MalaMala Game Reserve

Ehlanzeni, 1260, South Africa

If you have your sights set on seeing the Big Five, then MalaMala Game Reserve is the place to be—it’s said that 98 percent of guests spot these illustrious animals over a two-night stay. One of the largest private game reserves in South Africa, MalaMala shares fenceless, uninhabited borders with both Kruger National Park and Londolozi Game Reserve. Its location, along with its team of highly skilled rangers (including members of local tribes), has helped the reserve gain a reputation as one of the best places in Africa for wildlife viewing, especially if you’re hoping to spot leopards. Additionally, MalaMala only allows shared traversing on 30 percent of its land and a maximum of three vehicles at any sighting, ensuring that guests enjoy an exclusive experience.

There are three camps on the property—MalaMala Camp and Sable Camp are to the north of the private airstrip, while the luxurious Rattray’s Camp is to the south. MalaMala Camp is unfenced, so it’s not uncommon to see a nyala or elephant wander past your air-conditioned room. It’s also the best option for families with young children, as it offers babysitting services for an additional fee. Sable Camp features six private suites and a common pool area overlooking the floodplain, while Rattray’s includes eight luxurious villas, complete with private plunge pools and verandas over the river.

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Wildlife extravaganza

Mala Mala lives up to its mantra “It’s all about the wildlife.” With a thrill around every corner we enjoyed seeing everything we’d hoped for as well as some of South Africa’s more elusive creatures. A highlight was the thrill of the leopard padding softly past our vehicle, so close that I could have reached down and touched its beautiful coat!

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