User Reviews – MalaMala GR

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Larger resort style with excellent facilities and game viewing
Overall rating

Mala Mala is the largest private game reserve located in the in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and adjoins the Kruger National Park on its western side. There is no fence between the two and , consequently, game can move freely between the two areas. This is certainly reflected both in the density of the game and the number of sightings ; during the two full days we spent there, we were rewarded with plenty of Big 5 sightings and recorded some 20 other animal species , including the African Hunting Dogs, which are no longer found in many parts of southern Africa. Since this is a private reserve, night safaris are also offered , which provide a unique opportunity to see some of the nocturnal animals. Mala Mala is also an excellent place for birding.

We stayed in the lower Sable section of the lodge, which is separated from the main lodge and therefore quieter and with fewer people. The accommodation was excellent,more than spacious, and the meals were of a high standard; in fact in many aspects Mala Mala feels more like a resort than a safari lodge (with pool, gym etc).. The guide was excellent, knowledgeable and only too happy to try and accommodate individual wishes for the keen photographers. They try to keep animal disturbance to a minimum by allowing only 3 vehicles at any sighting at one time and, because the reserve is large (130 square Km), there is still a feeling of not being too crowded.

In sum, Mala Mala offers great game viewing , resort style accommodation and is easily accessible from Johannesburg (as are all of the lodges in the area). We have been to many different lodges in southern Africa and for us the more intimate feeling of the smaller game lodges was missing. This is not a criticism, rather a personal preference.

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.

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.

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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