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Mumbaiyya
Mumbai, India

Enchanting lodge

5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 17 May 2023via mobile
It’s a beautiful lodge that speaks of understated luxury, impeccable service and amazing food. Shannon is the lodge manager who manages everything like clockwork. The chef ‘happiness’ is what she serves through her meals; pure happiness. I stayed there for 2 nights and had an amazing time. My first game drive with my ranger Chris and tracker Dan was delightful. We say lions, cape buffaloes, elephants and a leopard within a few minutes! The rhino eluded us (but I say about 12 at the other lodge) . Back at camp I met some amazing people from the usa who were very kind to me and invited me over to have dinner with them. John, Madeline, Chris and Shannon (there were 2 chris’ and 2 Shannons !) were wonderful guests and made me feel like I was family. Later Ewan, Jessica and Marilyn welcomed me during our game drives and I had a fabulous time with them all. I can’t praise the whole experience enough! The forests are not like the savannah grasslands and some drives were underwhelming but the experience was memorable nevertheless. Thank you Phinda Vlei! The cheetahs that I saw on day 2 were the piece de resistance 🥰🥰🥰
Date of stay: May 2023
Trip type: Travelled solo
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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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    Reviewed 3 May 2023

    This was our first stop of 3 lodges in what I can describe as a trip of a lifetime that was everything my husband and I dreamed of. The staff, lodge, food and wildlife viewing was superb. Our guide, Ross, was so enthusiastic it was contagious. The highlight was on our last night drive. Ross and 4 other guides were determined to find 2 elusive cheetah. One of the other guides found them and Ross drove us to the location. Within a few minutes of arrival, we watched them take down an Impala. Right after, we went to a watering hole for a sundowner and lying on the road was a male lion. We watched in awe as the lion drank from the water and then started his evening roar. The most incredible sound we have ever heard. Thank you to , Shannon, our host and a special thank you to Happiness for the delicious food.

    Room tip: Travel lite, they have daily complimentary laundry. April as a beautiful time to go
    Date of stay: April 2023
    • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
      • Value
      • Location
      • Service
    Thank Deborah K
    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 29 March 2023

    We had such a lovely time at Andbeyond Phinda Vlei Lodge and we highly recommend this lodge to anyone looking to experience a luxury South African safari, especially any honeymooners. The lodge itself is beautiful, clean, and well maintained. When not on our game drives, we enjoyed lounging at the pool in our room and watching wildlife stroll by.

    While the environment speaks for itself, the staff at this lodge is what truly made our experience unforgettable. They also went above and beyond to make the trip special for our honeymoon by adding little touches throughout our stay like a candlelit bath and a welcome card. Our guide, James, and our tracker, Thouks, worked so hard to ensure we saw all of the animals on our must see list. They kept us entertained with facts about the wildlife at the reserve and stories of their time working at Phinda Vlei. Our butler, Michael, made sure that we always had everything we needed/wanted. We loved getting to spend time with him at lunch each day to get to know him better. Chef Sabelo is truly talented at what he does. My husband and I both have different dietary restrictions, and he went out of his way for each meal to make sure we had plenty of options to eat, and everything was delicious. The rest of the staff was so warm and made us feel at home.

    You don't want to miss this lodge! We can't wait to be back again soon!

    Date of stay: March 2023
    • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
      • Value
      • Location
      • Service
    Thank jaimeal72
    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 February 2023 via 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
    Thank jvanrensburg25
    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 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
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    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.
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