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mhron Mar 25th, 2004 01:00 PM

best game for 4 day safari in august
i Am planning on doing a 4 day 3 night safari in mid august, iv been on safari twice before, and my main interest is game viewing. I am wondering between South africa, botswana, and tanzania at that time of year which location would offer me the best game viewing and which park?

safarinut Mar 25th, 2004 02:39 PM


Mala Mala in the Sabi Sands Game reserve RSA.

The Big 5 were recorded on all but 30 days in 2003

Lion were sighted on all but 18 days in 2003.Mala Mala has presently eight prides of these cats which are the largest of the social carnivores.

There were an average of 3.7 leopard sightings daily in 2003.
There were 31 occasions when in excess of 8 leopard were viewed in a single day during 2003.MalaMala Game Reserve offers some of the finest viewing of these cunning and elusive cats.

Elephant were viewed on all but 1 day during 2003

White Rhino were viewed on all but 1 day during 2003.Today about 110 white rhino find sanctuary on the Mala Mala Game Reserve. Guests are often privileged to view these animals with an average 3 sightings being recorded daily.

Buffalo were seen on all but 6 days in 2003.The buffalo is highly gregarious and usually occurs in large herds, with the largest herd in the MalaMala game reserve estimated to be in the region of 400 individuals.

Impressive statistics!

sundowner Mar 26th, 2004 02:53 AM

safarinut - do you know how many people were used in the sighting statistics?

As I was reading them I remembered when I was at Mashatu (in southern Botswana), our game driver said he had to count and report every animal he saw every day. And I believe Mashatu is owned by the same people that own Mala Mala.

Kavey Mar 26th, 2004 03:08 AM


Where will you be travelling from? Will the entire trip consist of the safari or is it a segment in a larger trip, if so what does that trip include?

If it's a short trip only I imagine travel issues will be integral to the decision in terms of maximising the time you spend on safari as opposed to getting there and home.

From the UK a long weekend in East Africa involves a lot less travel time, including the internal flight to the actual reserve of your choice, than a jaunt down to Southern Africa.

bigcountry Mar 26th, 2004 04:14 AM

on the back of sundowners point, here's my question for you safarinut: is teh amount of big game reported a function of mala mala being a very big camp (i read they accomodate at least 50 people) or the area being so amazing? in the camps at botswana, usually their would only be about 10 people out looking so i'm sure if you quadrupled that number the stats would be amazing as well there. i heard from a guy working at duba plains who used to guide at mala mala that the game was good but he didnt make it out to be as impressive as the stats u are throwing out do. anyway, that being said, you have influenced me at least entertain making a trip there so thanks in that regard.

sandi Mar 26th, 2004 04:36 AM

mhron -
My reaction was the same as what Kavey expressed. From where are you traveling and would these few days be part of a longer trip? Where? That information would help. Thanks.

mhron Mar 26th, 2004 05:51 AM

I will be coming from the united states but travel time does not bother me that much, I have been on safari twice before once to mala mala and once to royal malewane both were great. I would think of trying something new like botswana or tanzania. However my main goal is game viewing and i am afraid of being dissaponted. Like i said my main concern is game viewing i want a lodge that has both rangers and trackers and who will get you as close as possible to the animals. this safari would be part of a 7 day trip but the safri is the main highlite so i would build the rest of the trip around it and its location. this plan may sound bakwards to some but anyone bitten by the safari bug would understand.

safarinut Mar 26th, 2004 06:02 AM


This phenomenal rate of viewing success is directly attributed to the fact that MalaMala comprises 33000 acres or 16000 hectares of pristine game viewing land, making it the largest privately owned game reserve in South Africa, with human density and impact on the land being kept to an absolute minimum. Another reason is the unfenced border between MalaMala and the Kruger National Park, which allows herds of animals to migrate unhindered to the perennial Sand River which flows north to south through the MalaMala Game Reserve for 13 kilometres or 20 miles.

It is a function of the game rangers to record all sightings.These statistics are recorded by no more than eight rangers.There are never more than 30 people in Main Camp,thus five vehicles going out daily.

This is an amazing place bigcountry!
Numerous wildlife movies has been filmed here over the years.

From what I have read and in various discussions with game rangers and fellow guests, Mombo seems to be on par with Mala Mala when it comes to game viewing.

mhron,could you compare Royal Malewane's game viewing to MM for us.

bigcountry Mar 26th, 2004 06:39 AM

safarinut, you've sold me on the place. i'm looking to go either in late nov this yr or june next yr. thx for the info

mhron Mar 26th, 2004 08:48 AM

i went to mala mala APPOX 3 YEARS AGO in july. the game viewing was great. in two days we saw the big five. went to royal malawane in january of 04. I was nervous that being the summer time with the bush's thick growth the game drives would not be as intense as mala mala in the winter time. I must say that i was not let down within 3 game drives we saw the big five!!! We saw lion within the first 40 minutes of our first game drive!
I would say that the game viewing of royal malawane was on par with mala mala. The accomidations of royal malawane were vastly superior. A true luxury lodge. it was also much more intimate at royal malewane being that there are only six suites.
The one difference in terms of game viewing, i felt, was that at royal malewane we actually got closer to the animals. i am talking really close. just a couple of feet from elephant maybe 10-15 feet from lioness. it was a great experience. I must admit that mala mala still had a certain feel to it that cant be matched, but that maybe because it was the 1st safari i ever was on so its kind of like 1st love. if i had to choose between the two i would go to royal malewane (if price is similar depending on deals).
but now i am looking for a new place but after going to these two i am really nervous of being diisaponted.
is there anyplace it botswana or tanzania that compare??

safarinut Mar 26th, 2004 10:45 AM


The only thing I have against Royal Malewane ie. Tornybush Game Reserve is the fact that it is fenced and they only have 11 000 hectares to their disposal.Their gene pool is limited,I know for example they have only 25 lions in the reserve,something like eight different leopads etc. The lodge uses the same 11,000 hectare concession as Jackalberry and the other Thornybush lodges (Thornybush Main Lodge, Shumbalala, N'Kaya, Chapungu and Serondella). As the Reserve is fenced, one will not see the large numbers/masses of wildlife that can be seen in the open areas of Botswana, Kenya, Sabi Sands, and the Kruger. However, guests will most likely see the Big 5 in addition to a full range of indigenous animals

At Mala Mala I saw more than fifty different lions in eight days,eight different leopards in eight days,herds of buffalo numbering more than 400,they have more than 100 different rhino etc.

LizFrazier Mar 27th, 2004 04:44 AM

A few years ago I saw the most incredible special on TV about Mala Mala and I have never forgotten it. Until you came along though Mala Mala was a more or less dead subject here. I should say a ho-hum topic. I always wondered why. It was always Singita, Londolozi, etc. but never Mala Mala. It seemed to be literally dripping with leopards in this film and I totally believe what you are saying about it. Why are you the only one though? Another area that had a wonderful special on wildlife is the Kalagadi Trans Frontier Park. It was a real problem to find info on that one. They just don't have even decent lodges there and its early since they just established this giant park between Botswana and South Africa I think it is. I finally found references to it when I googled it. That aside, I really do want to see Mala Mala now that you have provided the excellent reports on it. Thank you. Liz

safarinut Mar 27th, 2004 09:16 AM


''The accomidations of royal malawane were vastly superior''
This quote says it all.Mala Mala got lost in the ''designer war''
The second reason was that they have always quoted in US dollars and with the weak rand in years past other lodges were more affordable.

Liz I lived in Mpumalanga for 28 years,40 minutes from the entrance of KNP.In any given year I would spend at least 20 weekends on safari.I am a true Safari fanatic!

I have been to most Kruger/Sabi Sands lodges,not once,twice,some lodges three visits and more.In my opinion Mala Mala's game viewing is in a class of it's own.

Don't be overwhelmed by the new breed of safari lodges where focus on food,accom etc has become ridiculous.

Mala Mala will soon cater for the Singita/Londolozi-type guest upon completion of the new Harry's camp,actually sad they were forced into the super luxurious market.

Well at least Main Camp will always be there at $500pp/night.

jrruff Apr 11th, 2004 07:12 AM

We are planning a 5-day/4-night safari in early Sept. We prinicpally are looking at the Sabi Sands lodges of Djuma and Inyati, which traverse approx. 130,000 acres directly adjacent to the Mala Mala game preserve, but are significantly less expensive. Any views?

Roccco Apr 11th, 2004 07:39 AM


Just curious...did you pick up the Royal Malewane package from Luxury Link? They were offering a package last year and I seem to remember seeing it for like $2,000 for a four night package, which is an amazing deal, considering that it retails for triple the price.

While at Singita in 2002, I met a very nice and well-travelled couple from South America. They had just visited Royal Malewane and could not stop raving about it, saying that other than the accomodations, everything else was superior at the Royal Malewane to, gameviewing, service, etc.

Trust me, if that package to the Royal Malewane ever comes up again on Luxury Link, I am grabbing it, even if I just give it away as a very special gift to someone...hopefully, someone such as myself! ;)

Jrruff, if you are not in a hurry to book immediately, I do suggest that you follow Luxury Link for awhile and also even give a look, as even they sometimes have some pretty nice looking game lodges for a very cheap price, often including airfare from the United States, a stay in Cape Town and a night in Joburg.

Personally, I would not book any accomodations in South Africa right now without getting them for a very special price. It is just too expensive right now, and there are much better opportunities in Zambia, Tanzania and even Botswana, if you do not require a stop in the Western Cape.

tagamark Apr 11th, 2004 09:20 AM

Mala Mala is without doubt the best area in the Sabi Sands for game viewing, but I have had guests stay there for 4 nights and not seen lion. It is pure luck and if you want to see leopards, I can produce them for you. Simbambili, Record number of leopard sighting on 1 game drive is 9

Roccco Apr 11th, 2004 09:28 AM

That is amazing...9 leopards on a single game drive!

I did see 3 leopards on a single game drive in Singita, and that was pretty amazing. Nine leopards must have been sensory overload! :)

tashak Apr 11th, 2004 03:35 PM

I agree that one sees an exceptional amount of game at Mala Mala...big 5 in a day, easy. I think there are two other factors that help Mala Mala. 1) animals very, very habituated to the MM vehicles. MM is one of the oldest private reserves. This, to my way of thinking means that established lodges/ camps often offer this habituation advantage. People cite this as a factor in Mombo's favor as well... 2)Lots of monitoring and coordination by guides. I was told that MM has rangers out "all the time" so that by the time you go on a drive, the guides know what is happening and where to take you. The things the guides said when we began drives tended to substantiate this story, although I do not know if it is really true. The only downside of this is that it removes the "mystery" and excitement of tracking and finding an animal. This sounds like I am carping, but I found it much more exciting to follow lion tracks as they circled around...before finding them in tall grass at Vumbura. Or catching sight of a few vultures gathering at Chitabe and following them to a wild dog kill and a cheetah kill (2 separate instances). At MM we just drove to the lions, leopards, etc. per the guides info or radio instructions. Sometimes I felt we were careening around the reserve at breakneck speed from one great sighting to another!
But you do see fabulous animals at MM, and have fab photo opps, almost guaranteed.
We call them both safaris, but my travel agent was correct, I think, in saying "they are both great experiences, but Botswana and SA are entirely different "products"."

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