Home > Matt Explains > Mala Mala Game Reserve

Mala Mala Game Reserve

Upon my arrival at Mala Mala my bags were transferred to my room, I was offered a drink, my car was parked for me and I was given a quick tour of the grounds.  Within five minutes I had been loaded into a land rover and taken out into Mala Mala game reserve to meet my ranger and group for my stay there.  Within five minutes of driving I had caught my first sight of a lion and a herd of elephants, two of the “big five”.  The four game drives were filled with one highlight after another and almost constant sightings of game.  
The hotel is a throwback to the days of big game hunting safari’s, complete with a well stocked bar, animal skins and heads adorning the walls of the lodge and very personal service.  Today, of course, animals are only being shot with cameras, not guns, but the experience remains very personal and very thorough.  My ranger was knowledgeable and helpful, playing the role of game guide and tracker when on our drives and the role of personal butler at the lodge.  The service was actually a bit much at times, almost going over the top, especially for a more independent traveller like myself.  He did, however, insure that my stay was comfortable and very memorable.


The main feature of Mala Mala is not the hotel but instead the game drives.  That said, the hotel was very, very nice.  I had a private lodge, complete with three full bathrooms, a sitting room, patio overlooking the watering hole and a very comfortable bed.  Way more space than I needed as a solo traveler.  A number of the other lodges in the area offer much more modern and luxurious surroundings, but after experiencing Mala Mala they are just not worth it.  For me, you are on safari to see the wildlife.  The difference between a very nice hotel with great game sighting opportunities and a ultra-luxurious hotel with so-so game sighting opportunities is just not worth it.  I will take the game drives every time.

In addition to very comfortable rooms, there was a pool to lounge at during the day, complete with workout and massage facilities.  The dining area served some fantastic meals and was a throwback to yesteryear.  There were numerous eating areas that allowed us to have some variety in where we ate.  The patio overlooking the river was my favorite, though the “boma” was a taste of “traditional” dining in Africa.  In the boma, tables were set around a fire, allowing us to eat under the stars.  The food was delicious at every meal and was a great addition to the safari experience.  Instead of trying to justify the luxury experience with pretentious food, they instead focused on well done, home style meals with great ingredients.  
The hotel provided an experience that was exactly what I imagined a luxury safari would be.  While not cheap, I would recommend Mala Mala to anyone that was going to the greater Kruger National Park area on safari.  I am sure there are other great options available, but Mala Mala provided a top notch experience from the room, meals and service to an exceptional experience on the game drives.

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  1. November 19, 2011 at 3:24 am

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