Face-to-face with lions and rhino after breakfast, up close to a Whale Shark or battling sailfish after lunch. That’s the Phinda experience, one of the most exciting African safari destinations in Southern Africa. Located between the azure waters of the Indian Ocean and the lush waterways of the World Heritage Greater Saint Lucia Wetland Park, Phinda’s 17 000 hectares span seven unique ecosystems.
Nestled below the Lebombo Mountains of Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Phinda is a Zulu word meaning “the return”. In one of the biggest reintroductions of game in Africa, Phinda was restocked with lion, rhino, buffalo, elephant, leopard, giraffe and other big game in an operation dubbed “phinda izilwane”, return of the wild animals. Game drives are only one aspect of the Phinda experience. There is little that can compete with the “Flight of the Fish Eagle” air safari - soaring over a bay where the diversity of species rivals Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Or floating past pods of hippo in a canoe or river boat. Scuba diving, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing are just a hop away. And in the evenings, immerse yourself in the ancient culture of Southern Africa’s warrior tribe, the Zulu.
We offer four diverse lodges within one reserve. Forest, Vlei, Rock and Mountain Lodge each capture the magical flair of CC Africa. Phinda is not only a luxury destination, it is also a dynamic working model in wise land management and creative wildlife conservation.
Phinda Forest Lodge
Phinda Forest Lodge is situated in the depths of the botanically unique Sand Forest, the bedroom suites were hand-built on small stilts by the Zulu people. Guests experience the sensuous delight of luxurious minimalism offset by the verdant forest scene beyond the chalet’s glass walls. Forest Lodge’s 16 raised glass-encased chalets have a bedroom, lounge and spacious en suite bathroom with a bath and separate shower. Outside, wooden decks have been erected around the growing trees. Although surrounded on three sides by glass, the fertile forest floor and towering torchwood trees ensure privacy in each of the chalets. Constructed to minimise impact on the unique Sand Forest, the air-conditioned rooms are raised off the ground to allow smaller animals complete freedom of movement along the forest floor below. At Forest Lodge, the glass walls display the sea-green canopy with wide-screen effect. A few short paces outside, birds and animals such as the tiny red duiker, suni antelope and rare red squirrel move quietly through the forest.
The chalets evoke the luxurious minimalism of classic Japanese architecture. This is offset by the verdant forest scene beyond the glass walls, creating a sensuous African delight. The chalets have polished beechwood and slate floors.
The central dining area, lounge and shaded swimming pool of this secluded camp overlook a tranquil open grassy vlei (wetland pan). The elevated lookout deck is a prime bird-watching spot for the approximately 400 species at Phinda. The range of souvenirs in the curio shop at main reception area is worth exploring.
We invite you to savour flamboyant cuisine infused with Pan-African flair. You may dine on the deck viewing the grassy plains. Or indulge in the romance of al fresco dining beneath a starlit sky around the forest boma (enclosed reeded area). Large tables for eight glow in the light of the central boma fire.
Phinda Mountain Lodge
The subtle combination of avant garde and ethnic dècor at Phinda Mountain Lodge is inspiring… but nothing surpasses the view of the ash-blue Lebombo Mountains as they sweep down to the coastal plains. Mountain Lodge has 20 air-conditioned chalets with private decks and en suite bathrooms with bath and shower. Paved pathways lead down the mountainside from the main lodge to the chalets. A subtly executed blend of avant-garde and ethnic dècor captures the alluring bushveld spirit in each room.
The bar, shaded terrace and main lounge open onto cool verandahs with serene views of the Lebombo Mountains. You will be treated to authentic African hospitality at the reception area and curio shop. Or you may choose to take a refreshing dip in the shaded swimming pool. You can linger on the lookout deck, built for relaxation, bird and game watching.
Lunch is served on the shaded terrace, patio or dining room. Dinners in the dramatic open-air boma (enclosed reeded area) can be relished under starlit African skies.
Phinda Rock Lodge
The ingenious stone and wood cliff chalets of Phinda Rock Lodge are chiselled into the rock face overlooking the impressive Leopard Rock. This is one of the few places in the world where you can sip your drink while watching Bateleur eagles swoop by at eye-level.
Each of the six suites has a large bedroom and an en suite bathroom with bath and shower. Each suite, suspended from the edge of the rocky cliff, has its own private lounge, deck and plunge pool, all offering unrivalled views. Three suites have both indoor and outdoor showers.
Overlooking scenic Leopard Rock, the lodge’s rough-hewn sandstone and adobe walls and ochre-packed roofs cling to the rock face. A beautiful extension of the natural environment, the rock foundations blend seamlessly into the mountain’s contours.
The suites are decorated with artwork from Spain and Mexico. The colour scheme is warm and inviting, blending beautifully with the ochre mud-packed walls (“adobe” style). Terminalia wood, gathered from the bush-clearing project in the north of the reserve, is used as a supporting feature. Expanses of windows frame views of impressive rock formations, and fill the rooms with light. In the private lounge, a beautiful sisal rug is complemented by comfortable lounge chairs, perfect for relaxing and admiring the view.
Savannah grasslands and the majestic Lebombo Mountains can be seen clearly from the central areas. An open fireplace in the lounge draws winter guests. Fiery sunsets are captured on the west-facing outside deck, which is suspended over the bushveld. You are welcome to visit the curio shop at Mountain Lodge.
Dinner at Phinda Rock Lodge is a Pan-African banquet spread under hand-wrought chandeliers. There is an open fireplace in the dining room.
Phinda Vlei Lodge
Suites of thatch, teak and glass built on stilts overlook Phinda Vlei Lodge’s unique “vlei” or pan system. On the verge of a forest, this century-old wetland wilderness is a favourite roaming ground of lightning-fast cheetah. Six suites, crafted from local materials of thatch, teak and glass, are suspended above the Sand Forest floor. The air-conditioned suites overlook a natural vlei system. The airy double bedrooms have en suite bathrooms with a bath and shower. You can enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner on your outdoor viewing deck or cool down in your private plunge pool.
The suites feature ethnic fabrics, hand-crafted cane and timber-framed panels. The dècor is a subtle blend of North and West African styles with hints of Balinese influences. The unique architectural design creates the illusion that no man-made structure exists between you and the African wilderness.The reception, lounge and bar areas of this secluded lodge overlook a tranquil vlei (wetland pan). The shaded terrace is a superb vantage point for bird-watching. The lounge has a fireplace, books and a well-stocked drinks cabinet. The guest dining area overlooks the expanse of grassy vlei. Delicious Pan-African cuisine is served in sumptuous surroundings
Safaris at Phinda
Twice a day, you may take a game drive in an open Land Rover. An experienced ranger will reveal the sights and sounds of wild Zululand. Guided bush walks allow for closer exploration of the shadowy forest canopies. On bush walks, you will hear about traditional legends and the medicinal benefits of a wide variety of plants. You could stay at Phinda for a month and still find new things to do, such as: