Friday, December 27, 2013


Safari and Beach.

A perfect Southern African holiday. This December we tried a new combination of safari and beach: Phinda, a fascinating game reserve with seven eco zones was combined with two resorts on WILD beaches washed by the warm Indian Ocean. 

Beach holiday: pristine sands stretching forever
Animal wonders: adorable baby warthogs gambolling by our
private pool at Vlei Lodge Phinda
AndBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve is home to the Big Five, myriads of other game and seven ecosystems from sand forest to palm veld – a treasure in the caring hands of our major partner in South Africa - AndBeyond
A lazy moment for the lion king, oblivious to our
 open safari vehicle
We saw all the Big Five over several safari tours with the blissful luxury of our very own game ranger Nick. And stayed in three of the six beautiful and very different lodges in Phinda game reserve.

Forest Lodge: our glass walled cabin
hidden in Sand Forest, private spot
for watching forest animals. 
Mountain Lodge, with our own plunge
pool lazily viewing rolling green hills.

And our favourite, the romantic Vlei Lodge...  

...with our own sparkling pool
where elephants often come up to drink

... and an open Serengeti feel.

We also visited oh-so-Colonial Zuka Lodge, 

Perfect for 3G families who take it for sole use
Our inspection of Homestead lodge was cancelled, as it just been visited by a frustrated bull elephant who objected to his own reflection in the windows. More about Phinda and its inhabitants later…

Now for a taste of the different beach experiences ...
Over the border, some 3 or 4 hours drive from Phnda to White Pearl, Mozambique ...
The beach shared with turtles in the Southern summer, and a
sea alive with whales in the Southern winter -
great snorkling by boat, and usually much sunnier than this

"Pearl" is a perfect word to describe this luxury resort, nestled into gigantic sand dunes with views of the endless golden beach swept clean by surging green-glinting waves. 

Suite number 6 at White Pearl  - perfectly private paradise
Our private sunbeds and private access to our beachfront
suite through the wild fringe of dune forest

We shared the endless beach with a handful of guests and turtles coming in to lay their eggs at night. For unforgettable, pampered privacy, we dined on our pool deck watching the waves, as part of the all-inclusive…

With our athletic butler Abu organizing it all. 

Also all.inclusive, but much more rustic and trembling with the feel of the wild, Rocktail Beach Camp, by Wilderness Safaris...

African chic, chandeliers of driftwood, raw wood beams
This friendly, rustic camp of canvas cabins lies in a stunning world heritage area on the northern KZN coastline of South Africa. Rocktail Beach Camp feels very very far away, hidden deep in the dune forests, though only 90 minutes or so drive from Phinda further south or the Mozambique border further north. African chic style. No phones in the rooms just foghorns   more about that later…

Now for a glimpse of the stunning beach...and waters that often get voted into the world's top ten dive sites.
A quick ride or 20 mins walk from Rocktail Beach Camp.
The beach stretches 35 km - also turtle territory

Actually there were two other beaches on this safari holiday combi. The first was rather less wild. Flying with Emirates to Durban, we had a stopover in Dubai at the Ritz-Carlton, right on the beach … in a fabulous suite with a view of palms and pool ….

Al fresco dining at the Ritz-Carlton, by pool and beach

And this is the pool in the famous lobby...

Exquisite Oriental lobby

Arrival and departure assistance at Dubai airport with the Ahlan and Marhaba services gave us more time to enjoy our hotel in Dubai before continuing to Durban, missing all the airport hassles.

The next beach was in front of an urban five star hotel at Umhlanga Rocks, a South African gem called The Oyster Box.

Our room was so close to the beach you heard the waves crashing like the thunder of a gigantic washing machine...

Ocean front room at the Oyster Box

More about our fantastic trip in the blogs to follow this...

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