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Phinda Impact Journey


Travel with purpose with this eco-passionate operator and gain exclusive access to unforgettable community and conservation experiences.

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South Africa: Drink It In

Welcome Aboard the


Embark on a journey of discovery with this privately guided, 7-day small group journey that aims to highlight conservation and community development activities, which underpin the ethos of “leaving the world a better place than we found it”. Whilst traditional game drives are integral to this safari experience, it incorporates elements of our ranger training curriculum as well as selected conservation activities. Perfect for those who wish to travel with purpose, this small group journey offers a fantastic opportunity for growth and learning in an exciting and stimulating environment. The exposure to authentic and exclusive community and conservation experiences, as well as gaining insight into Zulu culture, is a rare and priceless gift.
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    • Experience unparalleled wildlife experiences at Phinda, host to the big five as well as excellent viewing opportunities of cheetah, 436 bird species, and the rare black rhino.
    • Includes a ZAR 15 000 (@ $1000 USD) donation to Phinda’s Africa Foundation Star Project.
    • Let this expert operator see to your every request while you enjoy one of the most immersive wildlife and cultural experiences on the planet.

Travel Curator’s Insights:


From $11,728 per person
Policies and protocols provided before you book.

Custom dates on request.

Custom dates on request.


Trip Sustainability Awards 



Partnership with the Africa Foundation to facilitate positive empowerment and development of local inhabitants.



740,000 plastic water bottles saved from use per year.



Has won multiple awards for conservation efforts, and partners with 7+ organizations globally.


Day 1: Welcome

On arrival at Phinda Zuka Lodge, you will have the opportunity to settle in before enjoying your first game drive in the reserve. Afterwards, unwind with pre-dinner drinks and an orientation of your upcoming adventures, hosted by Les Carlisle, Group Conservation Manager. His discussion will reveal what is planned for the week and aims to provide an explanation for this safari experience, what you will be discovering and learning, and why specific activities were chosen.

Accommodation: Phinda Zuka Lodge

Phinda Zuka Lodge: Set amongst the densely wooded Zuka Hills of Phinda Private Game Reserve, studded with aloes and overlooking a small private waterhole, lies Phinda Zuka Lodge, a private sole-use villa, ideal for families and small groups. Phinda Zuka’s overall ambiance is that of cool, coastal bush-style; embodying the sophistication of simplicity. The charming suites cluster around a popular waterhole where a diversity of wildlife is regularly seen and birdlife flourishes. Each suite boasts a luxurious ensuite bathroom, complete with a circular bath chamber, double showers and twin hand basins. Comfortable lounge chairs, on private verandas, allow for gentle contemplation or an afternoon siesta.

Day 2: Game Drives, Photography, Exploring Ranger Training and Ethics

It’s an early start today, as you wake for a day that is focused on photography plus exploring ranger training and ethics. Start your day with a game drive, followed by breakfast at the lodge. Your morning’s adventure will offer insight into the role of a ranger, what their job entails and what needs to be accomplished in order to successfully meet our requirements. You will also participate in an informative wildlife photography lesson to help you capture your sightings and adventures with us. These photographs will be used to create a wonderful photographic canvas that will be presented to you at the end of your stay.

Afterwards, put your guiding hat on and embark on a bush walk, where you will be introduced to the art of tracking and tree and plant identification. Relish a delicious lunch back at the lodge and then enjoy an afternoon game drive with a frogging expedition (if frogs are active), which involves listening for distinct frog sounds, tracking them down, identifying and photographing them. In the evening, gaze up at the sky and marvel at the celestial constellations of the Southern Hemisphere and revel in a stars presentation and identification session.

Accommodation: Phinda Zuka Lodge

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Day 3: An Introduction to Birding, Ranger Rifle Training, and a Sleep Out in the Wild

Today, you will put what you learned from the previous day into practice, on an early morning game drive. You will also be introduced to birding: learning about bird physiology, behavior and breeding. Afterwards, you will have the opportunity to take part in a bird ringing exercise, which involves netting and recording measurements, and ringing the bird for monitoring purposes, before releasing it.

After a fun-filled morning, you will head back to the lodge to tuck into a hearty breakfast before setting off for another bush walk to focus on fine-tuning your awareness skills when walking through the wilderness. Learn how to carry a rifle, followed by practical ranger rifle training, and then participate in a thrilling simulation of a lion charge and the drills that need to take place. Enjoy a delectable lunch back at the lodge, and the opportunity to unwind, before a late afternoon/evening game drive that focuses on tracking and viewing nocturnal wildlife.

The drive then culminates in a bush dinner and an exciting sleep out in the wild. You will be protected by guards throughout your night’s stay.

Accommodation: Phinda Zuka Lodge

Day 4: Walking Safari and Tracking, Craft Gin and Tonics and Food Paring

Wake up early and head into the bush for an exhilarating walking safari, where all the elements that you have learnt over the last two days are put into practice. From your sleep out camp, you will be given instructions on how to navigate back to the lodge, and as you make your way, your identification skills on birds and trees will be called upon. You will be under the guidance of your ranger at all times, and should any fresh elephant, buffalo or rhino tracks be encountered along the way, your group will conduct a tracking exercise, using the skills learned earlier in the week, so as to be able to view these animals on foot.

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure and look forward to an evening game drive, with a stop in the wilderness that focuses on hospitality. Enjoy a private, craft gin and tonic and food pairing, craft beer and biltong paring, or wine and cheese tasting.

Accommodation: Phinda Zuka Lodge

Day 5: Community Trip, a Traditional Craft Market Followed by Enjoyable Afternoon Safari

Today, you will have the opportunity to explore a local community just outside of the reserve. Gain insight, and contribute towards, some of the projects that the Africa Foundation (this operator's community development partner) is undertaking. Interact with members of the community and gain knowledge and perspective into their everyday life.

You will also have the opportunity learn about the Zulu culture during your outing. Spend the morning at Nkomo Primary School, where you can sit in on the children’s morning assembly. Afterwards, assist in preparing lunch meals for children at the OVC Centre (Orphans and Vulnerable Children Centre), and help serve meals. Interact with a classroom of kids, and present a short presentation to the children, which is in line with their school curriculum. The outline will be provided to you and will cover elements that relate to geography, history and life orientation. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the community and visit a traditional craft market, and then a local clinic.

Head back to the lodge for tea and then an exciting evening game drive ahead.

Accommodation: Phinda Zuka Lodge

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Day 6: Conservation Day – Actively Partake in Research Projects and Conservation Experiences

This morning, you will gain insight into the activities of the conservation team based at Phinda Private Game Reserve, and actively partake in some of the research projects, which are currently being conducted on the reserve. Wake early and depart from the lodge with a reserve wildlife research technician. You will be introduced to the various monitoring programs that are being carried out and will have the opportunity to assist in the tracking of the various species being monitored. You will then assist in recording the necessary data required for the various research programs.

After this, depending on the research requirement, you will be able to participate in either a Rhino notching exercise – the research teams to carry out an ear notching exercise (for monitoring purposes) OR collaring of a rhino to better locate for monitoring purposes – if necessary, you may be able to participate in a dehorning exercise to protect the rhino from poachers.

After an exhilarating morning, enjoy a picnic breakfast in the bush and learn how to use the researchers’ telemetry equipment, which is essential in helping to track wildlife. Following breakfast, re-join the wildlife monitoring team and head out in search of elephant herds, to assist the team in collecting data, which is used to inform the numerous research projects that focus on elephant, about their behavior and role in the greater ecosystem.

After your time in the bush, have a late lunch at the lodge, and later an evening game drive.

Accommodation: Phinda Zuka Lodge

Day 7: Departure

After tucking into a wholesome breakfast at the lodge, you will have a wrap-up and debrief session of the weeks’ activities with Les Carlisle and Andrew Schoeman. There will be a handover of a photography canvas from the pictures taken during your time on safari. You will then be collected for your homeward flight, via Airlink, to O.R Tambo International Airport.

Please Note: The rates quoted are subject to change without warning if there are any increases in bed levies, park fees, fuel, sales tax or VAT, third-party services or any other circumstances beyond our control in South Africa.

Minimum Age: Due to the nature of the itinerary, the minimum age of children allowed will be 16 years. Should the entire group comprise of one party and there are children under 16 we would be able to adjust the course content in order to cater for younger children.

Camera Equipment: Guests are required to bring their own.


Life On Board

Deck Plan

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Rate based on minimum of 4 guests and with a maximum of 6 guests. 8 is the max group size.

From in USD:


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As a solo traveler, a cost supplement will be added to your trip.

From in USD:


This is a very unusual opportunity to experience being a ranger, animal tracker, birder, stargazer, and local community member. I've never seen anything quite like it in a luxury setting. I highly recommend it to nature lovers!

Joy Martinello, Founder



What’s Included & Cancellation Policy:

Welcome and assistance service at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg; All scheduled flights: OR Tambo International Airport to Phinda Private Game Reserve and vice versa; Accommodation as specified; Meals as specified; Soft drinks, house wine, local brand spirits, local beer, teas and coffees (premium brands to own account); Laundry; Game viewing activities as offered on the Small Group Journey; Access to renowned conservationists, a specialist photographic guide, and privately guided throughout by a specialist ranger; Airport taxes and fuel surcharge; Emergency medical evacuation insurance; Administration fee.

Travel Insurance is not included. (recommended), premium liquor brands, items of a personal nature.

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