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“A stunning experiance” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Rattray's on MalaMala

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Rattray's on MalaMala
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5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   P.O. MalaMala, Skukuza, 1353, Kruger National Park, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Surrey,England
Top Contributor
96 reviews 96 reviews
48 hotel reviews
Reviews in 59 cities Reviews in 59 cities
67 helpful votes 67 helpful votes
“A stunning experiance”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2011

Ratrays was our fourth safari experiance in South Africa. In summary we were staying in a luxury hotel in the bush with lots of animals around to see and enjoy. Our bedroom was outsatanding, overlooking the river with two bathrooms and so much space to relax plus our own plunge pool. The Lodge facilities were excellent - fitness equipment (not for us), lovely pool and good indoor and outdoor eating areas with excellent varied food at all three meals.
The four game drives were each outstanding in different ways. We saw 'the big five' up close; the only absentee was cheetah. The rangers were well informed and caring and the resriction to four guests per vehicle and only two vehicles per find meant that you were able to get really close to the animals. The off road experiance justified a holiday on its own! I am amazed at where you can get to in a Landrover!
We will return for more of the same.

  • Stayed January 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
    • 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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89 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    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
Gold Coast
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 8, 2010

We spent three days and nights at Rattrays in Mala Mala.
The moment you arrive you realise this is a very special place, the lodge sits perfectly in its bush setting and the staff certainly make sure you have a truly memorable experience.
The Khayas were amazing, with every luxury you could ever need, in fact probably a lot more than we needed. It had fantastic large and luxurious bathrooms and dressing areas, and the main living/ bedroom really beautiful decorated in a classic safari lodge style. We never turned on the TV, it was the last thing we needed but the computer came in handy to contact home. A wide deck and plunge pool area looking over the bush and river were the spectacular finishing touch. We were in the first room and watched rhino, elephant, antelope and giraffe from here, but just a little further along the river near the last rooms a pride of lion were feasting on a freshly killed buffalo.

Meals were plentiful and just delicious, more than you could wish for, and were served in the lovely dining room or on the expansive deck where you could sit and absorb the atmosphere while taking in the bush and wildlife views. Tend to agree slightly with the previous poster about the lodge staff [mainly waiters], while they were certainly polite and helpful they were a little robotic compared with the previous lodge where they mingled freely and happily with the guests.

The game drives however were why we came and were everything we had hoped for. We saw all the big 5 and more, we also enjoyed seeing giraffe, zebra antelope and so on. As with the previous lodge we stayed in, also in Sabi Sand, the benefits of being able to go off road truly make a difference with sightings.. Some highlights were lions mating and lions with a fresh buffalo kill, a group of hyena at a rhino carcass with a timid leopard watching from the tree above, and best of all a one month old leopard cub playing with its mum. Great care was taken to ensure there was minimal vehicles at sightings, in particular the cub, only one vehicle was allowed in the area and none at all if the mother was not was present.

Our time at Rattray's was truly unforgettable, every need is taken care of, and minimal guests add to the intimate feeling. We had a full service dinner bought to our room on our last night, which was lovely and really did not want to leave the next day.

We have stayed in some luxury hotels in spectacular locations but Rattrays topped them all with its location in the African bush amongst the wildlife.

  • Stayed September 2010, 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jupiter, Florida
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2010

An incredible experience was had at Rattray's on MalaMala! From the stunning British
Colonial Villas to the awesome Big Five!!!!!! Every day we saw lions and leopards, and more.
The big cats are what fascinates me. We had breakfast in the bush everyday! Loved the 3 wk. old Land Rovers. The food was very good! Can't wait to return someday soon!

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled solo
    • 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.
greenwich, CT
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2010

nice private reserve so not too much crowding of jeeps which is really what you're paying for. rooms nice (free internet at satellite tv, etc), but doesn't feel like you're in nature. they won't do walking safaris. staff is a little cold - kind of like 'safari robots' - they don't do anything wrong, it's just a little blah. food good but heavy continental fare. GSM works everywhere which is nice if you're not among the idle rich. overall, solid but most appropriate if you're over 60 (we're in our 30's).

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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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Reggio nell'Emilia
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
36 hotel reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2010

Perfect everything: rooms, restaurant and booma, game and rangers.
The villas are luxury and contains averything you may need. The private pool is perfect to relax after the game.
Have dinner in the booma, around the fire, give incredible sensations. The food is good and the wine list is well furnished, with correct prices.
In the reserve we saw a lot of animal, leopard principally, averyday: after some days in the kruger park, the perfect end of an african journey.
Don't go in the Kuger after, or you may stay disappointed.

  • Stayed July 2010, 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
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san diego.california
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2010

mala mala rattray's was absolutely the ultimate fantasy experience,
the minute you are picked up from their private airstrip the very well trained staff makes you feel like royalty. the individual villas are stunning for south africa or anywhere else as a matter of fact. we were in villa # 8 and every day we were given a special viewing which was naturally presented such as elephants crossing the stream right in front of our eyes, or wildebest or impalas feasting on leafs or hippos waddling in the water ; absolutely marvelous not to mention the beautiful little monkeys right at our front door and the beautiful birds everywhere. the food was superb; loved the south african touch and the chef went out of his way to accommodate my gluten free dietary needs. i wanted to bring him home with the rest of the staff. every night the guests and their private rangers met in the lounge bar area for a drink and talk about what we saw on the game drives while allen ,the bartender made all kinds of concoctions ( even made tea from scratch for my husband one afternoon).
but all of the above is not why we came to mala mala. we came to see the BIG 5 and boy did we see the BIG 5!!!!Shawn Walton, our wonderfully patient ,smart and very knowledgeable ranger educated us from the insects, the birds , the trees to the animals residing, roaming mala mala. we saw so many animals on our first drive i thought we were in paradise. it was absolutely indescribable . too extraordinary of an experience to properly put into words what we saw on that first game drive. walking side by side with the lions, the lionesses, who were leisurely stretching , lounging, drinking and even letting us participate into their quest for dinner, we also saw a beautiful leopard intentionally sitting high on a rock protecting her cubs from probably the lions that were not too far away, everywhere along the road under a tree or on the road or somewhere close in the bush there were elephants, zebras,giraffes,rhinos, buffalos, wildebest, hyenas, ugly warthogs on and on.
we also saw a puff adder, other slithering creatures plus many ,many birds and butterflies.
closing our eyes, we could hear the purest of symphony with millions of sounds while breathing in the wonderful spicy smell of africa' s earth.
yes! it was eden on earth.
Shawn certainly played a major role in our experience having a "divine" affinity to find the BIG 5 and every other creature that is part of mala mala and explaining in detail every facet of the flora and the fauna surrounding us making the experience more complete.
the weather could have been a little better. it rained twice out of 8 game drives but shawn took us after the rain let which was nice. it would be interesting to go in august,september or october because the weather might be cooler and not as wet.

we had been to hluhluwe-umfolozi , st-lucia,tala tala,addo elephant game reserve and they were all nice with plenty of animals to see BUT not only were there a lot of vehicles but you were always on a prescibed path . at mala mala you kind of go off roading and it is a lot ,lot of fun and much more private of an experience. just amazing...

again, if you have to make only one trip to africa and you want to see the BIG 5 go to mala mala and stay at rattrays you will have the most wonderful experience of your life .
.
i had a dream to see the BIG 5 walking next to me and my dream was fulfilled.

  • Stayed February 2010, 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 9, 2009

You get what you pay for - this camp is exciting, warm, luxurious, and yet harmonious with the surroundings.

Our time at Rattray's was truly incredible and we could not have picked a better place to spend our honeymoon. We planned to say for four nights but felt compelled to stay an extra night just because we couldn't stand to leave yet. The accommodations are clearly world-class. They have anticipated the guests' every need and want and delivered it with class and comfort. The rooms are huge and spectacular with wonderful views and amenities. Easy to access internet and the double shower head were huge bonuses. We did not use the private plunge pool much because of bugs... but the infinity pool at the main house was great, always empty, and prime animal viewing spot looking out over the river.

The food was a welcoming mix of fresh, local ingredients and sophisticated flavor combinations. Valentine's Day dinner, in particular, was a highlight for us - from the river front setting and the romantic tablescape to the perfectly cooked kudo and fabulous pastry swan dessert - Rattrays has set the bar impossibly high for all our future Valentine's Days. But, what really elevated every meal was the care of the wait staff with their welcoming smiles, attention to detail, and professional demeanor. They had the uncanny ability to make us feel both like royalty but also like part of the family.

The game drives were sensational. We were amazed by the vast and diverse land within the extensive Mala Mala boundaries, the amount of animals we saw everyday, and how close we were able to get as we watched them in fascination. Having been on one previous safari in Kenya - we can say we saw many more animals at Rattrays, but we did not see much action like chases or killings which are more visible in the open plains. Still the animal viewing was top notch. We saw the big 5 on nearly ever drive and many many lions and leopards. The only animals we missed out on seeing up close were wild dogs and cheetahs. Sunsets are breathtaking and one of the more memorable parts of our evening rides.

We felt fortunate to be guided the entire time by Donald, an exceptional ranger. Donald not only taught us about the bush, but about contemporary South African culture. He not only shared amazing sunsets with us but delicious bottles of wine and great conversation over dinner. He not only cared for us as guests, but as people. He was the perfect ranger for us and another reason why Rattrays is more than camp - it's an experience.

The small number of guests, the gracious staff, the incredible animals and the exceptional role of the rangers make this place exceptional.

Only real CON was that there were still a decent amount of bugs... big grasshoppers and ants and spiders. They are outside (for the most part) and worse at night. But you are in the middle of the bush so it's to be expected to some degree. Nothing to detract from the overall experience.

Book it!

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
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

Address: P.O. MalaMala, Skukuza, 1353, Kruger National Park, 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 Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Rattray's on MalaMala 5*
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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