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andBeyond Phinda Vlei Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 7, 2008

We stayed at Phinda Vlei Lodge for four nights in August of 2008 and had a wonderful experience. As it is very small (only six cabins), the service is attentive and friendly without being intrusive. The food was excellent. There were always plenty of variety at breakfast and several choices of entree at both lunch and dinner.

The rooms are lovely, with a private deck (including a plunge pool) overlooking the Vlei. We enjoyed sitting there in the afternoon, watching a procession of animals come to drink from the pool.

The reserve is large, but the guides know their way around and are in constant communication, so the odds of spotting some good game are high. We even stumbled on some lions on our drive from the airstrip to the lodge (we didn't mind being late for lunch!!) and had amazing sightings of cheetah, elephant, rhino, etc.

If you are going to do another safari while in South Africa, three nights at Vlei might be enough. But we loved all four and recommend it highly

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled with family
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2  Thank jtraub2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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203 - 209 of 222 reviews

Reviewed May 19, 2008

Phinda was truly a spectacular experience. Loved every moment of our trip there. However the weather was not favorable (rained a lot). Phinda is especially favorable as it is a low risk malaria area. The accomodations and food were far above average and would recomend this Safari to anyone.

  • Stayed: December 2003, traveled with family
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5  Thank TravelbugVancouver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 20, 2008

It's going to take too long to write a comprehensive review and it's really too special of an experience to share but here are the highlights for anyone considering Vlei Lodge:
1) The rooms are beautiful
2) The staff is beyond sweet and friendly
3) There are animals everywhere - including a little monkey family on our front porch, nyala drinking from our plunge pool while we napped and a weird cat thing hanging around on our side porch...game rides are another story...too unbelievable to get into
4) The guides are wonderful - funny, insightful, non-intrusive, knowledgeable on a variety of topics
5) the food is very good...very fresh and thoughtfully prepared.
6) the countryside is truly special

A special tip - get a massage - i did last minute in my room and it was a really great massage.

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank SWTTRAVELS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2007

Stayed at Phinda Vlei for three nights. To be honest, you see all the game they have in the area within two nights. Their guides are experienced and all four lodges are in communication with each other, so if you just stay two nights, you'll probably see everything. Our most exciting viewings were lions mating and of course the black rhino. Also many white rhino with babies. The accommodations are fine, although our heater did not work the first night and it was zero degrees centigrade in our room in the morning! (we moved to another room.) We like Vlei rather than the other lodges because you're closer to the animals. We had monkeys constantly checking out our cabin to try to get inside. And we had nyala and warthogs feeding right outside our windows. It was magical. Vlei also only has six rooms, so it's a lot more intimate. Though for things like a gift shop or internet access, we had to go over to Forest Lodge (a very good gift shop, by the way). Forest and Mountain are much bigger lodges, so their vehicles always seemed rather crowded (and most families with kids stay at Mountain, although kids are actually allowed at all four lodges -- we had some at ours who were very well-behaved, so that wasn't a problem).
To be honest, we're experienced safari camp goers and we found that they sometimes have to work really, really hard at Phinda to find the game. Some times you'll only see one or two different animals on your drive. We've been to other camps (Malamala and Singita, for example) where the game is more plentiful and not difficult to find.
But if you want the black rhino, you have to come here.
Food was good and service was first-rate.

  • Stayed: June 2007, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank D-co
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 31, 2006

During our visit in late September I had goosebumps more often the not and it wasn't the chilly mornings and nights. One of four cheetah being chased by a young bull elephant for getting in his way, a black rhino chasing a pride of seven lions away from "his" watering hole, a nyala buck doing his dominance dance and a white rhino with a young one touching mouths with a black rhino by way of greeting were all seen in the space of two days! And that doesn't include elephants taking over a suite plunge pool for a long evening drink. I would go back in a minute. The suites are spacious, comfortable and private and service is generally good. The food was bad on our first night and very good on our second night. We were told the regular chef was away on our first night. Our ranger was outstanding with a visible love of what he was doing and our soft-spoken Zulu tracker told us about his culture while we sipped G & Ts standing alongside the vehicle surrounded by Africa. Going back - whenever we can.

  • Stayed: September 2006, traveled as a couple
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Thank Trippinbrit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
New York City, New York
11
Reviewed February 15, 2006

The ambiance at the Vlei logde is so serene and beautiful, you won't ever want to leave. Every small detail of your experience and maximum comfort has been given thoughtful attention. Because they only accomodate a few visitors at a time, it is a very quiet and private place. The room-more like a small house really-was very romantic and lovely. I would pass the hot afternoons in my private plunge pool watching the animals stroll by in the distance. Most important, I was so impressed by the knowledge and committment of our guide. We saw many lions and some cubs, which are my favorite. I loved every minute of it.

  • Stayed: April 2005
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1  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 15, 2005

Just stayed for 2 nights at Vlei Lodge - it is the most exclusive of the four Phinda Lodges and consists of just 6 individual thatched rooms (more like houses) set in the middle of the reserve. They are designed to be extremely private, you cannot see another room from your room. Each one has a large private deck facing out into the bush, with (very cold) plunge pool! The service is extremely personal, because there are never more than 12 guests there at any one time. Have never experienced service of the same kind anywhere in the world. Game drives are fantastic, our ranger was so knowledgeable it was amazing. Food is great and they basically can't give you enough of it - you are offered food and drink at every turn! Every single member of staff remembers your first name which is a lovely touch. Dinner in the outdoor boma is an experience you won't forget in a hurry. Phinda is one of those places that you almost don't want to recommend because you want to keep it all to yourself!

  • Stayed: May 2005
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9  Thank snowyshome
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

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: $302 - $407 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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 
Also Known As:
Phinda Vlei Hotel Phinda Private Game Reserve

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