MalaMala Main Camp

distinctive Camp | Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa

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With its legendary wildlife viewing and a spirit rooted in the classic age of African exploration, MalaMala Main Camp continues to thrill veteran safari enthusiasts and first-timers alike. Situated within the massive private MalaMala Game Reserve on the banks of the Sand River, Main Camp delivers warm hospitality, first-rate service, and thrilling, face-to-face encounters with African wildlife at its captivating best.

Photo of Sarah Raby

Our Expert Says

This camp’s rich history is present throughout, from the old photographs around the lounge bar to the staff who have been working for the family owners for more than 30 years. Here in the MalaMala ecosystem you are almost certain to see the Big Five, but you are guaranteed to feel the comfort, intimacy and warmth of home.

– Sarah Raby

Photo: The Camp

The Camp

Location: Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Number of Tents: 19

Important Note: While MalaMala Main Camp is Distinctive in style and amenities, its slightly larger size and great value is more like that of a Traditional camp.

MalaMala Main Camp accommodates guests in 19 rooms and suites. Constructed in a traditional thatch bungalow style, they provide a comfortable respite from the excitement of each day’s events in the bush. All have en suite facilities, individual temperature control and direct-dial telephones. The common areas include a traditional boma-style dining are area and an air-conditioned library with satellite television, Internet connectivity and DVD player. Massage service is available upon request, and the restaurant has a fully stocked wine cellar that features some of South Africa’s finest wines. Main Camp was designed to allow guests to enjoy its spectacular setting from every vantage point. Rolling green lawns studded with huge, bird-filled trees lead toward the Sand River, where antelope and elephants feast on succulent greenery. Guests can enjoy these magnificent views while cooling off in the large infinity pool or while relaxing on the deck in the shade of a jackalberry tree.

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Photo: Facilities & Amenities

Facilities & Amenities

  • En suite bathroom with shower (suites have tub and shower)
  • Shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion
  • Hair dryer
  • Air conditioning
  • Room fan
  • Mini bar
  • Tea/coffee in room
  • 220v charging outlets in room
  • In-room safe
  • Central pool
  • Massage treatments (extra cost)
  • Fitness center
  • Wi-Fi in main area
  • Laundry included
  • Local drinks included (house alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks)
  • Credit cards accepted (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express)

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Photo: Wildlife Viewing & Activities

Wildlife Viewing & Activities

MalaMala Game Reserve is justifiably renowned among safari aficionados for its abundant wildlife, stunning scenic beauty and diversity of habitats. The Big Five—lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, elephant and black rhinoceros—are nearly guaranteed here, where the Sand River winds its way through the old-growth riverine forests, providing animals with a plentiful supply of water year round, but especially during the dry winter months. The reserve is particularly renowned for the quality of its leopard viewing. According to the reserve’s painstakingly recorded wildlife viewing statistics, 99% of guests who spend two nights at MalaMala experience more than one leopard sighting a day. Twice-daily nature drives and night drives are conducted in open 4-wheel drive safari vehicles within the 40,000-acre private reserve. Guests can also explore the area on guided nature walks in the company of a highly knowledgeable naturalist guide, seeking out the more than 200 species of animals that thrive here.

The Sabi Sand is known for great leopard viewing, healthy rhino populations and the rest of the Big Five, making it a great wildlife destination for all levels of safari experience. The below chart helps to illustrate major wildlife sightings often experienced here. Other typical sightings may include warthogs, baboons and a number of other mammals, birds and reptiles. Exact sightings will depend on weather and wildlife movements.

Country Park/Reserve
Black Rhino
Greater Kudu
Sable Antelope
White Rhino
Wild Dog
South Africa Sabi Sand Reserve

Usually viewed
Frequently viewed
Occasionally viewed
Sporadically viewed
Rarely to never viewed

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Month Max Min Rainfall
January 84° F 68° F 3.86 in
28° C 20° C 98 mm
February 88° F 70° F 6.54 in
31° C 21° C 166 mm
March 88° F 68° F 5.24 in
31° C 20° C 133 mm
April 84° F 61° F 1.85 in
28° C 16° C 47 mm
May 81° F 50° F 0.43 in
27° C 10° C 11 mm
June 81° F 43° F 0.12 in
27° C 6° C 3 mm
July 77° F 43° F 0.16 in
25° C 6° C 4 mm
August 82° F 48° F 0.16 in
27° C 8° C 4 mm
September 82° F 57° F 0.55 in
27° C 13° C 14 mm
October 81° F 61° F 1.77 in
27° C 16° C 45 mm
November 84° F 66° F 6.61 in
28° C 18° C 168 mm
December 84° F 63° F 9.41 in
28° C 17° C 239 mm

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Photo: Conservation


MalaMala was the first privately owned nature reserve in South Africa to pursue sustainable tourism as an alternative to hunting as a land-use practice. The reserve employs cutting-edge ecological management policies with input and assistance from top scientists in the field. These policies include a low guest-to-land ratio, which minimizes negative impacts on wildlife and the environment, as well as cutting-edge wastewater, soil erosion, invasive species eradication, mosquito control and fire management programs. On the social side, MalaMala has designed and implemented policies that benefit and empower local communities. For example, MalaMala actively sources goods and services locally and gives preference in hiring to community members. In addition, MalaMala supports the Pfunenani Trust, an initiative that provides development assistance to local communities. MalaMala also actively supports governmental and private initiatives that provide HIV-infected staff and their families with ARV drugs and vitamin replacement therapies.

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Reviews for MalaMala Main Camp


Review MalaMala Main Camp
Month of travel: August
"Mala Mala has a very large traversing area with outstanding wildlife viewing. We never failed to see at least two or three different leopards on each game drive. The guides found and recognized them, they all had names. The lions were also plentiful with several prides in the area and add in the rhino to make for an exciting safari. The camp is large and very different from the camps in Botswana. Dining was always with your guide and whoever was in your vehicle. There seemed to be little mixing among the groups. The accommodations while very nice were more motel like than the bush camps. Mala Mala with its great location is a prime destination to experience the large number of cats and many people return year after year. "
- C. Shear
Month of travel: April
"This was our first stop on a three week safari trip in three countries, so we were pretty blown away when we saw all of the big 5 in our first two days here. The camp was not full so we had a private vehicle for two days and two guides for several days, a veteran and a trainee. We saw fantastic wildlife every day, in abundance, including several leopard hunts. Our room was huge and very luxurious including two bathrooms and a lovely patio overlooking the Sand River. We were the only two people who ever used the swimming pool, so I often felt like we were in our own private camp. It was also wonderful to be in a camp that was not fenced in since we often had animal visitors walking through the front lawn or grazing near the swimming pool! I loved the "old Africa" feel of the place. It was a wonderful way to start our safari and I would go back in a heartbeat."
- Anonymous
Month of travel: August
"A very fancy camp. I came to MalaMala straight from Botswana where I --we actually -- stayed in much more personal style safari camps which I preferred. But the animal life in this area was pretty incredible. Maybe the best of our entire three week safari!"
- G. O'Conner
Month of travel: February
"I came here because I asked everyone I knew who had been on safari what camp did you say the best game? Mala Mala was the most common response. They keep statistics on what animals are seen each day and the numbers were through the roof. We only had three days to do a safari after a business trip and I saw everything I wanted to see and more. "
- Y. Parker
Month of travel: July
"Amazing wildlife and we saw the Big 5 our first day out. The more modest of the Mala Mala properties that I saw but a very nice camp and great wildlife in a huge private reserve."
- S. Buckridge

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