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“A Little Too Much !!!”
Review of MalaMala Main Camp

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MalaMala Main Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Ardsley, New York
Level 5 Contributor
93 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“A Little Too Much !!!”
Reviewed November 7, 2011

Mala Mala was our 3rd camp of 3 on our trip. Yes it was nice to have an air conditioned accommodation and the fridge and two bathrooms was nice. However this camp is overdone. Unlike our other camps where our accommodation was hundreds of feet from our neighbors on each side of us, at Mala Mala the accommodations are extremely close to each other and most if not all are two together. If you go to the jungle, you should not expect or desire air conditioning. The game at the camp is superb and we did see the big 5 here where at our other two camps, we were missing the rhino's. The guides spend too much time on their headsets and not enough time interacting with their guests. They have too many guests here so on occasion you have to wait your turn for your guide and vehicle to check in on the wildlife since only 3 vehicles can be at any site at one time.
The food was very good, the tea times were just that (thank goodness) and not yet another meal.
Since this was our last of the 3 camps on our trip - I graciously accepted the air conditioning but frequently felt that I was perhaps in a Disney property rather than in the jungle.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank RobertHA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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309 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (74)
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English first
Lisbon, Portugal
Level 3 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed November 4, 2011

We stayed three nights there and it was amazing. Game viewing was the best from all the lodges we have visited, you will surely see lots of animals. They do not even need a tracker, the ranger alone in radio contact (with an ear piece = no radio chatter) with the other Land Rovers spots a variety of animals in each of the two daily game drives. Nevertheless they coordinate so that you will almost never see more than one other car close by. You also often get animals grazing through the camp, walking by you. Your ranger stays with you almost all the time and really takes care of everything. Attention to details is also excellent, service, food, everything. All the staff is very friendly and would easily open a big bright smile with a simple "incomu" (thank you). Rooms are very nice as well, big and nicely decorated without overdoing it. Bathrooms (there were two complete ones in the room) are a bit old stylish but very nice and big nevertheless. You really want to stay more at the camp just to enjoy the room and the balcony watching the animals in front of you. Hard to skip the game drives though. If you had to choose just one camp in SA, we would recommend this one.

Room Tip: On rooms facing the river you get nice views and kudus and other antelopes literally at your window.
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Von_Mueller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed October 28, 2011

We stayed at Mala Mala in early October 2011, following recommendations from the friends we were travelling with, and it was great. We had previouisly being travelling for 10 days on a safari in Tanzania visiting the Serengetti, Ngorogor crater, Oldewai Gorge and loved seeing the mass of animals in that country.

Mala Mala was definitely a great end to our 3 weeks in Africa and a time to take stock of what we had seen rest and to go our each day and see more wonderful anilas. It was a step up from the enjoyable 2-3 star tented camps we had been staying in and though expensive at $625 per person per night was definetly worh it.

The difference with Mala was that the young guide would drive off the track and into the bush to follow and then sit beside the lion, leopard or rhinoceros that we were looking at and photographing. he was very experienced and of course the highlight at the end of the day was the 4pm drive where he took our favourite drinks and nibbles and we sat in a remote spot on the reseve in the quiet enjoying the sun going down. "Sundowners" was a great end to a days viewing, and we did'nt have to drive!

Up at 5.30am for a cup of tea and muffin on the deck outside the restaurant at 6am before leaving for the eraly morning drive and then back at 9.30am for a sumptuous breakfast inthe restaurant or outside in the sun to compare photographs taken. The competition was on for the best photo of a lion cub or baby elephant or hippopotomas, then a walk in the bush with guides before lunch to see the bird and plant life. Following lunch a chance to sit and read outside one's room on the deck or just to watch the passing parade of elephants and Nyala or gazelles that came to nibble bushes close by.

What a fantastic time with the accommodation very comfortable in brick and thatched roof cabins that were all quite private and provided with everything including tea making facilities. The staff were very helpful and walked us home each evening from the main lounge restaurant area just incase a leopard or two were walking through the camp.! This actually happened the week before we arrived and apparently at about 1am two leopards walked into the lounge area and sat in front of the fire on a cold night, as someone had left the door open! This cause some consternation the next day as they had been caught on the CCTV cameras but thankfully had gone when staff arrived at 5am.

I disagree with the previous writer who complained about the owners of the camp being overbearing with staff, and would say that they are still running a business and want the staff to do the best job they can for the guests. The staff seemd quite happy with their work and joked and went about ther business with smiles on their faces.

We had a great time.

Room Tip: One looking over the river is great but also ours facing away from the river was very private and lo...
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank JohnChilds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed October 8, 2011

Mala Mala provided all of the game viewing that the reviews and website promise! The Big Five, baby animals, animals walking right through camp and on view, great ranger... This is the best part about Mala Mala and what you pay the big bucks for. What was unclear to me on the websites and reviews, though, was how basic or luxury the food, rooms and public spaces are so I wanted to share that. There has not been a lot of money reinvested recently into modernizing or taking in to account modern hotel trends - no fluffy duvets, outdoor shower with a view or big white towels here. The 1/2 buffet, 1/2 served meals were also in the middle for me in terms of quality and creativity. I was also personally a little uncomfortable around the owner who was there the entire time as he was quite overpowering to the staff who seemed uncomfortable around him. I have been to a number of safari lodges now and this game viewing was phenomenol so it just depends on what you want to prioritize!!!

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank RedPepper823
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mauritius
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed October 8, 2011

My husband and my two 9 and 12-year old boys love safaris. This was our third lodge experience. Mala Mala Main Camp is the oldest camps in South Africa and has a very interesting history. The service is excellent, food is good old fashioned home cooking and the rooms are oldish 70s-80s style but still very nice. To be mentioned his and her bathrooms, which is great and makes the room feel bigger. Best of the best thing is the way the rangers look and find the animals. They drive their Range Rovers over cliffs and through bushes and one really feels the nature and how the animals blend in it. We saw the big five several times within five days. Great animal viewing.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Liisa E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Naperville, Illinois
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed September 19, 2011

We spent 3 nights at Mala Mala Main Camp in August, 2011 - wished we had spent 6! The accomodations were impeccable, the staff was super, the food excellent and the game drives were unbelievable! On our first game drive, Benz our ranger, showed us the Big Five! We saw, upclose, two male rhinos fighting and a leopard kill. Benz managed to drive us up to 2 lions eating a water buffallo. The trip was so beyond our expectations!!! Being in the middle of a large elephant herd was a sight beyond words. It was not a cheap trip, but worth every penny.

Room Tip: Every room was excellent, large and very clean with 2 full bathrooms. Our wake up call in the mornin...
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  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Loompa1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Altos, CA (USA)
Level 6 Contributor
358 reviews
85 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 183 helpful votes
Reviewed September 18, 2011

I spent 4 nights in Mala Mala Main Camp at the end of my first safari vacation in August 2011. As has been said in other reviews, the camp is lovely and the rooms large and well fitted out. I was solo, so the two bathrooms, dressing area and sitting room -- in addition to the bedroom -- was a bit of overkill. But I suppose it would be nice for a couple. The camp is very well-maintained with lovely and colorful bougainvillea all around. The camp staff is very friendly. You are assigned a ranger when you arrive and he takes care of you for the length of your stay: you eat meals with him, drive with him, and he handles any problems that arise. Breakfasts and lunches are in the restaurant or on the lovely deck overlooking the Sand River. Dinners are in a large circle around the fire in the boma. Some nights the staff do local songs/dances, which is fun. The Buffalo Lounge and Buffalo Bar are nice and friendly gathering places. Michael the bar tender is a character and very outgoing. The bar has a very nice wine cellar and delicious S. African wines, even by the glass. Most everything is part of the overall price, including laundry which was very nicely done. Many animal sightings, including one day when we saw all the big five within about two hours! Several leopard sightings that got us very very close to the animals, including one where a female leopard, tired after an impala meal up a tree, jumped down and went to sleep under the vehicle in front of us! What a photo: just her tail peeking out from under the truck! My only disappointment with Mala Mala was with our particular ranger. He was very young and did not really interact all that much with those of us in the vehicle. I had been to 5 camps before and had really enjoyed talking with the guides but this was a different experience. In some cases, there were others in our vehicle who had never been on a game drive before and really needed some information and context for what they were seeing. But we passed by things without any input from the ranger, e.g. termite mounds, etc. He would respond if asked but did not go out of his way to inform his passengers or make the drives interesting. You also do off-roading at Mala Mala and I sometimes felt like that was what was most interesting to him: to crash through the brush for an hour chasing a leopard! Now that is exciting, but it all seemed a bit too macho and not very "green" to me. I felt we all needed a bit more sharing a bit less daring! But these things did not take away from the overall wonderful experience at Mala Mala, which is famous for good reasons.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Tracy K
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

Property: 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 Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
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 
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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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