June 13, 2013 | By Doreen Lopez
I recently traveled to South Africa, one of the most beautiful and diverse countries I’ve ever visited! The safari portion of my trip was one of the highlights. I stayed at MalaMala, which is regularly considered the top safari lodge. MalaMala was once a hunters’ dream, as it is the oldest and most historic private game reserve in South Africa. Today MalaMala boasts one the greatest wildlife diversifications in Africa and the thrilling game viewing consistently draws nature lovers from across the globe, as well as wildlife photographers and filmmakers.
MalaMala’s Private Game Reserve is a mere hour’s flight from Johannesburg. The reserve sits between Sabi Sand and the world famous Kruger National Park. You will experience a mammoth 33,000 acres, the largest private Big Five game reserve in South Africa. The conservancy provides unimpeded access to wildlife. MalaMala offers many habitat types, but perhaps the strongest allure is the perennial Sand River which flows through the reserve, and largely contributes to vast animal viewing.
MalaMala offers much more than just viewing the coveted group of “most dangerous animals.” It is also a sanctuary for rare and endangered wildlife such as cheetahs, pangolins, and the wild dog (Africa’s second most endangered carnivore). Although there is nothing like tracking and spotting the “Big Five” (lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, and leopard), the safari experience is so much more: you can also track the “Little Five” (rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, and ant lion), do some game-viewing from the back of an elephant, lie in bed listening to the lions roar, and I can’t forget the beautiful Southern Cross constellation. Those are just of few of my incredible moments.
MalaMala camp is set on the Sand River, and the bungalows feature beautifully-decorated air-conditioned accommodations with private verandas. You will also find a gym, pool, safari bar, and video/book library. The lodge seems to be wrapped up in the local history; it is authentic and offers great service. The rate is all-inclusive, offering delicious meals and local entertainment. But for me, the real gems of MalaMala have to be the driver guides, definitely a vital part of your African safari. They are experts, top in their field, knowledgeable on the history, local wildlife, geography, flora and fauna, as well as tracking skills.
When doing your travel planning, I would ask yourself why you are going on safari. Most people would answer, “Animal-viewing!” But I think some safari camps provide more activities and amenities to distract you from their lack of animal viewing. At MalaMala, we saw the Big Five in only two days! I highly recommend it.
Please call me for information on visiting Africa, and let me design your trip of a lifetime. 866-327-7600.