Rattray's on MalaMala

premier Camp | Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa

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The Rattray family brings more than 40 years of experience as purveyors of traditional African hospitality to Rattray’s on MalaMala. Bordering Kruger National Park, the classic lodge combines world-class luxury and MalaMala’s legendary wildlife to create a truly epic safari experience. Evoking the ambience of an earlier era of elegance, Rattray’s eight luxury suites feature colonial-style décor, private verandas and heated plunge pools.

Photo of Rick Guthke

Our Expert Says

MalaMala itself is perhaps the best choice in South Africa for finding the Big 5 in short order and for doing so in relative seclusion in comparison to all of the other choices in the greater Kruger area. This camp is a very elegant choice for those who really want to treat themselves to the lap of luxury and some of the best wildlife viewing in South Africa!

– Rick Guthke

Photo: The Camp

The Camp

Location: Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Number of Tents: 8

At Rattray’s on MalaMala, eight luxury “khayas” (Zulu for “home”) accommodate up to 16 guests. Each suite is resplendent with classic furnishings featuring leather, rattan, silver and oriental rugs, individual verandas overlooking the river, and a private heated plunge pool. Lavish his-and-hers bathrooms in each suite have claw-footed tubs, indoor and outdoor showers and radiant floor heating. Amenities include direct-dial telephones, hairdryers, mini bar, mini safe, optional satellite TV, DVD player and laptop with wireless Internet access. Common areas include a library with antique African books, an air-conditioned dining room and a convivial bar featuring photographs of the area’s early pioneers. Acclaimed cuisine is also served on the spacious wooden deck, which offers a superb wildlife-viewing experience in itself. A fully stocked wine cellar houses a selection of outstanding South African wines. Swim in the large infinity pool with views across the river, or stay in shape in the small gym, which includes a steam room.

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Photo: Facilities & Amenities

Facilities & Amenities

  • Two en suite bathrooms with tub and indoor/outdoor showers
  • Shampoo, soap and lotion
  • Hair dryer
  • Air conditioning
  • Room fan
  • Mini bar
  • Tea/coffee in room
  • Satellite television/ DVD
  • 220v charging outlets in room
  • Wi-Fi available
  • In-room safe
  • Private plunge pool
  • Central pool
  • Massage treatments (extra cost)
  • Fitness center
  • Laundry included
  • 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 worldwide for its abundant wildlife, 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 old-growth riverine forests, providing animals with a plentiful water supply year-round, but especially during the dry winter months. The reserve is particularly famed 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 4x4 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 to seek views of 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 state-of-the-art ecological management policies with input and assistance from top conservation 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 and their members. For example, MalaMala actively sources goods and services from local communities and gives preferences in hiring to local 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 Rattray's on MalaMala


Review Rattray's on MalaMala
Month of travel: September
"Our stay at Mala Mala exceeded our high expectations! Mala Mala is a huge private reserve (I believe it is the largest of the private reserves in the area) comprising 33,000 acres. It has the Sand River running through it and abuts Kruger National Park. Only vehicles from the Mala Mala camps are allowed on the reserve and they are allowed to go off road (unlike Kruger). There were never any more than 3 vehicles allowed at a sighting and we were frequently the only vehicle present. We chose to stay at Rattrays because there are no more than 4 people in each vehicle. The khayas are huge and luxurious with his and her bathrooms, plunge pool, and deck overlooking the Sand River. We saw elephants crossing the river, giraffes drinking, and a myriad of antelope from the deck of our khaya! Mala Mala's motto is "It is all about the wildlife" and if you are interested in seeing the "Big Five" and more, this is the place for you. We were not disappointed! Highlights of our 4 night/5 day stay with our fantastic ranger, Greg Baldwin, were seeing a leopard dragging her freshly killed impala along the ground to a tree (our first night drive!) and the next morning (our second game drive) sitting among a pack of wild dogs as they consumed their kill and fought off a hyena. We experienced the excitement of following the dogs off road and watched them run down another antelope. The rest of our game drives were also wonderful and we had many leopard sightings, elephants, cape buffalo, lion, rhino, hyenas, warthogs, giraffes, mongoose, jenet, wildebeast, baboons, vervet monkeys, zebras, vultures, raptors, different types of storks, and a wide variety of antelope. I am sure I am missing some of the many animals we saw. I suspect that going during the dry season enhanced our wildlife viewing as the animals were mostly concentrated around the river. It is unbelievable how close you are able to get to the animals, just don't stand up in the range rover and you will be just fine. We appreciated the care the rangers took to minimally disturb the animals while we were observing them. You will be very very busy and we barely had enough down time to download our pictures between the early morning game drives, bush walks, meals, and night drives. No place can beat Mala Mala in terms of the quality of the wildlife viewing and level of service and hospitality. If you want fantastic wildlife viewing that is unbeatable, come to Mala Mala! "
- V. Huang
iSafari.com's response:
You give such an excellent and accurate review of MalaMala! Thank you!
Month of travel: January
"My husband and I are photographers and we wanted to end our safari on a high note. We splurged on Rattray's so we could have only four people in the vehicle. Our guide was great at pulling our rover into the right angle for taking photos. Our rooms were the NICEST of any place we have ever stayed. It is hot this time of year and we spent time each day in the plunge pool watching elephant bathing in the river. The food was superb, the best on our trip. It was worth every penny."
- V. Nolan
Month of travel: November
"Rattrays is easily the most luxurious accommodation I have ever stayed at while on safari in South Africa, possibly the most luxurious accommodation I have ever stayed at, period. In fact, the "Kaya" is over the top, featuring his and hers bathroom "wings", AC, private deck with pool, DVD player, large flat screens and computer/internet. The camp is a well-oiled machine, the food superb, the staff fantastic, and the wildlife undeniable (saw the big 5 in about an hour). Trackers and drivers get the job done. Thanks Peter for the wonderful hospitality! "
- O. Wuckert

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