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“Above expectations”
Review of MalaMala Main Camp

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MalaMala Main Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Naperville, Illinois
Level Contributor
26 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Above expectations”
Reviewed 19 September 2011

We spent 3 nights at Mala Mala Main Camp in August, 2011 - wished we had spent 6! The accomodations were impeccable, the staff was super, the food excellent and the game drives were unbelievable! On our first game drive, Benz our ranger, showed us the Big Five! We saw, upclose, two male rhinos fighting and a leopard kill. Benz managed to drive us up to 2 lions eating a water buffallo. The trip was so beyond our expectations!!! Being in the middle of a large elephant herd was a sight beyond words. It was not a cheap trip, but worth every penny.

Room Tip: Every room was excellent, large and very clean with 2 full bathrooms. Our wake up call in the mornin...
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  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Loompa1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Los Altos, CA (USA)
Level Contributor
358 reviews
85 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 182 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 September 2011

I spent 4 nights in Mala Mala Main Camp at the end of my first safari vacation in August 2011. As has been said in other reviews, the camp is lovely and the rooms large and well fitted out. I was solo, so the two bathrooms, dressing area and sitting room -- in addition to the bedroom -- was a bit of overkill. But I suppose it would be nice for a couple. The camp is very well-maintained with lovely and colorful bougainvillea all around. The camp staff is very friendly. You are assigned a ranger when you arrive and he takes care of you for the length of your stay: you eat meals with him, drive with him, and he handles any problems that arise. Breakfasts and lunches are in the restaurant or on the lovely deck overlooking the Sand River. Dinners are in a large circle around the fire in the boma. Some nights the staff do local songs/dances, which is fun. The Buffalo Lounge and Buffalo Bar are nice and friendly gathering places. Michael the bar tender is a character and very outgoing. The bar has a very nice wine cellar and delicious S. African wines, even by the glass. Most everything is part of the overall price, including laundry which was very nicely done. Many animal sightings, including one day when we saw all the big five within about two hours! Several leopard sightings that got us very very close to the animals, including one where a female leopard, tired after an impala meal up a tree, jumped down and went to sleep under the vehicle in front of us! What a photo: just her tail peeking out from under the truck! My only disappointment with Mala Mala was with our particular ranger. He was very young and did not really interact all that much with those of us in the vehicle. I had been to 5 camps before and had really enjoyed talking with the guides but this was a different experience. In some cases, there were others in our vehicle who had never been on a game drive before and really needed some information and context for what they were seeing. But we passed by things without any input from the ranger, e.g. termite mounds, etc. He would respond if asked but did not go out of his way to inform his passengers or make the drives interesting. You also do off-roading at Mala Mala and I sometimes felt like that was what was most interesting to him: to crash through the brush for an hour chasing a leopard! Now that is exciting, but it all seemed a bit too macho and not very "green" to me. I felt we all needed a bit more sharing a bit less daring! But these things did not take away from the overall wonderful experience at Mala Mala, which is famous for good reasons.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Tracy K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney
Level Contributor
189 reviews
70 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 114 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 September 2011

This is our 3rd visit to Mala Mala Maincamp since 2004. Nothing much has changed with the excellent service & game viewing.
Accommodation: The rooms are air-conditioned, large with a sitting area and 2 bathrooms and toilets, one for him and the other for her. Great idea when rushing to get ready in the morning for a game drive. 
Laundry: Free
WiFi: Free
Drinks: User pays
Food: Excellent variety. Hearty breakfast, lunch & dinner
Game Drive: We saw the
Big 5 within 2 days! You are assigned a ranger to look after you during your entire stay. He drives the 4WD and looks for the game at the same time. Radio contact means each vehicle is notified of a significant sighting and can take turns to view instead of jostling for position. Being a private reserve we can get real close to the animal. 
Service: Great service from everyone! They look after you. The Rattrays, owners of the place mix freely with the guests. A far cry from our experience at &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.
Comment: Great place for first timers to safari. Equally good for returning guests like us. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed September 2011
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank mikelima
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
Reviewed 31 August 2011

Best location! Best people! Best service! Best rooms! Best food! And the most important best game view!!! In just 1 day I saw big five just infront of my eyes! Hunting and eating !!! My advice, just ask for mr yanco the ranger he is such a bless! A real safari full of adventures and real wild life! He is so smart and very expert in his job!

  • Stayed August 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Rosemartini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
27 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 July 2011

Fantastic place to be for a safari trip, nice accomodation, food and lovely staff. The safari guides were great - experienced, knowlegable and gave us a great tour of the park. Saw the big 5 in two days and way more than many tourists would on their own; even got to see some cheetah cubs!

Only thing, and this is being picky, spider webs with massive spiders were slightly worrisome.

  • Stayed October 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Isa_G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Jose, California
Level Contributor
53 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 128 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 June 2011

Mala Mala Main Lodge is in the heart of the Sabi Sands area. I believe it is the oldest game lodge around and has the largest private game reserve in South Africa. That means that the game viewing there is nothing but spectacular! You're not paying the big bucks there for just the posh accomodations -- you are paying to guarantee an amazing game experience! Also since this is a private game reserve, the Land Rovers can go on any terrain and chase down any animals. The ranger to guest ratio is about 1:4, so you're never in a bad seat and you get more personal attention during your stay. On my very first game drive, we saw all 5 of the Big 5! if that's not impressive enough, we stalked a leopard through a kill. The process itself took a few hours but definitely worth the wait. We not only watched it kill an impala, but we watched it drag it up the tree to feast on the fresh catch.
Nothing separates the Main Lodge from the game in the Sabi Sands. We see animals coming in and out of the resort all the time. The resort occupies close proximity to the rive, which is the bloodline for all the animals. Just sitting in my room, I saw tons of baboons, nyalas, kudus, and bush bucks just hanging around the waterhole. If you're so lucky to get hut #23, you'll have a wonderful view of a waterhole every afternoon.
The rooms are large circular huts. There is a his & hers bathroom -- one with a tub and one with a shower. The room is decorated in traditional African art and patterns and is nothing but wonderful! You can enjoy afternoon drinks or tea in the suite area or out on your own porch. There's free internet that comes with the room, but given that the resort is out in the middle of no where, internet access can be a bit spotty. We learned to move around in our hut to find the best spot for access.
This is an all-inclusive resort so your room rate per night includes all the game drives, afternoon tea and morning snacks, as well as 3 meals a day. Food is delicious with options for vegetarians. Dinner is served in an outdoor circular structure next to a large open fire. The staff will come out and sing some traditional regional songs while you dine.
Now I am getting to what separates this resort from all the rest -- SERVICE. From the moment you arrive, you are introduced to your ranger. Your personal ranger takes care of everything for you, from getting you extra blankets during the game drive, to spotting animals, to getting ice cream after dinner, to delivering hot tea in the morning to your room. I was fortunate to have had ranger Tim, who took great care of us during the entire trip. Anything we asked for got taken care of immediately. For instance, during our night game drive, he asked what temperature we wanted our room when we got back. When we got back to our room, we walked into a toasty room after a chilly night drive. Service with a genuine smile seems to be the theme of this resort and you will see that from the reception staff to the kitchen staff. We encountered the friendiest people who go out of their way to make our experience memorable.
We booked our customized itinerary through Your Safari Expert. Should you require detailed planning and transfer services, please ask for Christine.

  • Stayed May 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Joy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Canberra, Australia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 May 2011

We had seen all of the big five within 15 hours of arrival - including a kill!! The most amazing experience of our South African trip, and high up on my whole life experiences.
Mala Mala rocks - the guides are incredible, the service is great, the location is exceptional, rooms are sumptuous, vehicles are just right to get close to the animals.
Just don't expect to relax - between great meals, game drives, guided walks, evening drinks in the bar or on the verandah there were 2 to 3 hours per day to relax by the pool or settle back on your balcony to watch the wildlife wander past on the river banks

Room Tip: pay the extra for a deluxe room
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  • Stayed April 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank IanB_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about MalaMala Main Camp

Property: MalaMala Main Camp
Address: PO Box 55514, Northlands, Kruger National Park 2116, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve > Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Speciality Lodging in Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4.5 star — MalaMala Main Camp 4.5*
Number of rooms: 25
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
MalaMala Game Reserve is the Safari Industry's blueprint to the luxury photographic safari. In existence since 1927, this massive thriving tract of land produces the most exciting wildlife experience this side of the equator. MalaMala Game Reserve is the largest private Big Five game reserve in South Africa. Comprising 13 300 ha (33 000 acres), MalaMala shares a 19 km (12 mile) unfenced border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park, and lies strategically sandwiched between the National Park and the Sabi Sand Reserve. For over four decades, Michael Rattray has remained focused on his objective to preserve and protect the land over which he is custodian. Allowing nature to move to its innate rhythm, guests experience today what the forefathers of the African Safari would have experienced at the turn of the century. This philosophy has paid off, as experienced by a veritable collection of photojournalists and film-makers who have made MalaMala their destination of choice to capture footage of wildlife viewing that would rival any Hollywood production for thrilling and breathtaking animal encounters. MalaMala's Camps (MalaMala Main Camp, Sable Camp and Rattray's on MalaMala) are the embodiment of an authentic safari experience pioneered at a time when the safari was simple - unassuming camps, vast sweeping plains, the African sky and the bush in all its splendour. Wellness was the feeling after a long day in the wild. Cigars were shared without pomp and ceremony. Guests to MalaMala will still spend hours beneath an inky sky in the traditional boma exchanging stories from the wild - a sumptuous meal, good company and relaxed faces warmed by the crackling fire, accompanied by the nocturnal symphony of sound. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mala Mala Main Camp Hotel Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
MalaMala Main Camp Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

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