Mala Mala or Londolozi?

Jun 11th, 2008, 04:58 PM
  #1  
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Mala Mala or Londolozi?

I have heard great things re: both lodges..whats the best for a first time safari experience with focus on the wildlife?
SPORTY1 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 08:04 PM
  #2  
 
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If pricing differs greatly, I'd let that be a big factor.

I've been to MM for 4 nts and was impressed with the quality and quantity of leopards especially, plus other game. No LL experience.

I chose MM based on wildlife. These threads helped my decision.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34914756

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34902458

Booking the no single supplement MM room was also a major consideration for me.

There have been some nice comments on Elephant Plains and Idube, both less expensive Sabi Sands options.

You'll have a great stay, Shorty, whichever you choose.

atravelynn is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 11:54 PM
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Hi Sporty1

I think Lynn made a mistake with your name! I am sure it was an error!

I have been to both though Londo only twice and not since the Varty's took over. Really didn't like one visit and really did like the next.

I am a big fan of MM and shall be making my way their this Saturday and absolutely cannot wait! I am totally focused on gameviewing and I love photography. I wish I could do it for a living!

My vote would be MM.

Anything specific please ask.

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 05:53 AM
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Sporty! Sorry
atravelynn is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 06:42 AM
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Hi Sporty

i was in the same position a few weeks ago- and did a lot of research.

the feedback I have had from lots of foderiters has been that Mala Mala has a very strong focus on giving you an amazing wildlife experience .... where as you maybe get a little more r & r at places like singita and londolozi (which are supposed to also have great wildlife viewing but perhaps with a little less emphasis on only this). the feedback i have read about mala mala has been consistently enthusiastic and it seems a lot of people return. in my opinion the rooms as a little more 'hotel' like than blend into the bush open type but that is a personal syle thing i am only looking at photos!

because we are on our honeymoon and want a bit of both we went with a suggested option of teaming 3 nights at mala mala (rattrays) first where we plan to be very wildlife focused and then 3 nights at singita boulders which, we hope, will still have great drives but also offers extras like great wine tastings that may cancel out one morning drive! i wonder if that sort of combination may work for you depending on your travel purpose?

other feedback we had was from rainbow tours who raved about londolozi since it has been taken back by the Vartys. they seemed to think the family feel (with generations of families having worked there) meant trackers etc have fantastic knowledge. rainbow tours thought this place and djuma had the best wildlife but this obviously was not an independent review. i think londolozi's tree-camp and granite suit rooms look incredible but this may not be a factor for you.

hope this helps- note its just a report of research, i havent been to these places. happy planning.
HoneyM is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 02:12 PM
  #6  
 
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Sporty,

I have not been to Mala Mala so can't compare, but we stayed at Londolozi 3 yrs ago and loved it. CCAfrica was still running Londolozi at that time, so I don't know if the atmosphere has changed since the Vartys have taken back over, but suites have been upgraded, and the reports back have been good.

We were at Tree Camp and would stay there again in a minute. I don't know which camp you are thinking of staying at, different prices for some of the different camps. The camps are close together (you can walk between them), but each have their own lodge and vehicles, etc. But the game viewing is the same for all the camps. I think that "Varty" camp is the largest, and to me that would be the least desirable because I like small camps with the suites spread out. Wildlife viewing was very good when we were there (June), saw leopards every day, plus the other usual suspects. We had an experienced CCAfrica ranger and one of the long time well known trackers, so may have been lucky in that regard.

I don't know how the Varty's are conducting meals, but we had individual tables for Breakfst/Brunch and for Lunch, then ate as a small group at dinner. My spouse and I like to have some time together and alone while on vacation, so we appreciate that arrangement, rather than eating every meal with your ranger and vehicle companions (I think this is typical at Mala Mala?), but everyone feels differently about this. I think that if I were to travel solo, I may better appreciate the arrangement at Mala Mala.

As stated, I haven't been to Mala Mala, but obviously Main camp is larger and I guess it's my understanding that it is more like a lodge instead of individual suites in a small camp. However, as Atravelynn points out, it is really hard to beat the price of Mala Mala main camp, and at the cost of safaris, that's often part of the equation for many of us. Mala Mala's price does not include drinks, don't know if that is of any concern to you. (And no, I'm not interested in getting that going again.)

As far as HoneyM's statement that Londolozi may have slightly less emphasis on wildlife viewing, that was definitely not the case when we were there under CCAfrica. Game drives started in the morning at precisely 6:00 am (and this was winter time) and lasted till about 10:00. Afternoon game drives at 3:30 till a little after seven, but one night we were out till after 8:00. I think that Mala Mala starts morning game drives after breakfast so I assume they are not 4 hour drives in the morning, but I'm sure Kaye will correct me if this isn't correct.

Whichever you choose, I think that in general, the game viewing in that area of the Sabi Sands is really good.
brandywine is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 11:52 PM
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Hi Brandywine,

MM does have a winter schedule where you do go out after breakfast, and may not come back until nearly lunchtime. In the warmer months it is more difficult to stay out towards the middle of the day, as too hot.

In winter, it makes sense I think to start a bit later, as one camp I have been to, it was still very dark on leaving the camp and we were always back by 9am and then had a huge gap during the day, which would not be the way I would choose to go!

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jun 13th, 2008, 06:33 AM
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Kaye

Have a great time, I'm just a little jealous!

Matt
napamatt is offline  
Jun 13th, 2008, 02:15 PM
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Hi Sporty1

we were at Singita (Boulders) a couple of years ago and everything about it was amazing.. we saw the big 5 in the first afternoon safari.

Food was great and lodges were outstanding.

Go for it!
sandrina is offline  
Jun 14th, 2008, 07:02 AM
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Hi Matt

Thank-you for your kind wishes - I am sure I shall have a wonderful time. I am currently in Singapore filling in a 6 hour waitover.

Unfortunately, I have serious lower back issues this trip not that it would stop me. I am thinking of the story by Gerrard someone - a photographer. In his younger years at Londolozi, coming from the vehicle back to the camp - his parents were attacked by an old buffalo bull. His father pushed his Mum away and received the full brunt of the buffalo's anger before it was shot by the ranger. The father did have some nasty disease, and with the huge adrenalin rush caused by his brush with death, his health issue ceased to be a problem. If the situation arises, I may consider this an option.

But regardless, I am really looking forward to my first gamedrive tomorrow afternoon.

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Jun 14th, 2008, 08:54 AM
  #11  
 
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sporty1- I have been to MM three times, years 2005, 06 and 07. Every time great. I have not been to Londolozi. But have been to Leopard Hills (also Sabi Sand Reserve) once for 5 nights (year 2007). LH was equal to MM for game viewing. It is a "plusher" camp, smaller, with plusher "huts" than MM. But also cost significantly more $$$, although about equal to Londo I think.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jun 15th, 2008, 07:54 PM
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Sporty,
Congrats on your upcoming wedding and honeymoon! I just got back from my Hmoon four days ago. We went to South Africa and Namibia. We stayed at Sabi Sabi SELATI camp and it could not have been more wonderful. The staff was so attentive and our ranger was fantastic. They have a real emphasis on teaching and observing the wildlife. No Ferrari Safaris! (Though we did once zip past a rhino after hearing about lions -- as we had not seen them in three days!)

Selati camp was perfect for honeymooners. Very Victorian and romantic. They even upgraded us to the honeymoon suite for free and one night surprised us with a candlelight dinner in our room. They had sprinkled rose petals everywhere; it was lovely.

Sabi Sabi is known for its leopards, and so you'll certainly see them more than once. We saw everything, minus a male lion. (Apparently, the main lion pack had wondered over on the Mala Mala's property for the few days we were there!)

Game drives were 6-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Six hours in the back of a Landrover was more than enough for me! Plus there are nature walks every day if you want more. (We took advantage of half of them.)

I think you would have a wonderful time at any of the upscale private reserves next to Kruger. It may be splitting hairs between them. Go with the one that fits your budget the best and one that is well established.

Best of luck!
Back2Sabi is offline  
Jun 15th, 2008, 11:55 PM
  #13  
 
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Sporty,

I've visited both lodges in the past 5 months. I stayed at Varty Camp at Londo and Main Camp at Mala Mala.

Game viewing:
The game viewing at both were outstanding! I saw a bit more lion activity at Mala Mala. The core of Londolozi's lion sightings come from the Sparta/Eyerfield Pride. THis pride also spends a lot of time in Mala Mala. I know of 4 or 5 leopards that are seen at Mala Mala and Londolozi( Bicycle Crossing Male, Ngoboswan female, Manyelti Male etc) Thus one can see that the game viewing will be very similiar.

Accommodation and service:

Here I will have to lean towards Londolozi's side. The attention to detail since the Varty's have taken over again, is magnificent! The Varty rooms and Mala Mala Main rooms are very similiar. The only difference is that Varty rooms have plunge pools.

Food:

The quality of food is the same at both camps. Very very nice!

It basically comes down to your budget and the level of luxury you want.

Cheers,

KL
Krugerlover is offline  
Jun 16th, 2008, 12:47 PM
  #14  
 
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I've stayed at both (Londolozi both CC Africa and post CC Africa).

I would always go for Londolozi because I know I'm almost guaranteed to get a top notch guide and tracker. I can't say that is the same at MM. I thought I was just unlucky but reading numerous reports here since I returned (September 2007) I know that wasn't the case.

And I certainly can't agree with krugerlover about the food. I'm no Egon Ronnay by any stretch of the imagination but Londolozi was head and shoulders above the food at MM Mian Camp...they weren't even comparable in quality. But I do agree that Londolozi is far more personnel - I got the impression at MM I was on a Big Five conveyor belt.
Tanky is offline  
Jun 16th, 2008, 11:09 PM
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Tanky,

Ditto the rangers. All the rangers I've had at Londo started somewhere else, built up experience and knowledge of the bush and ended up at Londo. (Natasha , Christian Goodman etc.)

Regarding the food: In retrospect the food may have been better at Londo. I don't really eat a lot while I'm at a lodge. Usually I go for breakfast and the rest of the day I just help myself to some fruit.

I just got a better vibe at Londolozi. More relaxed, personal and just plain better IMO. Don't even get me started on the rivalry between the two lodges...

Sorry to all the die-heart Mala Mala fans but in my experience Londolozi comes out on top.
Krugerlover is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 12:35 AM
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Don't Londo and Singita share some sightings between them? Atleast that's what I read over here ...... but, my impression is that anywhere in the SSGR is good Leopard and Lion viewing .......... I think you have to just pick any place that appeals to you!

I haven't been to Londolozi, though ..... so no idea about any specifics.
HariS is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 04:51 AM
  #17  
 
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I have only been to Mala Mala, but looking at simple geographic maps, isn't Mala Mala much much larger than what Londolozi has? Mala Mala has a huge chunk of the Sand River, which is a major attraction for wildlife.

My experience with Mala Mala is a very positive one. I cannot wait to go back in 2010, when I will be running my first 'African Wildlife Photography Boot Camp, and it will start at Mala Mala before heading on to Botswana.
andybiggs is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 06:40 AM
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MM in 2010? Let's see, thats, 2008, 2009, 2010 - I can't wait that long

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 02:55 PM
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I'm not sure how important the river is for wildlife anymore, everyone seems to be pumping water like crazy, even on properties with river frontage, we certainly found that at Singita in April.
napamatt is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 03:24 PM
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Matt, is the pumping new? I thought I remembered someone at MM saying they don't interfere with the wildlife, including water. And isn't one of the MM wildlife shows about how dry it was and how the animals suffered and coped?
sundowner is online now  

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