Phinda is a 50,000 acre game reserve on South Africa’s east coast in the heart of Zulu-land. The diversity that this reserve has to offer is unparalleled throughout the whole of Africa; it boasts 7 completely distinct habitats, including a section of the incredibly rare Dry Sand Forest home to a number of endemic birds and mammals.
The diversity in the habitats allows for a variety of spectacular views, most notably from the top of the Thabankosi mountain (ask your ranger to take you for morning coffee up it). From the top of the mountain you can look all the way across to the coastal dunes.
Phinda is famous for its rhino sightings, both black and white as well as having a good number of cheetah, there are nearly always some fairly young cubs somewhere on the reserve. It is also a birder’s paradise with over 430 different species.
There are a number of activities you can do on Phinda and off it. On Phinda you can do walking safaris as well as Black Rhino Tracking, sleeping out under the stars, community trips and a boat trip on the Mzinene River. From Phinda you are an hours drive from Sodwana Bay Coast one of the world’s top dive spots, scuba diving and ocean safaris where you have a chance to swim with wild dolphins and whale sharks. Between December and February you can also see loggerhead and leatherback turtles nesting on the beach (a must do).
Phinda is a relatively young reserve having restored much of the wildlife and land from years of heavy farming. Phinda literally means ‘the return’, and is a true success story of conservation.
Where to stay in Phinda?
There are six very different lodges on Phinda spread out across the reserve, three in the north, two in the south and one in the west. The north of the reserve is where the rare and ancient Sand Forest can be found, a really remarkable thing to see and spend some time in. The north also has a large and very open marshland where there is some great game viewing, in particular of cheetah. The south of Phinda, and much of the west, is more similar to what you’d expect to see in the Sabi Sands, however does have some unique floodplains and mountainous areas.