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MalaMala Main Camp
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Reviews (357)
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All reviewsmala malathe rivergame viewinghunting lodgewild dogsprivate reservecape buffalosafari experienceseparate bathroomsthatched roofoff roadafrica tripkruger national parklions huntingbreakfast and dinneran outstanding jobland rover
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Reviewed 31 May 2014

Booked by our travel agent on our first trip to Africa, easing us (city slickers) into our first safari experience for 3 nights. We spoke explicitly with our travel agent about what the stay was (upscale, part of a game reserve next to Kruger) and was not (the classic safari experience) and we were not disappointed! We wanted to have the best chance at seeing as many animals as possible and we got it. On our very first night drive, we saw The (rare) Kill - lions hunting and killing an impala. The next night, we saw other lions hunting. All in all, we saw the Big 5 - and then some! The drives at Mala Mala were incredibly fun and our favorite part of our entire Africa trip.

After our 2-2.5 hr transfer from Nelspruit airport, we were warmly greeted on our arrival by our guide, Paul D. He proved to be an attentive host and excellent ranger. He would diligently point out game, teach us about the flora and fauna, and explain how he tracked some of the animals. He was polite and friendly, always conscientious of and attentive to the needs and comfort of his guests. He answered our numerous questions with patience, enthusiasm, and attention to detail. He also understood the photographer's point of view and did an outstanding job of helping to line up the shots for all of us. We highly recommend him!

We had a shared safari experience with two other travelers who had the same itinerary we had. (Literally, we were coincidentally on the same flights arriving and departing.) Luckily, we all were of like-minds. The winter daily schedule is, roughly, thus: wake up call at 5:30am, meet at 6am for a light breakfast (coffee, teas, some pastries), leave afterwards for the morning game drive until return around 10-10:30am for breakfast. Then, lunch at 1:30pm, afternoon tea at 3:30pm with the afternoon/evening game drive afterwards until about 7:30pm-8pm and dinner at 8:30pm with an escort by your guide back to your room at night. It's a hectic schedule, but you are free to do as much or as little as you like. We loved every minute of the drives - truly wish they were longer! The drives were in a comfortable Land Rover that had three bench seats at the back. Fleece blankets and water bottles helped keep the chill out of the COLD winter mornings and evenings. You had the option of booking massages, though we never did. (I actually probably would have, but quite frankly, forgot til now.) The pools were also quite nice, but it never got warm enough for me to go (though I did see some other travelers enjoying them). It would be lovely in spring/summer.

We had one day in Sable Camp and two at Main Camp (no real difference, except for where you ate). Both have a traditional-feel.Twelve items for same-day laundry per room per day were included (very helpfully!). We also received animal bookmarks nightly, which was a cute touch. The common spaces had excellent decor and great views of the river (=great chance to see animals!). We saw zebra, giraffe, and kudu from our patio. Impala, monkeys, and others were right outside camp. We heard lions in the evenings/early mornings, but otherwise the sleep was great. Our room was part of a two-room hut/building. The actual room's decor was slightly dated, but still quaint and appropriate for the atmosphere. Comfortable bed and pillows. (Not sure why, but my husband and I had basically two twin beds (separate comforters) pushed together, instead of a queen or king - not sure if this is standard or not.) We had his-and-hers bathrooms (one with shower, one with bath). Lovely tropical-scented toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion), robes and slippers, in-room safe, and they provided insect repellent and room spray. Free wifi that we used in our rooms - slightly slow, but it was to be expected.

The service was excellent - friendly and prompt. The food was varied, appropriate for the ambiance, and very good. You also had the option of taking tea/breakfast in the bush, which was quite a nice experience. We were also offered a walk in the bush with Paul, which we did not go on, though it was enjoyed by the other travelers. Dinner was announced by drums and some singing by the staff. Everything except extra drinks was included and the drinks were at a reasonable price (about 50-55 Rand for a cocktail or wine, 15-20 Rand for a beer). Our stay coincided with a visit by the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Rattray, who graciously hosted our entire party at their dinner table on our last night. We enjoyed the 'Game Board' where you get points for the different animals you saw - it certainly helped stir conversation among guests!

Overall, our stay at Mala Mala was excellent - truly the highlight of our trip to Southern Africa. We would recommend it in any case, but especially if you are short on time and would like a high chance of seeing as many animals as possible, without necessarily having the classic safari experience.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank lajoiedevivi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 May 2014 via mobile

We stayed at the camp for 2 nights the place is close to the perfect airport that is owned by the resort. We have seen the big 5 and the guidance of Morne and James is professional and passionate. The owners of the Camp honored us with their time and even escorted us for a fair well at the airstrip when we left. This is the ultimate of SAFARI

  • Stayed: May 2014
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1  Thank a h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 May 2014

Everything about our stay was beyond our expectations. A wonderful experience in a fabulous location. The rooms and food were fantastic, service was exceptional, and our guide was extremely knowledgeable and great company over the few days. We look forward to returning some day.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank GT-MPB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 April 2014

Our visit to Mala Mala was supposed to be the highlight of our trip to South Africa. We left feeling very disappointed. There is no doubt that the game viewing is exceptional. Mala Mala has the largest water frontage of the lodges in the Park and thus the best game with well trained and polite game rangers. That's it! The facilities are very outdated. The rooms and common areas appear not to have been redecorated since the 1980's and it has the ambience of apartheid South Africa. All of the guides except one were white. In the evening female staff were brought out to sing in front of guests in an excrutiating throw back to colonial Africa. We had the misfortune to visit at the same time as the owners, the aptly named Mr and Mrs Rattray, who were rude to us and our children. Their presence clearly put all of the staff on edge and their treatment of the staff made us very uncomfortable. The food was very average, the menu (limited buffet for lunch and dinner) clearly hasn't changed since the 80's either. There are some magnificent lodges in this part of the world which are not only far more luxurious (at the same price) but have a genuine feeling of being connected to the local community. This is not one of them.

Room Tip: Go somewhere else.
  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with family
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12  Thank cupkateski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2014

Marvellous Mala Mala. We have had several bush holidays over the past few years and our family view is unanimous – Mala Mala is simply the best. We are about to book for next Easter. Why would we go anywhere else?
The game viewing was exactly what we wanted – it was not a glorified safari park as so many of these exclusive lodges are, where the rangers are constantly radioing to each other and driving to each viewing opportunity so you can tick the animals off your list. It was such a thrill to discover the animals for ourselves – we had marvellous sightings of a rhino lying in a river bed one morning, a leopard with her cubs, a hyena in its den one evening and an hour in the midst of a herd of 300+ buffaloes coming down to drink at the river. On each occasion, we were the only vehicle at the sighting. Slightly nerve wracking was the herd of elephants as we came round the corner one evening in the dark on our way back to camp but our two rangers during our stay, Matthew and Dave, inspired complete confidence.
The accommodation and the food were entirely appropriate. We do not want mussels in white wine sauce (which we were served in a camp in Botswana last year!) – we had delicious “home cooked” food with fresh ingredients. The accommodation was extremely comfortable and had an authentic African feel which reflects the owners’ African heritage, rather than some interior designer’s idea of faux African décor.
All the staff were extremely helpful and friendly and all in all, it was a truly memorable visit to Mala Mala. Roll on next Easter!

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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1  Thank Beatrix19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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