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“"Africa on the wild side"” 5 of 5 stars
Review of MalaMala Main Camp

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MalaMala Main Camp
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4.5 of 5 Lodge   |   PO Box 55514, Northlands, Kruger National Park 2116, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Waimea, Hawaii
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“"Africa on the wild side"”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2012

Not "camping" like I normally do - luxury to the max - and a special treat to meet the Rattrays who have made, and kept, Mala Mala a very special place. Highlights for me(wow, where do I start) - eating dinner in the BOMA under the stars every night - spending time watching a leopard and hyena wrestle with an impala kill - walking the beautiful grounds of the camp side stepping a grazing kudu or impala - chatting with bar tenders Kevin and Michael in the bar - a little retail therapy in the boutique - searching for the family of wild dogs and capturing a glimpse of the puppies - hippos, crocs and elephants along the Sand River -and just curling up with a good book in the massive lodge living(well, not everything is living) room by the fire.
I think the only drawback was not having both a driver - and a game spotter - in the vehicles.

Room Tip: I don't think there is a bad one. Maybe one fronting the Sand River but ours did not and we sti...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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182 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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English first
Mumbai (Bombay), India
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2012

We went to Mala Mala in May 2011 with the one and only objective - of getting up close and personal with leopards and boy were we impressed

The main camp is anything but a camp , extremely luxurious , well appointed cottages with a lovely openview . As vegetarians , can't say the food choice was exemplary but then we were in the african jungle and hence couldn't aford to be too fussy!

Our ranger was a young boy called Gary and we were instantly taken in by both his knowledge , 4 X 4 driving skills and enthusiasm - not only did we see lots and lots of leopards , a lion family with small cubs but managed to see 4 cheetah brothers ( all together ) and followed them through some serious bush bashing . Watching them hunt unsuccessfully(really don't know how the national geographic guys shoot them hunting ...bythe time i had my camera in position , the hunt was over !! ) , being chased by hynaes ... difficult to capture the experience in words

On the leopard sighting , every conceivable photo pose you can think off , from leopards on trees , during the night and day , male leopard chasing a female up the tree ... you name it and we saw it . Leopards as a species are shy but in Mala Mala since the cubs have all grown up seeing these land rovers ,they are very comfortable and don't dart off on seeing humans

We were worried that Mala mala as a camp since it was exclusive , might have lost its wildlife touch but not even close ... they have the right balance of luxury in a wildlife setting and haven't gone over the top

Expensive , no doubt , but worth every penny as they say !!

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Hazyview, South Africa
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2012

I have stayed there once before. It must have been more than 20 years ago. Until now, though, and with many more private game reserves under my belt in the interim, I don't think I had fully appreciated what makes MalaMala so unique and so extraordinary. It provides EXACTLY what everyone is looking for in a private reserve. The hospitality is first rate, the welcome professional but warm, the organisation slick yet relaxed, the rooms luxurious and comfortable but not flashy and over-decorated, the food wholesome and delicious but not fancy and over-ambitious.
On booking, I was asked whether any of us had any dietary preferences and I said no, but added (in brackets and almost in humour but truthfully) that I particularly dislike coconut. At 5.30 in the morning on Monday, Yuri, our excellent host, pointed out to me that the muffins were fine for me but that there was coconut in the crunchies. Just superb professionalism to which most of us can only begin to aspire.
It's hard to sum up, but somehow, where everybody else has gone over the top, MalaMala offers a perfect, solid, value-for-money, reliable game lodge experience, with the added WoW Factor of unparalleled game viewing and perfect service. It has just the right African hunting lodge feel without any of the phoney glamour of its so-called competitors. And we also - cherry on the cake - had dinner with Mike and Norma - true legends - and a private tour of Rattray's Camp with Mike in the morning. MalaMala has so much of which to be proud.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Connecticut
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2012

My family and I went to Mala Mala in late April 2012.
I have to say booking a safari is an incredibly confusing and difficult thing to do. Since we were visiting our daughter in Cape Town, I wanted to go on safari in South Africa. We only had two and a half days to go on safari. Julian Harrison at Premier Tours in Pennsylvania steered us to Mala Mala and I feel grateful he did so.
Our goal was to see wildlife and Julian thought we would be guaranteed of seeing more wildlife in Mala Mala than the other comparable resorts in Sabi Sands and Krueger area.
Mala Mala is one of the biggest game reserves in South Africa and shares an 18 kl unfenced border with Krueger. So wildlife are constantly migrating back and forth between Krueger and Mala Mala.
The Big Five? In one morning, during the course of a 45 minute tour, we saw the Big 5 within four hundred meters of each other. And saw them quite a few times on our three day tour. Highlights included seeing Cheetahs, watching a leopard take its kill and leap into a tree, and watch a python kill a baby impala. We saw herds of buffalo, giraffe, zebra, hyena, elephants, two prides of lions, three different leopards, hippos, and rhinos.
The amount of game is simply astonishing.
Each group is assigned their own ranger and ours, Robin, was terrific. He was knowledgable, funny, patient, pleasant and had a knack of finding herds. He was also fearless with our LandRover, Taking us wherever we needed to go to get a better view and photograph.
Your ranger meets you for morning coffee, takes you for the morning drive, meets you for breakfast, will offer to take you for a walking tour, take you on the evening drive and eats dinner with you. Robin and all the rangers appeared more than up for this level of engagement. It was truly special. We all learned so much not only about the animals and their habits, but other areas in Africa to visit.
I came wanting to check off a trip on the bucket list and left planning future safaris to Botswana and Namibia.
I know there are some questions about why Mala Mala doesn't have trackers. I will say I have no idea about why Mala Mala no longer has them. But I will say we didn't suffer from seeing wildlife as I stated earlier.
But perhaps my biggest surprise was the location and rooms.
There are probably better rooms at other Sabi Sands resorts.
But I would guess it's hard to beat the value at Mala Mala.
I knew we were coming to Mala Mala to see the game. But again, I thought our room was great. The game camp decor and thatched roof huts are romantic. And the view is hard to beat. The camp and every room overlooks the Sands River, which is beautiful. While eating our meals or sitting on our deck, we saw water buffalo, elefants, giraffe, hippos and of course, impala,
One day at the infinity pool (which is yards from the Sands River) I watched an elephant come within twenty feet.
The camp has kept it's game reserve history in its decor and the history on the walls is wonderful.
The service from your ranger and all of the staff is attentive and warm.
Finally, even the meals were better than expected.
Again, if you are looking for plunge pools and the latest in accomadations, some of the other more expensive resorts might offer more. But I certainly wasn't disappointed in the facilities and instead was pleasantly surprised.
The gym could be better. But honestly, that was about it.
Again, we had a great time at Mala Mala and would recommend it to anyone wanting to view game.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
australia
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2012

Having just spent four days at Mala Mala Main Camp I was surprised to return home and find reviews slamming the decor and the colour of walls etc. My experience was quite different. Fantastic staff, particularly our guide, Bens. Our room was comfortable and well appointed although I thought that three bathrooms for two people was a little over the top. Food was wonderful, not hautecuisine but just what I wanted after a day of game drives. Hunting trophies etc. were a reminder of the past and also an acknowledgement that this was not Disney Land but a place with a history and a deep respect for the wildlife. Not all of the animal skins etc were shot for fun. Some were recent and the result of natural death. The game drives were exciting and unforgettable. To be so close to wild animals and feel unafraid was a reflection of our trust in the experience and skill of our guide. There is no doubt that this was an expensive holiday but somehow that doesn't feel so bad when I remember our wonderful few days. Our lavish breakfast in the bush and sundowners on a rock at sunset added something extra to an already fulfilling experience. Would love to return and would be disappointed if the place had been too tarted up.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Suffolk
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2012

We stayed 3 nights at the begining of April. Game viewing was oustanding and the Rangers very knowledgable.Room was spacious with an excellent panorama. It was clean and comfortable but in need of refurbishment to allow it to match other luxury safari lodge accomadation in the area.The public areas would also benefit from updating whilst still maintaining a historic ambiance.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
97 reviews 97 reviews
36 hotel reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2012

Perfect holidays! The service at Mala Mala is just perfect, the staff is very friendly and well trained, rooms are very comfortable and beautifully decorated, the food is delicious, the massages are great and the safari is like 'Animal Planet' live!

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
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
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve > Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Specialty 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 
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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