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“Pros and Cons” 4 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
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
“Pros and Cons”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2013

We are experienced safari travelers, and have stayed at Mala Mala Rattrays before. This time we stayed at Sable Camp, and while the chalet was spacious, the furnishings and fixtures look like they have not been updated in decades. The beds are twin beds pushed together, blankets and towels are worn and tired. Bathrooms are shabby and old. Nevertheless, the location is fabulous, with river frontage and frequent animal sightings (baboon, antelope) on the property. Service was exceptional, food was tasty, with several choices, and consideration given to our party's various allergies and preferences.
Mala Mala did away with trackers after a labor dispute in 2009. This puts a lot of pressure on the guides, who all seem very young, to "do it all". Our guide was very knowledgeable and helpful, but lacked the skills we have seen with experienced trackers, and the easy rapport of experienced guides. Mala Mala makes a lot of their large acreage, but most of our sightings were close to the camp, with the airstrip being the favorite animal hangout. That being said, we saw the big five on every day but one, a definite accomplishment.
Mala Mala has pros and cons - I will likely try another camp next time, but at the same time, must add that overall we had a positive experience.

Room Tip: Sable Camp feels a lot more private than Main Camp
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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170 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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (37)
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English first
Singapore, Singapore
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2013

The whole Mala Mala safari experience definitely exceeded our expectations. Everything including the accommodation, food and staff were superbe. My wife and I stayed at the Sable Camp for 3 nights and were in a room overlooking the river. We found the rooms to be clean and very comfortable. Staff was very polite and courteous. The safari experience itself was fantastic and we managed to see the Big 5 (saw four different leopards in 3 days!) as well as cape wild dogs. The rangers were generally very professional and knowledgeable and i believe ours (Morne) was exceptional (he also helped improve my photography skills). Gym facilities can be improved. Overall, I would highly recommend Mala Mala and do hope to go back for another visit.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

Staying in Mala Mala was one of the best travel experiences in my life. The hotel is perfect. Rooms are sooooo spacious! Me and my husband stayed in a room with two bathrooms, which is a dream come true. The staff is fenomenal. Excelent food. The rangers are very professional and knowledgeble. There is nothing negative I can say about the place. I hope to go back. I highly recommend it!

  • Stayed February 2013, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
High Point, North Carolina, United States
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2013 via mobile

Mala Mala is a great place to see the big 5. The rangers are very professional, and will stop at nothing to make your experience of a lifetime reality! We spent a week in south africa, 3 nights at Mala Mala, 3 nights at another game reserve, we saw much more game and had great service at mala mala. the service was outstanding at both game reserves reslly, but the massive size of mala mala is key to lots of game viewing potential. i used a gps to track our game drives, we ofted traveled 25-30 miles in the bush to see big game!!! it was awesome, I will return to Mala Mala

  • Stayed March 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Greensboro, NC
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 8, 2013

My husband and I just left Mala Mala a few days ago after a 3 night stay and I cannot say enough good things about it. First and foremost, the animal viewing is superb. Big 5 the first day and almost every day after. Lots of other hoofstock, birds, giraffes, etc can be seen as well. We visited another park on our trip and while it was elegant and refined they had many fewer animals in the park at least when we were there. I actually preferred the camp experience at Mala Mala; a historic hunting lodge feel complete with hides and heads on the wall. The rooms are large with his and her bathrooms and our had a lovely view of the Sand River. The grounds are beautiful; one night we came out of our room to find an elephant muching on the landscaping over top of a wall! Fabulous. The rangers were great, ours was Yuri and he was fabulous. A lot of fun, dedicated to giving us a great experience, and very capable. I had the utmost confidence is his ability to keep us safe, and I have to say at the other camp there were times when that was not the case. The rangers give the animals a lot of respect, never scaring them with the vehicles, and therefore the animals are very calm and relaxed and you can get very close for a wonderful experience. Some have commented that they were disappointed with the food but that was not my experience. There were always lots of choices, including game for the adventurous. I don't eat red meat, and found they always had polutry or fish for me and lots of options.
My final recommendation would be to think about why you are going to South Africa...I think some camps provide more social activities and amentities to distract you from the lack of animal viewing. But if you want animals, lots of them, in a very intimate setting, with fabuous ranges and a wonderful staff. Mala Mala would be the place to go.

Room Tip: Ask if the river rooms are available, you never know what you might see from them.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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.
Atlanta, Georgia
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2013

......why did I have to wake up? Besides being able to see the Big 5 in the same morning and having a wonderful young man as our Ranger, how about coming to a room that is the size of an apartment and offers the level of comfort one can only envision in dreams? I hope to go back someday and HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who wants to have THE SAFARI experience!

  • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2013

We've been on safari in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and the Eastern Cape, and MalaMala was the only place where we've had a Big 5 Game Drive... on our first drive of our 3 nights there!!!

Highlights were seeing the wild African hunting dogs, watching leopards mate, watching a pride of lions stalk a herd of buffalo (VERY exciting, even though they didn't go for the kill) and being trumpeted at by an elephant that we inadvertantly startled one evening.

Our Ranger, Matthew, was fantastic! Not only providing our wake-up calls and taking us on our morning and evening game drives, but making sure we were totally taken care of and happy at all times.

Our room was spacious and we loved the his and hers bathrooms!

Our only "complaint" was that the food, although good, was not up to the same standards of all the other safari lodges we've stayed at (we were a little disappointed in the food). We also were paired with people in our vehicle that we did not "click" with, and it was a little too much "togetherness" as they make you eat dinner all together... the literature says to let your Ranger know if you don't want this, but it would have made us uncomfortable to do so as we would have been the only ones at camp to do so. However, this would NOT stop us from staying at MalaMala again if we make it back to South Africa.

Room Tip: Try to get a room overlooking the river. We had Room # 17, and it did overlook the river and was cl...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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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 Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
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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