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Short trip report from Thornybush, Mala Mala

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Just back from the above, and Cape town(which I wll post separately).

Upon arrival at Johannesberg airport, we were met by Mark from Taga safaris with the unfoturnate news that the Sabi Sands was flooded due to recent rains, and he was advising us against starting our trip at Simbambili as we had planned. Instead, he had made arrangements for us to go to their other property Thornybush Game reserve, in the northen provence, which was significangly dryer. After the shock wore off, we trusted Mark, and followed orders. All transfers went smoothly.

Thornybush is truly luxurious. Beautfully appointed suites, situated over a river(which was dry). Outdoor showers, great bed linen, large terraces. The food was some of the best we had the entire trip. the staff was wonderful The game viewing was very good, even if they could not go off road due to the still soggy conditions. Our was the third generation in his family to do so, and it was great to watch him and our tracker at work. We saw the big five within 2 drives, saw tons of babiesIncluding a 2 week old elephant), including a leopard with its cub, which we followed for about 20 minutes. We had a great time at Thornybush, and felt it offered a great balance of luxury and game viewing. We then transferred to Mala Mala, and stayed in Sable Camp.

The accommodations at Mala Mala were no where near as nice as Thornybush. The marketing of Sable Camp is very misleading. It is not a separate camp, but 8 or so deignated suites within main camp that have their own pool and boma. Definitely not worth the premium. The suite we had was large, but the appointments not particularly nice(linen, towels, robes, etc). In fact the regular room I saw was newly updated with nicer appointment.I would not pay the premium to in that camp again.

But then there is the game viewing, which blew us away. Our ranger and tracker were fabulous. We had paid for a private vehicle, which was worth every penny we spent. We gave our ranger free reign, with only one request(to see hippos out of the water). In all fairness to Thornybush, the ability to go off road, which we could definitely changed the viewing experience.

We saw leopards maiting, families of elephants. Both prides of lions, including staying with one pride for over an hour one evening as they went hunting(unfortunately we did not see a kill), hippos at night looking for food. The rangers are extremely educated and knowledgable.

Some of the practicies at the camp felt very out of date, such as the rangers dining with you(which we let our off the hook for after one meal), the singing and dancing at dinner. The food was fair at best. Serving lamb curry when it is 90 degrees out is something I dont understand. It would have been nice to been served local food as opposed to lasagna. But,the game viewing, which is why we came to South Africa, could not be beat. Given the amount of transversing area, I dont know how anyone can have better game viewing than Mala Mala does. It made for a specatacular experience, and we cant wait to return.

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