Set deep in the heart of a rare and beautiful dry sand forest, Phinda Forest Lodge is a tranquil glass-walled retreat cradled in a maze of ancient vegetation.
In an award-winning fusion of spectacular architectural design and eco-sensitive principles, 16 'suites on stilts' appear to float between the fertile forest floor and the leafy canopy of towering torchwood trees above. Floor to ceiling glass walls allow close-up views of incredible birdlife and small animals in the dappled shade of the forest. 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 impala.
Phinda Private Game Reserve encompasses an impressive 23 000 hectares of protected wildlife land and has a strong focus on conservation and community involvement. The reserve is particularly well known for close-up sightings of the elegant, yet elusive cheetah, as well as the rare black rhino. Cheetah, lion and leopard are tracked on the reserve on a daily basis and guests have a high likelihood of encountering these magnificent animals.
With its seven distinct habitats, Phinda is often described as ‘Seven Worlds of Wonder’, a magnificent tapestry of woodland, grassland, wetland and forest, interspersed with mountain ranges, rivers, marshes and pans. It is much more than just another Big Five reserve.
Inventively designed in a style affectionately known as Zulu Zen, each handcrafted, glass-encased suite boasts a minimalist flair that incorporates high-gloss wooden floors, richly tactile fabrics and brightly accented Zulu artefacts. Oversized bathtubs with huge glass windows invite the tranquillity of the forest inside, while spacious private viewing decks offer sightings of graceful nyala and duiker in the dappled shade of the forest. The lodge’s sparkling rim-flow swimming pool, as well as the expansive decks in its seating area, offers panoramic views of an open meadow where animals frequently graze.
For the staff members at Phinda, there is no better way to spend the day than making guests' safari dreams come true. Personal butlers, chefs, housekeepers, security and workshop staff are the magic ingredients at Phinda, with their collective commitment to creating moments that take guests' breath away.
While away an afternoon on the spacious private veranda of your suite, secluded from all except an occasional red tonga squirrel in the treetops. Fresh duiker tracks in the sandy paths point the way towards the lodge’s rim flow pool at the edge of the forest, where you can relax in the shade of the wooded canopy. An in-room massage and gym in a bag are at your disposal.
Delicious meals from the interactive kitchen are served on the expansive outdoor dining deck, surrounded by monkeys frolicking in the branches and an ever-changing assortment of wildlife grazing 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, as you enjoy lantern-lit open-air dining beneath a canvas of stars.
Many of the highly trained professional rangers and trackers belong to the surrounding Zulu communities and can share cultural insights in addition to their incomparable wealth of wildlife knowledge.
Twice-daily interpretive game drives in open 4x4 safari vehicles ensure excellent Big Five game viewing, with spectacular sightings of the elusive cheetah and the rare black rhino and the abundant wildlife and birdlife. Evening game drives last until after dark, when spotlights are used for a glimpse into the nocturnal bush life. Listen to lions roar in the dark or admire the small nocturnal animals. Children aged 6 to 11 are permitted on game drives at the lodge manager’s discretion.
If you prefer, you could go on a boat cruise down the Mzinene River, watching the wildlife as they come down to drink.
Enjoy bush walks (not for children under 16) accompanied by your ranger, who will share his insight into the smaller animals, insects and vegetation in the area.