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“Once in a lifetime experience”

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Rattray's on MalaMala
Certificate of Excellence
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
20 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Once in a lifetime experience”
Reviewed 31 July 2013

This adventure was a once in a lifetime experience. From Check-in to check-out it was 6 star all the way. From our first game drive with ranger Brett Ross, seeing the big five in one drive, we knew we were in for a great ride. Early morning game drives were helped by hot water bottles and blankets!! The reserve itself and the dedication of the rangers towards the animals and conservation was amazing. Their knowledge was first class. The accommodations were also exceptional, it was just a shame that we didn't have more time to enjoy the facilities as we were keen to experience as many game drives as possible. Food, ambience, the company of fellow guests as well as the attention of our rangers at drinks and meals all contributed to the most amazing holiday!

Room Tip: They seemed to be equally fantastic. The lower the number the closer to the main buildings but the...
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Maggiebell53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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164 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (54)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
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English first
Pinehurst, North Carolina
Level Contributor
76 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 July 2013

For our first safari experience, my wife and I spent 3 fantastic days at the MalaMala Rattray's camp July 16-19. The safari was amazing. Our ranger, Brett, was extremely knowledgeable, passionate, friendly, and very attentive to everyone's interest and needs. We saw an unbelievable amount of animals, including the big five of course, often at very close range. Our lodge was superb, with a beautiful view of the Sand River; from our deck we observed giraffes, kudus, and plenty of colorful birds. The rest of the camp was wonderful, well maintained and very clean. The entire staff was exceptionally nice and professional; you could sense how much everybody loved their work and how proud they were of MalaMala. The food was excellent, well prepared and every night they prepared a special meal for my wife who had special dietary needs.
Most visitors seem to be repeat customers (6, 7 times for some) which attests of the quality of the camp and the exceptional game viewing experience.
We cannot imagine a better safari experience.

Room Tip: We stayed in room #1, the closest to the main lodge, which was very convenient. The view of the Sand...
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank SFSCL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Canberra, Australia
Level Contributor
54 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 July 2013

As part of a photographic safari, we managed to stay at Rattray's of Mala Mala - what can I say... WOW! The service was fantastic, we had one of the luxury khayas, with own private balcony, plunge pool, 2 separate bathrooms with heated floors (which was nice as it was cool in the evenings / early mornings), wireless internet was available from our room. We generally had room service for dinner as we got in late in the evenings and had an early start in the mornings.

We had a private guide / vehicle which meant we could go on our game drives early, we often took breakfast out with us and stopped at a convenient time for breakfast.

The food at Rattrays was delightful, really enjoyed it.

Whilst I am sure the rooms are ideal for a "couple" however there was a single bed in the room which i used whilst we were there.

I should mention the animals... Mala Mala have a very large reserve which Sabi river runs through. This was great as we had the Styx pride playing around in the sand one morning - so much fun to watch them. There is a great variety of animals, elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards etc etc

If the budget allowed i would definitely stay here again! wow wow wow!

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with friends
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1 Thank linda c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 July 2013

My husband and I loved Rattray's at Mala Mala so much. We were there to ring in 2013 and had such a memorable time.

The accommodations were impeccable. I doubt it matters which villa you get, because I think they’re all the same and they are fantastic - the absolute lap of luxury with game viewing from your own private porch. Unreal. The staff is amazing and so is the food. We had absolutely no complaints!

As nice as the "resort" aspects of Mala Mala are, the real reason why we absolutely loved it was the reserve and the rangers. Our ranger, Gordon, was amazing! He has an encyclopedic knowledge of every big animal that you will see in Mala Mala. Not only that, but he can also identify and describe every snake, bird, etc. And with all of the wildlife at Mala Mala, you will see so much! The game reserve was full of animals and action. We saw so many animals and so much variety, including all five of the "Big 5" on our very first game drive, and never went long without spotting something. The reserve never felt crowded either, as we rarely saw other groups unless there was something specific that everyone wanted to see (e.g. a pride of lions eating a buffalo). Even still, there would only be 3-4 vehicles at the location at a time. The guides worked well together in taking turns and rotating.

Not only is the reserve not crowded, but Rattray's limits the number of guests in each vehicle. We only shared our vehicle with one other person and even had the vehicle all to ourselves one day. Gordon bent over backwards to try to get us to see anything and everything we wanted to see and his enthusiasm for sharing the land and the animals with us was crystal clear.

My husband and I only stayed 2 nights, but we saw so many animals and did so much that it felt like enough time. Not that I wouldn’t have liked to stay longer!

I would say that our stay here was a once in lifetime experience, but I want to go back. So hopefully it’s not!

  • Stayed January 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank rszj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
55 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 April 2013

Everyone going to Mala Mala knows its reputation as the best game viewing in all of the private safari lodges adjacent to the Kruger park and this is true. I saw all the 'big 5' on my first game drive, & even 3 from the deck of my private villa. Highlights were stalking hunting leopards, a pride of lions killing and feasting on a buffalo, and all the giraffe, elephants, warthogs, hyena and wildebeest you could wish for all found by your own ranger in your private 4x4 jeep.
Our private villa was amazing. Huge bedroom/living room/study, 2 dressing rooms, 2 bathrooms, hallway, plunge pool, veranda with river & jungle views. Great quality linens and toiletries. Utter comfort.
The only problem comes at meal times. For US$1,950 per night for 2 people (with connecting flights extra) I expect more from a luxury destination. Breakfast was fine, but lunch and especially dinner had a very amateur and homemade quality. It just didn't fit in with the quality of everything else you were experiencing and had paid for. Adding all the drinks on to bill seems positively penny-pinching and mean. I don't expect the finest champagnes but a local beer or bottle of wine would be much appreciated and not eat into the profit margin too much.
After all the fine dining in the Western Cape this was noticeably disappointing.
Overall still a stunning 3 days.

Room Tip: All equally good
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
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2 Thank GastroBoyLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Barbara, California
Level Contributor
290 reviews
171 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 199 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 April 2013

Fantastic experience, 8 huge king-bedded chalets looking out on the Sand River, his and hers bathrooms, shower and tub, slightly heated plunge pool for each unit, fully controllable air conditioning, TV, cell phone coverage, free but slow wi-fi throughout. No US power sockets because of our 120v but all the world’s 240v sockets (i.e. UK, SA three round plugs and even Australian slanted ones). Mini-bar and constantly filled ice bucket in room. 12 items of laundry per day included, Outstanding ranger/guide assigned to you for your stay to take care of all needs. Not inexpensive and they even charge for cokes and wine but absolutely top drawer. We saw the Big Five on our first game drive. This is a first class experience we highly recommend. Also in South Africa do Rovos Rail, an equally first class, two night, three day luxury rail between Pretoria and Cape Town (they have other routes).

Room Tip: All chalets are pretty much identical.
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank Gary G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
36 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 February 2013

We stayed at Rattray's in early February, and this is a benchmark 5-star establishment. The accommodation is superb, game drives were excellent, the Lodge itself has a nice ambiance, and food was of a good standard for a game reserve. Many supposedly 5-star lodges provide great safaris but fall down on the hospitality, forgetting that guests who pay this kind of rate expect a lot more than just a game drive, but Rattray's generally managed to avoid this mistake. The Manager, Conrad, was usually somewhere around, available to guests and checking on proceedings, and that is really important. I think they still have some room to improve the food offering, and frankly the wine list was below expectations, but overall this was a very satisfying and relaxed game lodge, rating with the best we have experienced. My only real complaint is that the reservations office was having a 'spat' with Amex in January, and would not accept my card, though it was subsequently accepted at the Lodge for sundries; this is not acceptable at this level, and they need to sort it out.

  • Stayed February 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Peter H
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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