Editors' Picks

Phinda Private Game Reserve

Eclectic KwaZulu-Natal, conservation-focused

D675 Road, South Africa

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Indagare Adored

At a Glance

Family-friendly configurations and personalized scheduling aren’t typically options in safari properties, so this private lodge (the latest andBeyond addition) is ideal for families or a circle of friends looking for their own space and experience. In addition to Phinda Homestead, the 73,800-acre Phinda Private Game Reserve in the KwaZulu-Natal area of South Africa contains six properties and covers seven different ecosystems that are home to the Big Five, a spectacular array of birds, cheetahs, black rhinos and two elusive types of antelope (the Suni and the Red Duiker). The lodge features four beautifully appointed suites with woven accents, natural wood furniture, thatched roofs and Zulu-inspired décor. Common areas include an outdoor living room and dining room and an oversize deck with an infinity pool that overlooks the landscape, plus a small gym and spa. Every detail is looked after by the resident butler, chef, tracker and ranger, and the lodge’s safari jeep is available for game drives at any time.

The Standout: The flexibility that comes from being the only guests on the property, so everything from the timing of safari drives to the types of game viewing can be customized Don't Miss: The many activities— rhino notching, Zulu village visits, sleeping under the stars, the Pangolin experience or an ocean safari

Indagare Loves

  • The fact that this former farmland is now a wild animal reserve, in keeping with andBeyond’s dedication to land conservation (phinda is the Zulu word for “the return”)
  • Watching the elephants drink from the infinity pool
  • No minimum age for children


In South Africa’s southeastern KwaZulu-Natal region, just inland from the long Indian Ocean shoreline, Phinda Private Game Reserve is collection of six distinctive lodges spread across a region known for its seven contrasting ecosystems—woodland, grassland, wetland, forest, mountain, river and marsh—and the resulting rich game viewing. The architecturally unique lodges are clustered in the mountainous south and lush middle of the reserve (with one more private lodge, Phinda Zuka, on its own farther inland), so most guests split their time between the two areas.

Best for families, Phinda Mountain Lodge is the largest of the group, with 25 split-level suites and unbroken views of the Ubombo Mountains, plus a hilltop, U-shaped communal space, a shared pool and an alfresco dining deck. By contrast, neighboring Phinda Rock Lodge is completely kid-free and has just six pueblo-style suites made from stone and adobe, all with alfresco showers and private plunge pools overlooking dramatic Leopard Rock.

Crossing rivers and woodlands to the north, three more lodges are nestled in the verdant central region of the reserve. Phinda Forest Lodge is the most eco-friendly of the collection, with 16 suites built on stilts to minimize their impact on the rare dry sand forest, and floor-to-ceiling windows through which to admire it. A short hop to the east, Phinda Vlei Lodge’s six thatched suites sit on the namesake wetlands (vlei), done up in a rich mix of North African, West African and Balinese styles. Animals come to this area to drink and sleep, so a dip in your private pool or rest on the alfresco terrace often comes with some impromptu game viewing.

For small groups or extended families, The Homestead is a four-suite hideaway designed with an indoor/outdoor layout in traditional thatch and stone. The sole-use lodge comes with a dedicated ranger, tracker, butler, chef and private 4x4 jeep, so guests have complete control over the pace of the day, even if that means admiring the bush from your infinity pool rather than the truck. For greater privacy, the eight-person Zuka Lodge has the same exclusive-use set up and facilities, plus top bird and game viewing thanks to its location overlooking a watering hole.

Who Should Stay

Families with children (all ages), a group of up to eight friends, or a multigenerational family group; beach lovers who can add on days on the coast; conservationists; and first-time safari goers looking for an easy-to-reach location (no need for a bush plane)

Written by Nikki Ridgway

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