PHINDA: THE PERFECT HOLIDAY
by, 06-30-2009 at 06:41 AM (13791 Views)
The PERFECT Holiday
My GF and I were lucky enough to spend four nights in Phinda Mountain Lodge followed by four nights in Phinda Forest Lodge (we won 2 four night auctions and combined them) in May this year.
We flew overnight from Heathrow with BA to Johannesburg where we stayed at The DOreale Grande for a night. The hotel was running an American Express Card Holders promotion so we were picked up on arrival by a limo and taken to the hotel (only a 5 min ride). Although, we arrived in the morning the front desk were very friendly and helpful and offered us our room immediately. We spent the day in the lovely gardens round the pool relaxing and excited for our trip to Phinda the next day.
The following morning we were driven to the Fed Air desk. Without doubt, FedAir is the BEST airline Ive ever travelled on for stress-free check in. We were driven to Fed Airs own check in facility over on the other side of the airport where there was free drinks/snacks available and a lovely little outdoor seating area.
Dead on time our flight was called, so it was literally a case of just walking a few yards on to the small plane. Including us there were only four other passengers. The flight was around an hour and then we were in Phinda! (Well after an aborted landing due to warthogs on the landing strip). We were met by our guide and taken to Phinda Mountain Lodge in about 40 minutes.
The lodge is beautiful: hidden into to the landscape with astounding views of the countryside. The lounge and dining areas are impressive but comfy and relaxing too.
The suites are dotted all over the lodge hidden away among the trees
so although there are 24 suites you do feel hidden away. As you walk to your suite, look out for the curious antelopes that roam freely around the lodge.
Our suite was pure perfection: traditional African roof, GIANT bed, seating area, HUGE bathroom with a freestanding bath and shower (lovely toiletries too).
Also, a large outdoors terrace with loungers and magnificent views where we spotted giraffes. The terrace is also perfect at night to appreciate the black African sky the stars and the sounds of Phinda.
That afternoon we went on our first game drive after meeting our wonderful guide (Richard) and almost immediately saw lions and cubs.
The thrill of a lion walking past you is something to experience. In our time at Phinda, we got close to elephants,
giraffes, warthogs, cheetahs and cubs,
buffalo, black rhino, white rhino and even leopards!
The beauty of Phinda is that there are so many different landscapes in a small area so one minute you can be in savannah, the next in forest, the next beside a river and so on.
Each game drive was an experience where you never knew quite where you were going or what you might see. Night would fall around 5pm and seeing the animals in the dark (with the help of a red light so as not to disturb them) was special especially when three LARGE male lions walked past us then began roaring.
We were also fortunate enough to go canoeing on the river looking for hippos and crocs.
ALL meals were great in both lodges: dining in the restaurant, Boma and dinner in the Bush illuminated by lanterns!
Our stay in Forest Lodge was even better: beautiful glass walled suite on stilts in the middle of a gorgeous Sand Forest from where we could view baboons, Ngala, Water Buffalo and, in the dining area, the rather cheeky monkeys whod make raids on the diners.
One day the whole place filled with noise from the animals as a lion passed through. Another night, we heard a strange noise and were told the next day a leopard had walked through camp.
Again, game drives were excellent and a special thanks to Walter (our guide) for taking me on a drive to see the local community. I must also mention Nicola, the camp manager, and Barry in the dining room: so nice, friendly and helpful.
On departure we were driven to the airstrip where Walter raced us along the landing plane. Then within minutes we were airborne again, saying good-bye to Phinda with tears in my eyes. Fingers crossed, we return there one day.
Thanks Luxury Link and andBeyond !