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“WONDERFUL! FABULOUS TIME AT VLEI LODGE :)”

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andBeyond Phinda Vlei Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 8, 2010

My husband and I had such a wonderful time at Vlei lodge we didn't want to go home!!The staff was excellent in every way: we looked forward to each drive with Prince, the tracker and Devon our ranger. The pair together are so much fun to get to know. Prince has so much experience tracking and understanding the movement of animals in the wild- he found us elephants, cheetah, leopard and lions. Decon our ranger was so dynamic and knowledgable of not just the animals, but of the trees and birds. If you are into birds and trees- he's the man you want guiding you through the bush. After each drive was over, we looked forward to seeing Bhekis, Precious and the rest of the staff for some of the most amazing meals I have had. If you have a chance, you definitely want to stay at Vlei Lodge!!!

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank alysalovestotravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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190 - 196 of 220 reviews

Reviewed February 16, 2010

We traveled and stayed here for 3 nights in December. This was our first time on safari and we were not disappointed. Our driver, Walter picked us up at the airstrip and happily took us by open air jeep to the lodge. Natalie, the mgr greeted us and took us to our suites each with private plunge pool and gorgeous zen like accomodations. We had a breathtaking view of the Vlei where the animals are free to roam and come by to take a drink from the plunge pool. On the first day I did not feel well and Natalie came to my suite to give me some aspirin to rest. We saw the Big 5 within the first 2 game drives and our tracker, Tox and Walter our driver were the best. They had dinner with us the second night and we talked about the animals and their habitat. Food was good, not great, the best meal by far was breakfast with a huge assortment of fresh squeezed juices, fresh fruit, assorted pastries, yogurt and granola. Then we were offered eggs served any way we like. Massage services were very good and the staff really works to make sure your trip is special. We did take a walk to Phinda Forest on our last day with Walter and had breakfast there. I preferred the accomodations at Vlei over Forest. I highly recommend staying here but not in December as it was extremely hot; over 110 degrees. We were fine in the suites but to dine outside each meal was very uncomfortable but overall this place really delivers.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled with family
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Thank worldly2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2009

We stayed 4 nights at Forest and 4 nights at Vlei. I liked Vlei better. Food was better at Vlei. In fact, it was delicious. Gotta love those cookies and crunchie bars in the morning. I miss those immensely. I loved the traditional savannah decor. My husband and I stayed in Room 6. We had 3 rooms in total for our family. Animals were drinking out of our private pool which was amazing. I highly recommend a visit to local creche to see the children and the good things that &Beyond is doing to support local communities. The children sang songs for us and we gave out books and lollipops. The service was beyond belief. Service EVEN MORE attentive if this could be possible than what we first experienced at Forest. Don't get me wrong: Forest was great but overall, it was dark being on the sand forest floor and felt very c losed in. Having said that it was fascinating to be in the last sand forest protected in the world.
We used a specialist ranger, privately hired, named Mike Karantonis from Africa Direct. Having been on safari at Madikwe we wanted to raise the bar for our experience. He was exceptional and worth the extra money. We are going to Masai next year.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled with family
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2  Thank chrisdiannefamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 8, 2009

I stayed at Phinda Vlei for the first leg of my South African safari based on recommendations from Tripadvisor forums. I have to say that for the most part, the recommendations were spot on. The lodge is located in the rare sand forest region of Phinda. Vlei is one of Phinda's "luxury" lodges (only six suites available at Vlei). Sliding doors in your suite allow you to "become one with the vlei (open wetlands)". Nyala antelope are ubiquitous at Phinda Vlei and will come to drink at the suite's un-heated plunge pool. Food and staff during my stay were generally excellent and met my expectations (for the price of the lodge). Game drives were good overall; however I did not know that Phinda is such a large compound that rangers from Phinda Forest and Phinda Vlei generally drive in Phinda north, while rangers from Phinda Rock and Phinda Mountain generally drive in Phinda south. In my opinion, there is a larger variety of animals to see in the south, as well as wide-open plains. I definitely enjoyed more photographic opportunities in the south than we did in the north, but our ranger did not seem particularly happy to head south as it was at least a 30min drive to cross the mountains. Most of what we saw in the north was the sand forest, inside which animals tend to hide. It almost seemed like we drove in an endless maze of forest, with the monotony broken only by the abundant nyala. Were I to go to Phinda again, I would choose Phinda Rock in the south for the same type of intimate (six suites in the lodge) setting, but with a higher chance of seeing a larger variety of game.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank chinochulo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 7, 2009

We arrived in pouring rain, and got thoroughly soaked on the (roofless) transport from the main gate to the Lodge.However, thanks to a cheery welcome, hot chocolate and large whisky`s, things just got better and better.Our lodge was on the edge of the vlei, with a view only of trees, plains and water holes. No-one could see us, and we could see no-one else. Just as well, as the walk-in wet room was quite exposed! The lodge was furnished beautifully, with glass walls all around. An escort to and from the main building was needed after dark, as the camp is open, with some scary creatures wandering around. The food,taken in the main building, was excellent. Games drives were interesting, but not especially well endowed with game.However, the best bit was our private plunge pool.One day,I was sitting on the decking next to the pool, when a large bull elephant,flanked by two younger males, came out of the forest, and leisurely marched up to our room. They stopped about a metre away from me, and we had an eyeball confrontation.I did not feel threatened, as the eli`s were gently flapping their ears, which is apparantly a sign of relaxation. They then moved sideways to the pool. With this, the rest of the herd, fourty-one strong, came out the forest, and headed towards our pool. The herd spent the next half hour drinking the pool dry, and did not mind us, only centimetres away, from filming the event.A truely unforgettable experience.It is well worth spending the extra money to book a Vlei lodge, as we heard some grumblings about the Forest lodge rooms. A final, very nice touch was on our last night. Having mentioned to the staff that it was our wedding anniversary soon, we returned to our lodge after dinner to find it full of lit fragrant candles, and a hot bath filled with exotic suds. Chantal the manageress,Happiness the chef, Patience the waitress and Golden the guard all worked hard to make our stay unforgettable.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank HughHampshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 21, 2009

We arrived at Phinda after flying in from Richards Bay – just a short trip, but a nice way to start our stay at Vlei Lodge. Martin, who was to be our guide for our stay met us on arrival and took us to our room.

The rooms at Vlei are very private, beautifully equipped and very luxurious – we were very impressed, particularly with the huge plunge pool where we regularly had animals drinking out of it at one end while we stayed at the other. It is not heated though, so can be very cold!!

Early morning starts are an essential part of the viewing, in order to have the best chance to see the animals, but things are made very easy for you and there is plenty of food and drink at all times to keep you happy. Some sort of meal time always seems to be imminent, and I dread to think how much we ate during our stay, but fortunately there is a choice of food and it is excellent quality. Just watch out for the Monkeys!!

Martin and Josiah our tracker were extremely good at tracking the animals, meaning that in the 4 days we were there we got to see Leopard, Cheetah, Lion, Black Rhino, White Rhino, Elephant, Giraffe, buffalo etc. Additionally Martin was very knowledgeable about plants, birds, insects, trees etc which meant there was always something to talk about whilst we were heading to see other game.

Although sightings have to be shared with other guests, we never felt it to be a problem, and at some points were happy when were invited to join viewing that someone else had found.

All in all, we had an excellent trip and would recommend Vlei lodge, particularly for couples who want a fair amount of privacy.

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Sidicks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 29, 2009

We have been on several safari and still rank Botswana the best but Phinda Vlei was very close! Small, great friendly staff, terrific food and great rangers. Upon arriving you are greated with the usual cool drinks and cold tool escorted around main lodge and then escorted to your room. As we were escorted to our room it was like a a fairy tale animals were all along the path (in the middle of the afternoon). The lodge has no fence around it so it made it extra special. The rooms are large, beautifully renovated, hudge bed, great free standing bath tube, large bathroom, huge walk in closet and glass shower onto the Vlei. At night you did not want to sleep in case you missed the animals. During the day one can sit on your terrace and watch the world go buy swim in your own pool watching the animals in the Vlei. Incredible experience. Our host was very nice ...Chris and special staff ...Happiness (the chef-big beautiful smile, great personality and super chef. Breakfast was amazing. On the last night they served dinner on our deck which as terrific. a little confusing as they told us not to go out of our terrace at night alone and then they serve us dinner. This was a little disturbing because when we came back from our game drive in the evening we were told that our dinner was going to be served at our house. We were told we could have a drink but then we had to leave and drink it at our house. They were setting up the main lodge for a private dinner for 3 people. The barman and the security guide kept rushing us out of the main lodge and did not find this appropriate when you pay this amount of money. Dont care if it is the President. when u are a small place like Vlei you dont chase people away. This was the only disappointing part of our stay but could have just been a communication problem but unfortunately it happened on our last night so it left us with a bad taste. Game viewing was good. We went on a Rino trek which was a real thrill and a little scary. Richard was our main guide and he really made our stay and were sad to leave when we left because we enjoyed his company and stories. Even saw him waiting at the runway as we left from Phinda air field. Richard normally works at Forest Lodge. Martin the resident ranger of Vlei is also great. Amazing stories! We searched around lodges and very glad we selected Phinda Vlei and would return!

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank TheTraveller65
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
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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