By Zoe Wiltshire
Phinda Private Game Reserve is located in the less well-known area of KwaZulu Natal and a real hidden gem. The game reserve itself boasts many distinct habitats of woodland, wetland, grassland, marshes, pans, rivers and mountains – therefore an extended stay across multiple lodges on the reserve will show you the best of this paradise.
Not only can you see a variety of incredible habitats and wildlife, but Phinda is located close to the unspoiled beaches and marine reefs of the Indian Ocean. This gives you the ability to go out on ocean safaris and even night turtle drives (which are seasonal) as well as Zulu village tours. These incredible experiences all operate alongside the more typical daily game drives, which will give you the potential of seeing the Big 5!
andBeyond offer fantastic conservation efforts, which your stay directly contributes to, and at certain times you can even take an active part in these efforts. You can experience rhino ear notching for research and security monitoring, as well witness the de-horning process (an anti-poaching measure). The andBeyond are also pioneering rehabilitation efforts to return the highly trafficked and endangered pangolin back into the reserve, which has sadly been extinct from the area for the last decade.
Phinda Game Reserve, unlike many areas across Africa, is a fantastic safari destination all year round. During their hot summer months (October – April), the bush will be lusher and thicker, but you will have the opportunity to see lots of young wildlife around. Whereas in the much cooler winter months (May – September), the bush thins out, making spotting game that bit easier.
Where to stay
Whilst all of the lodges in the Phinda Game Reserve are fantastic and will offer very unique styles and views, a Blank Canvas favourite is Phinda Forest Lodge. The glass-sided chalets in the heart of the forest make for an enchanting view, incredibly relaxing from the usual hustle and bustle ofevery-day life. The main day-time dining area is spacious and open, offering views onto the open meadow, where game can often be found grazing; whilst the warmly lit African boma plays host for evening meals. The rim-flow swimming pool is a cool oasis on hot days, offering views out onto the meadow, giving you the opportunity to spot wildlife whilst relaxing.
Rest assured that the staff, service and food are all of the incredibly high standard that andBeyond sets itself. However, where they really do excel, is with their guides. With a rigorous selection and training programme, andBeyond really have set the standard for guiding across the continent and there is no exception at Phinda Forest Lodge. One of the training schools is actually located in Phinda Game Reserve!