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“Experience of a Lifetime!”

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Rattray's on MalaMala
Certificate of Excellence
Level 5 Contributor
64 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“Experience of a Lifetime!”
Reviewed 30 March 2008

This place is absolutely fabulous. We were able to fly into Mala Mala directly from Johannesburg on SA airlink, and were met at the airport by a jeep which took us the 5 minute drive to our camp. Rattrays consists of eight bungalows, housing a maximum of sixteen people. Bungalow is a misnomer, since each unit is a villa with his and hers bathrooms, a luxurious king bed, a sitting area, a deck and your own private plunge pool. All units are airconditioned, and absolutely private (skinny dipping is possible). The villas face the river, and you can often see game (we saw buffalo, kudu and baboons) on the banks. Bird watching from the deck is a delight.

The service is amazing. With 30 staff for 16 guests, your every whim is catered to. Our guide was knowlegable and worked hard to find the game we wanted to see. Most days we saw the big five, often crashing through the bush is pursuit of a sighting. No request was too small - one member of our party was fascinated with chameleons, and our tracker made sure to find them for her. Sundowners (drink of your choice) in the bush was an added bonus.

I have read negative reviews about the food, and cannot agree with them. While not gourmet, food was plentiful, very fresh, tasty and always included a regional specialty plus an alternative.

On the day of our departure, our flight was delayed and then cancelled. Nils, the Rattrays manager, was supurb,staying with our group us as we renogiated our flights, and then arranging for us to stay over an extra night at the airline's expense (thank you SAA). His graciousness made what could have been an ordeal into an adventure. Thank you Nils!

Our last night, we stayed in Mala Mala Main camp, so were able to compare experiences. Main camp is much larger (about 60 people) and so is less intimate. While the rooms are less luxurious than Rattrays, they are quite pleasant. The game drives are with equally qualified rangers, although jeeps are with six rather than four guests each. The food is the same. Next time, we may opt for more days at Main camp for less money, although Rattrays is the way to go if you want absolute pampering and cost is not an issue.

We have had one previous private game park experience at Londolozi. The game viewing at Mala Mala is far superior. Do this for the experience of a lifetime!

  • Liked — Luxury and pampering, with the best game viewing!
  • Disliked — I want to go back
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank BigBree
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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173 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
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  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (55)
Date | Rating
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  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
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English first
Milford, CT
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 March 2008

This was our first trip to Africa. We went with another couple who had stayed at the Mala Mala Main Camp previously. We just can't stop raving about Rattray's. Our ranger Sean, and our Tracker Collin were fabulous!!!! Both were as friendly, knowledgeable, and as helpful as could be. The entire ambience was truly relaxing and hospitable. Our first drive out, we saw the big five. Amazing... we viewed the big five and more on almost every drive. The accomadations were exquisite. The only thing we would have liked better was if the meals were not all buffet. Breakfast would be fine as a buffet, but lunch and dinner we would have preferred an a la carte menu. Other than that, there is absolutely nothing we would change. Our hearts and souls are still at Mala Mala Rattray's and only hope that my husband and I will be fortunate enough to return someday. LOVED IT!!!!!!! We send our best to Nils, Sean and Collin.

  • Liked — The game drives and the staff
  • Disliked — The buffet meals
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank zuzu2050
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Texas
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 15 September 2007

We booked our South African safari through a travel agency and expected to stay at Sable Camp at Mala Mala. Imagine our surprise when met by our Ranger at the air strip at Mala Mala and delivered to Rattray's. We figured out the upgrade when we saw the private plunge pools. Needless to say it was an exquisite experience having essentially a private home with hardwood floors, art on the walls, laptop and internet, flat screen TV, his/hers bathrooms with Victorian tub, and a huge deck overlooking the river. During our early July visit there were only three other parties at the camp for the majority of the stay - one group of four, one American couple, and our friends with whom we were traveling. We were able to set the times of our game drives, which was helpful given the cold temperatures in the a.m. and after dusk during the p.m. drives. The game viewing was superior, especially the wild African dogs, which had a den and pups while we were there. This was the only camp we visited in S.A. that provided music/entertainment in the boma (the thatched round outside dining area) at night. We enjoyed both the quiet library after our game drives and the "Out of Africa" ambiance of the bar before dinner. The bar keeper was a congenial host, and we even met property owner Michael Rattray during our stay. Alcohol was not included but the prices for South African wines were very reasonable. We were living above our means by getting upgraded to Rattrays but now we are spoiled and would not think of going anywhere else.

  • Liked — Luxury, service and wildlife
  • Disliked — Expensive
  • Stayed July 2007, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank champagne2fun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 September 2007

My husband and I stayed at Mala Mala Rattray’s Camp in August 2007. We greatly enjoyed our trip – game viewing, service, accommodation, food/wine were all excellent, and exactly the type of experience that one should have paying this kind of money.

The reason we picked Mala Mala is for the consistency of the Big 5 game viewing, which I had read about. And we were not disappointed - both my husband and I saw the Big 5 animals (leopard, lion, buffalo, rhino, and elephant) in the first 24 hours of our arrivals (my husband arrived a day later and saw the big 5 in the first day as well). In addition to the big 5, we also saw many giraffes, hyenas, zebras, impalas, kudos, nyalas, etc. You don’t see big herds of animals at Mala Mala (maybe only big herds of buffalos), but you see a large variety of animals and get very close to them. Our guide Stephen and tracker John went through the difficult bush to get us very close to see 2 pairs of mating lions and two different leopards. Mala Mala is definitely a place for people who are very interested wild animals. The camp does offer massage services and has a gym, but the focus is on the game drives – about 7 hours of drives a day.

I also want to highlight the level of service, which was truly personal. Since there are only 4 guests on a game drive, there is no tight schedule and you basically do things whenever you are ready –which is nice and relaxing (sometimes you can get lucky and don’t even share drives. We had private ones). The camp really caters to its guests’ needs. Everyone is very nice and friendly. Nils, the camp manager, whom we really enjoyed meeting and discussing a wide range of topics at dinners gets to know his guests and makes sure that everyone is happy during their stay. You do have to pay for wine (not included in the price), but the prices are reasonable. Another nice feature that the camp offers is private dinners. You can have dinner in your room and it is free (other camps charge for that – can you believe it?).

At Rattray’s, you are not staying in tents like at many other safari places. You are staying essentially in private bungalows (can't think of a better word. its not small though. anything but)– very classy, spacious, comfortable and with a lot of great amenities – flat screen TV, a laptop with wireless (yahoo was very slow for some reason though), personal plunge pool, and his and her bathrooms. You feel like you are staying in your own home in Africa!

Last thing to consider, this camp is not designed in the most modern style but its classic and traditional. Other new camps in S. Africa like the one Richard Branson owns are more cutting edge from a design perspective but in my opinion, if I want design, I'll go to NY, Berlin, etc. This met all our African Safari needs.

  • Liked — lots of space and nice amenities
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed August 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank Da_Exploradora
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Novato, California
Level 6 Contributor
86 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 March 2007

We stayed at Rattrays for 4 nights. It was the most memorable vacation I have ever experienced. The accomodations, food, staff and of course the animlas made up the complete vacation..From the moment you step off the plane on their own runway until you leave, your every desire comes true. Within 12 hours we saw the Big 5 and the first night we saw a pride of lions, the male and his 7 lionesses. It was amazing. We met a lot of wonderful people and they made us feel like family. Everyone from the staff is exceptional. The food was incredible and so much to choose from.The have a superb wine and champagne list. The accomodations are amazing. Beautiful yet comfortable. Words cannot express this vacation. It is a must for anyone traveling to Africa to experience this fantastic place. We are still talking about it and already planning another trip.

Helpful?
2 Thank MNelsonNovato
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 May 2006

We stayed at Ratray's camp and the extra expense to stay there over the main camp is certainly worthwhile. I cannot say enough good things from the gorgeous rooms looking onto the Sands River to seeing every animal we could imagine. It's the best place for leopards and we saw many along with a mating. In addition to cheetah and numerous lion prides and some males. The other animals are there as well with buffalo, elephant, hippo etc . . . They make an amazing effort to do a lot of tracking and communication amongst tracking teams to make for an optimal safari. The tracker we had was truly amazing in his skills. If you're going for a Kruger safari you cannot go wrong with Mala Mala as they share an open border with the preserve and are the largest of the private lodges.

Helpful?
6 Thank Kathiki
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Rattray's on MalaMala

Property: Rattray's on MalaMala
Address: P.O. MalaMala, Skukuza, 1353, Kruger National Park 1353, 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
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Speciality Lodging in Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Number of rooms: 8
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 
Also Known As:
Mala Mala Rattray`s Camp Hotel Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Rattray's On MalaMala Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

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