When people mention Royal Malewane, they use the kind of hushed tones often reserved for someone held in high regard.
This is because Royal Malewane seems to have effortlessly created a safari lodge at the pinnacle of taste, within the boundaries of timeless, classic elegance. Simply put, it epitomizes all that is luxurious about safari in its purest form.
Attention to detail and quality are paramount in all things at Royal Malewane, and such is their seamless integration into the daily operation of the lodge, that if you were not as nosy as me, you may not notice some of the finer details like; sleeping on Ralph Lauren linen, eating from monogrammed plates, resting your feet on Persian carpets, and buttering your bread from an antique silver dish where the butter has been etched with RM.
Elton John’s Favourite Safari Lodge
The concept of solitude is redefined at Royal Malewane. Suites are so self-contained that I was tempted to remain cocooned in mine and not re-appear into the real world for a good long time. After all I had my own private mini pool and thatched outdoor gazebo, large bowl of fruit, decanters of liquor and minibar full of drinks and nibbles.
Exclusivity is taken one step further in the extravagantly proportioned and very private Royal Suites or Africa House Villa, which come with a private chef, private game drives and guide/pilot/nanny room. This is where you might find Elton John when he comes to South Africa on safari. His name and others equally as recognizable, scatter the guest book like confetti.
Big Game Country
Royal Malewane is well placed for big game too, as it lies along the western boundary of Kruger National Park in Thornybush Game Reserve. There are no fences separating the reserve and the park, and all the animals (including the Big Five) move freely between the two wilderness areas. I saw them all, which can be attributed to the skills of the ranger and tracker.
Superb Rangers & Trackers
I am so often disappointed with the quality of guiding – not the level of knowledge but the text-book delivery without interaction. Here at Royal Malewane, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. My guide was one of the best I have ever experienced. He had no ego getting in the way, nor a khaki-inspired power trip, nor bland delivery of facts. His was just expert knowledge delivered at peer level, which invited meaningful interaction. It became obvious that Royal Malewane only hires the best and all their guides have at least five years’ experience and are highly qualified. Their Head Guide led the example as an Assessor and Examiner. They even had one of only a couple of Master Tracker’s; Wilson Masiya.
Although Royal Malewane can boast that its rangers and trackers have reached the highest levels of proficiency, it refrains from doing so. They do not need to blow their own trumpet. I suppose I am doing that for them.
My Culinary Experience
A superior food experience is something Royal Malewane prides themselves on, but I can’t attest to this as the kitchen was having an unusually bad day when I was there (several years ago). They’ll be horrified at this, and I’m not one to dish out the dirt lightly, and I do so with great respect but honesty along with the validation of my companion. From the seriously over-spiced iced tea to flawed dishes, I was dumbfounded. I will try and return to report a much happier culinary experience – which I’ll post here.
What I can commend was the inspired pairing of wine with food; the Overgaauw Sylvaner went brilliantly with grilled fish. However, whatever wine you pair with a boerewors braai (traditional South Africa barbequed farm sausage), during the Sunday night boma meal around the fire, never seems quite as appropriate a good ole’ beer drunk out of the bottle! Even in these sophisticated surroundings.
Best Spa in the Bush
The Royal Malewane Spa is out of this world. It provides the improbable in the heart of the African bush: a serene courtyard indented with treatment rooms, sunken stone baths, an unfeasibly long lap-pool and an air of opulent peacefulness that is absolutely magical.
Beautiful therapists wash your feet in a calming ritual that precedes each treatment. The whole atmosphere exudes harmony and luxury reflecting everything about Royal Malewane.
You’re Worth It!
If a romantic African honeymoon is on the cards, then the genteel mood and subtle sophistication of Royal Malewane could make you float around in a daze of happiness and set the scene for a great future.
But don’t get too used to it, unless you have bottomless pockets this kind of class doesn’t come cheap. But you’re worth it!
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Review by Safari Tart Carrie Hampton