Phinda Game Reserve is set within easy reach of the Indian Ocean coastline and the famous iSimangaliso / Greater St Lucia Wetland Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Phinda Game Reserve is known for its abundant wildlife, diversity of habitats and wide range of activities. Thanks to its coastal rainfall pattern, Phinda enjoys a lush green environment that contains seven distinct ecosystems – a magnificent tapestry of woodland, grassland, wetland and forest, interspersed with mountain ranges, rivercourses, marshes and pans.
At Phinda Game Reserve the fascinating variety of landscape and vegetation shelters an abundance of wildlife, including not only the Big Five but many rarer and less easily spotted species, such as the elusive cheetah or the scarce black rhino. With only a handful of lodges sharing an area of 23 000 hectares (56 800 acres) and careful trained rangers and trackers in search of prime wildlife sightings, guests are assured an exclusive game viewing experience.
Adding to the Phinda Game Reserve wildlife charms, the marine diversity of nearby Sodwana on the coast is easily accessible, with scuba diving, fishing and even turtle watching only some of the adventures available from Phinda Game Reserve.
There are certain species that guests are more likely to encounter at Phinda Game Reserve than on many other reserves. Predators such as cheetah, lion and leopard are tracked on a daily basis, offering guests a high chance of spotting these impressive cats. Phinda Game Reserve is renowned for offering outstanding opportunities to view cheetah. The reserve also boasts one of the highest densities of nyala. Rhino enthusiasts may frequently encounter both the white rhino and the endangered black rhino. Herds of elephant and buffalo move throughout the reserve, and the sand forest is home to some rare smaller species, such as the suni and red duiker, as well as the red tonga squirrel.
The crown jewel of this ecologically diverse region, Phinda Game Reserve is home to a large portion of Africa’s remaining rare dry sand forest. Unmistakable even to the untrained botanist, this magical woodland abounds with massive trees, cacti, orchids, ferns, mosses and creepers. Creating a sheltered ecosystem of its own, this area is home to such species as the tiny suni, which is endemic to the area, the shy red duiker or the tonga red squirrel, as well as dozens of bird species. Phinda Game Reserve also supports three main types of savanna, allowing guests to see and experience a variety of habitats.
Of the two rivers that run through Phinda Game Reserve, the Munyawana is seasonal, reduced to a series of pools during the winter, while the Mzinene flows year-round. The two rivers, and the extensive marsh created at their junction, create even more diverse habitats that add to the variety of Phinda’s animal and plant species. The wide floodplains of the Mzinene play host to one of the most easily distinguishable African trees – the fever tree. Known in Zulu as umHlosinga (the tree that shines from afar), this breathtaking tree creates a startling impression with its pale white bark and bright green foliage. Heard in this setting, the haunting call of the fish eagle creates an impression that cannot be easily erased.
They say that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and that is certainly true at Phinda Forest Lodge! Mindful of the devastation that a single wayward projectile could cause in our glass encased suites, our designers have created a calming atmosphere of Zulu Zen. And there’s no need to worry about the privacy of your retreat – in spite of the floor to ceiling glass walls, the towering torchwood trees and fertile forest floor that surround your suite ensure a sense of seclusion.
Set in rare sand forest, the glass walls of Phinda Forest Lodge offer a sweeping view of one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet. The dainty forms of dwarf forest antelope dart among and below the suites, raised on stilts to float between the sandy forest floor and the leafy canopy above. Waking up to rustling forest sounds and bird song, surrounded by delicate leaf-filtered light, a pervading sense of peace and calm will set the tone for your entire day.
A forest maze Cradled in a deep maze of ancient vegetation, each air conditioned suite provides serene, reflective spaces to watch the secrets of the forest unfold. The dappled green shade works its magic on guests and animals alike, providing an intimate glance into the world of the forest dwellers. Tiny suni and red duiker graze among the vines and massive tree trunks, and a short walk to the main guest area could easily become a close encounter with a graceful nyala or an agile impala.
Footsteps in the forest Fresh duiker tracks in the sandy paths point the way towards the lodge’s rim flow pool, where you can relax in the shade of the wooded canopy. While away an afternoon on the spacious private veranda of your suite, secluded from all except an occasional red tonga squirrel in the treetops. Invite the tranquillity of the forest inside with you and take a soak in your oversized bathtub with huge glass windows offering yet another perspective on the play of leaves and light outside.
FLickering firelight Mealtimes on the open air dining deck bring about their own distractions, as monkeys frolic in the branches and an ever-changing assortment of wildlife grazes on the open plain in the distance. In the evenings, when warm firelight welcomes you to the boma, wide-eyed bush babies watch inquisitively from the dense foliage above.
Savour the luxury of Africa’s wide open spaces with the sky and savanna theme of The Homestead at Phinda. Breathtakingly stylish and sophisticated yet refreshingly simple, The Homestead provides the ideal venue to reconnect with friends and family.
With the warm, friendly faces and helping hands of a full complement of staff ready to welcome you on arrival, you will instantly feel as though this is your second home.
Inviting rooms designed around retro trinkets, Zulu crafts and sleek, contemporary touches reinforce the impression that this private safari villa is designed for comfort and ease.
Generous courtyards, ponds and living areas that open up to the landscape beyond embrace the surrounding bush, inviting it into the spacious interiors of The Homestead. Large sliding windows give a sense of space and light, and each ample room is dominated by breathtaking vistas of Africa. Beds are positioned to face the waking bush, so game viewing begins the second you open your eyes. There’s no need to jump out of bed early either – with a dedicated game ranger and tracker, as well as a private game drive vehicle, you set your own game drive times!
The colours of Africa The warm colours of the African bush brought inside and a focus on stylish comfort, coupled with genuine hospitality from your personal chef and butler will have you feeling at ease in this private villa. An interactive kitchen awaits your instructions, whether it’s the simple joys of having your favourite meals prepared for you or the pure pleasure of being surprised at meal time. Enjoy the simple ritual of communal meals shared with special people around a spacious table or savour a delectable picnic on an extended game drive.
Intimate spaces While away a quiet afternoon drinking in the views from the many open viewing decks or give in to the seduction of plump cushions around the sparkling swimming pool, blending in at the very edge of the clearing beyond. If you’re feeling more active, enjoy a workout with a difference in a gym that boasts incredible view of the wilderness outside. As night closes in, admire the glorious colours of an African sunset steal over the skies as the warm light of dozens of lanterns creates an intimate dining space in the private outdoor boma.
At Phinda Mountain Lodge a room with a view isn’t just an option – it’s an absolute guarantee. Poised majestically on the crest of a mountain, the lodge commands a dramatic vista over the surrounding landscape. Balanced between soaring views of the scenery below and the endless blue of the African sky above, each suite opens onto a breathtaking panorama. With glamorous guest areas and spellbinding views, this bold and stylish lodge will truly make you feel on top of the world. Magnificent guest viewing decks and private verandas attached to each suite ensure that there’s no shortage of breathtaking locations to drink in the natural luxury of the sensational setting.
Guests are greeted with bright smiles and warm welcomes from Mountain Lodge’s gracious staff. A warm and friendly welcome awaits families with children at Phinda Mountain Lodge, with two family suites providing interleading rooms with an optional additional bed in each.
Seductive comfort Light and space lie at the heart of Phinda Mountain Lodge from the moment you enter the airy inner courtyard. The guest area is a magnificent u-shaped building with central al fresco courtyard, which provides seductive comfort between exciting game drives. Careful planning means that no structures in the Lodge overlook each other, resulting in uninterrupted views from each suite or viewing deck.
High up above A total of 25 suites are positioned to ensure complete privacy while optimising the view from the veranda. A private outdoor shower and plunge pool for each suite allow you to savour the outdoors and the fresh mountain air. Lounging in your private plunge pool overlooking the dense green slopes, you can lose all track of time as easily as though you were floating on a cloud high up above the world.
Bush surprise Bask in the solitude of your suite’s personal sitting room or share in the books and games in the spacious guest areas. Browse for a choice souvenir in our selectively stocked Safari Shop or sip on a cocktail while taking in the views from the terrace. Mealtime may mean a delicious al fresco feast on the tiered veranda, a luscious spread in the covered dining room or an unexpected treat in a surprise location. Don’t worry, a brisk walk along the maze of paved pathways in the lush grounds will burn off any extra calories!
When you first set eyes on the ochre walls of Phinda Rock Lodge clinging to the cliff face you’ll need a second look to realise you haven’t arrived at a Mexican hacienda. While the rugged adobe-style building wouldn’t be out of place in a desert pueblo, the lush bushveld vegetation and the wildlife dotted on the surrounding slopes leave you in no doubt that you’re in the middle of Africa.
With only six suites carved into the rocky hillside, you’ll feel you’re part of an elite tribe of rock dwellers suspended in a cosy hideout that offers complete seclusion from the world below.
Suspended over the valley below, the cliff-top suites provide an intimate, cosy space in a dramatic setting with an eagle’s eye view of the reserve. Snuggled high above the surrounding panorama, your closest neighbour is likely to be an inquisitive spotted genet paying you a friendly visit on the dining deck.
Carved in stone Experience the awe of the spectacular views from your suite’s private viewing deck or feel as though you’re floating on air with a dip in your personal plunge pool on the very edge of the breathtaking precipice. When the sense of freedom has you feeling giddy, retreat to the natural sanctuary of the secret spaces of your bedroom or private sitting area, the roughly hewn walls and chunky textures giving you the feeling that you are sheltering within the mountain itself.
Al fresco showers Freshening up after your morning game drive becomes an experience all in itself, with deep bathtubs encased in wide windows that open up onto a spectacular view of the valley. Three suites offer al fresco showers so deeply sheltered in the leafy growth that you’ll feel you’re bathing in your own private waterfall. The white face of Leopard Rock lies directly across from the lodge, while a watering hole draws wildlife from the deep hollows of the valley below.
Awaken adventure As the romance of the setting reawakens your sense of adventure, one quick leap through the open wooden shutter on the dining room window takes you to a rustic ladder leading to the roof, soon to be stopped in your tracks as you gaze on the unrivalled panorama before you. When night draws in, retreat to the warm refuge of an intimate gathering around a roaring fire in the guest area. Savour a meal served among friends, both old and new, in the cosy dining room or the haven of your own suite.
At Phinda Vlei Lodge simply spending time in your spacious suite is like being on safari. With each suite carefully positioned for a prime view of the animals coming out to drink and panoramic vistas from even your shower or bathtub, the game viewing never stops!
Set on the edge of the forest and overlooking an open meadow (or vlei), complete with watering hole, this wildlife playground brings your game encounters up close and personal. Each morning and early evening the animals appear, dotting the sweeping vlei in a never-ending wildlife parade.
Whether from the intimate guest areas or the seclusion of your own suite, watch the daily details of the bush come to life, from the antics of the monkeys and the prolific birdlife to the herds of zebra or families of warthog ambling along the open vlei.
Wildlife wonders Carefully tucked away in one of six secluded suites perfectly integrated into the African bush, you are virtually guaranteed to see more animals than people during your stay – and that’s not counting the game drives! Each moment brings a new surprise, as man made barriers melt away and the wonders of the bush are revealed at every turn.
Gracious elegance Elegant and serene, the gracious spaces of Phinda Vlei Lodge are designed for quiet contemplation of the African wilderness. With each suite’s deck opening up onto a dazzling view of the clearing beyond, combine your game viewing with a refreshing dip in your private plunge pool, but be prepared to share it with a thirsty elephant or impala!
Never want to leave Each suite boasts not only a private sitting area and ensuite bathroom, but also a dressing room and game viewing deck, so you may not ever want to leave, even for meals. Not that you will have to – private dining in your suite can be arranged, as can more social meals on the dining deck or even on the edge of the vlei. On clear, cold winter nights keep the chill at bay relaxing in front of a roaring fire in the sitting room before retiring to the comfort of a warm bed.
African hospitality means treating each guest as though your house were his own. At the sole-use Phinda Zuka Lodge we have taken this concept a step further, giving you your own private holiday home in Africa! With four bush cottages and a team of welcoming staff completely at your disposal, feel free to create your own African experience.
Everything you need is right within reach – your personal game ranger and game drive vehicle, an interactive kitchen with a dedicated chef, a butler to see to your daily needs, a comfortable library with Internet access and TV for the children, a sitting room with a fireplace for evening chats, your own swimming pool and even a private watering hole for your own exclusive wildlife encounters. With no set timetable or routine, savour the wonders of the bush at your own pace and leisure.
Luxury of choice Savour the luxury of choice at this relaxed lodge – choose if you prefer an early morning game drive or to sleep a little late. With a dedicated ranger and vehicle on standby, your game drive experiences can be as frequent and as long as you want. Your personal chef is waiting in the interactive kitchen, so choose your own menu or opt to be surprised. Join in the cooking or just give instructions and watch your favour recipes take shape! Indulge in lively banter with friends or family at the large dining table or take in the scenery at an al fresco meal in the garden.
Private watering hole The cropped garden lawn ends in a popular watering hole that entices many a four-legged visitor. When the temptation of the water gets too much simply take a dip in the sparkling lodge pool or follow the example of the resident water monitor lizard and bask immobile in the sun on the extended pool deck.
African night Should you want a little privacy, each bush cottage has its own private sitting area and ensuite bathroom. At the end of the day revel in the relaxation of an oversized bathtub perfectly situated in the middle of a circular stone bath chamber. Round off the evening with a nightcap in the generous sitting room overlooking the watering hole, where herds of antelope may be settling in for the night or an opportunistic owl may be making a meal of the insect life attracted to the light shining on the water.
Phinda Game Reserve Game Viewing
Phinda Game Reserve is home to an abundance of wildlife, from the large mammals to the smallest antelope. However, it is the faster of predators that has a special place here. Having reintroduced cheetah to the area after an absence of over fifty years, Phinda has quickly established a reputation as one of the best places to view and photograph these rare cats. With much of Phinda dominated by a mosaic of various savanna habitats, these speedy carnivores have plenty of space to carry out their explosive hunting technique, as well as enough cover to protect and shelter their cubs.
Along with cheetah, lion and leopard are tracked on the reserve on a daily basis and guests have a high likelihood of encountering these magnificent animals. Another success story at Phinda Game Reserve is that of both the white and the more endangered black rhino. Brought back from the brink of extinction, both the grass easting white rhino and the shrub grazing black rhino are doing well at the reserve. While the white rhino favours water holes and wallows, the black rhino indulges its inquisitive nature in constant solitary rambles.
The elegant nyala antelope is a frequent sight at Phinda Game Reserve, with the reserve boasting one of the highest densities of the species. With its dark brown coat, buttery yellow legs, shaggy mane and impossibly bushy tail, the male nyala is particularly spectacular, while the female contents itself with a less flashy chestnut coat. The rare sand forest in the northern parts of Phinda Game Reserve is the perfect environment for some of the rarer smaller species. The shy red duiker is found grazing on fallen leaves and fruit and the tiny suni, one of the smallest antelope species, may also be seen.
BEACH AND BUSH ADVENTURES: At an additional cost
Flight of the Fish Eagle: Experience a breathtaking 60-minute flight over the diverse Maputaland wilderness of scenic pans, coastal lakes, bushveld, densely vegetated dunes and wildlife, and spot whales, whalesharks, dolphins and turtles in the magnificent Indian Ocean.
Scuba Safaris: A 15-minute flight and short drive takes you to one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. Diving the reefs of Sodwana Bay allows you to experience a portrait of marine diversity, with approximately 1200 species of fish and spectacular coral formations. (Can be combined with Maputaland Beach Adventures)
Deep-sea Fishing: Fly from Phinda Game Reserve to Sodwana Bay – a fisherman’s paradise inside a Marine Reserve – where a short drive takes you to your 25-foot sport fishing boat rigged for bill (marlin and sailfish), game (barracuda, yellowfin tuna and kingfish) and shark fishing. Phinda supports ‘catch-and-release’ procedures for deep-sea fishing.
Maputaland Beach Adventures: A 15-minute flight from Phinda Game Reserve and a short drive in a specially designed 4×4 beach vehicle takes you to the beautiful beach at Jesser Point. Depending on the tides, you will be driven to a secluded spot where you can enjoy snorkelling, swimming, or simply sunning on the endless beach, as well as a delicious picnic.
Beach Horse Riding: A 45-minute drive from Phinda Game Reserve takes you to the beach for an exhilarating one-hour ride followed by a scrumptious picnic snack. (Can be combined with Maputaland Beach Adventures)
False Bay Horse Riding: Enjoy the unmatched delight of riding well-schooled horses through False Bay Nature Reserve. A 1.5 hour ride takes you through the rare Dry Sand Forest habitat and along the picturesque False Bay lakeside. After the ride, relax and enjoy a delightful picnic snack while the horses rest at the water’s edge.
Night Turtle Drives (seasonal): A 45-minute drive from Phinda Game Reserve takes you to meet your beach ranger who will show you the wonders of the beach at night. In season, loggerhead turtles and gigantic leatherback turtles make the strenuous trail up the beach to lay their eggs – a humbling experience. Depending on the tides, you will either enjoy snacks, drinks and hot toddies on the beach or a delicious surfside supper.
Isikolethu (“Our Culture”) Community Experience: Experience the wonders and diversity of the Zulu culture while exploring the Mduku, Mnqobokazi and Nibela rural communities surrounding Phinda Game Reserve. Guests will depart after breakfast at 10h00, enjoying visits to Macebo crèche, the Sangoma (witch doctor), Ngubane Homestead and Mdluli Ancestoral Home. After an action-packed morning, guests will return to Phinda in time for a late lunch and their afternoon game-drive.
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