Signature checks in to … andBeyond Phinda Homestead
andBeyond’s exclusive-use Phinda Homestead, located in one of South Africa’s most wildlife-rich private game reserves, creates once-in-a-lifetime safari experiences for its lucky guests.
Wildlife roams in the grounds of andBeyond Phinda Homestead, one of six andBeyond properties spread over Phinda Private Game Reserve in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The elegant, sole-use Phinda Homestead reopened in October 2018 following an extensive rebuild after the home was all but destroyed by fire in 2016.
Traveller: Samantha Rowntree
Address: andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Date: October 2018
Best for: A taste of traditional Zulu culture fused with modern elements in the north of andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve
The Signature factor
If you’re looking for safari exclusivity, this is it. Guests of andBeyond Phinda Homestead not only have a beautiful retreat all to themselves, but also a suite of staff, including a ranger and tracker (complete with safari vehicle) and a talented private chef. When you’re not out on the savannah spotting the Big Five, rejuvenate with a massage, bask in the sun beside the pool or venture out to see andBeyond’s community projects in action.
Located in the north of andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, the private-use villa features four suites and sprawling common areas, redesigned as a contemporary bush home, modern and tactile by interior designers at Fox Browne Creative. Nicholas Plewman Architects used raw materials combined with quirky accents and local flavours that hark back the reserve’s past as a pineapple plantation and cattle farm.
We fly in from Johannesburg, landing at Phinda Private Game Reserve’s bush airstrip before navigating the winding roads through the woodland to andBeyond Phinda Homestead. The staff greet us with smiles and guide us through the villa and its facilities. Walking into the gates, there is a circular pond in memorial of the large marola tree that burnt down during the December 2016 fire. Beyond its tranquil waters is an open deck with a lounge room and dining area that backs onto the reserve and a drinking hole for the local wildlife.
The four near-identical suites share the Zulu-Natal influences of the common areas, showcasing traditional furnishings crafted from sustainable materials. The bedhead-cum-room divider is a woven Zulu floor mat, while the bath tub is fringed with handmade reed tassel curtains. Like the bed, the spacious bathroom looks out over the bush, giving me a front-row seat to the animals wandering by from my bath.
On my plate
All our meals are prepared by our private chef, who uses seasonal fare to create fresh, globally inspired dishes. Each meal is completely customisable, from the pre-game drive breakfasts on the deck to the African-style feast held in the open-air boma (cattle enclosure). All meals and drinks are included in the rate.
I wish I could take home…
The safari truck (complete with ranger, tracker and wildlife). With its tiered layout, we all had a perfect view of the surrounding savannah.
A masseuse can be arranged to do spa treatments on request in the spa and gym sala.
The villa is your private bush home, so make the most of it. There is an infinity pool on the deck, where, if you’re lucky, you might spot a family of baboons and duo of elephants strolling by. The end of the pool drops into a watering hole to lure woodland denizens, including kudu, impala and even giraffe. There are multiple lounge rooms and a TV room, and Wi-Fi is also available.
andBeyond Phinda Homestead is located within andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve which covers 28,555 hectares of protected wilderness in KwaZulu-Natal. It boasts seven distinctive ecosystems, including a rare sand forest. It’s also close to Sodwana Bay, where you can snorkel or swim in the Indian Ocean.
There is also the opportunity to help out in animal or land conservation within the game reserve itself – participate in a rhino dehorning project or walk along with the anti-poaching team – or visit the local community.
The rain had been able to hold out for a few more days so we could explore more of the reserve. Depending on the amount of rainfall, there is a strict off-road driving policy to reduce the impact of the soil and vegetation. Alas, there is no accounting for weather, but andBeyond Phinda Homestead makes for a gracious retreat regardless of the conditions.