Phinda Forest Lodge

distinctive Camp | Zululand, South Africa

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Set within the tranquil environs of a rare sand forest, the glass walls of Phinda Forest Lodge reveal views of one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet. This calming retreat, filled with simple elegance, provides the perfect base for exploring the 56,800-acre Phinda Private Game Reserve, home to Africa’s legendary ‘Big Five,’ as well as for excursions to the unspoiled beaches and coral reefs nearby.

Photo of John Holahan

Our Expert Says

Providing a zen-like experience, Phinda Forest Lodge provides beautiful lodging surrounded by abundant wildlife. The private reserve is well known for its cheetah viewing, so cat lovers unite and come for a visit!

– John Holahan

Photo: The Camp

The Camp

Location: Phinda Private Game Reserve, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
Number of Rooms: 16

Set deep in the heart of one of the world’s only dry sand forests, Phinda Forest Lodge fuses unique, environmentally sensitive architectural design with an innovative conservation ethic. The creation of this award-winning safari lodge exemplifies the finest in eco-sensitive building techniques—not a single tree was felled during its construction. Inspiringly designed in a minimalist “Zulu Zen” style, each one of the 16 handcrafted, glass-encased suites incorporates richly tactile fabrics and Zulu artifacts. En suite bathrooms with oversized tubs are standard. Each suite has a private deck offering peaceful repose for gazing out onto the dappled green forest where graceful nyala and red duiker graze among the vines that dangle from the canopy of ancient trees. Between nature drives, unwind in the lodge’s infinity pool, relax in the cozy lounge with a good book, or enjoy panoramas of the plains and resident wildlife from one of the expansive viewing decks.

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Photo: Facilities & Amenities

Facilities & Amenities

  • En suite bathroom with tub and shower
  • Shampoo, soap and lotion
  • Hair dryer
  • Air conditioning
  • Room fan
  • Mini bar
  • Tea/coffee in room
  • 220v charging outlets in room
  • In-room safe
  • Central pool
  • In-room massage (extra cost)
  • "Gym in a bag"
  • Wi-Fi in room and reception
  • Laundry included
  • Local drinks included (house alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks)
  • Credit cards accepted (Visa, MasterCard, Diners, American Express)

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Photo: Wildlife Viewing & Activities

Wildlife Viewing & Activities

Encompassing more than 70,000 acres of prime African wilderness, Phinda Private Game Reserve showcases one of the continent’s finest wildlife-viewing experiences. Twice-daily nature drives may reveal abundant cheetah and leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and many of the 415 bird species recorded here. Often described as “Seven Worlds of Wonder” because of its seven distinct habitats, Phinda boasts an abundance and diversity of wildlife rivaled by few places in Africa. Track the movements of the endangered black rhinoceros or observe herds of elephant as they meander through fever tree forests. Cheetah, absent here for more than 50 years, have been reintroduced, and today Phinda is considered one of the best places to see and photograph them. Leopards are also tracked daily, and guests have a good chance of encountering these charismatic cats. Other activities at Phinda include guided nature walks, canoe excursions and sunset cruises on the Mzinene River, and strolls along pristine Indian Ocean beaches.

Zululand has varied concentrations and species of wildlife, and the below chart helps to illustrate major wildlife sightings often experienced in the area. Sightings will be different in the Rocktail Bay area, as it's a coastal destination, and often sea turtles nesting can be observed there. A number of smaller mammals, birds and reptiles are also seen year-round. Exact sightings always depend on weather and wildlife movements.

Country Park/Reserve
Black Rhino
Greater Kudu
White Rhino
Wild Dog
South Africa Zululand

Usually viewed
Frequently viewed
Occasionally viewed
Sporadically viewed
Rarely to never viewed

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Month Max Min Rainfall
January 82° F 68° F 5.2 in
27° C 20° C 132 mm
February 82° F 70° F 6.02 in
27° C 21° C 153 mm
March 81° F 68° F 8.03 in
27° C 20° C 204 mm
April 79° F 59° F 4.88 in
26° C 15° C 124 mm
May 72° F 55° F 4.13 in
22° C 12° C 105 mm
June 72° F 55° F 3.62 in
22° C 12° C 92 mm
July 72° F 55° F 3.11 in
22° C 12° C 79 mm
August 72° F 59° F 2.2 in
22° C 15° C 56 mm
September 73° F 61° F 2.68 in
22° C 16° C 68 mm
October 75° F 63° F 3.39 in
23° C 17° C 86 mm
November 79° F 64° F 4.72 in
26° C 17° C 120 mm
December 81° F 68° F 4.57 in
27° C 20° C 116 mm

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Photo: Conservation


A commitment to the environment and well-being of its staff and their communities are at the core of Phinda’s philosophy. The successful reintroduction of several large species of mammals that once thrived here has dramatically increased the vitality of Phinda’s diverse ecosystems. Highlights include the reintroduction of 16 endangered black rhinos, in conjunction with World Wildlife Fund, and the reintroduction of cheetahs and lions. Phinda is also the scene of several cutting-edge wildlife research programs that are generating important new information and ideas that can be applied across Africa. Some of the equally impressive groundbreaking community development programs here include an agreement that restored over 22,000 acres of land to its ancestral owners, the construction of more than 90 classrooms, three libraries, a health clinic and a scholarship program for local students. Phinda also sponsors education and training programs, including construction skills and computer literacy, for members of local communities.

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