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jvanrensburg25
London, United Kingdom

Best Honeymoon!

5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 25 Feb 2023via mobile
Wow we loved Vlei lodge! We did part of our honeymoon there and it is so so romantic. The rooms are gorgeous and the private pool is lovely. The staff are all so amazing and helpful. We had a private dinner on our balcony for two of the nights which was just heaven! Food was also excellent - would definitely love to come back to Vlei!
Date of stay: February 2023
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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    All reviews vlei lodge game drives the reserve private pool elusive cheetah black rhino our honeymoon african safari an adventure sand forest first stop unforgettable experience a special place main building herd of elephants amazing food spent four nights
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    8 - 13 of 279 reviews
    Reviewed 5 February 2023 via mobile

    We stayed at Vlei as a part of a 3 lodge safari (Mountain and Kirkman’s). We stayed at Vlei first and we’re glad we did!

    Facilities: By starting at Vlei, we were immediately immersed into the Safari vibe. Since it’s such a tiny lodge, you feel like you are walking into your own living room. Shannon, the manager, is welcoming. There is always someone in the lodge to take care of you.

    Food: Happiness is their chef who has been there 15+ years. The food she makes is made with love and care. She even customized things for us based off of random conversations. One morning she made soup for my in-laws, just because she overheard them saying they liked soups. I would describe her food as “awesome home cooking” - it’s not restaurant fancy, but you will feel happy just eating it!

    Game Drives: We saw the Big 5, including the elusive Black Rhino. Nuff said. I think North Phinda is easy better than South Phinda. In comparison to Sabi Sabi, we didn’t see huge herds of animals on a daily basis, but in Phinda you can see Cheetah and Black Rhino, whereas those are rare in Sabi. Our ranger was awesome with our two young boys and even took us fishing one afternoon (no cost).

    Rooms: The rooms are luxurious, but this is one area where they could improve. They are showing their age. It’s not a dealbreaker - especially if you are immersed in the feeling of being in the middle nowhere. But you can tell the difference from some of their other lodges that have been remodeled recently.

    Service: Top notch. It’s the smallest Phinda Lodge and they treat you like family.

    Overall: Vlei is a special place. It’s private, luxurious. The staff go above and beyond. Highly recommmend.

    Date of stay: December 2022
    Trip type: Travelled with family
    Thank W P
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Reviewed 24 October 2022

    First visit to Phinda and split the stay between Phinda Rock (4 nights) and Phinda Vlei Lodges (4 nights). Both were spectacular. It was inspiring to visit where &Beyond began. The history and commitment to the original vision of “A Return” is evident. There was a Ranger Training class on the reserve and it was fun to encounter them throughout my stay.

    Arriving at Phinda Vlei after an amazing stay at Phinda Rock, it was as if I stepped into the world of “Out of Africa.” The terrain of the northern part of Phinda is sand forest (unique to this part of the world) and wide-open spaces. Walking into the main lodge you wanted to get a G&T and just settle in. Timeless, elegant, and welcoming. No rush here, this is about being present in the moment. The rooms are what you expect, luxurious, private pools and you never know what animals will stop by to say hello or drink from your pool. Several guests reported regular elephant visitors, I had hyena, many types of antelope and TONS of very cheeky monkeys. They can be aggressive, but also understand a slingshot. Beds are super comfortable, linens perfect, the &Beyond bath products are top notch and the minibar will stocked. Meals were exceptional. By this point of the trip, after nearly 10 days on safari, I was at a bit of a safari food overload. I asked if it would be possible to have some more simple things at dinner and the answer was ‘of course.”

    I love small lodges as the vehicles are less crowded. My vehicle mates included a couple from Hong Kong who had been on more than 20 safaris and a honeymoon couple from the US that this was their first safari (they were actually headed to the lodge I stayed at in Sabi). One thing I really liked about Vlei was the how they brought everyone together around the fire before dinner. It was nice to connect with the other guests and share the stories of our days and sone good natured teasing of the Rangers. It was just enough connection to build camaraderie without forcing it and of course you didn’t have to engage. Vlei also provide some great bush experiences, but I don’t want to give that away. Lodge manager Shannon and her team truly felt like you were in their home. Really can’t say enough great about them! Just superb!

    Now for the drives. In a word….CHEETAH. Phinda is known for its cheetah and the visit to the north didn’t disappoint. Our Ranger James and Tracker Vele were quite likely the most determined team I’ve ever had on safari. The first afternoon drive featured an amazing interaction with a HUGE lion pride with a wide age range of cubs, an exhilarating experience with a grumpy male elephant (we think he may have had a crush on James) and one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve experienced in the bush. Each day with James and Vele was an adventure and joy. Their enthusiasm, passion and ability to meet the expectations of the entire vehicle each day was incredible. The Phinda reserve is HUGE and offers great diversity in terrain and game and that makes it very special. I’ve yet to encounter a bad or mediocre Ranger on a safari. But there was something special about James. He never lost his sense of wonder or excitement when we would find our goal for the day. One cheetah encounter almost didn’t happen and when it did, by chance, his joy transferred to all of us immediately. Of course, I teased that he hadn’t topped the Pangolin from Phinda Rock lodge, but in reality, he more than did. James and Vele created a connection to the place that is lasting and deep. Phinda means “the return” and I have no doubt that a return to Vlei is in my future.

    Date of stay: August 2022
      • Value
      • Service
    2  Thank TravelLikeGreg
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Reviewed 25 September 2022 via mobile

    Excellent luxurious Safari lodge. Top quality food and service. The game drives were amazing and instructional. Not to mention filed with wildlife. The rangers communicate well when an animal has been spotted and are able to track them down quickly. Our guide Brian managed to get us some amazing encounters with very elusive animals.
    And it feels like every corner revealed something new - a herd of elephants, a family of rhino, a journey of giraffes, etc.
    You will even see animals from the lodge including baboons, impala, Nyala, hyena and apparently the occasional elephant.

    Date of stay: September 2022
    Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    Thank Craig M
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Reviewed 5 September 2022

    We worked with &Beyond (Jacqui) to book our honeymoon. We started out thinking we would do Kenya but after talking about our priorities and budget, Jacqui recommended South Africa (Phinda Vlei) and &Beyond Benguerra Island for our beach portion (reviewed separately). The itinerary was perfect, all of our travel was so seamless, and we wouldn’t have changed a thing. We spent four nights at Phinda Vlei and were able to do eight game drives. What an incredible experience!!! Our ranger, Dino, and tracker, Jabs, found us amazing sightings. We saw everything we wanted to and then some. Highlights being: cheetahs, numerous lions with cubs including one female vocalizing, hyenas, giraffes, zebra, a leopard and cubs feeding, a huge herd of elephants with babies, and more. Dino was so knowledgeable - even when we weren’t viewing something he was sharing interesting stories or facts - and he went above and beyond in taking us to different areas of the reserve and finding us animals that we wanted to see (we were on the hunt for the elephant herd with the babies for days). Being on the private game reserve was also an advantage as the &Beyond rangers would radio sightings to each other and have a process in place to make sure there aren’t too many people at each sighting. This was our first safari so I can’t speak to others but I imagine this contributed to our excellent experience.
    Every staff member made our stay so special; &Beyond truly takes hospitality to heart and it shows through its employees. Happiness, the Chef… she is so sweet and omg her food is amazing!! I wasn’t hungry the entire time we were there between all of the delicious multi-course meals and snacks. Michael was our butler and he checked in with us often, took good care of us, and made sure our stay was comfortable. Phinda Vlei itself is so beautiful. I loved the design of the main building and of our individual suite. Highly recommend!!!

    Date of stay: July 2022
      • Rooms
      • Cleanliness
      • Service
    Thank Jeannie118
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
    Reviewed 17 May 2022 via mobile

    Perhaps the most important things to say about Phinda Vlei is that the staff have been expertly chosen. Dumi and Sabelo, our guide and tracker, stood out most of all. Dumi has been working for some 31 years in the industry, and has been with &Beyond since it’s founding, and this base of knowledge improved the overall experience for us time and time again. Happiness, the chef, another long time &Beyonder, took time with us to have refreshingly candid conversations about life in general all the while creating a personalized vegetarian meal for us 3 times a day. Housekeeping was twice daily and faultless. I really could not have realistically expected as much from the group at Vlei as they delivered. On top of all of this, the game viewing was out of this world! Thanks Vlei!

    Date of stay: May 2022
    Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    Thank jzemore1
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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