This is another private safari place in rural Africa. It is our second stop with Mala Mala, but last time we only had a single night, this time we stayed several nights. Like before I will try my best to separate the accommodations from the game drives and not make comparisons to other outfits.
I cannot stress enough the importance of hiring someone to take care of you. At minimum you need (NEED) a ranger/guide that is educated and licensed. They not only drive around for you while you look in amazement at all that surrounds you, the good guides have encyclopedic knowledge on all you see and share that with you. If you are going to spend the money to go THIS far, spend enough to make it worth your time.
Going back to the return to Mala Mala. We were here a couple of years ago for a very short time. But, our ranger took great notes about our stay and they were passed on to our new ranger. He knew all about our animal sightings (we saw two cheetahs, a sleeping male lion, etc) he knew our drink order (Dave ordered one rum and coke and that was the drink he was offered as his before dinner drink). We had welcome back letter and gift. It was nice.
Mala Mala has a few camps here and we stayed at Main Camp. All meals were included in our cost as well as daily laundry. Yes, they do your laundry for no additional cost! Once you get past the part where someone else is handling your undies, it’s a great thing. Our room was one-half of a small hut, but by small I think our space was close to 1000SF. We had his and her bathrooms. There was a secluded corner that would have been for a third person (a kid?) and I set-up there for my laptop and camera stuff, I would review the day’s photos and triage emails. There was another little corner with a mini-bar area and a desk where Dave set-up to do his email triage/work and review photos. Large king size bed with comfy pillows and blankets and a great view on a small deck. Daily we saw many types of antelope (kudu, nyala, etc.), elephants, monkeys, and so on. We had housekeeping service at least twice a day while we were out on drives or at meals. You never really saw them, it was like magic. The room was just clean. Most drinks are NOT included in your cost, but were pretty reasonable.
The twice daily game drives are why we go to safari. It’s hard to plan your clothes when you leave at first light and it’s cold and come back when it’s about 100 degrees. Then reverse it for the afternoon drive, start out hot, work your way to cold. You are in open top safari vehicles, maximum of six guests plus ranger in each car. Everyone had a “window seat.” We started being joined on safari by two fun Canadian couples and after they left we were joined by a fun young newlyweds from NYC on their honeymoon (no, they were not the stereotypical over-affectionate honeymooners, they were happy and fun and perfectly enjoyable). Our ranger Ross really kicked ass. He knew his stuff (has a Masters in Zoology), he was fun, he knew how to stop the vehicle to line up the composition and lighting for a photo and he could drive that Land Rover like a beast when needed, be it driving across the water to get a better view of baby lions or pushing through brush and trees in hot pursuit of a pack of endangered wild dogs on a hunt.
The quality of animal sightings was great. The quantity was good. We’ve been to South Africa in January, late November and now early October. I think all have things to offer. Just different things. You might see more baby animals in late November, but it’s crazy hot. January is even more hot, but you also get rainy days and the greenery is hard to see through. October was a good combo of the weather, less thick greenery to look through for animals, but fewer babies. Mala Mala has a fairly long common border with Kruger National Park, and it is not fenced. This is good and bad. It allows the animals to freely move in a pretty natural state. But, then it allows animals to MOVE to another place, like hippos move to find water far away from Mala Mala at this time of year, so we were lucky to see one hippo, let alone a collection of them (a pod of hippo).
What Mala Mala could do better? Internet. I know. Shh. But how many of us can really totally unplug from everything? Not even talking work items, we have family and loved ones that we like to keep in touch with. With no reliable cell signal and spotty internet coverage, this was tough. I had not planned to do much work these days, but, would have been better if it were more a choice than forced. The poor quality of the internet was a time drain, because we spent too much time trying to troubleshoot and fix/make it better than had it just not been offered at all (not suggesting this as a solution!).
I am trying to sort through the best way to share photos from the safaris, be patient