MalaMala ~ ‘home of the Big 5’
MalaMala game reserve is one of the largest and the first privately owned and commercially operated Big 5 game reserve in South Africa. MalaMala is known as the home of the big 5 (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo). In addition, there are over 400 species of birds, a variety of other wildlife in this beautiful and pristine wilderness.
The reserve is around 132 sq. km and shares a 50 km unfenced border with Kruger National Park and adjoins Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Being an unfenced reserve allows wildlife to roam freely between Kruger and MalaMala.
MalaMala means Kudu in the local Tsonga language, as these animals are abundant in this reserve.
MalaMala was the first big 5 game reserve that banned hunting safaris. They replaced them with game viewing and photographic safaris. With over 55 years of game viewing, animals have become accustomed to safari vehicles and people.
Park guides are very experienced and knowledgeable about the park and its resident wildlife. They also are very attentive and provide exceptional service whilst staying at the camp and on game drives. The park enforces strict rules of only three vehicles per wildlife sighting. All vehicles must keep a safe distance so as not to disturb the wildlife. However, being a private game reserve, guides and rangers can go off-road. In addition they can stay late into the early evening on game drives to enjoy spotting nocturnal animals. There are three camps at MalaMala. MalaMala main camp, Sable Camp and Rattray’s on MalaMala.
The service and care offered at MalaMala, are outstanding. Accommodation is modern African style and very comfortable. The food is first class, fresh and varied. Anyone visiting MalaMala will have many magical moments on every game drive. One of the most enjoyable parts of MalaMala is that while out on game drives, one barely sees another vehicle. As well as being very knowledgeable about wildlife, the guides are also very well trained. This ensures all guests experience the best MalaMala has to offer. In addition, they keep in regular contact via discreet walkie talkies. Consequently there is seldom a crossover with other guests and vehicles.
When I was at MalaMala, severe drought gripped South Africa. The significant drought affected the wildlife and sightings. Being so dry means less availability of food and water, and many of the animals had moved on to “greener pastures”. However, I could still see all of the MalaMala home of the Big 5 and various other animals.
As with all safari bookings, it is always weather and wildlife-dependent no matter where. There will always be fewer animals seen during drought. Animals always migrate to better food and water sources. Water and food sources will always affect animal movements throughout the ‘plains of Africa’.
However, despite the drought and reduction in wildlife, I had a great time and will make a trip back to MalaMala!
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