MalaMala has become something of a byword when it comes to luxury game lodges. It has set many standards in that respect, and few can beat its Big Five wildlife sightings, thanks in part to a long, unfenced border with the Kruger National Park.

Did you know?

Even when at full capacity, MalaMala offers hundreds of hectares of wilderness per guest.

MalaMala Game Reserve is writ large in the conservation history of South Africa. It is one of the clearest examples of the successful switch from hunting to photographic safaris.

The first portents were recorded in 1960, when then-owner Wac Campbell noted that of the 130 visitors during the year, half had been women and children. From 1927 until then, MalaMala had been something of a rough, huntin’, shootin’, manly kind of place.

When Campbell died in 1962, the land passed to his son, and from then until now not a solitary animal has been hunted. The only pursuit has been in the cause of fabulous wildlife sightings and photography.

MalaMala was bought in 1964 by the Rattray family, who had been neighbours since 1937, and the reserve has never looked back. It was one of the first to offer luxury game lodge accommodation, although what was luxury then (his and hers basins) has now morphed into something else entirely.

MalaMala has continued to set the benchmark in many ways. Owners Michael and Norma Rattray are passionate about this wildlife haven, so although fine linen, comfort and good food are very important, the conservation of the wilderness and its animals remains their top priority.

This wild Eden sprawls over 13 500ha and has a 12km-long unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. Its human infrastructure is kept to a minimum. For this and other reasons (including the Sand River and the diversity of the landscape), MalaMala offers a surer chance of seeing the Big Five than most other reserves.

In fact, the rangers record the days in a year when the Big Five are NOT seen. There are no other vehicles allowed on the property, other than MalaMala’s, so you can stay as long as you like at a sighting.

Not surprisingly, MalaMala has been featured in many books and wildlife documentaries.

For many visitors who return year after year, MalaMala remains the ultimate wilderness destination.

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