, especially when the Lions are parked on your pathway and the ranger has to take you home by truck! We had three nights here with a selection of rangers and trackers all exceptional, but Warrick was so passionate about all the experiences that it become totally infectious. Whatever we thought we might have missed in the south we certainly made up for it in the north, good to go to both! Happiness, Precious, France and Nicky were so attentive and helpfull it made our stay trully exceptional. We would recommend this and Rock Lodge as an experience of a lifetime! Unlike Rock Lodge some of the furnishings in Vlei were a little tired, however I believe that they are soon to be refurbished.

Room Tip: I think all rooms are very similar, we had room 5. Lots of visits to the pool by passing animals.
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank BMcGill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Long Island NY
Level 4 Contributor
13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed September 14, 2013

We were lucky to get the coveted room 6 and it did not disappoint! There were always animals coming by to drink from the pool. The room was gorgeous, the scenery beautiful and the service was exceptional! Sometimes it was hard to even leave the room. I must give the manager Douglas a shout out as it seemed everything he did for us, he bent over backwards to make sure we were taken care of. Douglas was such a nice soft spoken guy, it was also nice to hear the rest of the staff speak highly of him. The dates we were visiting there the main lodge area was closed for re-thatching on the roof and they had set up a tented area where we met for breakfast, lunch and dinner... but it did not detract at all! Douglas was arranging little surprises for us, a bush breakfast one day, champagne for the game drive one night, candles and bubble bath in our room. Even made sure we had a packed lunch for our trip to the airport. We had booked a whale shark swim at Sodwana Bay and he took such interest in rescheduling our swim to make sure we had the best weather. Another stand out was Happiness the chef. My wife requires a Gluten/wheat free diet and Happiness was very aware of it and made sure my wife had muffins and biscuits to take on the game drives. She would pull us aside to discuss the evening menus to make sure we were okay with everything. And the gluten free food was excellent! The game drives from Vlei were also nothing short of incredible, Martin our ranger and Abel our tracker were extremely knowledgeable and we were able to see the big 5 plus giraffe & cheetah in one drive! It was amazing to watch them work and track these animals. If you are here on Tripadvisor doing research on which places to visit (as we were doing) just stop reading right now and go and book this fantastic place, it is well worth it.

Room Tip: It's true what they say about room 6! Early September seemed like a near perfect time to go weat...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank rmdragon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
91 reviews
69 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
Reviewed August 21, 2013

A lovely and intimate safari lodge in a wonderful reserve. The rooms are lovely and unfenced so that we really did have elephants drinking from our pool! Food was excellent and the service was faultless. Game drives were great, maybe a bit obsessed with leopard... but that is not a big fault!
One of the nicest safari lodges we have ever stayed at

Room Tip: all rooms are brilliant number 2 has outside shower and number 6 (apparently) gets more game drinkin...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank sfhmgusa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about andBeyond Phinda Vlei Lodge

Property: andBeyond Phinda Vlei 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 Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Phinda Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
AndBeyond Phinda Vlei Lodge is the ultimate, romantic and totally private safari getaway. Its location amongst the trees on the edge of an open grassland offers fantastic game viewing, with each suite carefully positioned for a prime view of the animals coming out to drink. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Phinda Vlei Hotel Phinda Private Game Reserve

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