Review by: Richard Shaw & George Ribeiro-Justo

Overall Impressions

Once again, we had a really enjoyable trip to South Africa, with the added pleasure of our first, great visit to Cape Town, complementing our stay at two of &Beyond's excellent properties, on the Phinda private reserve, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Our experiences at the three properties we stayed were mixed but overall we had a really good trip and look forward to our next safari experience!

Countries Visited

South Africa

Although not our first time to South Africa, it was our first visit to both Cape Town and Kwa-Zulu Natal, which we thoroughly enjoyed. As on previous visits to the Country, we found the people very welcoming and the diverse scenery, vegetation and unique wildlife make any visit to South Africa quite special. Each visit to the Country inevitably brings with it new, exciting experiences, creating memories that are rarely forgotten.

Accommodation Visited

Cape Grace

A superb hotel, ideally located within the V&A Waterfront. From the moment we arrived, the professional and friendly 'team' at Cape Grace made our stay so enjoyable and thanks to Tanya Johnson (and Nikki at Mahlatini) for the room upgrade, to a 'terraced, roof top' room, giving us superb views over the marina and Table Mountain. Service throughout the hotel was excellent and special thanks to the concierge team, who so effectively addressed various of our requests. We would not hesitate in recommending Cape Grace to fellow travellers, as a wonderful base to explore Cape Town and the surrounding areas.

Phinda Forest Lodge

As with all &Beyond; properties that we have stayed at, the accommodation at Phinda Forest Lodge is of high quality and the property is professionally run by a friendly lodge team. With hindsight, however, we would not have chosen to stay at Phinda Forest Lodge, as, with 16 suites, for us, there were too many fellow guests, including families with children and, quite frankly, many were not 'serious' wildlife enthusiasts, which, overall, detracted from the enjoyment of our stay. In addition, we did not find the rangers to be of the high calibre and dedication, that we had previously experienced at &Beyond; properties. As we say, with hindsight and more planning thought, we would not have stayed at Phinda Forest Lodge but more likely at the smaller &Beyond; Rock Lodge, in the other area of Phinda, offering more exclusivity and different landscape, to complement our stay at Phinda Vlei Lodge.

Phinda Vlei Lodge

Phinda Vlei lodge, in contrast to Phinda Forest Lodge, has only 6 suites and is much more exclusive, with our fellow guests seemingly all there to really experience and enjoy the wildlife experience. The accommodation at Vlei is of the highest quality, as is the lodge team, managed so well by Tyler. The chef, 'Happiness' and our butler Micheal, were so helpful and professional, as was our ranger and guide, both, in our view, being a notch above the safari team at Phinda Forest Lodge. Having corresponded with the &Beyond; GM for Phinda Forest and Vlei, before our stay, we were so pleased with his suite recommendation and allocation, number 6, which we would thoroughly recommend, although you might have to sacrifice your own plunge pool use and enjoy its use by the locals, elephants and baboons to name just two visitors, which was wonderful to experience! Having said that, Tyler and his helpful 'team', do clean the water and pool if and when ever needed. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Phinda Vlei Lodge and would thoroughly recommend it to fellow travellers.

Staff Review

Having worked with Nikki on previous occasions, we know, that in the main, she understands all aspects of what we are looking for and what our budget is. Nikki is friendly and professional, responding promptly to requests and questions, during both the planning stage of any trip and, after booking, in the time leading up to departure. On this occasion, she was very helpful in securing a few 'extras', particularly at Cape Grace and during our Cape Town visit, which we very much appreciated. Knowing Nikki, she will now have picked up on our comments regarding Phinda Forest Lodge and future trip, accommodation suggestions will reflect that. Overall we enjoy working with Nikki and Mahlatini and will be doing so once again, for a proposed Africa 2021 trip!