Hotel Mala Mala Sable Camp Hotel 0 star
PAUL KRUGER GATE ROAD SABI SAND 1351 Sabi Sabi South Africa Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Amy Adejokun Section editor

Sable Camp is the little sister of Mala Mala Buffalo Camp. In fact it occupies the same terrain as its older sibling and shares the same team of staff and menu with it too. While the rooms here are also the same as those as Buffalo, the camp does have its own facilities including a swimming pool, dining room, bar, library and wine cellar. Very much in the same spirit as Buffalo, that's to say old school where game viewing comes before all else, the camp is however more intimate and more geared towards couples, although children over 12 are welcome. To be honest, there is not a huge difference between the two, so unless you have your heart set on this camp within a camp, there is no reason to decide between them.

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  • Well located
  • Rest
  • Nature
  • Flight
    • Hotel Mala Mala Sable Camp

      Mala Mala Sable Camp   -   © Briag Courteaux_EasyVoyage

    • Hotel Mala Mala Sable Camp

      Mala Mala Sable Camp   -   © Briag Courteaux_EasyVoyage

       
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    Location 7.67 /10

    The 33,000 acre reserve (the largest in South Africa) is located in the east of the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve which shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park (19 miles of that border is in common with Mala Mala). Getting to the camp is easy and there are several options available to guests. Federal Air provides direct flights from O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg to the Mala Mala air strip three times per day which is followed by a short transfer to the lodge. Alternatively you can fly from Jo'burg or Cape Town to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) from where you can charter a plane to take you directly to Mala Mala. If you are coming by road, allow around six hours from Jo'burg, 10 hours from Durban, two hours from KMIA and one and a half hours from Hazyview. You should enter via the Paul Kruger gate.

    Accommodation

    There is a total of 7 luxury suites at Sable Camp, including the double bedroom Lion's Den. Constructed using terracotta cinder blocks making them resemble termite mounds with their conical shaped thatched roofs, the rooms are perhaps not the most aesthetically pleasing from the outside, but are generously proportioned and comfortable. The décor is heavily influenced by the bush and the colours found there within, which, while not being to everyone's taste, will certainly get you in the mood for some serious game viewing. The double beds are dressed using matching cushions, plaids and bed skirts and have headboards in the same upholstery, namely some type of animal skin print. The walls are decorated with both tapestries and bush watercolour scenes while there is also some greenery in the room. To one side of the room is a desk with both a telephone and old school desk lamp and at the foot of the bed is a large seating area with armchairs and foot rests where you can look out of the picture windows to the bushveld. Additional seating areas are built into the walls in the form of cosy little alcoves which are great to curl up in. In terms of amenities in the room, you'll find everything you need: two telephones, a safe, bathrobes, anti-mosquito products, hairdryer, umbrella and a minibar (which is empty on arrival and is only later filled with what you require). The bathrooms, of which there are two (his and hers) are quite simple but functional and in good shape. One has a bathtub while the other has a shower cubicle although they both have make-up mirrors and a few toiletries. There is a modest sized terrace outside of the bedroom which has some simple sun loungers and footrests along with a table and parasol. Sadly there is no view of the watering hole from any of the rooms.

    Overview

    Despite not being the cuddly of camps you are nonetheless welcomed warmly at Mala Mala, the staff offering a refreshing beverage and face towel upon arrival at the camp's entrance where there is a small body of water and some warthog statues in a rather tranquil setting at the centre of the forecourt. As well as a curio shop and the reception is the rangers' lodge where you can find all sorts of information about game viewing and the big cats within the reserve. This entrance is actually shared between Buffalo and Sable camps and in order to get to the latter you need to walk through the former which in part kills the idea of Sable being a more intimate camp. The main building resembles slightly a private home with warmly decorated hallways featuring sidetables, plants, lamps, locally made rugs and framed tapestries on the wall. The lounge area is a cacophony of bush memorabilia with animal print furniture, carvings, handicrafts, old rifles and watercolour paintings as well as a working fireplace. For those who wish to keep an eye on what's going on back in the 'real world' there is a television and PC for guests to surf the internet. Similarly to Buffalo, the décor is of a particular taste and looks quite dated, but works well in the context of the type of guest the lodge attracts. Out front of the lounge is the deck which has a great view of the bush and where one can relax between game drives with a drink or a book. Another place you can wind down is by the communal pool, solely for Sable guests' use. Situated just below the deck and boasting the same great bushveld views, it is surrounded by sun loungers and parasols and there is a hut under which you can escape from the sun during especially warm days. While there are no wellness or fitness facilities at the camp, guests are free to use the gym over at Buffalo Camp.

    The camp as a whole is in a good condition and you'll find the staff to be friendly and efficient. It's true to say that while you are within the confines of the part of the camp that is labelled Sable you'll feel a world away from Buffalo however knowing that there is another camp right next door goes someway to spoiling the illusion.

    Food and drink

    Although of a good standard, it is clear that meals are of secondary importance at Mala Mala. Many of the meals during your stay will be accompanied by your ranger although of course if you wish to have some privacy or dine in another location to that where the rest of the guests are doing so this is possible with prior arrangement. Breakfast is usually served at the lodge, either on the deck which overlooks the Sabie River and whose view stretches far out into the bush or in the dining room which is a simple affair with little decoration (although a few carvings and paintings have been hung from the walls to give some sort of character to proceedings). From time to time the morning meal is served in the bush, however unless you are staying for an especially long time, you are not guaranteed to experience this. Lunch is also served back at the lodge in the form of a buffet which is installed in the dining room although guests are free to sit wherever they like, inside or out. In the evenings, dinner can be served again on the deck or in the traditional boma, fire blazing and lanterns lit. Here, some of the courses will be served at your table while others can be fetched at a buffet. The atmosphere is pleasant and the food tasty, even more so seeing as it is served relatively late (at 9pm so as to give guests the maximum possible time on their game drives). As well as the main meals, you'll receive a pre-game drive snack in the morning as well as coffee and cake during the of the day's drives.

    To know

    The history of Mala Mala stretches back over a century. After Sabi Sands was established in 1902, the Transvaal Consolidated Land and Exploration Company bought the Mala Mala land two decades later before selling it to the legendary William Campbell in the late 20s. It was bought by its current owner, Michael Rattray in 1964 and has since become a world-renowned reserve with excellent viewing and world-class photographic opportunities. In addition to the Mala Mala camp, Rattray also has another eponymously-named camp in Sabi Sands as well as the water conservancy Mount Anderson Ranch and the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. The group helps the communities surrounding the reserve not only by employing many locals but also by supporting their populations with self-help schemes and out-sourcing services such as construction, brick-making and road maintenance to them. Note that there is accommodation at the camp suitable for those guests who are confined to a wheelchair.

    Equipment

    • Handicap access
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Swimming pool

    advantage

    • Staff/service
    • Room size
    • Intimacy
    • No under 12s
    • History/expertise
    • Game viewing a priority
    • Huge traversing area

    disadvantages

    • No view of watering hole from room
    • No under 12s
    • Late dinners
    • No trackers
    • No female rangers

    Traveller Reviews

    • Overall Score nc/10
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