Malamala Game Reserve


MalaMala Game Reserve is regarded as one of the finest private game reserves in Africa rivalling luxurious destinations in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Okavango Swamps in Botswana. Wildlife sightings on a safari tour of this iconic reserve are incredible and the scenery is spectacular as it falls within the Greater Kruger National Park which shares a 50-kilometre unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park.

MalaMala Game Reserve lies nestled between the Kruger Park and Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve and is part of a conservation gene pool that combines one of the largest national parks in Africa with 18 unfenced private game reserves which form the Greater Kruger National Park. The entire wilderness region spans some 2.5 million hectares of pristine bushveld.

The Greater Kruger National Park is located on the western boundary of Kruger Park and is 65 000 hectares of unspoiled bushveld which is home to the Big 5 and rich in diverse fauna and flora. The region is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere which was designated by the UNESCO as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve.

What makes MalaMala special?

MalaMala Game Reserve is one of the largest and oldest private reserves in southern Africa spanning 13 300 hectares of land. It offers animals and birds diverse habitats which range from riverine forests and wooded thickets to vast open savanna grasslands.

It operates as an autonomous private game reserve but obviously enjoys the benefits of being sandwiched between two of South Africa’s premier wildlife corridors. Conservation is at the core of everything MalaMala does and the reserve contributes significantly to preserving and protecting the magical natural resources in the wildlife region as well as supporting local communities adjacent to the protected reserves.

MalaMala sets the standard for luxurious accommodation boasting a collection of three spectacular safari camps on the property. Each safari camp on MalaMala exudes elegance and style while retaining the warmth and character of an authentic safari retreat.

MalaMala Main Camp and Sable Camp have recently undergone extensive refurbishments which pay homage to MalaMala’s rich pioneering heritage. The safari camps have a bold, fresh look that is sophisticated and stylish but care has been taken to retain their original character and history.

Wildlife sightings in MalaMala exceed expectations as the reserve teems with game and their professional safari guides and expert trackers are some of the best in Africa. Birdlife is prolific and the plants and trees are diverse and interesting.

The name MalaMala means ‘Kudu’ in Tsonga which is only one species of an abundant selection of antelope in the private reserve. In particular, MalaMala is renowned for sightings of leopard making it a sought-after destination for a photographic safari.

History of MalaMala

MalaMala has been the pride and joy of the Rattray family and their safari retreat for over four decades. Michael Rattray remembers the five-day car journey in 1937 when he was only 5 years old and travelling with his parents from Zululand via Swaziland to the Lowveld; to the area which adjoins what is now Skukuza in the Kruger National Park. It was a tortuous journey in those days with the petrol tank of the family’s Cadillac scraping against the ridged, dirt roads.

The original Sabi Game Reserve was proclaimed in 1902. The area was roughly twice the size of the present Kruger National Park. Some of the area was used as grazing by farmers and the rest left unchecked for hunting purposes. Game laws were nebulous; farmers were allowed to shoot game in defense of their livestock but more often it was trophy hunting.

In 1922, the farm MalaMala was acquired by the Transvaal Consolidated Land and Exploration Company (TCL); later 800 cattle were shipped to Toulon by rail. Over the next 6 years, managers from TCL shot over 500 lions to protect their cattle. This was before the untenable shortfalls of farming cattle in the arid, disease and lion-infested Transvaal Lowveld were finally acknowledged.

The National Parks Act was passed in 1926. The Sabi Game Reserve was effectively reduced by about half, resulting in the Kruger National Park in its current form (devoid of human occupancy, and governed purely by conservation principles). The land to the west was open to private ownership. The land had proven useless for farming; however, its value as a wildlife haven was recognised and individuals bought properties game viewing, relaxation and hunting.

In 1927, William Campbell (affectionately known as Wac) bought Eyrefield for 2 150 Pounds. He bought MalaMala in 1929 for 3 656 pounds. Loring Rattray bought the adjacent Exeter in 1937, and Wallingford in 1939.

The site of Wac’s first MalaMala camp was in the area where the Mlowathi stream flows into the Sand River. The camp was moved to its present site in 1930 because river flooding was problematic. The camp was used exclusively in winter as a base from which to hunt. Even then, guests were treated like royalty. And members of the Royal family were often guests.

Lady Campbell visited MalaMala for the first time in 1935. She immediately got onto the task of transforming the camp, planting bougainvillea bushes which today are a signature feature of MalaMala. Shocking pink bougainvilleas grow abundantly along the camps immaculately-swept pathways.

In September 1962, Wac died and MalaMala passed to his son Urban. The camera replaced the hunting gun and Africa’s first photographic safari destination was born. Urban sold MalaMala in 1964 to a company named MalaMala Ranch (Pty) Ltd – the shares of which belonged to Michael Rattray.

In 1970, MalaMala was described by TV Bulpin’s  “Discovering South Africa” as “luxurious accommodation for up to 22 people. Tariff R30.00 per day” (which seemed a very high tariff when you consider that 5-star hotels were charging R12.00 bed and breakfast).

Information courtesy of the MalaMala Game Reserve website:


Unrivalled wildlife sightings

MalaMala is world-renowned as a premier wildlife destination. Its spectacular scenery, diverse habitats and abundance of game puts it on a par with the most prestigious private game reserves in Africa. The private concession shares unfenced boundaries with the iconic Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve and wildlife roams freely across the expansive bushveld corridor.

Guests have exclusive use of the nature reserve as visitors are restricted to those staying at one of the safari lodges in MalaMala. At the same time, they have unlimited access to large tracts of rich bushveld that spans some 65 000 hectares in the Sabi Sands and over 2 million hectares in the Kruger Park.

In particular, MalaMala is renowned for phenomenal leopard sightings. The region consists of mixed bush savanna habitat and is dominated by acacia, marula and combretum trees with tamboti and weeping borebean on raised mound thickets. A narrow band of riverine forest lines the Sand River and its drainage lines. These wooded habitats provide an ideal environment for leopard, bushbuck and a variety of shade-loving birds.

Rock outcrops north of the Sand River boast an array of spectacular trees such as large-leaved rock fig and jacketplum. These and other regions in the private reserves of Greater Kruger National Park are home to prolific birdlife and renowned for having one of the highest and most bi-diverse wildlife populations in Africa.

Unique location

MalaMala has river frontage which runs north to south on the property and serves as the lifeblood of the reserve. The permanent water source attracts an abundance of game which travels across thousands of acres of bushveld east of the Sand River through MalaMala to the Sand River and back again. This creates two-way wildlife traffic across the reserve and ample opportunities for incredible animal sightings.

On the eastern side of the reserve, there are no access roads, electricity pylons, telephone poles or cables. There’s also no human habitation between the Sand River and the Kruger Park boundary so for many hours in the day and night, the game have uninhabited access to the area.

Due to its exclusivity policies, most of the land at MalaMala remains undisturbed which results in a prolific abundance of tertiary grasses. This attracts an array of herbivores which in turn attracts the predators. When grass is left undisturbed, several grass species thrive in the area and animals enjoy the very best sweet grass. They stay for longer in the area as a result.

Ultimate Big 5 safari destination for the discerning traveller

MalaMala promises a distinctive luxury Kruger safari experience for the discerning wildlife enthusiast. A major benefit of its exclusive positioning is a low density of vehicles traversing the bushveld area. With fewer safari vehicles in the reserve, there is no time limit on wildlife sights and no ‘queue to view’.

The wildlife reserve swapped hunting rifles for cameras many decades ago and has always enjoyed a unique reputation for its photographic safaris. The animals in the game reserve are accustomed to the open safari vehicles and over 50 years of game viewing experience has earned MalaMala a sound reputation as an unrivalled wildlife and photographic safari destination.

MalaMala attracts and retains some of the best professional game rangers and expert trackers in southern Africa. Each ranger and tracker undergoes extensive bushveld and rifle training and holds the required FGASA certificate. Most of MalaMala rangers have studied university courses in different scientific fields such as ornithology, entomology and zoology.

The rangers use Bluetooth headsets which means there are no radio interruptions to disturb animals on game drives. They move in predictable patterns when viewing wildlife which the animals get used to, so they’re more relaxed and behave naturally.

As there are no time limits on sightings and safari vehicles are not moving in and out of the viewing space, the game is not stressed and the overall safari experience feels more natural and calm.

Luxurious accommodation

Guests staying at MalaMala have been treated like Royalty from the earliest days when Lady Campbell lent her genteel touch to the bushveld retreat.

Some of the staff at MalaMala have been with the family for more than thirty years. Service and MalaMala is impeccable and personalised with every effort taken to create a unique safari experience

Personalised safari tours

Guests at MalaMala enjoy the undivided attention of their ranger who acts as host, guide and educator. The daily itinerary follows an easy-going pattern but it is not set in stone.

Guests staying at MalaMala are encouraged to discuss their safari preferences with their ranger on arrival who will in turn, make every effort to meet their expectations. This may mean focusing on birds or spending longer at leopard sightings, depending on what guests are more interested in.

Daily itinerary at MalaMala

The daily itinerary follows the usual pattern of an exceptional sunrise game drive, lunch and relaxation back at the camp and a late-afternoon sunset game drive with sundowners at a special vantage point. The day ends with dinner under the stars with the sounds of the bushveld lulling tired but happy guests to sleep.


Early wake up for hot or cold beverages and a light snack on the outdoor deck before departing on a sunrise game drive. The day starts a bit later in winter with the morning wake-up set for 6h30.


Return to camp for a hearty breakfast. Join your host for a guided bush walk or retire to the privacy of your luxurious suite. Spend the day enjoying the lodge facilities which includes relaxing around the pool, shopping in the safari boutique, working out in a well-equipped gym or enjoying a decadent pamper session with unique spa treatments.


A buffet lunch is served on the spacious outdoor deck


Hot and cold beverages and a light snack are served before departing for a late-afternoon game drive. Your trip is broken at a special vantage point for sundowners. Enjoy a crisp gin & tonic or cold beer as the gorgeous sun slips down over the horizon.


Return to the lodge and freshen up in your luxury suite before joining your host and other guests for pre-dinner drinks in the safari bar.


Dinner is served. This may be indoors if the weather is chilly but it’s usually outside under the stars in an enclosed ‘boma’. Enjoy a delectable meal which is a fusion of European and African cuisine paired with a selection of South Africa’s finest wines from premier wine farms in the Cape Winelands.

Photographic safari destination

For decades, MalaMala has been renowned as one of the elite photographic safari destinations in southern Africa. Guests with an interest in wildlife photography have the use of a dedicated photographic safari vehicle with features such as sliding camera mounts, bean bags for camera stability, storage boxes for camera seating and under-seat lighting.

You’re also allocated a dedicated photographic game ranger although the majority of rangers working for MalaMala are keen photographers and are only too happy to share tips for the best vantage point and photographic opportunity.

MalaMala child policy

MalaMala Main Camp welcomes children of all ages. Children under 12 years, sharing accommodation with full paying adults, pay the quoted child tariff.

Children aged 4 and under are not permitted to dine in the boma in the evenings. Special dining arrangements are made for young children and there is a reliable babysitting service so parents can enjoy a completely relaxing break.

Children aged 4 and younger are not allowed to join their parents on game drives unless a safari vehicle has been booked on an exclusive-use basis at an additional cost.

Children 6 years and younger are not permitted on the open safari vehicles.

The ranger assigned to each family assesses the age, enthusiasm and independence of the children when they arrive and sets up various activities suited for the younger set. Each child aged between 4 and 12 years gets a MalaMala backpack which includes an interactive check-list, bird and mammal colouring books, cap, lip-ice and bottled water are given to each child between the ages of 4 and 12.

Daily activities for young children ranges from tracking for animals using spoor markings, learning basic survival skills and learning to make fire and preparing meals in the “bush”. Children learn about plants that are good to eat or use for medicine, brushing teeth or loo paper and what to do in dangerous situations with animals and bush first-aid.

Back at camp, there are movie nights for children showing fascinating wildlife documentaries as well as board games.

Please note:

MalaMala Sable Camp: Children 12 years and older welcome (younger children welcome if camp reserved on an exclusive-use basis

Rattray’s on MalaMala: Only for children 16 years and older


There are three luxury safari lodges in MalaMala Game Reserve ranging from the classic and comfortable safari style to ultra-luxury and exclusive. All three offer guests panoramic views of the surrounding bushveld and the Sand River which attracts an abundance of animals and birds.


MalaMala Main Camp is one of the oldest private safari camps in the area and retains much of its glorious historic warmth and character. It’s recently been extensively refurbished and is more beautiful than ever.

The main camp is situated on the banks of the Sand River which is one of two major rivers running through Sabi Sands. A massive elevated outdoor deck gives guests an incredible vantage point for game viewing and bird watching when they’re back in camp.

The layout of MalaMala Main Camp is designed to make the most of its magnificent setting with the luxury suites running the length of the river bank. Massive indigenous trees and lush rolling lawns create an oasis-like setting in the midst of the vast savanna plains.

Guests have the choice of 8 air-conditioned luxury suites and 10 luxury rooms with “his and her” bathrooms. The suites come standard with modern luxury conveniences which include a complimentary mini-bar and tea and coffee-making facilities.

Family rooms at MalaMala Main Camp are designed for a third adult or two children. There is a fully-equipped suite available for disabled guests on request. Every suite has two bathrooms.

Facilities at MalaMala Main Camp include a vast spacious lounge, elegant dining room and a historic safari-style bar. There’s also an air-conditioned library with satellite TV in the main area and guests have access to complimentary Wi-Fi in the business area. A fully stocked wine-cellar houses a selection of some of South Africa’s finest wines.

A spectacular feature of MalaMala Main Camp is a large infinity pool with a magnificent view over the Sand River. Other features include a well-appointed safari boutique with quality clothing, jewelry and artifacts, a small gym with a stationary bicycle, treadmill, multi-gym machine, rowing machine, sit up benches, pull up bar, free weights, mats and a steam room. A massage service is available on request.

Accommodation and facilities at MalaMala Main Camp

9 Luxury rooms, 9 Luxury Suites (including family rooms & a disabled suite); sleeping maximum 36 guests

  • ‘his and hers’ bathroom and outdoor shower
  • complimentary mini-bar and tea/coffee-making facilities
  • fully-equipped gym and massage services available on request
  • safari boutique
  • wine cellar stocked with premier wines from the Cape Winelands
  • air-conditioned library with satellite television, internet connectivity and DVD player
  • children of all ages welcome when sharing with a full-paying adult


MalaMala Sable Camp is situated close to the Main Camp but offers guests a more intimate and exclusive experience. It’s geared for the discerning traveller wanting privacy in an idyllic setting and promises nothing less than the ultimate safari experience.

The luxury camp sleeps up to 14 guests in 7 luxurious suites. It can be booked on an exclusive-use basis for up to 18 special guests.

The Lion’s Den Suite sleeps 4 guests and is suitable for a family with older children or two couples. Two large ensuite bedrooms are separated by a large living room.

MalaMala Sable Camp has recently been refurbished with an updated look and feel with bold graphics, animal prints and tribal patterns blending seamlessly with MalaMala’s heritage décor.

Extraordinary features at the exclusive MalaMala Sable Camp include a luxurious bedroom with ‘his and her’ bathrooms and separate changing area. The spacious sitting area leads out onto a private outdoor deck with a splendid view of the surrounding bushveld and Sand River.

Accommodation & facilities at MalaMala Sable Camp

7 luxury suites, sleeping up to 14 guests (including 2-bedroomed family room)

  • ‘his and hers’ bathroom and outdoor shower
  • complimentary mini-bar and tea/coffee-making facilities
  • wine cellar stocked with premier wines from the Cape Winelands
  • air-conditioned library with satellite television, internet connectivity and DVD player
  • safari bar and elegant dining room
  • large wooden outdoor deck with panorama view of the Sand River
  • fully-equipped gym and safari boutique available at MalaMala Main Camp
  • large swimming pool overlooking savanna grasslands
  • two game drives daily; maximum 6 guests per safari vehicle
  • children 12 years and older welcome


The original family homestead has been carefully refurbished to offer luxurious accommodation in a stunning riverine forest setting. It lies nestled on the banks of the lush Sand River with panoramic views of the pristine bushveld surrounds.

The design of Rattray’s at MalaMala offers guests a glimpse of a historic safari era where humble opulence combines with the warmth and character of a bygone pioneering era. It offers discerning guests an exclusive safari experience with exceptional accommodation, luxurious modern features and unrivalled game viewing.

Guests stay in a choice of 8 individual safari suites which are lavishly decorated. Each as a uninhibited view of the river and pristine bushveld. The main lodge features a spacious lounge and elegant dining area as well as a library which houses rare books and works of art.

The lounge area leads out onto a central deck with a large viewing platform and sparkling pool. There’s a fully-equipped gym on the property and private massages in the privacy of your suite are available on request.

The lodge’s wine cellar boasts a selection of the finest wines in South Africa from premier wine estates in the Cape Winelands. The historic bar is adorned with heritage photographs which capture the history of the game reserve and the reserve’s pioneering family.

Game viewing excursions are limited to 4 guests per safari vehicle and guests are allocated a private professional ranger and tracker for the duration of their visit.

The rate for Rattray’s exclusive safari lodge includes luxurious accommodation, all meals and snacks, two personalised daily game drives with a professional game ranger as our host, guided bush walks and transfers to and from MalaMala airstrip in an air-conditioned vehicle.

The Rattray’s at MalaMala experience is exclusive with lashings of opulence coupled with the warmth and character of the family’s heritage homestead. Each suite has its own heated plunge pool and an indoor/outdoor shower. As per MalaMala tradition, there are two bathrooms; one has a ‘ball and claw’ bath and the other one has a double shower as well as two dressing areas.

MalaMala promises complete solitude with the option of dining in the privacy of your suite in the outdoor dining area. Spotlights on the deck of the main lodge illuminate the evening bushveld surrounds providing ample opportunity to spot passing game, including the elusive leopard. The evening bush dinners at Rattray’s at MalaMala are legendary.

Guests can choose to isolate themselves from the rest of the world for a few days or keep in touch with business counterparts with state-of-the-art conveniences which are discreetly hidden behind doors in the luxury suite; satellite landlines, wireless internet access, laptops and a plasma television with full satellite coverage.

The emphasis at Rattray’s at MalaMala is on extreme comfort and the ultimate safari experience. Stylish elegance blended with the warmth and character of a by-gone safari era makes Rattray’s at MalaMala an exclusive destination for the discerning wildlife enthusiast. It’s a peek into a pioneering era and the life of the landed gentry that speaks of decades of passion and commitment for the land’s valuable resources.

Please note: No children under 16 years allowed at Rattray’s at MalaMala

Accommodation & facilities at Rattray’s at MalaMala

8 luxury suites sleeping a maximum of 16 guests

  • private deck, heated plunge pool and outdoor shower
  • spacious bedroom-cum-lounge and dining area
  • ‘his and hers’ bathrooms with separate dressing room and lavatory
  • Complimentary mini-bar and tea/coffee-making facilities
  • satellite television (optional)
  • laptop with complimentary Wi-Fi
  • no children under the age of 16 years
  • two game drives daily; maximum 4 guests per safari vehicle
  • air-conditioned library and business centre with complimentary internet connectivity
  • fitness centre and massage service
  • boutique shop


MalaMala’s central reservations can organise day excursions to popular tourist destinations located within a reasonable distance from the game reserve. Book in advance if you have a few days to spare to visit these attractions.

Kruger National Park

MalaMala Game Reserve shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. Guests have easy access to South Africa’s largest national park.

This iconic protected wildlife region comprises 2 million hectares of unrivalled biodiversity. Exceptional safari excursions are a major drawcard but the wilderness belt is also rich in history and archaeological sites.

Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

Take a day tour to Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and meet several of Africa’s finest wildlife ambassadors. The centre is a safe haven for abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife and birds of prey; some of which are healed and re-introduced to the bush, while others take up permanent residency because they are too badly damaged to fend for themselves.

You’ll see a wide array of animals at Moholoholo; from lion, leopard, serval, cheetah and hyena to Stoffel the famous honey badger as well as vultures, eagles and other magnificent birds of prey. The centre plays an extremely important conservation role, has a very successful breeding programme and is actively involved in anti-poaching initiatives.

The centre is entirely self-funded and relies on the support of visitors and generous donors. There is a small fee for guided tours which last about two hours. Your visit to Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre helps keep this incredible facility going.

Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC)

HESC is a non-profit organisation which runs a successful breeding and research programme and plays a vital role in protecting endangered species in Africa. It is world-renowned for the role it has and continues to play in protecting dwindling predator populations in southern Africa.

The centre provides a safe haven for orphaned, sick and injured animals and has set up an impressive education centre where the general public and school children can learn about endangered wildlife species and interact with them. HESC plays a major role in assisting anti-poaching initiatives, in particular, saving our precious rhino from extinction.

HESC is based at Kapama Game Reserve which is a short drive from Royal Malewane. A visit to HESC exposes guests to the incredible work researchers and conservationists are doing in the field; it’s a chance to interact with the animals on a closer level and helps towards raising much-needed funds for conservation and anti-poaching initiatives.

Helicopter flip

Hoedspruit Helicopters is the only scenic helicopter charter company operating in the Hoedspruit. Contact them directly for a one-of-its-kind helicopter flip over the majestic Drakensberg mountain range and the Blyde River Canyon. Gain a different perspective of the lush Lowveld from high up in the air.

Blyde River Canyon Cruise

Blyde River Canon is the third-largest canyon in the world and the largest ‘green’ canyon in the world. You’ll enjoy an interpretation tour of the canyon which takes you to the rare living Kadishi Tufa waterfall; a fascinating 200-metre high natural phenomenon which builds up and lays down tufa rock as a result of a chemical reaction which precipitates cultrate out of the reaction between plant, water and rock.

A canyon cruise is awe-inspiring; the steep cliff faces tower above you while the boat cruises in the shadow of the Three Rondavels (a mountain landscape shaped like three small huts). The tour takes 1 hour 30 minutes and departs from the Blyde River Dam jetty which you get to from Swadini Forever Resort.

Explore Hoedspruit       

Hoedspruit is the largest town in the region and a thriving tourism hub. It’s grown so much in the last few years that it’s now a destination on its own. A modern shopping centre has just gone up and you’ve got a choice of a number of great restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. It’s where the local farmers and game farm owners come to shop and meet friends and the town’s packed with tourists either passing through or spending a few days in town.

Hoedspruit lies nestled in a fertile agricultural valley at the foot of the majestic Klein Drakensberg, which means ‘Small Dragon Mountain’ in Afrikaans. It lies on the railway line which links Tzaneen in the north-west with Kaapmuiden in the east.

The town got its name – which means ‘hat creek’ in Afrikaans – from an intrepid explorer who allegedly made the long and arduous trek over the Drakensberg mountains, down into the scorching Lowveld. When he reached the cool waters of the Sandspruit River, he threw his hat into the creek and declared he would settle there.

There’s a lot to do in and around Hoedspruit; plan to spend at least a day exploring the area. Most trips to Hoedspruit end at one or other restaurant or pub where the locals will greet you warmly and convince you to drink up and stay awhile.

Panorama Route tour

If you are driving to or from MalaMala Game Reserve; one way at least should go via the Panorama Route. It’s an incredibly scenic route with spectacular views around every corner; taking you from Hoedspruit via the historic towns of Graskop and Pilgrim’s Rest to the town of Sabie. It tracks the ancient paths of gold diggers who came to the area during the gold rush to seek their fortune.

An iconic feature along the Panorama Route is Blyde River Canyon. It’s the third-largest canyon in the world and the largest ‘green’ canyon in the world. Other highlights along the way include God’s Window, a breath-taking viewpoint on the Drakensberg escarpment; the Pinnacle, a rocky outcrop which some people call God’s Finger; and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, a beautiful and strange natural phenomenon where river water has over centuries eroded the rocks and created perfectly formed smooth potholes and unusual sculptures.

Stop for pancakes at the legendary Harry’s Pancakes in Graskop or delicious craft beer at the Sabie Brewing Company.

If you have time, enjoy the ride of your life on Misty Mountain’s Long Tom Toboggan which is located on Long Tom Pass. It’s a 1.7 kilometre track that winds down a mountain slope at speed; it’s the longest toboggan run in Africa and a huge amount of fun for children and adults.


MalaMala Game Reserve lies within the boundaries of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve but is the only private game reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park which is not a member of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association. It still benefits greatly from a close relationship with its immediate neighbour and a shared animal gene pool and traversing rights.

The Tsonga people occupied the land before it was established as a private game reserve and were forcibly removed in the creation of the wildlife sanctuary. The Nwandlamhlarhi Community successfully reclaimed MalaMala game reserve as their own land in 2015. A negotiated settlement saw the community receive a massive payment in lieu of the private game reserve remaining in the hands of the current operators.


MalaMala Game Reserve falls within the Greater Kruger National Park which, in turn, falls within the internationally-declared Kruger2Canyons UNESCO Man and Biosphere and within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation area (GLTP Treaty of 2002).

The Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It is situated across the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa, and its borders stretch up to Zimbabwe in the north and Mozambique in the east. It was known in 1898 as the Government Wildlife Park; later became known as Sabi Game Reserve and then the Kruger National Park in 1926.

Kruger National Park is the core of the Kruger 2 Canyons and Vhembe UNESCO Man and Biospheres, and the core of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTP Treaty, 2002).

The Kruger to Canyons (K2C) Biosphere Reserve was registered in September 2001 in Paris by UNESCO. It became the 411th Biosphere Reserve site to be registered in 94 countries worldwide and acknowledged for its global significance. The K2C Biosphere Programme is an extensive community-driven initiative that bridges the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces in South Africa. It is also the interface of the Eastern Transvaal Drakensberg Escarpment and the Central Lowveld.

K2C has 1.4 million hectares dedicated to long-term conservation; 989 000 hectares of formally-protected ecozones (state-owned reserves) and 400 000 hectares of conservation land (privately-owned game farms). The entire registered Biosphere Reserve spans some 2.5 million hectares.

Vhembe Biosphere Reserve is located in the north-east of South Africa near the border with Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The reserve includes the northern part of Kruger National Park, Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage site, several Provincial Nature Reserves, two recognised centres of biodiversity and endemism (Soutpansberg and Blouberg), and the Makgabeng Plateau, which contains more than 1 000 rock art sites.

The area has a relatively large and rapidly growing human population with a high unemployment rate. This has a severe negative impact on natural resources, which are harvested in an unsustainable manner. The role of the conservation programmes is to manage the needs of communities living adjacent to the wildlife sanctuaries and the protection of South Africa’s valuable natural resources.

The luxury safari lodges of MalaMala are committed to ‘Responsible Tourism’ which is about ‘making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit’. Responsible Tourism requires Sabi Sands operators to make tourism more sustainable where both people and natural resources in the region benefit.



MalaMala Game Reserve falls within the Greater Kruger which experiences a sub-tropical climate. The region is a year-round destination and the time of year you visit largely depends on what you’d like to see and do in the nature reserve.

October to April

The rainy season is in summer which is October to April; peaking late December to end February.

Day time temperatures can reach highs of 30°C plus and the evenings cool down to bearable levels.

The bushveld is lush and verdant and birdlife is prolific but this is not the best time for game viewing because the bushveld is thick and animals have access to water deeper in the bush.

May to September

The winter season is between May and September and this is the best time for game viewing because the grass is dry and thinned out which makes it easier to spot game and the animals tend to congregate on river banks and waterholes during the dry season.

Day temperatures are usually warm and mild in the bushveld with infrequent cold fronts moving through bringing colder weather. Winter evenings get very chilly and you need warm clothes, gloves and beanies for the evening game drives.


For the ultimate safari experience with exceptional sightings of wildlife, choose the dry winter months from May to October to visit MalaMala in Greater Kruger National Park. This is the best time for game viewing and the risk of malaria is greatly reduced in the colder months.

Bird lovers prefer the summer months from October to April to visit the Greater Kruger National Park because an array of bird species fly to the reserve to wait out the cold European winters.

This is also the time most animal species give birth to their young; at the start of the rainy season. The bush is teeming with newborn animals which in turn draws out the big cats and predators.


  • air-conditioned en-suite luxury accommodation
  • all meals and snacks
  • drinks (excluding premium or international brands)
  • two game drives per day in an open safari vehicle
  • hosted by a professional game ranger
  • daily guided bushwalks
  • transfers to and from the MalaMala game reserve airstrip
  • laundry service

Unless otherwise stated, all rates listed for the luxury lodges at MalaMala are based on a minimum 2 night stay. Surcharges may apply for a 1-night booking.


  • scheduled domestic and international flights
  • purchases of a personal nature
  • gratuities
  • entrance fee and conservation levy


MalaMala Game Reserve is located in the Greater Kruger National Park which is considered a medium-to-high risk malaria area. Malaria is a life-threatening disease and can be fatal if not treated immediately. Consult your GP or a travel clinic for advice on taking anti-malaria tablets. Mosquitos are more prevalent in the warm, rainy season between October and April.

In addition to taking anti-malaria tablets, precautionary measures include using a good mosquito/insect repellent (spray your room and car), sleeping under mosquito nets, and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants as well as socks and closed shoes in the evening.


The safari camps at MalaMala Game Reserve have internet connectivity. However, check with the lodge you’re staying at if Wi-Fi is available in your room as a few operate on the basis that guests need to put away their mobile devices and completely relax without outside distractions.

Mobile connectivity and signal is often poor in the bushveld where the lodges are located.


MalaMala luxury lodges are within an hour’s drive from the nearest medical facility which is a medical clinic in Skukuza in the Kruger National Park. The on-call doctor at Skukuza will treat minor ailments and stabilise more serious conditions. Patients who need emergency medical treatment will be sent through to one of two big private hospitals in Nelspruit.


  • MalaMala Main Camp: Children under the age of 12 years welcome
  • MalaMala Sable Camp: Children 12 years and older welcome
  • Rattray’s at MalaMala: Only children 16 years and older

Children younger than 6 years are not permitted on the open safari vehicles.

Children aged 6 to 12 years are permitted on game drives at the discretion of the game ranger.



Federal Airways

Federal Air operate a twice-daily flight shuttle service between OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and MalaMala Game Reserve.

Reservations for Federal Air flights to/from Johannesburg and MalaMala Game Reserve should be made directly with Federal Air or through MalaMala Game Reserve Central Reservations.


Airlink operates daily direct scheduled flights between Cape Town and Johannesburg to Skukuza airport located in the Kruger National Park.

Reservations on Airlink flights to/from Johannesburg / Skukuza Airport and Cape Town / Skukuza Airport should be made via your travel agent or directly with Airlink

Reservations for road transfers to/from Skukuza Airport and MalaMala Game Reserve must be made through the MalaMala central reservations office and will be invoiced with the reserved accommodation.

A one-hour shuttle service between Skukuza Airport and MalaMala Game Reserve can be booked through MalaMala Game Reserve at an additional cost.

Private charters

MalaMala Game Reserve has its own airstrip and runs a shuttle service from the private airstrip to its three luxury lodges.

Approval to land at the MalaMala airstrip must be obtained at least 24 hours before departing.

Please note: There are no refueling facilities for aircraft


Travelling distances by road:

  • Johannesburg to MalaMala Main Camp: 5 hours 15 minutes (approx 450 kilometres)
  • KMIA Airport (Nelspruit) to MalaMala Main Camp: 2 hours (approx 120 kilometres)
  • Skukuza Airport to MalaMala Main Camp: 1 hour (approx 37 kilometres)