Sometime during 1976, in a rather small village roughly 30kms from MalaMala Game Reserve, Vusi Mpandza entered the world. To use the term 'from humble beginnings' would only describe half of his story as Vusi was also born into an unequal society of suppression and segregation. However, despite the circumstances, he went on to make something of his life. Like cream rises to the top, so did Vusi.
As a ranger in South Africa, you often hear of this mystical place called MalaMala Game Reserve (aka "The Promised Land"). Stories, as we all know, can sometimes sound too good to be true and so I found myself wondering if these unconfirmed reports were fact, or simply fiction, hyped up by the ‘bush telephone’. I decided to find out for myself…
Many of us have joked that if everyone at Rattray’s Camp, barring Shadrack Ndlovu, was taken ill and unable to work then the camp would probably still run smoothly. Obviously this is said in jest. We believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but you get the point… Shadrack is a jack-of-all-trades and he has mastered each one.
You may feel far removed from 'the real world' and you'd be quite right, you are, but in a very good way. You are now in the wild, living with wild animals. You have become part of a pristine and vast ecosystem, breathing in its fresh air. Just being here may make you feel like you've inadvertently booked a massage for the soul. But why stop there?
MalaMala Game Reserve presents the discerning traveller with an option of three very different yet equally special camps; MalaMala Camp, Sable Camp and Rattray’s Camp. The latter is the smallest and offers unrivalled exclusivity and intimacy.
Behind the smiling faces that helpfully engage with guests in Main Camp’s reception area is a frequently used door. Behind said door are several offices and a boardroom, mostly occupied by senior management; it’s the proverbial ‘belly of the beast’.
“What does it take to become a ranger?” A question that’s often asked. Last month we spoke about the initial steps one has to take on the journey to becoming a ranger.
When the phone rang one day in early 2000, Michael had no idea that he was about to get something he’d wanted for a while… a chance to work at MalaMala. He’d spent 15 years as the restaurant manager at the Edward Hotel in Durban before moving to a French restaurant in the same city.
A key part of any bar experience is that welcoming presence behind the counter. At Rattray’s on MalaMala that presence comes in the form of Trevor Lazarus. With smoky-white hair and a wizened demeanor, Trevor oozes experience. His warm smile and infectious laugh make him easy to like.