New to the Phinda stable, and already the recipient of excellent feedback, Phinda Mountain Lodge is located north of Durban, in the southern sector of the Phinda Private Game Reserve, close to the Mzinene River.
Managed by &Beyond, Phinda Private Game Reserve is a leading light in the world of conservation. Once a hotch-potch of rundown farms, now home to 7 types of habitat, to a diverse and burgeoning wildlife population, it was originally returned to the wild by CC Africa (&Beyond) and then subsequently restored to its original owners, the Makhasa and Mnqobokazi communities, who have in turn agreed to commit the land to wildlife in perpetuity. Having nailed the key factors in animal conservation – that is ensuring all stakeholders benefit – Phinda continues to attract enormous international interest.
Built into the reserve’s southern uplands, set in a semi-wild garden of mixed trees, aloes and gravel paths, Phinda Mountain Lodge is a stone, wood and thatch build, and consists of a main lodge and 25 suites. The main area includes a reception, seating and dining areas, a bar, a tiered verandah, a pool, boma, business centre, shop and observation area.
Large, spacious and built around a rectangular courtyard, the shared areas are characterised by exposed brick walling, polished floors, dark wood walkways and a wealth of slumber seating. In keeping with the Phinda style, traditional Kwazulu-Natal utilities adorn white walls, polished found animal horns sit in large clear-glass containers and steel railing sits comfortably against wooden uprights. Well kept, beautifully designed, the shared areas are both purposeful and relaxing, the sense of space underlined by the choice and quality of objects.
As with all the reserve’s accommodation, Phinda Mountain Lodge’s menu showcases &Beyond’s signature pan-African cuisine, and its service – accommodating, professional, discreet – is just as good. Meals can be taken in the main dining areas – outside or in – or in the privacy of one’s own suite. Much is made of the boma, its the clay oven cooking – a real eye opener.
Away from the main areas, constructed in the same materials, and approached by means of bricked pathways, the lodge’s sleeping rooms consist of a double bed, seating area, ensuite bathroom, plunge pool, verandah and al-fresco shower. Marked by a muted colour scheme – browns, off-whites, beige – and by a real eye for what works in terms of lighting, the rooms are beautiful. The beds are large and comfortable, the furniture well made and original pictures – drawings, photographs – and sculptures fit well with the overall scheme. Naturally lit by way of large glass doors, both bedroom and bathroom – standalone roll top bath, toilet, shower, twin sink – look out onto the bushveld. Please be advised that 3 suites can accommodate 3 guests, while one is family size.
Activities at Phinda Mountain Lodge include game drives, guided walks, canoe safaris and river cruises. Additional activities include an adventure package (bushveld and beach), an air safari and scuba diving.
Phinda Mountain Lodge is open all year round. Best visited in the dry season – May through to September.
At &Beyond we believe in taking shared responsibility for our futures and those of our children. You may be surprised to know that we have a small physical footprint in terms of buildings and guests. Our entire group of lodges comprises less than 800 beds, smaller than a medium-sized city hotel, but we have a disproportionately large positive impact on the more than 3.5 million hectares (8.5 million acres) of wildlife areas we help sustain and the communities whose lives are interwoven with our business.
Our values are and always have been: “Care of the land. Care of the wildlife. Care of the people.” They have become an intuitive part of the way we operate and are increasingly part of the reasons why our guests find their experience with us so rewarding.
We believe that all businesses can “take less” and “give more,” and we apply this philosophy every day through actions big and small at the group’s 46 lodges. Whether it’s pioneering the re-introduction of an endangered species such as black rhino, facilitating the establishment of an income producing sewing co-operative in a local community or simply managing the vegetable peelings from our kitchens, we consciously look for ways to leave a positive legacy.
Education helps to break the cycle of poverty, allowing communities and individuals the opportunity to enhance the quality of their lives, which is why the building of schools and classrooms, training, bursaries and adult education are all key areas for the &Beyond Foundation.
The rangers at Phinda host conservation lessons for an average of 350 schoolchildren and their teachers every year.
Because &Beyond’s most valuable asset is our staff, in 2003 the company launched the Positive Health programme across the group. A preventative health programme, it trains staff members to become counsellors on health, nutrition and psychological wellbeing, and caregivers for people living with life threatening illnesses such as HIV/Aids.
The &Beyond Foundation has boosted the level of medical care at two facilities through the building of a clinic and nurse’s accommodation at Mduku, and the renovation of a second facility, the Cezwane Clinic.
Through a simple innovation, we have helped address one of the challenges of water supply for local families with the introduction of Hippo Water Rollers. These are drums that hold 90 litres (25 gallons) of water and are easily rolled along the ground by means of a stainless steel holder, as opposed to the usual five litre (one gallon) containers that are traditionally carried on the heads of women and children.
Recycling is right on track at Phinda. Every month the Reserve recycles three tons of glass, three tons of tin cans, and four and a half tons of plastic and paper.
Earthworm farms have been introduced at seven locations on the Reserve to decompose organic wet waste and produce vermin compost and worm wee, which is cultivated back into staff vegetable gardens.
Improved consumption levels of water, energy and power have been achieved through the installation of 25 water meters and other water-saving devices on Phinda.
Following the launch of a major leopard conservation programme in 2002, the leopard population at Phinda has bounced back in a big way.
Phinda protects the greatest number of Pepper-Bark trees in KwaZulu-Natal – 1 400.
In order to further reduce our impact on the environment at Phinda the sustainability team is currently investigating ways to: increase rain water-capturing capabilities and fit water tanks with filtration systems, install solar panels in staff villages to substantially cut back on electricity consumption and introduce an organic biodigestion power plant.