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“Incredible place”

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andBeyond Phinda Zuka Lodge
Reviewed 5 April 2012

Everything at Zuka is amazing! The lodge, the staff, the game drives are truly unforgettable. We had 4 fantastic days and we will definitely come back. The fantastic thing, at Zuka, is that you are maximum eight people so you really feel the owner at the lodge.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank VirginiaC54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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37 - 43 of 49 reviews

Reviewed 10 March 2012

We arrived quite late after a 37 hour trip from Brisbane(Australia) and were gven a very warm welcome, a long cold drink and a beautiful dinner notwithstanding the other guests had retired for the evening. The only disappointment was the manager was proceeding on leave the next morning and unfortunately the relief manager came a very poor second after that due to the lack of knowledge and perhaps disinterest as she was leaving for a new career move.

The chef and all the kitchen staff turned on a remarkable array of meals during our stay and together with some lovely wines made meal time a real pleasure. It is a shame our appetites couldn't match the amount of food served up at every meal, I hope some one else got the benefit.

The accommmodation was excellent with the rooms prepared beautifully each day.

The game drives were something else Cebu and hos colleague whose name escapes me unfortunately did an exceptional job. Nothing was too much trouble and they went to the utmost trouble to track a particular animal when it was known to be about. Even the drinks and nibblies at the waterhole or the field breakfast in the late morning were exceptional. We will carry memories of our sty there for a long time and hopefully we may even manage another trip back.

Room Tip: There are only four self contained rooms all centered around a large water hole and all are the same...
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  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank janipots
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 March 2012

As a family we have stayed at all the Phinda Lodges but Zuka Lodge is definitely our favourite. This is mainly due to the exclusive use of the lodge and the privacy that is achieved as a result. This last trip to Zuka by far exceeded all previous stays at Phinda and this was down to the staff, in particular the professionalism of manager. On this particular trip Zuka completely exceeded all expectations from the moment we arrived. Being a fussy bunch we outlined on arrival what we liked (and didn't) and every whim was catered to including boma nights (every night) and a over-the-top New Years Eve dinner. A big mention must go to the Chef and his team for creating the best meals we have had at all &Beyond Lodges. A perfect combination of authentic South African dishes to suit the environment we were in! The lodge is perfect understated luxury set next to a watering hole. The elevated pool is a great place to watch the wildlife while lounging in-between game drives.

I haven't mentioned anything about the game viewing but lets just say 'tick' to all the big 5. Including mating leopards. Incredible! Some of the most breath taking sightings in 3 days. Phinda really does deliver on the game viewing experiences.

The lodge now feels like a home away from home, and because of this we never wanted to leave! Thank you to all the Zuka team for an incredible and memorable stay! Phinda means 'The Return' and we just can't wait to!

Room Tip: There are only 4 rooms and they're all identical in setup
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  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with family
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2  Thank joedolpire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 February 2012

By no means the best experience I have ever had. From the fine and stunning cuisine to the superb service and the best ranger and guide ever. Hendrick - we loved you. Myself and Gary visited in September 2011 and not only did we meet lovely people who really looked after us, we stayed in the most beautiful place I've ever seen. The safari drives were above & beyond my expectations and the safari walk I did one morning (4 hours - lost track of time due to tracking rhinos) was just an amazing experience. The waterhole right in front of the lodge lets you daze dreamily whilst waiting for the delicious fresh cakes which are made for you and the cold white sauvignon blanc that is constantly poured and topped up.
Loved this trip and the people and the lodge and could not recommend it highly enough. Thank you all so much and sorry for taking so long in doing this - it has been my intention for a long time.
Carol
x

Room Tip: All of the rooms are fantastic so it really doesn't matter. I liked being closest to the main l...
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  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Ingers72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 October 2009

It was our first time in Africa and our first safari experience. We booked Zuka for ourselves and another family, in all, four adults and four teenage children.I am a hotelier and have been in the industry for 30 years.
The Manager of the Zhuka Lodge, Matt, his wife Tiffany and all the staff were extremely professional in the manner in which they looked after us.
Families concerned about whether their kids will be bored should not worry. Two game drives a day means that everyone is fully occupied, albeit the downtime between the game drives is relaxing with the pool and the space provided such that everyone can find their own space and do what they want to do. We played card and board games in the evenings and if all else fails, there is a separate area with a TV if the kids need it.
The game warden, Cebu, and his spotter really exceeded expectations and couldn’t have been more helpful in finding all the game we were there to see. They were extremely knowledgable and taught us lots of stuff like tracking techniques, etc.
On the middle day of our stay we were just about heading home as it was getting dark on the evening game drive: the heavens opened and we got caught in the most horrendous downpour. We could hardly see our hands in front of our faces but despite the driving rain and the poor visibility, Cebu managed to get us home safely and still with a smile on his face – brilliant!
The lodge is set up very well. We felt safe, the F&B was superb, the service friendly but professional at all times, and the quality of the fit out and maintenance of the lodge was first class. It was very good value for money and we would recommend it to anybody contemplating a similar trip to the one we had. The only complaint we all had was that we stayed for 3 nights and felt that we could have stayed an extra 1/2 nights!

  • Stayed: September 2009, travelled with family
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Thank Aussie040
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 September 2009

I have stayed in different lodges all over Africa several times, and although each is unique in it's own way, Zuka lodge will stand out in my mind for a long time. Because there are so few of them, I will get the cons out of the way first:

Cons:
-the shower and tap are salt water, because although they are purified they come from a salt water source
-Phinda game reserve itself is, although great for game viewing and relatively big, not as wild as, say Kruger National Park.

I cannot, unfortunately, list the pros in the way I can the cons, simply because there are so many of them: the lodge looks out onto a natural waterhole 50 meters away, where everything from warthogs to giraffes come to drink. Our first night we looked out and saw two lionesses have a drink, then lie down to sleep not 40 meters from our room; the next morning it was a solitary cheetah. And so on.
The food was truly fantastic- the chef, Dudu, is really talented. And believe me, as is so rare in Africa, there is no need to worry about quality here, everything is top-notch. Our ranger, Lucky, and our tracker, Josi, managed to track a pride of lions through the deep bush and show us as they hunted several times. We saw the elusive black rhino, and all of the other Big 10 (several times). Therefore the game was excellent.
The rooms were cosy, elegant and very comfortable, and the mostly invisible staff kept them spotless. Our butler, Catherine, and the manager were a great blend of professional and friendly.
I would recommend that Zuka be your final stay if you plan to visit several parts of South Africa, because it just might convince you to extend your stay (indefinitely). Sure wish I had.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled with family
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Thank iHotelreviewer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 March 2009

It’s easy to get jaded by the luxury on offer in South Africa these days, but Zuka is something special.
Firstly it’s tiny, just four thatched huts, so a maximum of 8 guests. We stayed here for 4 nights with my sister, her partner and two friends so had the place to ourselves.
On the surface Zuka does everything that a “normal” high end safari lodge does, greeting at the airport by your guide and ranger who stay with you the whole time of your stay, morning and afternoon game drives, sundowners, the big 5, great meals and so on, but it does it with an intimacy that you just don’t experience that often.
One comment about a drink preference saw that delivered to you every time – miraculously appearing in your hand, one afternoon of card playing saw the table set up for us and waiting when we came back from game drives, a food preference whipped up in a second. This is the type of attentive service you expect from the best hotels in the world but they can never achieve no doubt attributable to Octavia our hostess with the biggest smile on earth.
Some things to note, the cottages were as expected, just above average size and well decorated but the stone walled bathroom is an absolute highlight.
Upon return after dinner it was decked with candles and bubbles – lovely.
The waterhole at the front of the lodge is a feature as well with many animals coming to drink it is easy just to sit and watch. The choir of locals brought in to entertain us was a highlight as was the Boma and bush dinners.
How do you describe a special magic about a place without experiencing it? Impossible but Zuka pulls this off time and again with aplomb. Even the most experienced and jaded African traveller will revel in the personal touches of Zuka. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed: March 2008, travelled with family
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Thank piesandpease
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about andBeyond Phinda Zuka Lodge

Address: Phinda Private Game Reserve, Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Region: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Phinda Private Game Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 6 Speciality Lodging in Phinda Private Game Reserve
Price Range: £11,165 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An intimate safari retreat, andBeyond Phinda Zuka Lodge is situated amongst densely wooded hills studded with aloes. Available as a sole-use private villa, everything guests need is right within reach - a dedicated game ranger and game drive vehicle, an interactive kitchen with a dedicated chef, a butler, a comfortable library with Internet access and TV, a sitting room with a fireplace for evening chats, their own swimming pool and even a private watering hole right in front of the lodge. ... more   less 

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