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Mala Mala Lodges Elephant Big Five Game Drives Sabi Sand Game Reserve South Africa Safari Mala Mala Private Lodges Lion Cub Big Five Sabi Sand Game Reserve South Africa Safari

Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

Mala Mala Private Game Reserve is the largest private Big Five Game Reserve in South Africa. In existence since 1927, it comprises 13 300 hectares (33 000 acres) and shares a 19km (12 mile) unfenced border with the world renowned Kruger National Park. It lies ideally ‘sandwiched’ between the National Park and the Sabi Sand Reserve.

The Reserve is ideally located approximately a five and a half hour drive from Johannesburg and OR Tambo Airport and there are daily flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town and Mala Mala. Alternatively flights can be booked into Kruger Mpumalanga Airport in Nelspruit, followed by a road transfer of approximately one and a half hours to Mala Mala.

The Sabi Sand Game Reserve was proclaimed in 1902 - it was roughly twice the size of the present Kruger National Park. Some of the area was used as grazing by farmers and during this time farmers were allowed to shoot game in defense of their livestock. In 1922 the farm Mala Mala was acquired by the Transvaal Consolidated Land and Exploration Company and over the next 6 years more than 500 lions were shot in defense of their cattle. This was before the untenable shortfalls of farming cattle in the arid, disease and lion infested Transvaal Lowveld were finally acknowledged. The National Parks Act was passed in 1926, effectively halving the size of the Sabi Game Reserve and resulting in the Kruger National Park in its current form – governed purely by conservation principles. The land to the west became open to private ownership. This land had proven useless for farming and its real value as a wildlife haven was being recognized. In 1929 William Campbell, or Wac as he was affectionately known bought the farm Mala Mala, which he operated as a base for hunting safaris. In 1962 Wac died and Mala Mala passed to his son Urban. The camera replaced the gun and Africa’s first photographic safari destination was born. The farm was sold to the Rattray family in 1964 and by 1970 was providing luxurious hotel accommodation.

Mala Mala offers some of the finest game viewing on the African sub-continent and often provides the subject matter for international and local wildlife documentaries (including National Geographic), many of which have won international accolades. This region of the Mpumalanga Lowveld (larger than many independent countries) offers pristine wilderness, which is legally protected from human interference. The region is home to large concentrations of free roaming elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo and cheetah as well as a vast array of other wild mammal. The area boasts great diversity and there are over 200 different species occurring in abundance. Visitors to Mala Mala, frequently and consistently experience Big 5 sightings, while the ever changing and prolific bird life is a bird watchers paradise.

Mala Mala is 33 000 acres in size and this terrain lies largely undisturbed. There are only 2 safaris each day which carry a maximum of 6 guests (Mala Mala Main Camp and Sable while Rattrays on Mala Mala accommodate only 4 guests per safari vehicle). Game viewing at Mala Mala is exclusive to the three camps and traversing rights are not shared with adjacent reserves. As a result the human impact is kept to a minimum and guests are able to enjoy wildlife sightings for longer periods.

All camps and human habitation are kept to the small section of land on the western bank of the Sand River. There are no camps on the eastern side, no power or telephone lines, no access roads for delivery or transfer vehicles and no lights or airstrips. All that lies between the Sand River and the Kruger National Park is an unspoilt tract of wilderness, which for almost 16 hours a day, when the game drive vehicles are not operating is completely untouched and uninterrupted. Mala Mala has practiced sound environmental management policies for years, and well before ‘responsible tourism became the contemporary catch phrase.

The Sand River runs from north to south through the reserve and provides a plentiful supply of water, especially during the dry, winter months, and even for animals as far away as Kruger Park, during this time. The reserve supports a variety of habitat types, including dense riverine forest, acacia-combretum bushveld, open grassland and rocky outcrops – each of which sustain differing plant and animal species.

Mala Mala offers a range of accommodation across three camps – Mala Mala Main Camp, Sable Camp and Rattrays on Mala Mala. Mala Mala Main camp welcomes families, and ‘Junior Rangers’ are well looked after and catered for, making their early safari experiences educational and entertaining, Sable camp is slightly more exclusive being the perfect choice for travelers looking for a smaller more tranquil environment, while Rattrays on Mala Mala offers extreme luxury and caters to those guests seeking an exclusive safari experience in style, privacy and sublime comfort.

Mala Mala is an ideal family destination and welcomes children of all ages.  The Reserve has a special children’s programme which can be tailored to suit individual needs. The programme is geared towards children under the age of 12 years, who will always be under the supervision of a responsible ranger. Activities will depend on the time of the year and the number of days that the children will be in camp but will be determined in collaboration with the parents and guardians. Various activities which include entertainment as well as education (animal tracking, survival skills, animal behaviour, first aid, game walks and radio communication skills) will ensure that children leave with both knowledge and lasting memories of their safari experience.  There are a range of children’s and wildlife movies, board games and a special children’s menu for meal times. Baby sitters are available in the evenings if required

Mala Mala prides itself on being one of the few safari destinations which is able to offer a fully equipped disabled suite, in line with international standards and including a Master bedroom with two en-suite bathrooms, an additional disabled bathroom with wheel-in shower and all the necessary fittings, desk/table surfaces specifically adjusted to the correct levels for wheelchair positioning, no loose rugs/carpets, a separate lounge area which can be converted to a bedroom should assistance be required from an accompanying nurse/aid, entrance ramps, 24 hour temperature control, elevated deck overlooking the bush and suitably equipped landrovers for game drives

Mala Mala Game Reserve further prides itself in offering community support and development, specifically with respect to employment and communities on the western fringe of the reserve are given priority in respect of any employment opportunities.

The Game Rangers at Mala Mala are an integral part of the ‘Safari Experience’ and are employed for both their knowledge of the African bush and their ability to communicate with people from all over the world. They are highly qualified and experienced individuals who have a deep passion for the bush and conservation. The rangers also act as hosts within the camp.

Game viewing safaris, which are particularly good for photographic opportunities are conducted in open 4-wheel drive vehicles, which allow for total freedom of movement. Being a private reserve the vehicles are permitted to leave the road and track down unique animals, offering up close and personal sightings. The rangers are also in constant radio communication with one another to keep best informed on the location of wildlife. Headsets are used for this purpose so as not to interrupt the sounds of the African bush. Night drives, with the aid of powerful spotlights, bring the bush to life at night.

Mala Mala is a thriving tract of land, 40 000 acres in size, that offers some of the most exciting wildlife experiences this side of the equator – they are internationally renowned for their quality of leopard sightings which often involve other predators and prey and the accommodation camps are of the highest standard providing comfort, wholesome cuisine and friendly service.


  Lodges in the Mala Mala Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Mala Mala Main Camp
Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Mala Mala Main Camp Big Five Sabi Sand Game Reserve South Africa Safari
Mala Mala Main Camp comprises 19 units consisting of 8 Luxury Suites, 10 Luxury Rooms & 1 Single Room, clustered among shady trees and manicured lawns. Children of all ages are welcome and some units can be re-arranged to accommodate an additional adult or 2 children, on request. Children under 4 years of age are not permitted in the boma for dinner or on game drives.
Mala Mala Sable Camp
Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Mala Mala Sable Camp Big Five Sabi Sand Game Reserve South Africa Safari
Mala Mala Sable Camp comprises 5 Luxury Suites - each individually decorated, spacious and comfortable. Family rooms, able to accommodate a third adult, are available on request. In addition to the 5 suites, the Lions Den Suite consists of 2 en-suite bedrooms which are separated by a large sitting room. Each of the suites is set in a prime elevated position overlooking the Sand River and surrounding bushveld.
Rattrays on Mala Mala
Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
Rattrays on Mala Mala Big Five Sabi Sand Game Reserve South Africa Safari
Rattrays on Mala Mala has 8 suites each functioning as an inclusive home, with his-and-hers bathrooms, featuring a ball and claw footed bath and double shower, secluded outdoor shower and private heated plunge pool, built into the private verandah. The private verandah offers superb river views and each unit also has its own indigenous garden which is attracts a magnitude of different bird species.
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