May’s cool weather is the precursor to the coming cold days of winter. Nyika National park is already experiencing cold foggy mornings and evenings with cool days. The landscape is also changing as the dry and cold weather starts to take effect. The lush green vegetation will soon be replaces with dry golden brown colours. In most areas day time temperatures have been pleasantly warm, but evenings have required a sweater if not something thicker to keep warm. Game viewing, whilst generally good, has also been influenced by the change in weather as animals look for warmer and less exposed areas, especially on the Nyika plateau.
Mvuu Lodge & Camp
Weather & Landscape
As winter sets in, we are experiencing cool to cold mornings and evenings but warm temperatures during the day. In the early mornings there is usually beautiful morning mist over the river giving it a lovely eerie look and feel. Temperatures are mild and very pleasant at this time of year. The vegetation whilst still predominantly green and lush, are showing visible signs of drying up on the landscape.
Game viewing continues to be good with regular sightings that include; hippo, waterbuck, impala, kudu, warthog, genets, bushbuck, and various mongoose species. Elephant sightings have also been quite good and they are frequenting the camp at night more regularly. Highlight sightings this month have included; sable and roan antelope, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and buffalo in the sanctuary.
An African rock python was also spotted close to the lodge, much to the delight of some guests. Night drive sightings have also been good and have included; civet, hyena, and serval.
Topping the month’s highlight sightings list was a rare sighting of the shy aardvark on a night drive.
Birds and Birding
Birding continues to be good in Liwonde National Park with plenty to see, sightings for the month have included; Bohm’s bee eaters, little bee eaters, white helmet shrike, Scops owl, spotted eagle owl, giant eagle owl, Lillian’s lovebirds, fan-tailed, ashy and, paradise flycatchers, pied and malachite kingfishers, Jacobin cuckoo, red billed wood hoopoe, Osprey.
Some special bird highlights for May included; a pair of Pel’s fishing owls spotted near the lodge lagoon, four white backed vultures seen in the sanctuary and a black collared barbet was spotted during a game drive.
The rhino tracking experience is operational again. There were three tracking experiences with guests this month resulting in fantastic sightings for all three, despite the bush still being relatively dense.
With the rainy season over, guests have been able to enjoy more special activities, such as bush dinners under the stars, bush breakfasts, boat breakfasts on the river and the odd champagne sundowners.
“The rhino tracking experience was excellent! So many elephants!! Your staff were excellent! Very well trained. Very polite!” B. Williams
“Mvuu was everything it promised to be, from an elephant outside my tent to incredible staff, wonderful food and outstanding service. All this, in addition to the game drives… fantastic. Thank you Nick and Team!!!”
P & B. Watson
“Elephants in the water, hippos out of water, dinner in the wild with a proper toilet!! Really amazing. Thank you so much.” J & S Tobin
Chelinda Lodge & Camp
Weather & Landscape
The weather has been sunny and cool most of the month, with early morning fog. There were a few rain showers, but winter is certainly here and the morning and evenings are cold with temperatures below 10’C. The landscape is now a golden brown with the odd green patches here and there. The sunsets and sunrises from the lodge and other vantage points can be stunning with an array of colours and brilliant shades over the rolling hills.
The eland and roan antelope are still seen in small groups, with some of the females coming back with calves in tow. With the cold weather most are keeping to the warmer low lying areas. Zebra sightings are common and are usually in large groups, they too have young in their herds. There have been some very good leopard sightings this month and a few at kills and as a result vultures have also been present in larger numbers.
Birds and Birding
Bird sightings at the moment are limited to resident species and with the cold weather most of them prefer to stay in the warmer indigenous forests. At the leopard kills there have been good sightings of a variety of vultures including; lappet faced and white backed vultures. Migrants are all but gone and expect to see these back in Nyika around October. The occasional vagrants, mostly dicks and egrets have been spotted occasionally during game drives.
“Fantastic surprise lunch at Chosi viewpoint. Warm welcome and great hospitality throughout from Richard, Lauren and all the Wilderness staff. “ J. Codrington
“Thank you for a wonderful stay. Lovely coming home to my native country and finding it as welcoming as ever” B.Phillips
Weather & Landscape:
It was warm and humid at the beginning of the month but getting cooler as winter sets in. Chintheche has been experiencing some strong winds and big waves on the Lake Malawi. The landscape around us is still lush and green, but there are signs of the cold dry weather on its way with brown grass in some areas.
Whilst not a hive of activity where animals are concerned, there has been increasing number of vervet monkeys around Chintheche Inn having previously left after the mango season. Smaller animals are also seen including scrub hares, water monitor lizards, geckos, and squirrels.
Birds and Birding:
Birding is always good at Chintheche, and May produced a variety of sightings including; Southern ground hornbill, bronze manikin, black crake, Scops owl, purple crusted turaco, brown hooded kingfisher, namaqua dove, pin- tailed whydah, Africa fish eagle, cattle egret.
“Wonderful time, wonderful place, wonderful people, just loved the chance to get a better insight into the Malawian life.” Lucy
“Loved the bike ride with Wesley and loved the Sunday English Church service with DK, what a treat, loved it all.” Kathy
Children in The Wilderness (CITW) Programme
With support from the German Embassy in Malawi, the Children in The Wilderness Tree planting project around Liwonde National Park area has got off to a flying start. What started off as a small project at Nanthomba secondary school has grown to include an additional 3 schools and some 240 students.
The tree planting shed is now complete covering a 280m2 area, with a target to plant 60,000 seedlings by September 2014. These saplings when ready will then be distributed and transplanted in various areas in Liwonde. The seedlings will include a variety of trees for different purposes, including indigenous, fruit and exotic trees.
Root to Fruit
With last season’s seedlings securely planted in their new homes, the Root to Fruit team underwent a two-day training session to prepare for the implementation of new inventory system for all of our planted trees. The database will create a specific identification number for every unit of trees that has been allocated to a Root to Fruit partner or that will be allocated in future, allowing the keeping of accurate records of tree survival rates. 2014 season preparations are well under way and we expect equally good results.
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