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“Great experience but the food is not 5 star hotel! :-(”

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Rattray's on MalaMala
Certificate of Excellence
Naples, Italy
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Great experience but the food is not 5 star hotel! :-(”
Reviewed August 11, 2014 via mobile

The room are fantastic and the safari the best, but they need to improve the food. Unfortunately, we ate really bad! :-(
The rangers are trained, courteous, polite and fill you with attention!
The lodge is clean and with attention to detail! Congratulations! I think it's the best lodge existing in South Africa!

Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank loredanaloredana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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173 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Atlanta, Georgia
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed June 25, 2014

This review is VERY long overdue. My husband and I have been to Rattray's at Mala Mala three times over the last 10 years and are anxious to plan our next trip back (2006, 2008 and 2010). Still, to this day, I am amazed at the level of service and luxury that they provide in the bush. We were blown away the first time and had to bring friends back with us the other two times we visited :)!

The dedication of the staff to ensure that their clients have an unbelievable experience is truly admirable. They are incredibly knowledgable and passionate about what they are doing and dedicate a good chunk of their lives to being a ranger.

The home that you will stay in at Rattrays is truly luxurious. Spacious, comfortable and with its own private plunge pool.

Now...what you are going for...the game viewing. The variety of animals that you see on Mala Mala's property is awesome. If leopards are your thing, then you are going to the right place.

Mala Mala is a magical place that you really must experience for yourself. You won't regret it!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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1 Thank birdget2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palo Alto, California
Level 5 Contributor
57 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 95 helpful votes
Reviewed June 18, 2014

Rattray's is a truly spectacular experience. The lodge itself is elegant, tasteful, and simple. It is a perfect feel for luxury in the bush. The rooms, similarly, are very well done. They are open with high ceilings and lots of seating to allow you to enjoy the fabulous water front view where elephants, buffalos, leopards, etc frequent. I even took a dip in the plunge pool and watched a group of buffalo graze in front of the room.

Food is top notch and plentiful. Nothing but good things to say here.

The game is amazing. For people who have been to Botswana, you won't see the density of wildlife you do in Botswana, but the diversity in Mala Mala is awesome. Day and night drives alike are abundant in unique species. An important statistic about Rattray's is that 99% of guests who spend at least two nights there will see leopard. We saw four leopards during three days, which was not unique. We also saw lions and leopard hunting, which was amazing. Another group saw a leopard kill a warthog. The abundance of cats and open terrain make seeing hunts a better prospect than in most camps, though still rare.

Most importantly, the guides are fabulous. They are adventurous, fun, and outgoing. We had a fantastic time with Brett. He took very good care of us and clearly put in a great amount of effort to make our stay special. Other guests sang similar praises about their guides.

Overall, amazing lodge. It is very upscale and will provide fabulous game viewing opportunities. I recommend this to anybody looking for luxury in the bush. This is not for the rugged traveler or for somebody hoping to get their feet on the ground. Animal density is too high to do more than short bush walks.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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1 Thank CGO83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Level 3 Contributor
19 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed June 16, 2014

What an amazing place! Top notch accommodations and over the top service. The rooms were lovely, well appointed and had a wonderful view of the San Sabi river. The food was terrific with an abundance of options at each seating. Our guide Nic was the best! He pulled out all the stops to guaranty we had the perfect trip. From the minute we stepped off the plane until boarding again our game viewing never stopped. The animals were incredible. Nerine and Alex were there to make sure you every want or need was attended to. We recommend it highly! I couldn't imagine going back to SA and not returning to Rattray's. We were in room #1 and it was perfect! The weather at this time of the year is their fall. The days were comfortable, light breeze and the evenings and mornings were cool. We wore layers including a beanie hat and light gloves and a heavier fleece during the drives. The fires in the evening were great!

Room Tip: Room 1 and 2 were close to the main dining area and meeting place. Perfect location!
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank MC12013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed June 14, 2014

My husband and I went to Mala Mala for our honeymoon. We didn't know what to expect, this being our first trip to Africa, and our first Safari, so we were blown away when we arrived.

Alex, the lodge manager, was very friendly and accommodating, and all of the staff at the reserve was incredible.

The rooms are huge and feature rich, with a great view of the river. The room was always clean and comfortable.

The food was top notch and eating dinner in the Boma became something we looked forward to at the end of each game drive.

As nice as the lodge and our accommodations were, the game drives are the real joy of staying at Mala Mala. Our ranger, James, was knowledgeable and made the experience a lot of fun. We saw so many animals and learned a lot about the African Bush while we crossed bridges and rivers, off-roaded through dense bush, and zipped across the reserve on "Ferrari Safari". The game viewing was excellent, and we got to see a lot of incredible animals up close and intimately.

The Rattray's team made our honeymoon extra special, setting up a private dinner in our room and doing a private sunrise and sunset game drive.

We highly recommend staying here, and we will hopefully get to come visit again soon.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Almann79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ontario
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed June 6, 2014

We stayed at Rattray's this past December and loved it! Upon arrival we were personally greeted by management and swiftly checked it, given a tour of the property and taking to our room (or should I say mini house!)

The room - amazing - I could live in it easily if it had its own kitchen!! Huge! The decorating is beautiful, very traditional safari. There is a foyer which opens to the main bedroom and living/dining area, and then a woman's bathroom with soaking tub, and mens bathroom with shower. Each bath area has its own toilet facility and vanity, as well as dressing area. There is an enormous back veranda, that is covered and has chaise lounges, dining table and pool area - an absolute delight to sit and watch elephants in the river right in front of the room!! Amenities in the room are all there - robes, slippers, safe, fridge, toiletries, etc etc etc! Room is completely quiet, although after safari during the day nothing could probably wake me up.

The property - The hotel property itself is stunning! The whole thing fronts onto the Sand River, and you will have views of it from the room and the main dining and reception - if there are animals to be seen, you will see them! In addition to the pool in the room, there is a main pool as well. Dining will be taken in the main area overlooking the river, which is open air. There is also an air conditioned bit, but who wants to be inside? If you've done your homework at all, Mala Mala is probably the top property to safari in the Sabi Sands. It is enormous, and as such has beautiful and varied landscapes to experience. It shares its border with the Kruger National Park.

The food - this is where I feel there could be room for improvement. Food is buffet style for all meals and home cooking style. There is always a few hot dishes, as well as salads, bread station and desert station. I am vegetarian, and there was always one option for me, so in that respect it was fine, but for the price payed the cooking could be taken up a notch or two (I personally find & Beyond properties food much more to my liking). Another note on dining - you will always be eating with your guide/ranger, which sometimes is quite interesting, but other times as a couple you may want some privacy - and all you have to do is ask.

The Game - OK, this is obviously where Mala Mala really excels! At Rattrays Camp there are only 4 people in a vehicle, which I find very nice. Plenty of room, and bench seating in the open air trucks. You will have a guide/ranger who will be with you for your entire stay. (they don't use trackers at Mala Mala, but I have stayed twice, and believe me, this is not a problem at all). The game viewing is insane! I've seen nearly everything at Mala Mala - (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, the elusive Wild Dogs, Hyena, Hippo, Giraffe, Waterbuck, Nyala, Kudu, BushBuck, Impala, Zebra, Wildabeast, Jackal, plenty of amazing and various bird life (owls!), and even the very rare Sable antelope). Those are just the major things, there are many more animals we saw - and always something amazing to see each and every drive!! The scenery is also very amazing and different compared to other camps.

They also helped arrange a special in room diner for a birthday, and what a fantastic job they did! They baked a cake, a whole team sang Happy Birthday, gave us a complimentary bottle of wine and it was superb.

All in all, I couldn't ask for a better experience. I've also stayed over at Sable Camp, and I have to say, if you have the extra funds - choose Rattrays for a more personal experience, and the rooms are to die for. I would recommend this property to anyone, and would certainly go back again!!! If you have already booked your stay - start getting excited now!

Room Tip: If walking is a concern ask for a room close to the main building, otherwise all rooms are the same...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
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Helpful?
1 Thank quinn78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
73 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed May 21, 2014

I visited the Rattray's camp with my husband a few weeks ago. We loved our stay here and would definitely recommend the camp for its amazing game viewing and service.

We visited Kenya and Tanzania less than two years ago, so this was not our first game viewing experience so we had a rough idea of what to expect.

What we LOVED:
1) Game Viewing - We were only there for two nights (so we did 4 game drives) and told our very friendly ranger, Fritz, that we were only very keen on seeing Leopards since in Masai Mara we saw a lot of everything else and only saw one leopard, that too hidden in a tree. He told us that they had some leopard activity that morning and would drive to that area to check out if those leopards were still hanging around. I am not sure how, but after driving around in that area, Fritz heard two leopards growling very softly and finally located them hidden in the grass. Two male leopards sleeping almost side by side! We spent the rest of our time just hanging out with them (almost 2 hours) and it was definitely a site to see. One of the leopards was more active and actually licked the tires of our open air jeep 3-4 times for a good 5 minutes each time! During the next 3 game drives we saw a pride of 9 lions, 13 rhinos, lots of elephants, 2 herds of buffalo (each herd was probably about 500 strong) and lots of other cool things! For us the leopards were a highlight.

They also allow you to do a walk late in the morning to kind of see some of the smaller things you wouldn't see on game drives.

The vehicles they use are open air jeeps and they don't even cover it up when it rains (it didn't rain while we were there). The Rattray's restricts number of people in a vehicle to 4, however my husband and I were the only ones in our vehicle as the resort was not very busy.

2) Service - The service was amazing! The staff were very hospitable, polite and friendly. We were fetched by the manager, Alex, and our ranger Fritz at the airstrip. From then onwards the entire staff always made sure we were comfortable and felt at home. Fritz accompanied us for all our meals which was nice because it gave us a chance to discuss in depth what we saw, what we were interested in and so on so our game drives could be more personalized. The barkeep, Alan, was also very friendly. The times of the game drives were also flexible, however early mornings and late afternoons are the best times for game viewing and highly recommended. Narene also was very helpful with recommendations for the rest of our trip in South Africa.

3) Accommodation - The rooms definitely personified luxury. Very spacious, two bathrooms (a his and hers), large balcony overlooking the Sand River, deck with a plunge pool and deck chairs, a sitting area, day bed and so on. Very well kept and housekeeping was great too!

4) Location - The fact that it is located near the river gave us the opportunity to see animals come and drink water at the river while we ate our meals or relaxed in our rooms as well. Mala Mala was a private reserve but is now owned by the government, however, rented from the government and none of the operations have changed. Therefore, number of vehicles out are also not as many. Rattray's in particular only has 8 rooms and allows only 16 guests in the resort at a time which gives it some exclusivity.

What we didn't like
1) Food and Beverage - Don't get me wrong, the food is pretty good but after traveling around South Africa, I have to say we had a lot better. And for the kind of price you are paying for Rattray's it didn't seem up to the mark. Besides hot breakfast and soup, appetizer and dessert at dinner, everything was buffet style. I think lunch and dinner would have been much nicer served on a plate.

We knew alcohol wasn't included so that wasn't a surprise, but when we were checking our and saw that we had been charged for all the ginger ale we consumed during our stay was a little shocking. Seems like something they can easily include as part of the food package.

However besides that small negative (which wasn't a big deal at all, I just thought I would mention it for a more accurate review), the place is amazing and highly recommended!!

Room Tip: Only 8 rooms, and all on side of the resort. So rooms 1,2 are closer to the reception-dining areas a...
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Umehani
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

Property: Rattray's on MalaMala
Address: P.O. MalaMala, Skukuza, 1353, Kruger National Park 1353, 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 #2 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
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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