Mala Mala or Sabi SABI

Apr 7th, 2006, 09:56 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 75
Mala Mala or Sabi SABI

Can anyone tell me the pros and cons of these two camps?
Also is there a hotel booking site for hotels in Capetown. I am interested in bookings at Table Bay Hotel...would appreciate any info...thaanks
malaysia is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 04:44 AM
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Mala Mala has a huge property and is celebrated for its wildlife experience. It also just opened a luxury lodge, Ratrays, that seems to be very high end.

Sabi Sabi is on a smaller property but, overall, I think it features nicer lodging. Like Mala Mala it is one of the original safari operators in the Sabi Sand.

For years I have wanted to visit Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge and I will finally do so later this year. Have a look:

Besides Earth Lodge, Sabi Sabi also offers Selati Camp, Bush Lodge and Little Bush Camp, all of them offering a 5 star lodging experience.

I am friends with a former manager and guide from Sabi Sabi and the one thing that impresses me about Sabi Sabi, besides the great accomodations, is that he told me that Sabi Sabi really strives to hire the best possible guides. In his mind, as well as my own, this does not necessarily mean the guide that scores the highest on his written tests, but the guide who will provide the guests with the best experience. Trust me, it is much better to have an enthusiastic guide with a great personality who scores lower on a written test than a guide with a more reserved personality.

If you are planning a visit in 2006, Sabi Sabi does offer a free light air transfer from Johannesburg direct to Sabi Sabi. Also there are nice discounts for a stay of four nights or more at Sabi Sabi.

Here are some videos from Sabi Sabi's website:

As far as Cape Town goes, the Table Bay Hotel is a wonderful choice for a Waterfront hotel. Bot the Table Bay Hotel and the Cape Grace would make excellent choices, while the Twelve Apostles would make a great choice if you wanted a more exclusive area overlooking the Atlantic Ocean about 20 minutes away from the Waterfront.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 05:38 AM
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Thanks Rocco...your response was very you know of a booking site for Table Bay or Cape Grace hotels?
malaysia is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 05:46 AM
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Oh, there are hundreds of sites out there for both companies that offer hotel stays and then for tour operators who will put together everything.

Just as a disclaimer, I must add that I am a tour operator so whatever I wrote about Sabi Sabi/Mala Mala/Table Bay/Cape Grace/Twelve Apostles must be taken with that in consideration.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 06:01 AM
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Please don't look at website pictures to make up your mind.

I have been to Sabi Sabi's Earth lodge and was ready to leave after two nights.The rooms are beautiful,the boma spectacular,excellent food but unfortunately the wildlife experience is below par.Vehicle congestion....hideous!

Bush lodge feels like a camp in Kruger...25 suites excluding their ''presidential'' suite.

The guides I had were average at best.

At Bush lodge my guide(who has been at Sabi Sabi for 15 years)told the guests after our second drive ''well,I've shown you the big five now and the pressure is off''He proceded to pick a beautiful spot for our to the fence at earth lodge!! We all appreciated looking at the traffic on the main access road to Paul Kruger Gate.
I was the only guest to leave a tip,and this was only done because I knew he had a family in a village close the SSGR.

My guide at Earth lodge wasn't much better.He is currently managing the new camp at Sabi Sabi Little bush camp.

Mala Mala is in a class of it's own and if you do a search on this board you will find a wealth of information.

You can do much better than Sabi Sabi...believe me.

<<I am friends with a former manager and guide from Sabi Sabi and the one thing that impresses me about Sabi Sabi>>

Be careful...Reserve judgement until you have actually gone.

I have been to most lodges in the SSGR as you know,and the guides at Sabi Sabi really don't stand out as the best.

safarinut is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 06:15 AM
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Thanks for the feedback. I will do exactly that and reserve judgment until my own visit. With Julian (my business partner) visiting Mala Mala and Singita in a couple months and me visiting Leopard Hills and Earth Lodge later this year, between the two of us, including our prior visits to the Sabi Sand, we will have had the opportunity to get a nice sampling of the Sabi Sand. Of course, not quite the exposure of someone who has a vacation home in Nelspruit!

If you ever want to turn your place into a timeshare, you would probably have quite a few interested parties right here on this board.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 06:22 AM
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Hi! I've never been to Sabi Sabi, so i will decline comment.

However, i hv been to Mala Mala Main camp.......great game particularly leopards, rhinos etc etc., however it feels very hotely.....great guides, good service, decent food....lots of good general game nyala, zebra, impala, wildebeest, giraffes etc etc

There are other options too in the sabi sands.....londolozi, Simbambili, etc etc.,

The only other lodge i hv been to is lionsands. Great lodge, food, staff etc etc., however gameviewing not as good as Mala Mala. We did see quite a few leopards and a female cheetah on all our drives. She was in the area because the lions had moved out....we had a brief sighting of lions when we trespassed onto Sabi Sabi's property. In 3 nights at lionsands we saw a lone buffalo bull (that was in front of the lodge) other buffalo in 3 nights!!!

Apr 8th, 2006, 06:25 AM
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Out of curiosity, when did you last visit Sabi Sabi?

Also, I am sure you have visited Leopard Hills. If so, when did you last visit and what are your thoughts on this lodge?

Roccco is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 06:29 AM
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You have been and I hope to continue to be one of the most respected and helpful posters on this board.

To push Sabi Sabi though,keeping in mind,you have an upcoming ''educational''visit there later this year makes me wonder....

I hope I am wrong.

Continue your good work.
safarinut is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 06:40 AM
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I am trying to be completely open minded, that's all. I will continue to be a consumer advocate, as always.

Roccco is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 06:49 AM
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I can't compare the camps because I've only been to MalaMala. I spent 6 nights there in Sept 2004. Photos here if you are interested

I'll be going back to MalaMala for 5 nights in June of this year and taking my two children (9 & 11). I had a wonderful time there and saw so many leopards, lions, rhino and other game and can't wait to share it with the kids. Gameviewing is my highest priority.

You can find many opinions here about MalaMala from people that have stayed there and people that haven't. I would value the opinion of people that have been there higher. There are many people that go to MalaMala over and over again.

Having said my opinion, I'm sure you will have a great time in either camp!
sundowner is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 09:18 AM
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I've only been to Mala Mala, but I've been 9 times with 2 trips booked for next year. I believe there are a number of people on this board with similar experiences.

The quality of guiding is exceptional, the service is very friendly, food is very good, definitely not of the plated gourmet style, but fresh, tasty and abundant.

The reserve is big enough to be home to 8 prides of Lions and 30 or more Leopard. That means that if cats are scarce in one part of the reserve there is plenty of ground to cover to find some elsewhere.

You should look at the cyberdiary for a look at how serious they are about the responsibility of maintaining their land and in researching the animals who live there.

One of the managers Nils Kure has written a terrific book on Leopard behaviour and there are many other great books about the Leopards who live there. In addition one male Leopard Tjololo was featured on a National Geographic cover and had a film made about him.

You might want to read some trip reports from Southern Africa vacations, someone has started a list, and I'm sure its in the top 150 posts.

Amongst others look for Austkaye, safarinut and myself.

Mala Mala never feels like a big camp because of the way your ranger treats you, you are just never that aware of other people.

Austkaye, who also goes by KayeN was at Mala Mala and Lion Sands in December and saw a lot of Sabi Sabi, you should read her comments.
napamatt is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 10:26 AM
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Here is the link to the South Africa Trip Index
bat is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 11:22 AM
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Hoping you'll hop on to this thread again. Long ago I posted on your report from Botswana, asking if you could detail your daily schedules in your private vehicle at Duba Plains. If you could do that or add any more details about game viewing at Duba, that would be super. Thanks.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 07:20 PM
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Thanks for reminding me about Nils...yes, i met him at MM during my trip in 2004.....a great man, very informative and can talk about any subject.........i did get that leopard book of his at their gift shop.....

I know you hv been to MM many times, how would you compare the game viewing with Londolozi (if u hv been there?)


Apr 9th, 2006, 01:04 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 993
Hi Malaysia,

I am also a long time fan of MalaMala and continue to be one. I have a trip booked for the end of this year when I shall be there for 18 nights. I have not been to Sabi Sabi, and my only comment can be that when I was at Lion Sands last December, I could not believe the traffic and tactics used by the Sabi Sabi vehicles, it was less than professional in my opinion. MalaMala is a larger camp, but I have never felt that as it is quite spread out and now is divided into 2 camps, being Main and Sable. Of course, Rattrays is now also open and is unbelievably beautiful in a very different way to Lion Sands Ivory Lodge which I also love, though to me, the gameviewing does not compare. I would be interested to know how many people each SabiSabi camp takes, and I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers were the same as MalaMala.

I was at Londolozi last December, and I didnt' find the gameviewing quite as good as MalaMala. But I am returning for 10 nights in July, if some of the nights waitlisted come through, so I may be revising my opinion. It really should be so similar, but it was amazing that I saw maybe 10 elephants at Londolozi in December, while at MalaMala, I would have seen 100's, not at once, though one morning we did see a few smaller herds that had joined up as one herd that would have been pretty close to 100.

Kind regards,
KayeN is offline  
Apr 9th, 2006, 05:06 AM
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Ok. Thanks, Kaye........
Apr 9th, 2006, 07:33 AM
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I have not been to Londolozi or any other camp in SSGR. I think I've found the best and so I stick with it. For me the rewards of being a repeat visitor far outweigh the advantages of trying somewhere new in the same eco-system. At MM we know we are going to have a perfect vacation, when we have ventured to other areas, we could not always say the same. Now I am excited to see the same cats and follow their lives in more detail, rather than just seeing a new Leopard, like Kaye I want to know their histories, who they are related to, and what the story of their lives is. For example if you read the story of the West Street Males on the malamala website, you read a tale of great endurance and courage that also brings to life many aspects of Lion society and psychology without being a dusty tome.

Nils is a great guy, with a very dry sense of humor, we often get after each other a little when we are there. He is also one of South Africa's leading experts on Cisticola's.
napamatt is offline  
Apr 9th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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I agree with you for 200%. It will be my first time to Mala Mala in May/June but from what I heard and read till now I could become a repeat visitor too. After being so many times on safari, it's actually strange that this will be my first time.


Apr 9th, 2006, 09:00 PM
Posts: n/a
Thanks Napamatt......yep, i agree with you. I guess, i can relate this to my experiences at Lebala and my continued interest in wanting to see the savute bros that frequent the linyanti/kwando systems......

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