We recently stayed at Mala Mala for three nights, after staying at &Beyond's Phinda Reserves beforehand. Both locations were incredible, each with countless animal sightings, knowledgable rangers and delicious meals. Both camps are great and I can't pick a favorite. Things I liked better about Mala Mala include the pool, the gym, the lodge/bar setup and the view from the room. Animal sightings were equal, and just depend on luck and the weather. But there were a few things that I didn't like and want to note in more detail.
1) No cell phone cameras on the game drives. Due to rhino poaching issues, we were not allowed to have our iPhones on the drives. Luckily we have a nice camera as well, but we couldn't snap any selfies or other shots to email out to friends. And it would have been nice to have been notified about this beforehand in case we didn't have the Canon.
2) The ranger eats all three meals with you. We really liked our ranger, but felt like he deserved a break and we wouldn't have minded having more family time alone. Two meals would have been plenty. Plus at dinner he kept getting up to serve us drinks, so he was a combo dinner guest/waiter. It was awkward at times. Mala Mala should hire more waiters.
3) They don't have trackers. Unlike Phinda, which had a tracker and ranger together during the drives, Mala Mala's ranger plays both roles. This is fine from a tracking perspective, but I was always a little worried in the back of my mind from a safety perspective. Nothing bad ever happened, but I would have preferred a second person just in case of an emergency.
Despite these three issues I really loved the experience and highly recommend Mala Mala.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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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