A cheetah slept on the deck last night. This morning a herd of elephant is milling around the waterhole in the foreground, and there’s a lioness watching it all from the sidelines. This is our early morning ‘greeting from the wild’ at andBeyond Phinda Homestead, set on the edge of dappled forest in northern KwaZulu-Natal. It’s definitely an evocative way to start your day.
Appropriately, ‘phinda’ means ‘the return’, which is its accomplishment and hallmark. Over the past 30 years, andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve has transformed from farmland into over 28 000 hectares of magnificent reserve, which includes critically endangered, ancient sand forest. Wildlife thrives here and offers some of Africa’s finest game viewing with the Big Five, along with numerous other unusual and rare species like cheetah, nyala and endangered pangolin. And for keen birders, there are over 430 species to spot.
The reserve leases the land from the local community, works closely with them and invests in them widely. Guests can visit the various community initiatives too, track pangolin, see active rhino and cheetah conservation, and marvel at how their visits are at the heart of andBeyond Phinda’s success story. This is the real deal, where conservation, community and wildlife all work together for the greatest good of all.
While there are six lodges on the reserve, andBeyond Phinda Homestead is the only sole-use safari villa – complete with a dedicated ranger, tracker, butler and chef. The gracious homestead is a contemporary bush farmhouse, and is homely, elegant and sublimely comfortable. Overlooking a waterhole, you’ll see wildlife wandering past freely through the day. You can game watch from the pool or fire pit, or while enjoying an al fresco meal on the deck. Being unfenced, the homestead is seamless with its surrounding environment and all live together harmoniously.
Families and small groups always enjoy superb quality time together at the homestead, which also has a massage sala and exercise room. The four contemporary, spacious suites – and a fifth kids’ bunk room for four – are beautifully private and appointed to reflect the natural environment. Colours are muted, textures are natural with woven sisal and basketware, natural wood and nguni hides. The space is calm, relaxed, luxurious yet unpretentious. And with absolutely everything tailored and personalised – from game drives to meals – it is a personal safari experience par excellence. While andBeyond Phinda is ‘the return’ of wildlife, land and community integration, it is also a thoroughly authentic bush experience where all is in balance and real.
What we love:
- pineapple inspiration in décor to reflect the history of the reserve
- the Wild Child programme with age-appropriate bush activities for kids
- being part of real conservation initiatives, like rare pangolin tracking for data collection, rhino notching and dehorning
- excellent game viewing and weather all year, and seeing both black and white rhino
- the super-qualified and passionate staff who make you feel like a friend
- that families of all ages are welcomed
- so many activities to enjoy in the surrounding area too
- a full-day photographic experience with a specialised guide and vehicle
Need to know:
- the pool can be covered for small children
- 3.5 hours’ from Durban and 7 hours’ drive from Johannesburg
- daily scheduled flights from Johannesburg to and Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.
- private charters from anywhere in SA can be arranged to the reserve’s air strip
- the property is not fenced
Posted by Keri Harvey