Mala Mala: Big Five Powerhouse, Photographic Safari Blueprint & the Epitome of Classic Luxury

Map of the Mala Mala property © Mala Mala
Map of the Mala Mala property © Mala Mala

It is difficult to convey how special this place is in a few words, both to me and to the travellers and guests I’ve had the chance to experience it with, but I will give it my best shot!

I have had the fortune of guiding full time at Mala Mala for two years, and have been able to visit again as a private guide on safari with guests many a time since. Safe to say, the property, lodge and wildlife absolutely blows my mind every single time! Mala Mala is a name that needs no introduction in the safari world: the MalaMala model formed the blueprint for the photographic safari industry some 60 odd years ago and continues to set the standard to this day. And so it almost seems ironic that I’m about to tell you that it is one of the best “value for money” safari destinations in South Africa at the moment!

Located on the south western boundary of the Kruger National Park, the Sabi Sands region is named after the two rivers that transect it. The Sabie River in the south and the Sand River that runs from west to east across the southern Kruger region. These rivers are the lifeblood of any property that is lucky enough to have traverse along these stunning waterways and they are the main reason why the wildlife is so prolific in the area. Most properties along the Sand River boast four or five km of river frontage, yet often shared with another lodge or company. At Mala Mala, safari travellers can enjoy the exclusive game drive traverse of more than twenty kilometres along the Sand River, not to mention its tributaries like the Kapen River, Manyeleti River, Tjellehanga River (to name a few). 

Mala Mala Rattray's Camp
Mala Mala Rattray's Camp © Mala Mala

When visiting Mala Mala, you are arriving at a magical property with that seemingly endless access to the beautiful Sand River, free for you to explore to your hearts content. This river is the beating heart of the operation; and MalaMala’s slogan expresses it perfectly: “it’s all about the wildlife”. And to this day this is still as true as ever, with just under 16000 hectares of pristine bush that is teeming with wildlife, including the famed Big 5.

A safari at Mala Mala centres around the unrivalled Big Five game viewing in South Africa. It’s simple and pure. At the end of the day, return from an exhilarating game drive, enjoy dinner under a 700-year-old Scotia tree and listen to your guide’s stories around the fire before retiring to a stunning room of quintessential, understated luxury and dreaming about the next day’s adventure. 

In my personal opinion, there isn’t a better destination in South Africa to experience Big 5 game viewing. The incredible value for money is just a bonus on top of this. When looking at booking a safari, it is good to keep in mind that the cost is not just for your room for the night, but also includes all meals, drinks, exceptional service and more importantly game viewing activities including two game drives per day, bush walks and more. 

No game drive is complete without a bush drink stop © Mala Mala
No game drive is complete without a bush drink stop © Mala Mala

The guides at Mala Mala are highly experienced and have a great understanding of the property. They are acquainted with a wide range of travellers from all over the world and have guided a multitude of professional photographers and filming companies. Combine this with being experts at off-road driving and a great understanding of animal behaviour, they will do their best to make sure you are in the right spot at the right time during animal sightings. The game viewing at Mala Mala truly is a wildlife photographer’s paradise!

The most famous wild animal of the Sabi Sands: the leopard © Mala Mala
The most famous wild animal of the Sabi Sands: the leopard © Mala Mala

Taking all of this into account, what you get when visiting Mala Mala is really a trip of a lifetime. I am even willing to make a bet that after visiting once, you will be longing to return as soon as possible. During my time as a guide at Mala Mala, I met several guests who return every year for the last 35 years!

Are you ready to experience the “Mala Mala Madness” for yourself? Contact us to explore your safari to this world-renowned destination! For more inspiration, have a look at our catalogs for Mala Mala Camp and Mala Mala Rattray's Camp. Feel free to enquire about the option of having one of us join you as a private guide and escort you through this incredible experience. We will take care of all the small details behind the scenes and allow you to relax and enjoy your holiday to the fullest without worrying about logistics. We will capture images of the wildlife as well as images of you and your family or friends, so you can have memories that will last a lifetime.

As you may have noticed, I cannot wait to visit Mala Mala again! Have a look at the below video for a taster of what your African safari at Mala Mala could be like!

Written by Jonty Bozas

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