Under the African sky, A lifestyle safari experience
As the wife of a pro-cyclist, I count the sleeps until my hubby has his 2 weeks off the bike. Yup, that’s right, a whole two weeks of a bike free life. The cycling season is a long one with the race season starting mid Jan and running into October where we have a two week break before base training starts in preparation for the next race season. My hubby and I always try and get away for a bit and do the things that we love to do and the things that we can’t always do with a bike in toe. The bush and game viewing are one of them. Cycling in a big 5 reserve may not be the best idea!
We have been fortunate enough to experience &beyond’s Phinda private game reserve a few times and needless to say, Mountain lodge has become so familiar that it feels a bit like my home away from home.
From the minute that I arrive, I am relaxed and feel at home. Phinda for me is not just about game viewing. Yes, that’s a big part of it, in fact probably a huge part of it but do you blame me? But Phinda is a food and lifestyle experience in its own right!
Your wakeup call comes at 5am every morning
before gathering on the patio to watch the sun rise over the bush with a cup of whatever you fancy and a home baked rusk in hand. Then its time to hit the road for your morning game viewing drive. Now nature being nature, you are not guaranteed to see anything but then again you could also see everything in the first 20 minutes. Phinda is a big 5 reserve and we have always had incredible sightings of all big 5 animals and more.
This time we were spoilt
with the elusive Leopard, large elephant herds, cheetah, lion, rhino and even a Vine snake! It’s great heading out with a vehicle full Africa first timers and seeing the excitement they have at even the tiniest of creatures. It brings a fresh look at animals that maybe we take for granted. I mean, have you ever really looked at a giraffe. I am mean REALLY looked at a giraffe and taken in their weird awesomeness? How can anything so beautifully but oddly made and yet be so effective in the African bush? but they are, and they manage to blend so well into their surroundings that they can very hard to spot sometimes.
Its time for your mid game drive coffee stop.
You pull up on a rocky outcrop and the view is breath taking, especially after the recent rain which has greened up what would be dry and brown after the winter. The new shoots are sweet and succulent, and the grazers have gathered to feast. It’s the best place to sit and watch a herd of 70 something elephants, while sipping on your chocomocharula. An insanely moreish combination of freshly brewed coffee, hot chocolate and a shot of Amarula. And then there is the Phinda famous crunchies…. it’s a match made in heaven.
The breakfast and lunch spreads are something to behold.
There is something for everyone and if you are one that has an intolerance of some kind. Don’t fear, the smiley and bubbly Grateful in the mountain lodge kitchen is never far and has made sure that all your wants and needs are met.
And there is your room…
As a designer, I am always quizzy to check out the rooms and too see how my fellow designers have tackled these spaces and I can tell you something, coming up with an interior that not only looks incredible and complements its surrounds but can withstand so much traffic and bum traffic is no easy feat so hats off to you guys! The newly revamped almost Moroccan inspired rock lodge has a charm of its own, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea design wise but once you are tucked into your room in the rocks, overlooking the bush below, all things fall away and at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
Rock lodge is a small and intimate lodge with only 6 spacious rooms tucked into a rocky hillside.
The exterior has been treated in such a way that you don’t even know its there. The guests all gather on the deck for meals and if the weather is bad (which is way the day we were there. We were getting the much-needed rain to dampen the scorched earth) the lounge with its central fire place is a good spot to enjoy a drink before swopping stories of the day around a long oak table and enjoying the spoils of the kitchen.
This homely experience contrasts with the well know safari dinners (due to the poor weather we never had our chance to experience this on this occasion…. we may have to go back) and the casual, relaxed boma dinners of mountain lodge where dinner takes place centered around a roaring fire and they don’t call an evening fire the bush TV for nothing. It’s a relaxed affair with an incredible spread of soups, local venison cuts, hearty curries and lick the plate puddings. All designed to full the belly after a tough day out under the African sun.
When you retire to your room, happy and content, you can be met by candles and bubbles, all designed to bring you joy. You can plunge into a frothy bath with glass of Amarula in hand to watch the African stars sparkle and twinkle in the sky. What better way to end the day?
We wake up and do it all again tomorrow…
Every inch of the experience has been thought about. These guys know their guests and how to offer them a relaxed, exclusive, intimate bush experience.
professional photos from & beyond travel and their appointed photographer.
More about Phinda Private Game reserve
Phinda is home to Africa’s Big Five and an abundance of other flora and fauna, the Phinda Private Game Reserve situated in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province is the ideal destination for travellers looking to experience an authentic African safari. The Phinda Private Game Reserve offers a safe haven for threatened wildlife, such as cheetah and black rhino. It’s also an excellent bird watching location, as it’s home to approximately 415 bird species. If you’re planning a South African safari, here are 10 reasons why you need to visit the Phinda Private Game Reserve.
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