Kings Camp or Mala Mala?

Jun 20th, 2009, 04:44 PM
  #1  
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Kings Camp or Mala Mala?

I have another longer thread where I've received help with planning an itinerary for Oct 2010. Don't mean to be repetitive here but I thought it might help to start a new thread for this particular question.

We'll be doing Mashatu Main and (probably) Pafuri for 4 nights each and then either Kings Camp or Mala Mala Main for the last 3 nights.

The price is very close and from what I've read here it seems the Kings Camp and Mala Mala viewing will be similar also. Both properties look lovely and have gotten raves here.

I've sent a question to the operator I'm working with about transfer times & costs and hopefully that will help me decide -- but if you had to choose between the two - which would it be?

Thanks -
Leslie
Leslie_S is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 08:03 PM
  #2  
 
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Hi Leslie

I am doing Mashatu Main Camp, Pafuri and MalaMala Main Camp at the end of the year. I am a long time fan of MalaMala and have just gone to that one camp, twice a year for a few years. Then I was told to give Mashatu a chance, and now that I have been there once and loved it, that will be included in my trips. Pafuri I have not been to, but as I am driving the Mashatu to MalaMala leg, I needed a break in the trip, mainly due to chronic back issues. This was suggested to me by those in the know, also by a favourable report by NapaMatt.

I am not sure of the position of Kings Camp or the area available to the rangers, but I do know that MM has a large area with the Sand River running through most of the property from north to south and this does seem to make a difference in gameviewing especially during those drier months.

From what I am told about Pafuri, I think I would be inclined to add an extra night to both Mashatu and MalaMala and be at Pafuri for two nights. I would do this as I am gameviewing obsessive, and while I know I will enjoy Pafuri for two nights, I think that may be my limit.

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 09:33 PM
  #3  
 
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Kaye: My daughter and I will also be at MM Main Camp the end of the year, my first time and I am very excited. I have seen some Kaye N photos on the MM website, if they are yours I just want to say that you have some great shots. I am envious of your twice a year visits. Maybe we will see you there! I have heard the same about Pafuri...great for birders but not the large predators, so FWIW I would choose the extra at MM as well.

Regards, Pat
scruffypuma is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 12:47 AM
  #4  
 
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Thank-you Pat. I do love MM! This is the first year for a long time that I have not done a mid-year trip and I will have to wait until 11 December to be on my way. I will have a 17 year old niece with and luckily she loves it! Not as much as me, but then few would!

I wish us both fabulous gameviewing and no huge downpours when I am taking photos!

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 11:07 AM
  #5  
 
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I spent a couple of nights at Kings Camp in April and I must say it was much better then expected.

At each game drive we had leopard sightings which by far was not expected because Sabi Sands is very well known for leopard sightings and Kings is in Timbavati, 1 1/2 hours drive north of SS.
Game drives are more or less the same - safari routine as Sabi Sands without serving high tea which was actually quite good as they serve lunch at around 03.00pm - breafast was at around 1..00am after the morning drive.

Kings Camp was very pleasant: Very large chalets with a kind of Edwardian feel, nice terrace looking out into the savannah. Your TA should insist on getting one of the recently (some are still in the process of being refurbished) refurbished chalets for you.

I don't like the way MM does execute the game drives having the tracker in the back of the vehicle. Furthermore I don't like the way MM treats its personnel especially trying to prevent guides and trackers to socialise after work.

Furthermore I don't like the greediness which is clearly shown by charging for water which comes from the own plant.

Regarding Pafuri:
If you are not K E E N on birding in particular the 4 night stay might be a bit looooong because of the absence of predetors and other game.

Happy Planning!

SV
spassvogel is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 01:19 PM
  #6  
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Thanks Kaye & SV. Sounds like shortening the Pafuri stay from 4 to 3 and maybe adding a day at Kings or MM is a good idea. Thanks for the heads up on the refurb at Kings.
Leslie_S is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 04:34 PM
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Kings Camp or MalaMala
I’ve been to each three times totaling 18 nights at KC and 14 nights at MM.
Location – both are in un-fenced private reserves bordering Kruger. KC is in the Timbavati Private Reserve, MM in the Sabi Sand Private Reserve. The Timbavati is about 10 miles north of Sabi Sand. The distance between these actual camps is maybe 40 miles. To drive from one camp to the other (as far as I know) you have to exit the reserve back onto a SA highway then enter back into the other reserve, probably around 90 miles total drive. Or you can fly between reserves, Federal Air (Fedair) does now, and so does Genair charter. Cost is about $150.

Cost – MM (Main Camp) is $575 pppn. KC is (May-Sep) $437 pppn (at Rand of 8:1 USD) KC rate goes up to $525 Oct-Apr. However if you stay at KC 5 nights you pay for only 4, so the $437 rate drops down to $350 over 5 nights. Great deal. At MM you pay for soft drinks, beer, wine, liquor. At KC it is included. At MM laundry service is included, at KC laundry service is extra.

Huts/Bungalows – The MM bungalow (Main Camp) is roomy, attractive, comfortable with the traditional peak/pointed high hut ceiling. There are two bath areas one each side of the room. Nice his/hers for the early morning rush. . The KC bungalows are more attractive, larger, nicely decorated in British Colonial with one large bath/shower area. Both have their own room heating and AC units. I prefer the KC bungalows. Swimming pool, spa, internet – I don’t use those much but appear to be the same.

Meals/food - Again, MM charges for drinks, KC does not. Meals at both are good but KC are more gourmet, tastier, and I prefer KC. At both camps you start the day with tea/coffee/juice and cakes. Breakfast is after the morning game drive, maybe 9:30am. Lunch is around 2pm. Afternoon tea before the afternoon game drive. Sundowner break for drinks on the drive. And dinner around 8pm.

Camp staff- The camp staff at MM is good, helpful, but not real warm friendly. The camp staff at KC is most warm friendly and happy to do anything for you with a smile. KC staff is great thanks largely to the camp manager who sets this atmosphere for the camp.

Game drives – The Best Part.
Tough comparison. MM is its own large property with the Sand River flowing year round. KC is a much smaller property sharing traversing rights with other adjacent camps. But the number of vehicles at a big sighting at both KC and MM is controlled so its never a crowd. MM is known for its leopards and it is not unusual to see 3-4 different leopards on a game drive. I’ve also seen at least one leopard on most every game drive at KC. Lions, the Eyrefield pride at MM is hard to beat but you will see lions on most every drive at KC. Elephants, KC more, better.. Buffalo, better at KC. Rhino, same both. Giraffe, zebra, antelope, birds, same both. I’ve had great game drives and so-so drives at both. On each visit with both camps I have seen the big 5. Games drives are always a surprise and that is what makes them so enjoyable. The nod perhaps goes slightly to MM for game drives.
Rangers – both camps have both excellent rangers and just good rangers. If your into photography (like I am) the ranger (and you) is the most important factor in getting good photos. Really try to get a ranger that takes photos themselves.
Trackers – MM puts the tracker on the back of the vehicle while KC seats the tracker on the left front fender. I do not like the tracker on the front fender, he is in the way of sightings many times especially for video.

Summary – I feel KC is the better value, 60% of the cost of MM. Everything else added up is close to being equal, too close for me to call.


regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 05:49 PM
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Hi Leslie

Just to add a couple of things that SV seems mistaken about. MM rangers not allowed to socialise after gameviewing? I don't know which camp SV stayed at, but the rangers join you for every meal and for drinks before the evening meal, so that piece of information is incorrect.

You do not need to pay for water - I drink non-bottled water and always have with no trouble. If you choose bottled water then you do need to pay, as that costs money to produce and I am not sure of the point of where it is produced. There is bottled water in the room and on gamedrives and there is no charge for that, so that seems a very petty issue to me.

I wasn't aware that Kings was in the Timbavati. I stayed in two camps in 2002, so admittedly some time ago, and I was very aware of it being fenced and animals had to be introduced, for example, when I was there it was giraffe as one pride on lions kept killing them. The properties in the Timbavati were fairly small and when I was there, there was talk of removing some of the fencing to make the are into one larger reserve, I am not sure if that ever happened. They did not have the natural movement of animals which the Sabi Sands does since the fence between them and Kruger was removed.

Tom makes some interesting points and the main one for me is the position of the tracker and I agree with him 100%, the tracker on the front is frequently in my road for my photos, so I definitely prefer him out of my vision.

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 06:03 PM
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No camp I have stayed at except for Djuma Vuyutela charges for bottled water and that is a lot of camps. I think this is a basic and there should be no charge.

I find that a tracker in the back seat to be like a 3rd arm, it may be nice, but normally its useless. In order to see best, you need to be up front, in the way or not, otherwise why bother to have a tracker. Just let the ranger do the work, which brings me to my last comment.

Mala Mala is not known for treating employees well. It is well known in the Sabi Sands area about employee dissatisfaction. Currently the trackers are on a work stoppage (at least as of May). So the rangers are working without trackers which kind of goes to my previous comment, why have a tracker in the back seat. Personally I like the back seat and I do not want the tracker with me. He will be more in my way there than in the front.

For me, until Mala Mala gets a better reputation about their treatment of employees, I have no plans to travel there even if it was $5 per night. I want to be where there are happy employees.

Mike
mytmoss is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 07:52 PM
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I am not going to get into a verbal battle over the water, as this issue has been discussed previously and frankly, it sounds as petty now as it did the first, second, third time etc etc.

I will make a statement regarding facts of a reserve, but things like the room, service and food are your opinions, so I would not argue those but I think you need to have stayed in a place before offering such an opinion!

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 08:08 PM
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I agree, it is petty of a camp to charge for water or soft drinks.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 08:12 PM
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Tom, Tom, Tom!

Let it go - you will be a better man for it!

I am always being told I have little to do with my time, so it is nice to see someone who has less to do with his time. a smiley face would go here if I could find the sheet that I printed from atravelynn's tip!

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 08:14 PM
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Hi Tom

Just wondering what time zone who are in as the time shown is 12.12am?

Where I am is 2.12pm Monday.

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 09:23 PM
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Thanks Kaye, finally letting go of it will complete my manly perfection . And yes, I have more time than money otherwise I'd be in Afreekaa!!!

Smiley face is easy to remember : and - and ) together no spaces, it looks smiley, eyes :, nose -, mouth ), turned sideways.

Well, the time shown on the forum(s) is Eastern time USA (think New York). So even though I'm in beautiful southern sunny California my postings (and yours) get stamped with Eastern time USA. But since I may be on the forum at 2am my time it is difficult to know what I'm doing (or why!!). You are now at 2:12pm Monday??? You must -not- be in the known civilized world!!! (New York City according to New Yorkers).

and Kind regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 10:07 PM
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Hi Tom

You are correct - I am not in the known civilized world of New York City! I live in Australia on the east coast in beautiful Brisbane. Not at all civilized!

Was it at King's Camp, that a ranger found the need to shoot a leopard in fairly recent time?

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 10:14 PM
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To support SpassVogel I experienced a very upleasant management-staff atmosphere on my one visit there. In this case it seemed to be between the 'managers' and the guides. The guides seemed to be scared of saying the wrong things at meal times if a manger was on at the table...whether it was just my guide I couldn't say.

I think SV's observation is backed up by the facts - the very high turn over of guides leading to some very young and inexperienced ones (didn't they sack their head ranger Rob Scott because he went to visit a friend at a neighbouring camp?) suggests low morale in that quarter, the 'strike' which has gone on now for nearly six months and the general opinion of MM within the rest of Sabi Sands.
Tanky is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 10:29 PM
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Kaye, yes a leopard was shot but I don't know by whom. Kings Camp report says the ranger was from another camp. http://kingscamp.com/blog/index.php?itemid=194
I had seen that nice dominant male on every visit at KC, he was very accepting of vehicles and guests. He was also being filmed during the fall of 2008 for a TV program but I've not seen anything about it yet.

regards - tom
ps - nice smiley !!!!
cary999 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 10:48 PM
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The turn over of rangers at MM has always surprised me. The rangers are typically college educated in biology, zoology, environmental, etc, and put a lot of effort in learning the MM territory and animals. Then after typically two years they move on to some other totally unrelated work!!! At least that's what I've heard. Somebody (Kaye?, napamatt?) correct me if badly wrong.

While at other camps, like KC, they stay as rangers much longer, I think. At least I've seen the same excellent KC rangers for the last three years!!!

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 12:28 AM
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Regarding your trip in October 2010. Mashatu and Pafuri will both be great. They both offer great game in more of a wilder and remote environment than the Timbavati and Sabi Sands. The predator viewing at Mashatu is excellent. I believe that the lion population is a bit down at the moment, but that will surely be a temporary thing. You stand a great chance of seeing leopard and also wild dog there. I have had some great cheetah sightings there too as well as excellent sightings of some things which you won't see in southern Kruger such as eland. As far as Pafuri goes, I have been fortunate to visit Pafuri Camp a couple of times. I first visited in 2005 shortly after the camp opened and can confirm that the game was extremeley scarce at that time. The guides used to focus on birds then as there was very little game to be seen. Hardly an animal in fact! Having been back since then I have seen a huge increase in the game viewing, particularly in the dry season (May-November). The general game densities are as good, if not better than further south in the park. I have also had great sightings of lion and leopard and can confirm that the Luvuvhu River supports a high density of leopard. The birding remains good, but certainly not the only reason to visit Pafuri anymore.

As far as King's Camp and Mala Mala go. They both offer superb opportunities to view the more high profile species. A lot will depend on your preference regarding guides, intimacy of camp etc. as per the info in the above threads. To confirm, the leopard that was shot in the Timbavati was not shot at King's Camp.
Graeme2 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 04:25 AM
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Hi Graeme2

Do you know where the ranger was from that shot the leopard? I am curious for a few reasons.

On the rangers staying about 2 years or so - that does seem around the time they stay before they move on. That seems to be the movement in a lot of camps where I have stayed - I may have them the next year, but gone by the next! That has happened at Singita, Lion Sands and Londolozi. In a way it is annoying and in another way, you do get to meet different rangers, although you always have your favourites!

As to all those who have not had a good ranger experience at MM, that has never been my experience and as most would know, I have been there a lot over the last 8 years and have experienced a lot of rangers, and I have always had a really good experience with MalaMala rangers - always! Not so with fellow guests, but that is another subject! A knowledgeable and entertaining ranger is a must when I spend so much time with them - a dreadful ranger does make a dreadful gameviewing experience, and while I have had that experience, it was not at MalaMala.

But I prefer to think about the good ones and not go on and on about the negative experiences!

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  

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