We chose Mala Mala Rattrays for our first safari based on the recommendation of Craig Beal of Travel Beyond. We are so glad we followed his recommendation. Mala Mala has the Sand River running through it and abuts Kruger National Park. It is a huge private reserve (I believe it is the largest of the private reserves in the area) comprising 33,000 acres. Only vehicles from the Mala Mala camps are allowed on the reserve and they are allowed to go off road (unlike Kruger). There were never any more than 3 vehicles allowed at a sighting and we were frequently the only vehicle present. We chose to stay at Rattrays because there are no more than 4 people in each vehicle. The khayas are huge with his and her bathrooms, plunge pool, and deck overlooking the Sand River. Mala Mala's motto is "It is all about the wildlife" and if you are interested in seeing the "Big Five" and more, this is the place for you. We were not disappointed! Highlights of our 4 night/5 day stay with our fantastic ranger, Greg Baldwin, were seeing a leopard dragging her freshly killed impala along the ground to a tree (our first night drive!) and the next morning (our second game drive) sitting among a pack of wild dogs as they consumed their kill and fought off a hyena. We experienced the excitement of following the dogs off road and watched them run down another antelope. The rest of our game drives were also wonderful and we had many leopard sightings, elephants, cape buffalo, lion, rhino, hyenas, warthogs, giraffes, mongoose, jenet, wildebeast, baboons, vervet monkeys, zebras, vultures, raptors, different types of storks, and a wide variety of antelope. I am sure I am missing some of the many animals we saw. I suspect that going during the dry season enhanced our wildlife viewing as the animals were mostly concentrated around the river. It is unbelievable how close you are able to get to the animals, just don't stand up in the range rover and you will be just fine. We appreciated the care the rangers took to minimally disturb the animals while we were observing them. You will be very very busy and we barely had enough down time to download our pictures between the early morning game drives, bush walks, meals, and night drives. Others have complained about the food which is served buffet style (we liked it just fine, we did have better food at other places during our trip to South Africa, but no place could beat Mala Mala in terms of the quality of the wildlife viewing and level of service and hospitality) as well as the fact that alcohol and sodas are extra but we found the prices for those items reasonable (I don't drink anyway), and there was unlimited wonderful ice tea, hot tea and coffee available. If your priorities are an all inclusive camp with 5 star food and alcohol, go to one of the other luxury camps, if you want fantastic wildlife viewing that is unbeatable, come to Mala Mala! Yes, staying at Rattrays is expensive, but it is worth every penny!
- 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