&Beyond Phinda Game Reserve is an 18,000-hectare private game reserve cradled between the Lebombo Mountains and the Indian Ocean in the lush KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa.
Its diverse habitats, wealth of wildlife and bird species, and variety of exhilirating activities, Phinda is an outstanding setting for a safari holiday.
‘Phinda’ means ‘the return’. It has been a long-term project for &Beyond. It began as a dream to restore the land. Today, the reserve enjoys a worldwide reputation for its conservation practice.
This one reserve encompasses seven distinct ecosystems, a mosaic of varied habitats such as ilala palm, savannah, montane grasslands, riverine forest, acacia thornveld, sand forest, open grassland and natural pan systems.
Phinda protects an extraordinary range of wildlife. Buffalo, white rhino, elephant, giraffe, impala, zebra and wildebeest roam the plains and draw lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. Hippo wallow in the pools and lakes, and elephant bathe in the Mzinene River. Red duiker, nyala, suni antelope, bushpig or red squirrel inhabit the forest and vlei zones. Spotted genet, porcupines and bush babies appear after dark. To the east, Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles swim in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
Over 380 species of birds are found at Phinda including Pied and Pygmy kingfishers, Goliath herons, Great white egrets, Purple gallinule, Pygmy goose, African fish eagle and White-faced "whistling" duck. Giant eagle owls and Nightjars are active at night.
Forest birds include the striking Purple-crested lourie (Turaco) and the Bluemantled flycatcher. White-bellied sunbird and Scarlet-chested sunbird can be spotted in the mountains.
There are six distinctive lodges at Phinda, all offering first-class service and dining. Spectacular bush banquets, served under the star-studded African skies, are one memorable feature of a stay at Phinda.
FOREST LODGE has 16 raised air-conditioned chalets set in the botanically unique sand forest. Towering torchwood trees ensure privacy in each of the glass chalets. Outside, wooden decks have been erected around the growing trees. The dining area, lounge and shaded swimming pool overlook a tranquil open grassy vlei (wetland pan). The elevated central lookout deck is a prime bird-watching spot.
ROCK LODGE has six air-conditioned suites chiselled into the rock face overlooking Leopard Rock. Each has its own private lounge, deck and plunge pool, and offers unrivalled views and the chance to watch the flight of Bateleur eagles at eye-level.
MOUNTAIN LODGE offers 20 spacious air-conditioned chalets with private decks and superb panoramic views of the reserve. There is a large, sparkling pool and enormous lounges and verandahs, which have sweeping views of the bushveld below and Lebombo Mountains At VLEI LODGE the six suites, each with private plunge pool and game viewing deck, are constructed of thatch, teak and glass. Built on stilts, they overlook a unique ‘vlei’ or pan system. This wetland wilderness is a haunt of cheetah.
ZUKA LODGE is for exclusive use only. It accommodates up to eight people in four charming and comfortable thatched bush cottages. It is set in an area of densely wooded hills, overlooking lush open grassland where black and white rhino graze. Wildlife gathers at the waterhole in front of the lodge. You have your own butler and chef as well as your private ranger and vehicle. The lodge has an interactive café-style kitchen, a library with internet access and swimming pool. Phinda Zuka accepts children and is ideal for one or two families on holiday together or for including the grandparents on a memorable safari.
PHINDA HOMESTEAD is a stone farmhouse rebuilt on Phinda, is also for exclusive use. It provides four spacious suites with huge sliding panel windows. Its elevated position overlooks a green valley – the remains of an extinct volcano - ringed with hills. The house has an interactive kitchen and an infinity pool. Your can tailor-make your safari programme with your private ranger and vehicle. The lodge accepts children. Getty Lodge is perfect for a large family, a couple of families on safari together, or special family gatherings.
Activities available include: game drives, bush walks, boat trips through waterways inhabited by crocodiles and hippos, birding, deep-sea fishing, horse-riding, Zulu culture, and excursions to the coast for diving, snorkelling and to see giant Leatherback turtles. If you want to the thrill of tracking white rhino on foot, be sure to book in advance.
Phinda is a project which pioneered community involvement and has for many years been a benchmark for responsible, sustainable ecotourism. Local communities have been involved in all aspects of the development of the reserve. They benefit from direct employment, training and from help with establishing small businesses to service the reserve. Other projects include a clinic, pre-school and classroom facilities, and community charcoal-making from bush clearing.