Overview – MalaMala GR

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and has authored many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and has authored many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

MalaMala is an independent private game reserve that shares unfenced borders with Kruger National Park to the east and Sabi Sand Game Reserve on all other sides. Having pioneered the upmarket private game reserve experience in the 1960s, it offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Africa, with easy, quality sightings of the Big Five and leopard, in particular.

Best Time to Go May to September (Dry season)
High Season October to March (It never gets very crowded)
Size 133km² / 51mi²
Altitude 270-467m / 886-1,532ft

Pros & Cons

  • Superb wildlife viewing with excellent sightings of the Big Five
  • Off-road driving allows close animal encounters
  • Day and night drives and walking safaris offered
  • Highly trained guides
  • Vehicles carry a maximum of six guests and usually no more than four
  • Much larger than any property on Sabi Sands with greater river frontage
  • No traversing rights with other properties making it very exclusive
  • No budget or self-drive options
  • Emphasis on checking off the Big Five animals

MalaMala GR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

MalaMala offers some of the best wildlife viewing on the continent. The Big Five is usually checked off in two days, and leopard are easily spotted on most drives. All sightings are exclusive to MalaMala visitors because the reserve doesn’t give traversing rights to other properties, as is common practice in the neighboring Sabi Sand.

Scenery

MalaMala is sandwiched between Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand Game Reserve with open borders on both sides. The vegetation consists of woodland savannah, dense riverine forest, acacia bushveld, open grassland and rocky outcrops. The Sand River flows north to south through the reserve for 20km/13mi and attracts abundant wildlife in the Dry season.

Weather & Climate

The Wet season in MalaMala runs from October to April, during summer, when stormy afternoons are not uncommon. The heat can be harsh during the daytime. Winter, from May to September, on the other hand, tends to be dry and mild. Temperatures can drop quite dramatically at night, however, and early mornings will feel quite cool.

Best Time to Visit

The Dry season (May to September) months are recommended for getting the best out of a wildlife-viewing experience in MalaMala. Animals can be found milling around the few remaining water sources, and the views open up as the bush recedes. During the Wet season (October to April), the vegetation is green and lush and birding is at its prime, but afternoon storm activity can spoil the best-laid plans.

Want to Visit MalaMala GR?

MalaMala GR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Ariadne van Zandbergen  –  
South Africa ZA

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

Simplicity in MalaMala
5/5

Having visited many of the private game reserves in Sabi Sands, MalaMala is my first choice. MalaMala is in fact not part of the managed area of Sabi Sands anymore, but it is still part of the general cluster of parks. This park is much...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Claire Roadley  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Jul 4, 2018
Just keeps getting better!
5/5

This was my second visit to MalaMala (lucky I know!) so I had very high expectations - especially as on my previous stay we ticked off all the Big 5 just between the airport and Main Camp and saw both a lion and leopard kill on our first...

Full Review