October 2nd, 2019

The Torres Family visit KwaZulu-Natal

Written by:

Jane Torres




The most incredible and perfect trip ever!

We took our family of 9 – children and grandchildren ages 18, 15 and 10 to S. Africa to celebrate our 50thanniversary. 

Toby Pheasant of Bonamy helped us plan the trip. I chose to work with him because he really listened to what we wanted, the style of safari, and price we could afford. And it really was all of the above. 

Lion at Phinda - Leigh Torres

We all flew from various cities in the US to Johannesburg where we were met and driven to Three Tree Hill Lodge, about a 4 hour drive.  

Three Tree is rustic luxury, relaxed, warm, and friendly.  The perfect place to get over jet lag, stretch our legs and relax. Each cabin/room has a deck with expansive views over the hills and animal reserve.  

The first day we went horseback riding or mountain biking and then swimming and hiking.  The lodge abuts a game reserve ( some guests went on a walking safari through the reserve) but we chose to walk along the fence from where we could see rhinos, giraffes, elands, and  a few other animals from a distance.  

We watched a beautiful sunset from the magic tree and then gathered in the main lodge for drinks and appetizers in front of the fire before a delicious dinner.

Three Tree Hill - Leigh Torres

The second day we went zip lining or hiking along a beautiful creek, stopped at a brewery on the way back and arrived at the lodge in time for sundowners atop the hill overlooking a lovely lake.  This is a great place for kids of all ages, ours especially liked the trampoline and paddle ball equipment.

Day three we drove to our safari spot –Phinda Mountain Lodge.  Phinda is one of 5 lodges in a private reserve, but we never saw another lodge and hardly any other people except our group.  

The lodge is gorgeous but not pretentious. Each room has a plunge pool and deck overlooking the trees, where monkeys and nyalas hang out, even visiting the decks and pools.  The cottages also have a fully stocked (and included) bar, a lovely big bathroom with every amenity and an outdoor shower to bathe in nature. The food and drink were delicious and plentiful. 

Phinda Private Game Reserve - Leigh Torres

Everything was wonderful, and the very very best part were the people at Phinda. 

We had an early morning game drive and then an evening game drive, and unlike some other countries and places, our vehicles were open and could go off road to track the animals which is what we did.  

Our ranger, Damen was marvellous.  So very knowledgeable about the animals, birds, biology and environment we were always learning.  Damen never ceased to find ways to make our visit special, whether it was a surprise breakfast in the forest, a champagne sunset overlooking the whole valley, arranging a soccer game for our family and others, finding every animal and bird we wanted and even planning a special anniversary dinner in a private room. 

Cheetah at Phinda - Leigh Torres

John was our tracker and, I’m positive, the best tracker ever. He could spot the tracks of the animals and anticipate where the animal was going and how we could get there. 

At one point he and Damen tracked a male lion up into the mountain (no roads) and then got out of the vehicle to walk on foot—until they heard the lion growl. Time to get back into the jeep! We drove close enough then to see the lion and count his teeth when he yawned.

Lion at Phinda - Leigh Torres

We saw every animal we could have wanted to see (except our 10 year wanted to see a serval and they are so scarce, John had only seen one in his 40 some years of tracking).  

We saw rhinos with calves, lions and lion cubs, cheetahs and cubs, elephants and calves, giraffes and their young, Cape Buffalo, wildebeests, warthogs, nyalas, impalas and the most beautiful birds ever.  Oh, and even a jackal.

Wildlife at Phinda - Leigh Torres

The staff at Phinda were so eager to do whatever they could to make our trip memorable.  They really became our friends and we were so sorry to leave them.  

We did promise to come back – and I hope we do!

Jane Torres - August 2019

Welcome to Three Tree Hill - Leigh Torres

Thanks for reading,

The Bonamy Travel Team

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