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“5 Individual Leopards in one day”
Review of MalaMala Main Camp

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MalaMala Main Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Sydney, Australia
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“5 Individual Leopards in one day”
Reviewed 10 July 2014

Mala Mala never fails to deliver. This is my third visit and I still get blown away everytime I am here. Naturally we saw the "Big 5" but the Leopard sightings were amaising. We saw Leopards every day and in one day saw 5 individuals with one big male walking right passed our vehicle. The rooms and staff were great and the meals good.

Room Tip: All rooms are of a very high standard so view is the only variable. I would go for one with a river...
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with friends
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1 Thank SafariMike66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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309 reviews from our community

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English first
Bellevue, Washington
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 July 2014

Everything about our experience at Mala Mala was amazing. Our guide picked us up from the airport in an open-sided Land Rover for a 45 minute trip through back country to the base camp. We had no idea how many animals we would see just on this ride to the base camp--the excitement was definitely building. We were greeted at the Mala Mala base camp and then served a delicious lunch. Then we were shown our beautiful rooms overlooking the river. We went on two excursions a day and saw so many incredible sites. On the first afternoon we heard a leopard on the hunt and our guide was able to track him down. The leopard was high in a tree with the impala he had just caught. Our guide, Yuri, was so skilled at tracking down the animals and was incredibly knowledgable. Yuri was so accommodating to our needs as a family traveling with four kids and was always looking out for us. Yuri is just a really amazing, genuine guy and did so much to make this an incredible experience for our family. This really was a trip of a lifetime.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
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Thank Wamama K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Long Beach, California
Level 5 Contributor
51 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 July 2014

This was one of the most impressive places I've ever stayed at. Granted this is a very expensive game reserve, but everything we spent was right there for us to take advantage of. They assign a guide to you as soon as you arrive. He (or she) is not only your game driver but your constant companion throughout your stay: wake up call in the mornings, game drive, escorts you to breakfast and lunch, meets you for your afternoon/evening game drive, greets you for dinner, and escorts you to your room at night. That last part is required because there are no fences at the game lodge: they don't want you on some lion's menu. Our room was amazing: 20' high thatched ceiling, two gigantic bathrooms, a sitting area, a bar, a huge patio looking out to a view of the river. The food was very good: good selection and quality. Our guide Matt, was a Durbin local, and his respect for the animals was contagious. Our game drives were EXTREMELY lucky: the big 5 in the first day. Yeah, it cost a lot, but it was worth every penny.

Room Tip: Ask for the room farthest from the dining boma in the main camp.
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank ratboy1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 15 June 2014

Greeted warmly by all the staff as soon as we arrived. We felt like family and our comfort was their goal. It was so incredible that while we were in the luxurious comfort of our mini house and own pool that it was also "All about the Animals", with wonderful rides twice each day. Our ranger was always on the lookout for what we wanted to see and did we see everything! He was extremely knowledgeable and enjoyed teaching us to track and know the animals. The rides into the bush were structured each day as we liked. We could stay out late past dark or go in earlier if we wanted. Dinner was ready when we were. The meals were delicious and drinks were fantastic!.

I had the lovely gift having monkeys on our roof to say goodbye the day we were leaving and several herds of elephants along the sand river with their trunks in the air to say goodbye.
This was a vacation dream of a lifetime and exceeded all of our expectations.

Heidi and Rick from Upstate NewYork USA

Room Tip: The first mini house next to the lodge is easy to get to and from.
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank Heidi W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Granite Bay, Calif.
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 June 2014

We had a FANTASTIC time in our stay at this safari lodge. The new facility at Main Camp was absolutely wonderful in everyway. The game viewing was again the best you can have in seeing the BIG FIVE and wild dogs hunting impalas. We are back home and we already miss being their. Thank you for such a great time, Bob & Linda

Room Tip: FANTASTIC for anyone who is handicapped, easy access and service to everything.
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank granitebaynick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
leeds
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 June 2014

I am a well travelled person but nothing prepared me for a South African Safari. I moved around and stayed at three different camps but Mala Mala was exceptional. It had by far the best accommodation, food and staff. Upon arrival we were given a very warm welcome and shown around, given information on what to expect on a game drive. The lodges were large and well furnished with amazing views of the river and animals. I had elephants roaming around not far from my lodge. I had the best nights sleep here. The food was wonderful and we ate at tables around a fire and had traditional entertainment. The hosts were the actual owners Norma & Michael Rattray and were very charming and very interesting. I can recommend you try the Mandela beans...delicious. Our hosts on the game drive were very knowledgeable and the utmost professionals. We saw all of the big five on our very first outing. I cannot wait to go back to Mala Mala, I felt that I really saw the real South Africa here and fell completely in love with it.

Room Tip: I don't think it matters which room you stay in, it's just fantastic.
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled on business
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Helpful?
Thank mharriman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York, NY
Level 5 Contributor
82 reviews
59 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
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
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank joiedevivi
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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