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The reopening of &Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge in December 2023 marks a new era in luxury safari experiences in South Africa. Nestled in the unique ecosystem of the Sand Forest in Northern KwaZulu Natal, this lodge offers an eco-friendly and luxurious way to experience the wilds of Africa.
South Africa’s &Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge
&Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge, initially built in the early 1990s, has undergone an extensive rebuild, blending contemporary luxury with eco-conscious design. The lodge, situated in the &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, sits between the Mkuze Game Reserve and the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, offering a unique setting beyond the expectation of average luxury.
The lodge’s redesign, led by interior designers Fox Browne Creative and architectural designer Jack Alexander, pays homage to its original ‘Zulu-zen’ décor. The new elegant and minimalist interior design draws inspiration from the surrounding sand forest, blending aspects of Japanese minimalism with local culture. Using tactile textures, natural materials, and wide open views creates a harmonious balance with the environment, ensuring minimal impact on the delicate sand forest ecosystem.
The lodge’s facilities include a library and lounge with a double-sided fireplace, a central fire pit, a newly reshaped and tiered pool, and a central dining and bar area. The family suite offers a contemporary design and an outdoor deck with shaded spaces, providing views of the forest and wetland areas. An all-new massage sala next to the pool adds to the indulgent experience.
Phinda Private Game Reserve: Immersive Experiences in the Heart of the Wild
&Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge is not just about luxury accommodations but about immersive experiences connecting guests with the natural world. The lodge offers curated experiences focusing on the conservation of species like white and black rhinoceros and Temminck’s ground pangolin. Guests can also engage in a unique Zulu Village Tour showcasing traditional Zulu culture.
Day and night safaris at Phinda are renowned for their expert guides, the opportunity to encounter the Big Five, and a large population of cheetahs and black rhinos. The lodge also offers adventure activities like diving or ocean safaris at nearby Sodwana Bay and the chance to witness turtles nesting along the Indian Ocean coastline.
&Beyond, known for its commitment to creating extraordinary lodges and camps, manages 29 properties across three continents. This includes &Beyond Punakha River Lodge, &Beyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge, and &Beyond Tengile River Lodge, all reflecting the ethos of luxury, conservation, and immersive experiences. The reopening of &Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge invites travellers to rediscover the wild, offering a unique blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion in one of South Africa’s most spectacular landscapes. ◼
© This article was first published online in Jan 2024 – World Travel Magazine.