User Reviews – MalaMala GR

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The ultimate safari experience in South Africa
Overall rating

4 times I've been to Mala Mala (stayed in 3 of their 4 camps) and I've yet to find a flaw. The camps are luxurious to extremely luxurious; the food and wines are excellent. Rooms (and in Rattrays 'khayas', bungalows) are outstanding.

The wildlife viewing is among the best in Africa, the rangers are knowledgeable and pleasant company. Best thing is that they wear ear-pieces so no crackling radios while watching wildlife.

But the best about Mala Mala Game Reserve is that the wildlife comes first, always. The game viewing is done with ultimate respect for the animals' wellbeing.

Overall rating

It's only by comparison to Mala Mala that I would rate the other game reserves I visited less than five stars across the board. I would guess that Mala Mala is the ultimate in luxurious, African Bush safaris. Not only are the accommodations luxurious and the meals terrific but Mala Mala has no fences. It's HUGE expanse of property runs right into Kruger park and other unfenced game preserves so the wildlife moves freely and you never know what you'll see on any given day. I spent three days at Mala Mala, I hated to leave and I wish I could be there right now.

A Luxurious Bush Hotel
Overall rating

Mala Mala is obviously geared towards the high market, with most visitors arriving by plane. As such, it is important to review Mala Mala in this context.

Yes, the rooms are luxurious and contain everything you could need, but there are other lodges that just add that touch of style which give them an edge in the luxury department. More specifically, the rooms felt like a 5-star hotel rather than a bush lodge - there was little viewing to be done from the room which was in near proximity to other rooms and therefore wasnt as open as it could have been. The view from the balcony was less than spectacular, rather dull even, but the occasional animal did walk by. In short - very comfortable, but didnt integrate you into the bush, or even really 'Africa'.

The communal areas were much more succesful in this regard, tastefully decorated, also with large trophies and plenty of space. Eating is done on a large deck with a great view over the river Sands, where the occasional elephant of hippo walks. There were many stories of animals coming into the lodge, but I didnt witness any of this. Further, there is a large and beautiful pool, as well as gym and entertainment room for kids with DVDs. The food was fantastic.

All the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. No complaints here. Especially the guides are extremely knowledgeable and willing to adjust to your wishes. They also eat every meal with you, providing great conversation.

The wildlife is what Mala Mala is famous for and there is no shortage of it. Within my first hour I had seen 2 cheetahs, a leopard and an attempted lion kill. We visited these animals repeatedly, and saw some more great interactions. The one thing I will add is that they are a little obsessed with the 'big five' and even provide a certificate at the end. Although the wildlife is great, and the game drives are lovely, the lodge lacks anything to really get you into the bush; the walk was 20min long and followed a road with the car trailing us, ready to pick us up. Further Ive heard some negative things about their conservation record, perhaps unfounded, but now with the fence to Kruger removed this should be fine.

In summary, a very comfortable and luxurious experience. You will see a lot of spectacular wildlife. Perfect if you want to visit Africa for a short time in comfort and tick your animal checklist. If you really want to explore Africa and experience the bush - go elsewhere.

Emiel de Lange

Top quality and intimate wildlife viewing - luxury done well without going over the top
Overall rating

Being one of the largest privately-owned game reserves in South Africa with an unfenced eastern border with Kruger National Park and the still flowing (late August) Sand River going through the length of the reserve, it should not have come as a surprise that we had seen the big five and much more in the first 24 hours at Mala Mala. The quality of the sightings was exceptional.
Wildlife viewing at Mala Mala is as intimate as it could ever get. The accommodation was beyond expectations - it was luxurious but without pretence. The quality of food was top draw, but served with a delicate simplicity. The gentle professionalism of the camp staff was welcome and the passion, knowledge and professionalism of our wonderful Ranger, Nic Nel, capped it all off.
With Nick’s invaluable expertise the wildlife viewing over the four days provided us a truly unforgettable experience that included:
― daily leopard sightings, including the Nkoveni female making a kill and the Island bend female and cub sharing a kill;
― several prides of lion, including the four inquisitive three-month old cubs of the Kambula pride as well as the rare sighting of two females in a tree fighting over a leopard-kill of an Impala;
― daily sightings of white rhino, including young;
― numerous elephants, including an incredible half an hour in the middle of a 20+ herd and the unforgettable antics of the young ones showing off;
― spending time at a spotted hyena den with curious and ungainly pups playing around, but being totally alert scampering into the den at the slightest sound or shadows cast by birds flying overhead;
― buffalo, kudu, a honey-badger, ostrich, hippo, owls, eagles, voyages of giraffe, baboons, saddle-bill storks with young, the unusual hamerkop heron, kingfishers and much more.
We cannot see how the wonderful Mala Mala experience can be bettered. The one negative of this place - saying goodbye. What was to be our ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ safari is not so! We are already planning our next visit. Totsiens for now.

Just keeps getting better!
Overall rating

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 game drive! This time however it was the accommodation that totally knocked my socks off. Sable Camp has been transformed into a modern, fresh, chic safaris lodge whilst maintaining its authentic character. I loved that the his and hers bathrooms have been knocked into one big bathroom with both a bath and shower. Its had a real injection of "wow" factor so please ignore the rating saying it looked tired and in need of a refurb! Main Camp was busy being done up in May and the team said it should be for the most part complete in July (think they said they would do the last few rooms on the one end of camp at the end of the year). The decks, lounges, bar etc all look fabulous.

The game viewing again was amazing and a real highlight was watching two leopards mating right in front of us as well as seeing loads of different lion with our guide Lucky, who grew up in the reserve. It far exceeded all expectations and I cannot wait to go back again.

Overall rating

The crown jewel of Southern Africa's Nature Reserves

Bush Paradise
Overall rating

We have just returned from our third visit to Mala Mala & as usual, cannot speak highly enough of of our experience. Special mention must be made of Leon, ranger Adi ( previous Rangers Jonno & Paul) & indeed the entire staff who were courteous & friendly. The accommodation is clean, comfortable & attractive, the food is good & lots of it! Only wish was that the orange juice could be freshly squeezed & alcoholic drinks could be complimentary till say 8 pm!!

Overall rating

Great game viewing (the didn't even had to use a tracker), great accomodation.

Overall rating

I liked Mala Mala a little bit better because it was easier to find and see more animals in a game ride.

Once in a Lifetime
Overall rating

I think this is the best trip I've had because I got experience things I had never seen before. Besides, how many people do you think have been on an African safari? Not many, I can tell you that. Basically, what happens is that your ranger does everything for you. He is your waiter, driver, bar tender, etc. You are always in good hands and I highly recommend going to Mala Mala. Here is an awesome video if you want to learn more about the lions:

Average User Rating

  • 4.9/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star 29
  • 4 star 4
  • 3 star 0
  • 2 star 0
  • 1 star 0
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