Featured Favorite: Mala Mala Camp


Mala Mala Game Reserve, South Africa

Who it’s best for:

Wildlife lovers, photographers, videographers, families and groups


Day and night game drives, walking safaris, special guided photographic experiences and junior ranger program

Why we love it:

Wildlife, wildlife, wildlife! The game viewing doesn’t get better than at Mala Mala. This family-owned private reserve has dedicated itself to long-term, holistic conservation, creating a haven for a diversity and abundance of wildlife that echoes the legendary tales of a bygone Africa.

Where Predators and Photographers Abound

When we’re looking for a place that we know will consistently deliver out-of-this-world sightings, we know the Mala Mala Game Reserve will fit the bill. This is the kind of place where you’ll be dazzled by the wildlife whether it’s your first time on safari or your twentieth. To call the predators abundant doesn’t even begin to cover the experience of going on a game drive at Mala Mala. Over the duration of a client’s stay, they have a 96% success rate for seeing lions, 99% for elephants, 95% for buffalo and a remarkable 97% for the highly elusive leopard. Beyond the Big Five, there is ample plains game and diverse birdlife.

Mala Mala has the perfect blend of elements to make it such a productive reserve. It’s one of the biggest private reserves in South Africa, comprising 33,000 acres of absolutely prime habitat. That’s nearly 7x larger than any other reserves in the famed Sabi Sands region. Within the reserve, numerous different habitats create a diversity of niches that supports that outstanding diversity. The Sand River runs right through it so even during the driest months when water is scarce, wildlife is consistently drawn to the reliable water.

The best habitat would be nothing without the dedicated conservation management the team at Mala Mala have carefully carried out since the reserve was founded. They have also benefitted from being nestled right in the heart of numerous other well-managed reserves on three sides and Kruger National Park on the other. Without any fences, the wildlife is able to wander freely.

A Haven for Photographers

Many properties offer great opportunities for photographers by the sheer nature of their surroundings, but Mala Mala is one that really goes above and beyond by creating special photographic packages that are perfectly tailored to the needs of both enthusiastic amateurs and professionals. From specially trained guides who understand vehicle positioning, lighting and composition to vehicles fully kitted out for shot stability, maneuverability and ease, they have thought of it all. We have clients that return year after year just for the photography.

Back in camp, as you review your snaps of the day, you’ll find plenty of inspiration on the walls around you. Vintage photos from the earliest days of bush homesteading mingle alongside professional images captured on the reserve. The whole story of Mala Mala is told in these photos.

In case any photographers out there need more convincing: the reserve has been used many times over the years for filming prestigious nature documentaries. Russ McLaughlin of Nat Geo Wild said "Over the past 10 years I've travelled the world documenting wildlife for National Geographic, but nothing has compared to what Mala Mala has to offer. Nowhere in Africa can the scenic beauty and wildlife behavior be remotely compared to Mala Mala in any aspect and it's hands down the most remarkable place I have ever filmed in." That’s a pretty world-class testimonial if we say so ourselves.

Family Heritage

The family that owns Mala Mala are one of the original players in the safari world. They have been operating safaris in some form for over 40 years, and they bring all those years of experience to their camps today. Throughout the camp you will be able to see their family’s storied legacy and heritage. You can feel the love they’ve poured into every bit of it. From the moment you arrive onto the reserve you will be swept up into their idyllic bush life.

The entire family of Mala Mala camps have undergone an extensive renovation from the ground up in recent years. The elevated experience is now on par with the other private reserves around the area. The guest service and feels-like-family atmosphere has always been there, but now the ambiance is too. As a testament to how fabulous the reserve is though, we’ve been selling Mala Mala for years, well before the camps were remodeled, because the game viewing was just that spectacular.

It has the feel of a classic South African lodge, with a handsome design and accents that celebrate the local African culture. It feels like stepping into someone’s home; it’s cozy and welcoming with plenty of family heritage. Oversize sofas topped with cushy pillows contrast against bold geometric patterns. Handwoven baskets and local art keep the atmosphere firmly grounded in the area’s traditional culture. There are just enough sleek touches to bring a modern, updated feel without losing any of the rustic charm.

Though many of our favorite camps are fully off the grid, that isn’t the right fit for everyone, so we love Mala Mala for those looking for some more creature comforts in their camp experience. Beyond the spacious and very comfortable rooms, there is also a large communal lounge, an air-conditioned dining room, and a shady deck and traditional boma for al fresco meals. Kids and adults alike will love the big infinity pool overlooking the Sand River; while cooling off you can watch the wildlife stop by the river for a drink. You can also focus on your wellness with a session in their well-equipped gym or a relaxing treatment from their masseuse.

We love that the new design offers both wide open spaces for togetherness, as well as little nooks you can tuck yourself away in for privacy. This makes it perfect for families or groups of friends that are traveling together. There are areas for your whole group to enjoy quality time together, but also room for some breathing space so everyone can get their alone time. There are areas perfectly tailored to the needs of children – think games, a television with satellite channels, plenty of DVDs and space for kids to be kids.

Visit Mala Mala Camp for Yourself!

If you’re looking for a place that will deliver big on the outstanding wildlife moments with an in-camp experience that is laid back and packed with all the creature comforts you could ever need, Mala Mala is absolutely the place for you. For anyone who loves photography, this spot is a must. You won’t be disappointed.

Check out our Lights, Camera, Action! itinerary to pair a stay at Mala Mala with time in Cape Town and the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique. Cape Town brings a lively culture and dining scene, and the Bazaruto Archipelago packs in all the idyllic beach vibes and superb snorkeling.  

Begin Planning Your Journey Today


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