The now lush and thriving preserve, regenerated from overgrazed farmland, is the flagship property of andBeyond, a pioneer in eco-tourism, well-known for its conservation efforts and local community involvement. Phinda means “the return,” in Zulu, and the name has proved to be more foretelling than anticipated.
In December 2016, the beloved Phinda Homestead safari lodge burnt to the ground. Last September, it returned with the rise-from-the-ashes reopening of the luxury lodge, showcasing Zulu art, design, and culture.
While many luxury safari lodges are quiet and intimate, the Phinda Homestead takes it a step further: a completely private lodge (it’s rented as a whole), sleeping up to 12, with your own safari vehicle, ranger, tracker, butler, chef, and other support staff. Everything, including menus and activities, is customized for your group.
The roomy d areas include indoor and outdoor dining spots, a large living room, a deck with an open-air bar and firepit, a library, and fitness and massage rooms. A swimming pool with a lounging deck overlooks a watering hole frequented by birds, warthogs, antelope, and elephants.
The result is sophisticated, with locally-inspired, story-telling design.
In the living room, hand-painted linen curtains feature an Acacia forest.
Modern couches are tossed with pillows made of mud cloth or shweshwe fabric, used in customary South African clothing. There’s a modern take on a Zulu throne chair, and an artsy, fun orange cheetah chair, both commissioned from Casamento, a Cape Town design and upholstery company.
There are South African Nguni cattle skins, handmade Zulu ceramics, string art, baskets and beadwork, and lights made of reed and wood fishing baskets or calabash gourds, used by local farmers to collect water. The stunning floor-to-ceiling river reed curtains, found in the bedrooms and other places throughout the property, were handmade by local women, and mimic what hang in the doorways of traditional Zulu homes.
More private, luxury stays average $1,300 per person, per night — or more. If you’re looking in the luxury range, Phinda Homestead, costing about $6,595 a night for the entire property, packs some value, along with lots of luxury perks.