Kings Camp or Mala Mala?

Jun 28th, 2009, 02:31 PM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 294
I've been on vacation, but am happy to answer a couple of the points raised here.

MM is I believe changing their style and certainly their attitude to rangers, they are recognising that the industry is changing and that they are in danger of being left behind. As to only one black ranger, there were three at MM in January with at least two more in training at that point.
MM's policy of the ranger spending all meals with guests makes for a much more demanding schedule that at Singita for example, where the ranger's had much less face time with the guests.
The head ranger was not sacked for visiting a friend at another camp. He was sacked for doing so while at work, there's quite a difference when read that way. My own employer would not be thrilled if I couldn't be found in a time of emergency because I'd sloped off to visit a friend.
All the MM staff is on a work stoppage since December 12th. Already amongst the hihgest paid staff in the SSGR (though I have not seen proof, pay stubs etc) their local union official incited a strike. The local labor board allowed a lock out, and management introduced new staff, who were performing well when I was there in January. It was sad to miss so many well known faces, particularly knowing that many may not get their jobs back and will certainly never recover the wages lost during this period. Interestingly MM have found that they need far less staff, they were actually quite inefficient because they wanted to provide work, now they will have less staff and make even more money (gasp).
MM has no female rangers yet - their somewhat older, conservative owners have not moved quite that far, I'm know the next generation are chomping at the bit to make all kinds of changes, but can only move so fast. Some of my best experiences have been with female rangers, they certainly drive in a more comfortable manner than a lot of the young guys.

Second the advice on Pafuri - no way can it support four days, unless you are a mad birder, it can do two days.
napamatt_2 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2009, 07:21 PM
  #42  
 
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Hi Matt

As always, nice to hear a voice of reason!!!

Kind regards

Kaye

ps I will also be staying two nights at Pafuri but will probably miss the last morning gamedrive as we need to be at MalaMala by 2pm.
KayeN is offline  
Jun 28th, 2009, 10:39 PM
  #43  
 
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The industry changed years ago, the reaction seems to be slow at best and insufficient at worst.

As for the ranger being sacked, I heard that a Mala Mala employee can be fired for 'socializing' with anyone employed at another lodge, during work hours or not. Employees are not employees, they are indentured paid servants.

Napamatt's comments has confirmed much of what I have heard. Hiring two black rangers is not enough for me to come close to changing my mind about MM management.

I absolutely hope with a new generation that more major changes will come to pass.

Mike
mytmoss is offline  
Jun 29th, 2009, 06:39 AM
  #44  
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napamatt --
Were you at Pafuri recently? I know I read your trip report but can't remember which year that was. Graeme's comments above made me think it had gotten a bit more game-intensive v. just birds so that 3 days will work for us.

Graeme said:
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.


I also know that they've just started off-roading this April which should be beneficial.

At any rate, the package we're looking at for a 'deal' is 3 nights Mashatu/3 nights Pafuri so I think that's what we'll be doing. Sounds like the scenery is also a big plus and I can appreciate that even if not seeing as many animals as will will at Mashatu & Kings.
Leslie_S is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 08:05 AM
  #45  
 
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Mike (mytoss), I completely agree...MM is about 15 years behind the times despite what it's vocal supporters say on this board.

I went to MM largely based on the reviews and experiences I read here...to say I was disappointed with what I found would be an understatement. I won't make that mistake again which is why I'm somewhat outspoken in my criticism when the MM ra-ra crowd start up.

Blimey. I didn't know they'd just recruited some black rangers. It'll be women next, you'll see. It's the beginning of the end!
Tanky is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 09:53 AM
  #46  
 
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KayN
"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!"

Nicely said! I have been to Mala Mala twice now and I referred several friends. All were thrilled with the experience. Hope all this Mala bashing dosen't put new readers off of going there. Anyone care to speculate as to what is really driving these negative comments?
Ted
Temba is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 01:01 PM
  #47  
 
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Temba
What makes you think there is a MM bashing going on?

If a fodorites asks for experiences - good or bad - everbody with such is entitled to post. Doesn't matter whether a MM-fan gets "hurt".

MM is not only "behind" it's driven by greediness, guiding its employees in a fashion which belongs to the far past and the management skills have proven to be somehow questionable.

The only thing I can imagine counts positively: they have got the largest concession. But IF a leopard crosses over into another concession it's also lost for MM ;-)

And the tensions between the neighbors don't lead to cooperative game viewing.
I know of several which share traversing rights. But if you ask another lodge about that in view to MM you will get rolling eyes and strange comments.

I assume we all are not being paid for posting certain opinions. Correct me if that's not the case please.

SV
spassvogel is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 01:50 PM
  #48  
 
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MM is probably the single most visited camp on this forum. Maybe by 10 to 1? And I'd speculate the most widely known safari camp in Sabi Sand Reserve. Perhaps in all of Africa. So it will have the occasional dissatisfied customer. Some camps will never get criticized (Singita) because anyone spending that kind of $$$ could not bring themselves to admit that it was not well spent. And if that amount of $$$ is not meaningful to them, they are not on Fodors forums. See http://www.millionairesconcierge.com/jet.htm

MM is the largest and THE prime property in Sabi Sand, the Sand River runs through it for several kilometers. If I had a concession in Sabi Sand, I'd also be envious of MM property. Most other camps HAVE to share traversing rights with other camps. They are so small that if they did not share there would be no need for game drives, you could see their whole property from your room veranda!!!

SV - "I assume we all are not being paid for posting certain opinions. Correct me if that's not the case please." Are you perhaps suggesting that someone(s) is being paid to -bash- MM so that other camps get more business?

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 02:42 PM
  #49  
 
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Thank you Tom, I think you have summed it up nicely. Heck, you have even managed to understnad and sum up SV's post. I have never even been able to understand him/her and don't bother reading or responding to SV's posts. For those who stumble upon this thread trying to learn more about different properties in the Sabi Sand, please read Tom's post again. Mala Mala is a fine place and a wonderful place to safari. The rangers are professional, competent, and likeable. The food is very very good and the accomodations are luxurious. Could any of these aforementioned qualities be better? well of course anything can be improved but for the money it's a pretty darn good (fantastic) place to safari. I just hate it when a few [email protected]$$e$ berate a camp or lodge or tour operator for undocumented and unsupported reasons. The doubt that these "not so well meaning posters" sew scares potential travelers away from some of the finest camps and lodges in Africa. I only hope those searching for Mala Mala information, read down to Tom's post before making a decision.
Ted
Temba is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 02:52 PM
  #50  
 
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By the way spass(whateveryouare) why would you say "Furthermore I don't like the greediness which is clearly shown by charging for water which comes from the own plant", that's just false. Mala Mala doesn't charge for water and like many camps in South Africa, Botswana, and East Africa they do charge for liquer. Their charges are in fact quite reasonable.
Ted
Temba is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 04:23 PM
  #51  
 
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In the interests of full disclosure I must alert you to the following fact. On several occasions while visiting MM, we have been invited to dine with the Rattray's and they never let us pay for any alcohol (or if I drank them, soft drinks), no matter how much we consume - and sometimes that's a lot.

Leslie
I was at Pafuri in January - admittedly the wet season was game is spread out. I had read the game reports for Pafuri and was hopeful of a little cat action, but got none. On Lions, a pride was establishing itself, when two males came over from Zim, killed everyone and then marched back across the Zambezi not to be seen again. (At least that's my recollection of the story). As for Leopards,the area should support them, but we weren't lucky. With three days you should be able to visit the Gorge, which we did not. The camp is lovely, the staff very friendly and the food excellent. I'm sure you'll have a great time, and open yourself up to the possibilities of birds. Think now how seeing a wild animal in the US excites you after being in Africa. But how often do we see Deer, Coyote, Bobcat etc? But if you get thrilled by birds, they're all around, certainly makes life more rewarding.
napamatt_2 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 05:14 PM
  #52  
 
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oops- "liquor" sorry I drink wine and also don't get out much.
Temba is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 06:06 PM
  #53  
 
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So there is no doubt for anyone about me. I am not paid by anyone to make any posts. I like everyone have my favorite places to stay and I make no bones about my preferences.

I personally would love to stay at a place like Mala Mala which may very well have the best game viewing in Sabi Sands. However for personal reasons, I do not wish to support an organization, which is my opinion, is run poorly in regards to employee relations.

There are many people who did not support South Africa during apartheid because of their beliefs. While I do NOT in any manner equate Mala Mala to apartheid, I am using this as an example of how personal beliefs can effect decisions. I do feel that their well known methods of operation are well behind current standards. If my comments are bashing, then you can interpret them any way you want. When I hear the same information from many independent sources on my trips, I have to make some assumptions about their accuracy. No one is out to get Mala Mala, they are doing themselves disservice in their management style.

Again, I would love to see them move forward and adopt reasonable rules of employment. This is not about pay, its about allowing people to have dignity and freedom in their work place that is consistent with other lodges and all modern employers in general.

Issues like charging for water/drinks are annoyances for me and all things otherwise being equal, would not stop me from visiting a lodge, but are worth mentioning since lodges do have different policies.

Mike
mytmoss is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 06:27 PM
  #54  
 
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FWIW, the Rattray's also own Mashatu Main Camp and Tented Camp which I invite any of you to look at these links and the impressive history of rangers and staff.

http://www.mashatu.com/about_team_rangers.htm

http://www.mashatu.com/about_team_MJ.htm
CarlaM is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 06:28 PM
  #55  
 
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Here is the 3rd link:

http://www.mashatu.com/about_team_TK.htm
CarlaM is offline  
Jun 30th, 2009, 06:33 PM
  #56  
 
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Isn't John still at Mala Mala? http://www.malamala.com/pdf/JohnSibuye.pdf
CarlaM is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 02:05 AM
  #57  
 
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To all of those who have all these negative comments regarding MalaMala,

Luckily you are a minority and you will never get a lodge that everyone loves or that everyone hates. I have certainly had an absolutely dreadful experience at a Sabi Sand lodge, and on my return I spoke about it on this forum, then I let it go! Something some of you on this forum seem reluctant to do and your ongoing negativity nows speaks volumes about you and less about MalaMala. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion from your experiences about MalaMala (though some don't need to go there to have an opinion) but is it something that needs to be said over and over and over and over and over again?

I am well aware of those that don't love MalaMala and believe me, I am happy about that! But to read this topic that starts with people answering the question asked, then starts this war of words is just ridiculous. No wonder the old timers of Fodors are leaving this site in droves! It should be a informative site, not a spiteful site.

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 03:12 AM
  #58  
 
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No Tom, that's mot what I said nor meant.

It's still amazing - as soon as MM is involved the pro and cons are just clashing. Why is that? Why can't posters post their experiences without being forced into a strangly evolving discussion?

As KayN mentions she did ones post a negative experiences and let it rest..........well - that's first a persional decision and secondly IF posters ASK for advice then - and that's what a forum is meant to be - posters should of course be allowed to answer without being offended for it because it's not feeding a certain opinion.

Regarding MM's occupancy or degree of brand awareness: That is resulting of the 80ies and 90ies and it did cost MM a fortune to get that standing.
The same as Singita - they have now the standing MM had in the earlier days - but of course for another reason.
MM was worldwide very well known for being the most expensive camp for decades - justified by the game but artificially pushed. The same as Singita today.
The more sad it is that the deterioration is man-made.

SV
spassvogel is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 03:36 AM
  #59  
 
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Kaye, thanks for a great post. Too bad we can't run a filter on this forum and eliminate all of these senseless rants (like the one immediately above). Hopefully anyone searching for information concerning these camps will not be put off. On the other hand, I'm very happy that these "types", with all of the negative comments, choose to go elsewhere. And by the way, the Rattrays are delightful and charming people. The attemps to vilify them is ridiculous. Also this Mike character who continues to reiterate SV false comments about charging $ for water certainly has hidden motives or he wouldn't be repeating such a ridulous falsity.

Kaye you are also correct in your observation that this Forum has become nearly useless with the loss of so many of the old regulars.

Ted
Temba is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 03:59 AM
  #60  
 
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To any and all following all of this rubbish: The following is taken directly from mytmoss's trip report and his exchange with the infamous spass?

mytmoss on May 23, 09 at 02:02 PM
"Thanks SV, I do not mind paying for alcoholic drinks, or maybe even sodas. I do not drink much of either, but I do consider water a basic and it should be included at an lodge of the level of Vuyutela or similar.

Ivory does charge for some wines, but not their house wines, they are included in all meals, drives and in between. They also do not charge for mixed hard liquor also. So at Ivory, I did not have to pay anything extra for anything.

As for Mala Mala, I have not been there and have no plans for going there for personal reasons. Knowing they charge for water does not alter my opinion of going there."

Unquote: O.K. here you have two individuals who clearly have never been to MM making false representations with the intent to put people off of what might well be a once in a lifetime experience. Shame on them both and again, it's too bad we can't filter out certain indiviudals. Then again, they would probably both love to filter me out
Ted again
Temba is offline  

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