MalaMala Game Reserve is the Safari Industry’s blueprint to the luxury photographic safari. In existence since 1927, this massive thriving tract of land produces the most exciting wildlife experience this side of the equator. MalaMala Game Reserve is the largest private Big Five game reserve in South Africa. Comprising 13 300 ha (33 000 acres), MalaMala shares a 19 km (12 mile) unfenced border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park, and lies strategically sandwiched between the National Park and the Sabi Sand Reserve.
For nearly nine decades, the custodians of this land have remained focused to preserve and protect this special piece of Africa. Allowing nature to move to its innate rhythm, guests experience today what the forefathers of the African Safari would have experienced at the turn of the century. This philosophy has paid off, as experienced by a veritable collection of photojournalists and film-makers who have made MalaMala their destination of choice to capture footage of wildlife viewing that would rival any Hollywood production for thrilling and breathtaking animal encounters.
MalaMala Game Reserve is the first commercial private game reserve in South Africa and is the model on which all other private game reserves now operate.
- A map of the reserve demonstrates the significance of MalaMala’s location in relationship to the Kruger National Park. The unfenced eastern boundary with the Kruger National Park allows wildlife to move freely onto MalaMala and many of the territorial animals such as leopard, lion and rhino will have a territory overlapping a portion of both reserves.
- MalaMala’s river frontage running north to south is the lifeblood of the reserve, especially in the dry winter months. It is also an important boundary between the areas of human habitation on the western bank of the river and the pristine wilderness area of MalaMala on the eastern side between the river and the Kruger National Park.
- When animals move it is often due to water. Wildlife moves from the 4 million acres east of the Sand River, through MalaMala to the river and back again resulting in two way traffic across the reserve where we conduct our safaris. The land of the Eastern side has no access roads, electricity pylons, telephone poles and cables etc. There is no human habitation between the Sand River and the Kruger National park boundary so for approximately 16 hours a day, this area is left to the wildlife.
- MalaMala is the oldest and largest private game reserve in the area. Due to the superior environmental policies of MalaMala over a long period of time, the land has remained fairly undisturbed resulting in prolific abundance of tertiary grasses. This attracts the herbivores which in turn attracts the predators.
- When grass and ground is disturbed the resultant grass species to first grow up are known as pioneering species. Due to these grasses having to grow in tough areas they tend to be bitter to taste and not very palatable. If left undisturbed several grass species will grow in that area until the tertiary species finally grow through. Animals enjoy this sweet grass the best and will therefore stay in an area which has the most tertiary species of grasses.
- There is no time limit on sightings which is an ideal scenario for photographers – no ‘queue to view’ as this enormous tract of land has a low density of vehicles traversing the area.
Rangers and game viewing rules:
- MalaMala has over 50 years of game viewing experience. We were the first to transition from the hunting safari to the photographic safari. This not only gives us many generations of animals accustomed to the game drive vehicles, but also superior knowledge on how to run sightings while maintaining the utmost respect for the animals.
- Our rangers are expertly trained. Each ranger undergoes an extensive 3 month training course, possess the required FGASA as well as rifle training. Most of the rangers studied the natural sciences at university and as such we have specialists in different scientific fields. i.e. Ornithology, Entomology, Zoology.
- The strictest protocols are followed when viewing animals to make sure that they are relaxed and that the environment is protected.
- Our Rangers use headsets so that there is no radio interruptions to disrupt the game drive.
- We have a maximum of 3 vehicles per sighting.
- The rangers move in predictable patterns when viewing animals and thus the animals are relaxed and behave naturally.
- With both no time limit on sightings and the animals being unperturbed by the vehicles presence, the animals are free to interact with each other and other animals, which essentially is what good game viewing is all about.