Safari Reserve

Kwazulu Natal

South Africa

bushman painting
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Phinda's complex ecosystem
Dining room at the elegant Vlei Lodge

Mountain Lodge Bedroom

Phinda is a game-lovers paradise, nestling below the Lebombo Mountains of Northern KwaZulu-Natal, with easy access from Durban or Richard's Bay.  Phinda is a Zulu word meaning "the return". In one of the biggest reintroductions of game in Africa, Phinda was  restocked with lion, rhino, buffalo, elephant, leopard, giraffe and other big game in an  operation dubbed "phinda izilwane", return of the wild animals.

Game drives are only one aspect of the Phinda experience. There is little that can compete with our "Flight of the Fish Eagle" air safari - soaring over a bay where the diversity of species rivals Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Or floating past pods of hippo in a canoe or river boat. Scuba diving, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing are just a hop away. And in the evenings, immerse yourself in the ancient culture of Southern Africa's warrior tribe, the Zulu. 

"In addition to offering some of the most exquisitely designed guest villas anywhere in the  world, Phinda Reserve is home to seven ecosystems which support the Big Five and hundreds of other species of animals,
reptiles, birds and plants."
                             - Town & Country Magazine (UK) Jan 2001

Wildlife & Conservation

Phinda was born out of a belief that the beauty of Maputaland was worth saving from the spiral of destruction into which it has been drawn. Its first target was to repair habitat damaged by almost a century of cattle farming, to return the wildlife which had once roamed the Maputaland plain, and to build luxury, world-class destinations for visitors without whom there would not be a viable plan. The second task was to reconnect the rural communities with the land by giving people the opportunity to participate at every level in sustainable conservation development by providing employment, training and the infrastructure for small business development.

"In a single decade, the reserve on the Maputaland coastal plain had become a model of what could happen all over Africa. Once again nature had the upper hand."

The story of Phinda Private Game Reserve started almost a decade ago with the consolidation of over 17 000 hectares of prime game viewing land. The restoration fitted perfectly with CCAfrica's objectives: consolidating degraded and undervalued land assets; rehabilitating and restocking the land; creating rural wealth and generating financial returns through ecotourism. The project initially involved the consolidation of 7 500 hectares of key farmland between the Mkuze Game Reserve and Sodwana State Forest Reserve, just north of Lake St Lucia. This land had been coveted by conservation bodies for incorporation within the planned Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, one of the most diverse wilderness areas in Africa. In 1991, a further 6 000 hectares was purchased by CCAfrica for incorporation within Phinda, accompanied by one of the biggest game restocking exercises undertaken on private land in South Africa. Care was also taken for the landscape - for example, during the building of Phinda Forest Lodge in a rare sand forest, not a single tree was uprooted.


Accommodation consists of 4 luxury lodges, each of which is a member of Small Luxury Hotels, this is the quintessential place for a few days of game-viewing during a visit to South Africa.

Phinda Forest Lodge is situated in the depths of the botanically unique Sand Forest, the bedroom suites were hand-built on small stilts by the Zulu people. Guests experience the sensuous delight of luxurious minimalism offset by the verdant forest scene beyond the chalet's glass walls.

The subtle combination of avant garde and ethnic décor at Phinda  Mountain Lodge is inspiring... but nothing surpasses the view of the ash-blue Lebombo Mountains as they sweep down to the coastal plains.

The ingenious stone and wood cliff chalets of Phinda Rock Lodge are chiseled into the rock face overlooking the impressive Leopard Rock. This is one of the few places in the world where you can sip your drink while watching Bateleur eagles swoop by at eye-level. 

Suites of thatch, teak and glass built on stilts overlook Phinda Vlei Lodge's unique "vlei" or pan system. On the verge of a forest, this century-old wetland wilderness is a favourite roaming ground of lightning-fast cheetah. 

Pool at Mountain Lodge

Lounge at Mountain Lodge

Forest Lodge


... and more rhino

.... and even more rhino

Cheetah seen on night drive

Rare and beautiful Nyala doe 

The wetlands make Phinda a birdwatchers paradise

Tsesebe - Africa's swiftest antelope

Cape To Cairo:  African Business and Adventure Travel
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