Mala Mala trip report


Jun 17th, 2008, 08:36 PM
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Mala Mala trip report

Mala Mala trip report, April 2008

After an amazing safari with 8 customers in Botswana, I flew back to Joburg for an overnight and a hot bath. The flight from JNB is one of the easiest I can imagine, as South African Airways has their Airlink service directly to the Mala Mala property. If I remember correctly, the flight is about 1 hour.

On arrival, the friendly folks from Mala Mala greeted us, sorted our bags and transported us to the lodge. Nils Kure, the Mala Mala Main Lodge manager, immediately realized that we were two very keen photographers who were ready to see what Mala Mala was all about. As you might know, Nils is an accomplished photographer himself, and has a wonderful photo book on the leopards of Mala Mala, now out of print.

After checking into our rooms, I was surprised to have air conditioning! I have spent many moons in mid level to luxury level tents all throughout Africa, and typically do not have the comfort of A/C when it is needed: the middle of a hot day. I have to admit that I didnít spend much time in my room, as I was out on game drives, eating or working on returning countless emails on my laptop computer. Sad, but true. Even though staying in great places, taking photographs and eating great meals is what I love to do, it is still a day at the office. A good office, but my office nonetheless.

Our first game drive that afternoon had us leaving 30 minutes before the other vehicles, so we could try to take advantage of some of the leopard sightings from the morning from other rangers. Rangers you say? Yes, at Mala Mala guides are referred to as rangers. This is difficult for me to say, since I am so used to referring to my hosts as guides and not rangers. Anyway, we spent the afternoon (2.5 hours) with the bicycle crossing male leopard, and I was blown away at the quality of images and experiences I was able to rack up in only one afternoon. In all of my safaris, and there are many, this was the best single leopard sighting of all time. Truly amazing.

The next 3 days were filled with wonderful sightings, wonderful dining, late nights at the bar, early mornings in the vehicle, a great ranger, a private vehicle, dining with the Rattrayís in the boma, and many gigs of images to sort through. I look forward to returning in 2010! Mala Mala isnít the wild type experience that I long for, but the quality of wildlife is undeniable. The photo opportunities are first rate, and the number and quality of species is spectacular. The accommodations are very comfortable, but not over the top.
andybiggs is offline  
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Jun 17th, 2008, 09:15 PM
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Many thanks for your report on MM. Agree, the short SAA flight from JNB to MM is great. (As well as to other Sabi Sand and Timbavati Reserve camps). Fly into JNB, stay overnight at Southern Sun Hotel, next mid-morning fly out to camp, have lunch and get ready for afternoon game drive.

I have also enjoyed dinner meals with Nils at our table. He has been at MM forever, a fascinating most amiable chap, with many many MM stories.

If MM is anything, it is leopards - as proven by several National Geographic films made there. Most of the rangers are also good photographers so they understand when asked to reposition a vehicle for lighting/photos. Occasionally here someone will ask about what camera lens for MM or Sabi Sand camps. I know they don't believe me when I say 200mm is long enough. The MM rangers know MM wildlife and can come remarkably close most of the time.

Thanks again. And congrats on soon-to-be second little one.

regards - tom

cary999 is offline  
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Jun 18th, 2008, 02:54 AM
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Sounds like you had an awesome time andy!

How beautiful is that Bicycle Crossing Male!! He has a territory that covers 4 farms in Sabi Sands!( Sparta - Londolozi, Mala Mala, Flockfield and Charleston) Amazing.

I just love Nils' humour! Sooo dry! Hiliarius!

Thanks for the report.

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Jun 18th, 2008, 03:55 AM
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Thanks! Here is a quick link to a photo I took of the bicycle crossing male on the first day, as he walked past the vehicle. He stared right through me, which was an exciting event.

and here is another, except I need to consult my notes on which guy this one is:

and here is a shot of two lion cubs in the grass, taken on the banks of the Sand River, up by Rattray's:
andybiggs is offline  
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Jun 18th, 2008, 05:17 AM
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Nice black and white photos. You emphasized the ease of access to get to MM and the ease of engaging in some of that 4-letter word nonsense while on safari if needed: work.

Glad the sightings were abundant. Thanks for the comments.

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Jun 18th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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yeah, work is work, even though it is enjoyable. I pride myself on being available to all of my past, current and future travelers. Email is just one of those avenues.
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