Phinda Vlei Lodge is in a lovely setting between the forest and the grasslands. Its six suites are the epitome of casual luxury. The bed faces glass doors that slide open to reveal an uninterrupted view of the vlei (meadow) and waterhole where you can often see antelope, zebra and elephant. Venture out onto your deck to breathe in the fresh air, bask in the sunlight and enjoy a refreshing dip in the plunge pool. The en-suite bathroom has a deep, porcelain and copper bathtub, twin washbasins and shower. It’s not unknown for elephants, antelopes to approach suites to drink from the pool – a really close wildlife encounter!
There’s a large main deck partially shaded by trees, where breakfast is usually served in the morning sun. Inside the dining room is a cosy space complete with a log fire, and the lounge has plush sofas and chairs you can sink back into. Meals are served in a number of locations around the lodge, and special romantic dinners can be arranged.
Phinda is a private game reserve so you can take night drives and guided walks to supplement the morning and afternoon 4x4 safaris. There may be an opportunity to track black rhino on foot, a thrilling experience and not soon forgotten. Not to be missed is a Zulu village tour, something to capture the attention of visitors of all ages. The coast is within easy reach making a day on the beach a distinct possibility with scuba and ocean safaris and night turtle drives (seasonal). Due to the variety of activities this is a good option for families and children of all ages are welcome at Phinda Vlei Lodge.
Photographs copyright andBeyond
Open: Phinda Vlei Lodge is open all year.
Location: The lodge is below the Lebombo Mountains at the edge of a forest overlooking a clearing in Phinda Private Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal. There are daily flights from Johannesburg to Phinda's private airstrip, it is also accessible by road.
Rooms: There are six air conditioned suites with accommodation for a maximum of 12 guests. Each has a bedroom, sitting area, minibar, dressing room and en-suite bathroom with a deep bathtub, shower, twin hand basin and flush toilet. The bedroom opens on to a deck with chairs and a table and a small lap pool. Rooms are located at varying distances from the main lodge. The suites are well positioned to enable wildlife watching from your bed, deck or even the bathtub.
Activities: Regular activities comprise day and night game drives, guided walks and river cruises. These can be supplemented by rhino tracking walks, photographic safaris (subject to vehicle availability), and time spend at a local Zulu village. You can travel to the coast, where you can swim with whale sharks, go scuba diving and take seasonal whale watching and turtle watching trips.
Facilities: The main lodge houses an elegant dining room and lounge, each with a large fireplace. These rooms open on to a large terrace facing the vlei and a waterhole where you can sit and watch wildlife and enjoy a drink from the bar.
Dining: Meals are eaten at a communal table in the dining room, on the deck and by the edge of the vlei. Private dining is possible, served on your suite's deck.
Children: Children of all ages are welcome, though age limits apply to activities. The minimum age for game drives is 12, though those aged 6 plus may take part if the lodge manager agrees. The lodge operates the WILDchild programme, a series of special activities for youngsters.
Health: This is a low risk malarial area.
Communication: There is Wi-Fi internet access.
AndBeyond have a strong commitment to conservation. Their Vision 2020 aims to reduce carbon footprint, operate sustainable use of water, zero plastic water bottles. They are strongly involved in protection of endangered species and actively practice wildlife conservation and land management. They support wildlife conservation by education of both visitors and the local community.