Phinda Reserve in South Africa – Seven Worlds of Wonder

November 16th 2014  |   Community Safaris, Wildlife Safaris, Countries, Experiences, Miscellaneous, South Africa  |  by   Richard Smith
Phinda Homestead elephants by the pool South Africa

Phinda Private Game Reserve, from the &Beyond portfolio of properties, is a 23,000 hectare private game reserve in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal region. It lies between the Mkuze Game Reserve and the St. Lucia Wetland Park. Formed in 1990, the reserve’s diversity of habitat with seven distinct ecosystems is key to its richness in supporting wildlife. In fact, Phinda Reserve is often referred to as ‘Seven Worlds of Wonder’.

Protecting Wildlife Through Eco-tourism

The birth of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve was the result of four keen conservationists with an understanding of how business can make a difference—Dave Varty, Alan Bernstein, Kevin Leo-Smith and Trevor Coppen—coming together to show how wildlife would best be protected through operating a lodge rather than relying on donor or government funding.


Leopard at Phinda Vlei

Initially known as Conservation Corporation, and now as &Beyond, finance was raised to buy an area of farmland, previously used for sisal, pineapples and cattle, which formed a vital link between the Mkuze Game Reserve and St Lucia Game Reserve. This reserve was initially known as Phinda Izilwane, the local Zulu word for ‘return of the wildlife’, referring to the animals that used to roam freely in this area.

Soaring Mountain Top Views

Phinda Mountain, the first lodge built on the reserve, still stands, although it has undergone a number of renovations. The main building enjoys fabulous views from its position on top of a hill, while the 25 separate suites are set among woodland on the hillsides below.


Phinda Mountain Exterior

With modern bathrooms, outdoor showers, private sitting areas and verandas with private plunge pools, the suites are magnificent places to relax when you’re not taking part in wildlife viewing activities. Phinda Mountain Lodge consistently gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor.

The Big 5 Amid World Class Luxury

As the area expanded over the years other eco-friendly, luxurious properties have been built on the reserve to include:

  1. Phinda Rock Lodge – A six suite lodge perched on a hillside close to Phinda Mountain.

    phinda rock lodge

    Phinda Rock Dining

  2. Phinda Forest Lodge – Set, as the name suggests, within a sand forest, this lodge has 16 glass encapsulated suites.

    phinda south africa forest pool

    Phinda Forest Pool

  3. Phinda Vlei Lodge – A smaller lodge, not far from Forest, with just six suites looking across open grassland.

    vlei exterior shot phinda

    Phinda Vlei Exterior

  4. Phinda Zuka – The four cottages at Zuka all overlook a waterhole and can be booked individually or by a group or family travelling together.

    phidnda zuka bedroom

    Phinda Zuka Bedroom

  5. Phinda Homestead – Phinda Homestead has four generous suites and expansive sitting and dining areas. It’s an exclusive use property ideal for small groups or families.

    Phinda Homestead

    Phinda Homestead

Nature’s Own Theatre

A mecca for nature lovers everywhere, Phinda Reserve supports numerous species including the safari-goers Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) as well as cheetah and black rhino. Avid birders can also enjoy spotting a whopping 415 species within the territory.


Enjoy the Big 5 on a game drive

Wildlife Wows

Few wildlife reserves are as close to the coast as Phinda. One of the most amazing things you can experience here is to view loggerhead and leatherback turtles as they come on to the beach to lay eggs, or later when the eggs hatch and the hatchlings make their way to the sea, running the gauntlet of crabs.

Phinda Reserve Hatching Turtles

Phinda Hatching Turtles

Phinda Reserve for Families

South Africa in general is a great family destination. The Phinda Reserve lodges, in addition to outstanding wildlife viewing activities, run a children’s programme which incorporates play into the conservation lessons. Activities are suitable for children from six and up, and include tracking, fishing, making bows and arrows, beading, crafting and painting.

Children's cookery classes at Phinda

Children’s cookery classes at Phinda

Best Time to Travel to Phinda Reserve

Vegetation is lush in South Africa’s summer months, between October and April, during which time you’re likely to encounter large numbers of young animals as well as having the opportunity to spot turtles. Typical temperatures are between 24°C and 32°C and there is a chance of rain, particularly in January and February.

Boating safari at Phinda

Boating safari at Phinda

In the winter months between May and September, days are clearer and vegetation becomes sparse, making wildlife easier to spot. Temperatures drop to between 8°C and 23°C with some particularly chilly mornings in May and June.

Peek Into the Trophy Cupboard

Phinda’s accolades over the years are certainly stacking up. Here’s a snapshot of some of the latest awards:

  • 2014, Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Honoured in ‘Best Resorts in South Africa’
  • 2014, Conde Nast Traveler, Recognised ‘Best in the World’ (Africa)
  • 2014, Conde Nast Traveler, Recognised Top 100 Hotels, Islands, Cities, Cruises and Airlines
  • 2014, TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, Phinda Mountain Lodge for consistent 4.5 rating
  • 2014, World Travel Awards, Africa’s Leading Private Game Reserve
  • 2014, World Travel Awards, South Africa’s Leading Luxury Lodge
  • 2014, World Travel Awards, South Africa’s Leading Private Game Reserve
  • 2013, Conde Nast Traveler, No 4 in ‘Best in World’ (Africa)
  • 2013, World Travel Awards, Africa’s Leading Private Game Reserve
  • 2013, World Travel Awards, South Africa’s Leading Luxury Lodge
  • 2013, World Travel Awards, South Africa’s Leading Private Game Reserve

If you are excited about exploring the Phinda reserve for a family holiday or luxury romantic safari please get in touch by calling us or emailing us.

2 responses to “Phinda Reserve in South Africa – Seven Worlds of Wonder”

  1. Jeff florin says:

    We are a group of two …. maybe 4 taking a cruise out of Capetown and potentially interested in a 2-3 day stay ahead of the cruise and not sure the best way to travel to there from the u.s.a. Snd then from there to Capetown to meet the ship. Are there standard packages you have? I believe the cruise departs Capetown 3/24/2022. In advance, thank you.

    • Richard Smith says:

      Thanks for your question; we can certainly help with travel arrangements and make some suggestions and recommendations for a bespoke safari prior to your cruise. I’ll ask one of our South Africa travel experts to get in touch with you

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