Most safaris these days are done in the back of a bouncing Land Rover, modified so there’s nothing between you and the lion pride. Exciting, for sure. But also dusty and, well, maybe a little too much like being escorted through Busch Gardens.
At and Beyond’s Phinda Vlei Lodge, on the east coast of South Africa, the animals come to you, whether that’s while you’re lying in bed, relaxing in your private plunge pool, or drinking a regional wine from the comfort of your table at the open-air dining deck. That’s because the lodge is set amid the African bush in the company’s 110-square-mile game preserve, full of elephants, leopards, cape buffalo, zebras, and impalas, among others.
During the day, you can set off on foot with the Phinda Vlei’s guides to track the elusive black rhino, tour a nearby Zulu village, or head to the Indian Ocean, just a few minutes away, for a day at the beach or a scuba session. At night, return to your private suite (one of only six on the property) and watch as the preserve’s animals stream out of the forest for their evening drink at the nearby water hole. Watching the action while dining alfresco may not be a true “safari,” but there’s no lack of excitement—and it’s far more civilized.