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“Trip of a lifetime”
Review of MalaMala Main Camp

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MalaMala Main Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 18 July 2010

I took my 23 year old nephew to South Africa for the World Cup. I figured, once we've gone this far, we have to do some kind of safari. I have always done my own travel arrangements, but because of the World Cup, I could not even find accomodations, and the trip had to be customized for dates of travel around our game dates. So, I looked on Tripadvisor for folks commenting on South Africa and found a great, great travel agent in the US that specializes in Africa. I worked with Matt at Travel Beyond who was working with a South Africa travel agent called Thompsons. There were a few glitches in the execution, but both Travel Beyond and Thompsons were very responsive. Anyway, after looking at various game reserves that both Travel Beyond and two other agents came up with, after trading off costs and reviews, we chose Mala Mala Main Camp. It's kind of confusing how the private parks/reserves are referred to - they all are in the area of (and sometimes referred to as part of) Kruger National Park. Also, many of them say they are part of Sabi Sand, which is also the name of one of the reserves. Mala Mala is a private reserve, the largest in acreage (33K acres) of them all, with the largest border with the actual Kruger National Park. It is on the high end of the reserves cost wise, but not the most expensive. Mala Mala has 3 camps - Main camp and Sable camp which are more basic (but not very basic at all - the rooms were huge, 2 bathrooms for the two of us, open view onto the camp with animals at your windows) - and Rattrays, which is more exclusive, high end and expensive. There are only 4-6 people in each jeep and I think there are only about 12 or so jeeps on the property at one time. It's two weeks later, and I'm still blown away by our experience there. I can unqualifiedly recommmend Mala Mala.

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled with family
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1  Thank AmyPP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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278 - 284 of 345 reviews

Reviewed 3 March 2010

We absolutely loved Mala Mala... everyone was incredibly welcoming and the game viewing was outstanding. We've been on safari before in other parts of Africa and this was by far the best experience! From the location to the guides (Chris was fantastic) to the service to the food/amenities. We got amazingly close to the animals, particularly the big cats which are my personal favorites. Our back deck overlooked an area frequented by elephant and antelope - game viewing right from your chaise), the camp also had several nyala who would bee seen around munching on the flowers. All in all we were well taken care of an saw all of the big 5 and then some! We would absolutely go back and highly recommend it to all our friends. Thank you Mala Mala!

  • Stayed: September 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Suzanne W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 January 2010

We're life long travelers with loads of experiences with guides under our belts. We've also done numerous safari's. If you want to have the best game viewing experience in Africa (it was better than Kenya), then be sure to go to Mala Mala and ask for Graham Dyer to be your guide.
While at Mala Mala we encountered two individuals that go on Safari every year for weeks at a time and have been doing it for years - they are both regulars at Mala Mala. One said that out of all the safari camps Mala Mala had the best game viewing, and the other one hires Graham for private safari trips to other countries!

Mala Mala was one of the pioneers of the no hunting driving safari. For over 40 years the guides have carefully handled their vehicles to ensure the wildlife are comfortable with the large vehicles and it shows! The animals truly have no fear of the vehicles. This means that you don't need thousands of dollars worth of zoom lenses and binoculars as the guides can drive right up to the animals and the animals simply don't care. They frequently will walk right by you, even stopping to smell or rub against the vehicle.
Mala Mala has the game drives down to an art. You don't end up with photos of game with other vehicles in the shot. Mala Mala also has a choice piece of land (the river attracts loads of animals that you can see from your room) so the concentration and variety of game on their land is outstanding, likely the best viewing in all of Kruger. The rooms are spacious and comfortable.

I can not emphasize enough what a difference the right guide makes - at Mala Mala Graham Dyer is the absolute best. He has endless knowledge, answers every question with enthusiasm and is just as thrilled to be there as you are. There is nothing worse than having a guide that is "been there, done that" about everything and only giving out minimal information, while watching the clock. Graham enhances the safari experience.
October is an outstanding time to go - very little vegetation so it's easy to see the game, water is scarce so they come to the river and there are babies everywhere. Baby elephant, leopard, lion, monkey, baboon, birds, rhino, hippo, wild dogs - etc. To give you an idea of the quality of game viewing, we saw the Big 5 within 30 minutes of our first game drive. If you are a "big cat" person - this is your spot!

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank InnSpire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 December 2009

This was my first safari and Mala Mala was perfect. The rooms were nice, the food was good, the staff was great but the best thing about Mala Mala was the game viewing. We saw the big five in two drives and our ranger was personable and knowledgeable. I would stay at Mala Mala again in a heartbeat!

  • Stayed: September 2009, travelled with friends
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2  Thank Airbound13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 October 2009

Had a wonderful time overall. Here's a summary:
Food-Exceeded our expectation.
Game Drives-Very good but if I had to go on safari once in my life, I would go to Tanzania or Kenya. We saw a lot more animals there.
Rooms-Spacious and clean; however, the interior design looks tired and dated.
Service-Excellent.

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank howlingdawg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 October 2009

Mala Mala is absolute magic, we had the best time while we were there. In fact, it was so incredible that we just didn't want to leave. We were only there 2 nights and got to see all of the big 5. We even saw 6 different leopards in 1 day - it was amazing!! We got so many good pictures we don't know what to do with them.
The accomodations were luxurious, the food was fantastic, and the staff was very attentive, but what we loved about this place that it really was all about the wildlife and the game drives which is exactly what we wanted and the game viewing was fantastic. We had an awesome ranger named Graham who really made the trip great for us!
We can't wait to get back to Mala Mala and hopefully stay a little longer next time!

  • Stayed: September 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank rebecca9583
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 October 2009

Gourmet food, lovely rooms, excellent service, fabulous game drives. Saw Big 5! Guides are well informed and, although the animals are wild, they are habituated to the game drive vehicles. My group saw lions upclose and personal at a kill. Elephants, monkeys and antelopes moved about the hotel grounds. Our trip w/ Nat. Geo. was very fast paced, not for the handicapped. I want to go back.

  • Stayed: August 2009
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Thank tonijim
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

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: £1,086 - £3,121 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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