We’ve just finished a fascinating ‘familiarisation’ safari to Malawi and Zambia. I’ve always been slightly ambivalent about Malawi – a combination of not as many animals as some of the classic safari destinations and possibly those old stories of travellers having to have a haircut on arrival at the border – I’m showing my age!
Anyway, on arrival ( and no haircuts!) our first stop was Majete Wildlife Reserve, which has been systematically restocked with game and run successfully by African Parks, a non-profit conservation organisation. They’ve stopped poaching and turned Majete into a ‘Big 5’ safari destination with a lovely camp Mkulumadzi, run by Robin Pope Safaris.
It’s true it has a different feel to some of the wilder areas of Botswana or Tanzania, but the delightful camp and the chance to enjoy game drives and boat trips on the Shire Shire River, with great views of hippos and crocs, as well as great kudu and terrific bird-life made it a lovely start.
We visited tea plantations and mountains, took a game walk in Liwonde National Park where we saw 3 cheetah and great elephant viewing from boats, before snorkelling in Lake Malawi – as close to snorkelling in a giant aquarium as you can get – colourful tropical fish abound and my first viewing of mouth-brooding in operation!
And finally to Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, close enough to drive from Malawi and a great way to finish or start! Luangwa has a terrific reputation for game viewing and after elephant and giraffe, hippo and crocs, kudu and puku, we were treated to an epic hour at sunset where lion and wild dog showed themselves with the star being one of Luangwa’s famous leopards:
So would we recommend Malawi and Zambia – absolutely! The people are truly lovely and the infrastructures are improving as is the game. Our view is that if you’re looking for a different safari to East or Southern Africa, with less emphasis on game and more on the conservation angle and the people, and of course the gorgeous Lake Malawi, it certainly works! It’s also definitely cheaper than some other safari destinations and that helps!