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Phinda w/tween & teen: Mountain Adjoining Rooms? Forest?

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Apr 21st, 2012, 01:12 PM
  #1
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Phinda w/tween & teen: Mountain Adjoining Rooms? Forest?

We leave for S. Africa 7 weeks from yesterday (SOOOO excited) and I'm second-guessing our choice of lodges at Phinda. We'll be first at Londolozi for 3 nights and then at Phinda for 4, then at Kwandwe for 4. We decided to reserve Mountain Lodge at Phinda because it is family-friendly and has adjoining rooms. My understanding is the rooms we have adjoin via a balcony. I thought we'd try putting our 10 and 13-year-old girls in one and husband and I in one but we might put one parent in each room instead. I liked that we can walk between them as I wouldn't want to put my girls on their own in a separate chalet (or whatever they are called) in this situation in case one needed us at night. But I also didn't really want to split up entirely from my husband for 4 nights. Apparently the adjoining rooms don't have the view that the regular rooms do at Mountain - they are more overlooking paths, less private, no mountain view. I hear elephants come and drink from plunge pools at the regular rooms but I'm thinking that wouldn't happen at these more public rooms. So I'm feeling regretful of our choice. Can anyone share any experience of these rooms? Or any experience of staying with kids about the ages of ours in two separate chalets?

I also am feeling it would have been really lovely to stay at the Forest Lodge at Phinda, though I know they don't have any adjoining rooms. Maybe for 2 nights I wouldn't mind having me be with one daughter and husband with the other in separate chalets. Would it be worth it to ask my agent if we'd be able to do 2 nights at each lodge, if there are still rooms available at Forest? Or does it make more sense to stay in one place?

Will we see the sand forest on game drives if we don't stay there?

Thanks so much for any input!
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Apr 21st, 2012, 10:17 PM
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We stayed two nights at Vlei and two nights at Rock at Phinda and enjoyed both a great deal...the lay of the land is that Vlei and Forest are close together as are Rock and Mountain...we liked breaking it up as it's a large area and we felt we covered more of the reserve this way...someone else may have a different opinion...

The elephants drink from the plunge pools at Vlei I believe...I think there is some protection of the Sand Forest which keeps the elephants away....but the likelihood of that is random...perhaps you can do a couple nights at forest and split with your husband and do the adjoining rooms at mountain...the public areas (dining room etc...) usually command the best view anyhow so I don't think you'll miss out...
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Apr 22nd, 2012, 08:38 AM
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Thanks, gatoratlarge. Yes I read that Vlei and Forest were on one "side" of the Reserve and Rock and Mountain on the other. I did hear that the elephants drink from plunge pools at Mountain but that wouldn't be the case in the family rooms as they are not situated where the elephants would go, i guess. I heard that the Sand Forest has fencing that keeps the elephants out, but it looks like a charming place to stay and we love the modern look of it. I just wonder if the hassle of packing our stuff up and being moved is worth it. I think I read that if you stay there for a few days, you do traverse the whole reserve generally so you get to see the different habitats even if you don't stay in more than one of the lodges?
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Apr 22nd, 2012, 06:55 PM
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Hi Jane

Have just come back from Phinda earlier this month and we stayed at Mountain and Forest lodges. Our first night was in the room that you have booked and it is connected by the verandah out the front. No views as mentioned but not only that the rooms are a lot larger in the other rooms that may be available to you but there is no option of going inbetween rooms after dark, just phoning between rooms and those rooms are not that close together either. You would know your girls better to judge how they would go by themselves but they would not be able to come to you during the night but they would have phone contact and I suppose if you needed to go to them you would need to call security and have them take you to the girls. The grounds here are quite open to the wildlife and if the girls could not be relied upon to stay in their room until you were brought there by security, then that decision is made. A woman was killed by lions in the 90's and I don't mean that to frighten you but just to show you that when they say take security with you at night, that that is what must be done and this poor woman went back to her room during dinner to get something by herself and never made it back.
I would be choosing the bigger rooms for 4 nights but that is not taking into account having girls in a different room.
As to changing camps half-way through, no I would not be doing it, as you say, not worth packing up in the middle for 2 nights a piece. Both camps are modern and in Forest Camp the rooms are placed at a reasonable distance from each other so that would place you in the same predicament.
Forest Camp is fenced for elephant but everything else could get into the area where the camp is.
I am not so sure about traversing the whole area as it is a big property and some distance in differing areas and those two camps are at different ends of the property.
Any other questions please ask and I shall be happy to help where I can.
Kind regards
Kaye
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Apr 22nd, 2012, 10:05 PM
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Hi Kaye - thanks so much for your reply, and welcome back! Sounds like you are the ideal person to answer my question! I am afraid I don't entirely understand what you are saying though. Are you saying that the interleading rooms with the verandah are smaller than the other rooms, in addition to having no view? If so, I understand that. Does each room have it's own bathroom though?

Then when you are saying that you would only have phone access between rooms, I think you are there referring to the regular rooms that do not attach with verandah? If so, then yes I understand that. We would definitely not have the girls in a separate chalet that didn't connect to ours. If we went with two separate chalets that didn't connect, we'd have one adult and one child in each.

That is really scary about the woman and the lions - I didn't know that - but I do know that one is not ever supposed to walk alone after dark there.

But let me ask this: can one go on the verandah after dark to switch rooms, or no? Is it raised up high off the ground? If one cannot do that, then having the interleading rooms isn't much of an advantage really - though I guess you are a lot closer to each other?

Would love to hear about your trip!
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Apr 22nd, 2012, 10:24 PM
  #6
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Also, Kaye, I'm curious if you don't mind saying why you only stayed in the rooms that attached via the verandah one night? Were you supposed to stay in them longer but didn't like the room and so you asked to switch? Or was it always planned that way for some reason? Thanks!
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Apr 22nd, 2012, 11:40 PM
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Hi Jane

Sorry! Yes the rooms are considerably smaller and yes, each one does have its own bathroom.

All rooms have phone access of course. The verandah is still outside with a couple of stairs up to it so they are not connecting rooms as I think of connecting rooms with internal access.

Yes it is very scary about the poor woman as the husband went looking for her and he was badly mauled. I am surprised at how many people I saw not prepared to wait a few moments for a security guard and they would start to head off to their room.

I would not be going outside after being escorted to my room unless there were people passing, certainly not in the middle of the night or unless the girls were that worried I would then maybe be prepared to take the risk, and there is always a risk involved in this I would think.

No, I am not in the habit of changing rooms but the day after we arrived people were leaving one of the bigger rooms and people we knew were arriving and they were in the rooms either side of the room we moved to, so it made it easier I thought as I didn't realise the size difference in the rooms until after we were in them. The girl said we should have got a bigger room for the 5 night stay, and I agreed with her so not really sure why we ended up in the small room for one night.

Kind regards

Kaye
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 08:10 AM
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Thank you again, Kaye, this has been extremely helpful. I just contacted my agent at &Beyond who told me there is still room for us to switch to the larger, separate rooms and that they are only about 5 to 10 meters away from each other. She said it should be fine to go back and forth during the day, which is really the only time we'd have done that anyway even in the rooms with the attached verandah, so we decided to switch to the larger rooms with the nice view. We will also just stay in the one place. I think Mountain is more designed for kids anyway and I'm sensitive to not disturbing other guests who are there without kids. Even though my kids are not that little, they are still kids!

Look forward to hearing all about your trip!
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 12:22 PM
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Hi Kaye,
I know you are a big fan of MalaMala. I may have missed your post on why you switched to Phinda but how do the two camps compare? We just returned from our 5th trip to Rattrays and are still committed to the way they run things. Got to see the wild dogs at last!

Regards
Barb
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 06:30 PM
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Hi Jane

The rooms are not that far but the paths make them seem further away and absolutely you can go between rooms during the day and up until you return from evening gamedrives. I agree about not moving, 4 nights isn't long enough to warrant such a move and yes, Mountain is a bigger camp and more children designed. We had a ranger named JP (Jacques-Pierre Joubert) for Mountain and he was very good and I would happily recommend him if he there and not on leave. I had 3 ex-rangers in the vehicle with me so he was under a fair bit of pressure I would imagine and he handled himself extremely well as it would not have been easy!

Hi Barb

The wildlife at MM is fantastic and by far the best that I have experienced! I have moved on for other reasons, which I will not be discussing on any forum. I also this trip changed why I go, up until the last trip, gameviewing was my 1st, 2nd and 3rd priority, rooms and food not that important to me. I have become a wildlife carer at home and that is what I wanted to do over in Sth Africa as well, so this last trip I worked for 3 weeks in an animal rehab centre and tacked on a brief gameviewing stint at the end. I chose Phinda as I really wanted to see Black Rhino in the wild. There are huge differences, in my opinion, to fenced reserves versus unfenced reserves, especially MM that you don't see any fences and they have KNP as a neighbour, and that is a great neighbour to have! Personally I think some of these places overmanage, but that is my opinion. Very little off-roading, other than cats and black rhino, and so much rain, over 10mm, then no off-roading. I had some fantastic Black Rhino sightings so very happy with that as that is why I went, a bit jittery in some instances but the longer we stayed with them, the better they became. Also saw Black and White Rhino together which was an awesome experience.

At MM I used to see Wild Dog every trip, then in later years would go a couple of trips and no Wild Dog, then would see them every two or three times, just the luck of the draw really if I was there when they were passing through!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Apr 24th, 2012, 11:35 AM
  #11
cw
 
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Kaye,

Glad you got to see the black rhino because I remember that's why you went. Interesting that you saw them together with the white rhino. When we were at Phinda in 2006, we didn't see the black rhino until our last day. They were a bit shy, more so than the white, but we just sat there for awhile and got to spend some quality time. I have fond memories of Phinda. It was different from the other camps but it was special to us in it's own way.

I hope you enjoyed your time in animal care, too.
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Apr 24th, 2012, 04:56 PM
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Hi CW

We had quite a few excellent black rhino sightings and yes, that was a big reason why I went there. They have obviously relaxed down quite a bit since 2006 as a bit twitchy as all rhino can be but did calm down the longer we stayed with them. Yes I am not sure if the black and white rhino are together in any numbers anywhere that you would get that opportunity. The black rhino were not that interested in the white, but the white rhino bulls were quite interested in the black rhino calf as the mum kept moving, quite unique I would think.
The animal care experience was so different in so many ways, some great some not so great, but will be wanting to do that again though most likely at a different location.

Kind regards

Kaye
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