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Wildlife part 2

This is the first gallery of the photos I took on Safari in Mala Mala.  Time and again on safari I was shocked to find myself as close as I was to these majestic animals.  To see them in their natural habitat far exceeded the experience of any zoo I have been at.

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Wildlife

Going on Safari was the realization of a life dream.  I was able to see so many animals in their wild habitats.  The experience of seeing a lion or a giraffe in the wild is something so much more awe inspiring than seeing these same animals in a zoo.

While I will be posting my photos of my game drives starting over the weekend, I am posting two videos today that I shot.  The first is of a lion that we followed for quite w file.  Towards the end of the day he roared a few times.  The sound was magnificent and filled the night.  I caught just the tail end of it, showing off just a small part of the spectacle.  The second video shows two giraffes fighting.  Giraffe’s fight by swinging their heads at each other.  This makes so much blood rush to their heads that it is a very slow process.  They have to wait for the blood to flow back up their necks before they continue, making the fights seem like they are being shown in slow motion.  The time between attacks makes the fight seem almost majestic.  Enjoy!

Mala Mala Game Reserve

October 28, 2011 1 comment

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.

One week until…

Over the last year I have had the chance to travel a ton.  This travel, along with some other methods, has allowed me to rack up a large stack of frequent flyer miles and hotel points.  While my balances are still pretty healthy, I cashed in a large chunk of miles for my trip that leaves in a week.

Here in China, we have the first week of October off to celebrate China’s National Day.  It is a great time for a short break from school, enough time to get away and relax after what has been a pretty hectic beginning of the school year.  While the weather is usually quite good in Beijing, I am taking this week to get away to a place I have always wanted to visit, South Africa.

I am spending most of my time in Cape Town, visiting wineries, seeing the coast and hopefully having some great weather to take pictures in.  Before Cape Town though, I am going to Kruger National Park for a luxury safari.  This is something that I have been dreaming about since I was a very young child and cannot wait to experience.

In addition to these two fantastic sights, the travel itself is what I am really looking forward to.  I used my points and miles to have a luxurious vacation at a very low cost.  I am flying a combination of business class and first class on Air China, South African Airlines and Thai Airways and might be as excited about this part of the trip as anything else.  In addition to taking these very long flights in style, I am also staying at the Westin in Cape Town on points.  Outside of the safari, hotels and flights are only costing me about $400, a bargain for a trip of this magnitude.

I cannot wait for this experience and the chance to share my stories, memories and photos of this place.

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