March was a mix of rain and some dry spells, almost signaling the end of the rains as the month drew to a close, but then the rains returned in the last week. The dry spells allowed the water-logged roads to dry a little and brought out some animals out of their forest shelters. In Liwonde National Park, with the abundance of water the elephants are drifting deeper into the woods, a few remain to feed on the new juicy grasses at the water’s edge. In Nyika, temperatures are much cooler in the evenings and early morning and the large herds of eland have disipated into much smaller groups as they too wander off in search of greener pastures.
Mvuu Lodge & Camp
Weather & Landscape
Rainy season still on, we had several storms and soft rain over the month, temperatures have been mild to warm. The Chinguni road into Liwonde is still closed, and the Ulongwe road is accessible at times by 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicles. Safest access into the park is by boat from Hippo View Lodge in Liwonde town. All roads for game drives are subject to inspection but some game drives have taken place.
Regular sightings include; hippos, waterbuck, impala, kudu, warthogs, yellow baboon, mongoose, genets and buffaloes. Hippos are particularly active, feeding out of the river through the day as well as at night, with some wondering into the camp. Elephants have wandered through camp on 2 occasions.
Sable antelope and zebra have been seen on a few occasions.
During the month, elephant sightings, both from river and land safaris have been good, despite it being rainy season.
Birds and Birding
Interesting sightings around camp included; Bohm’s bee eater, European bee eater, golden tailed woodpecker, bearded woodpecker, grey and brown headed parrots, Lillian’s lovebirds, Meves’s and greater blue eared starlings, Livingstone’s flycatcher, ashy and grey tit flycatchers, black throated wattle eye, lesser masked and brown throated weavers, collared palm thrush, palm nut vulture, trumpeter, grey and crowned hornbills also the Pels fishing owls. Southern ground hornbills have also been regularly spotted
Resident birds have been boosted by migrant arrivals such as; spotted flycatchers, willow warblers, common swifts, woodland kingfishers, barn swallows, common swifts and a number of cuckoo species, including the spectacular African emerald cuckoo.
The river side continues to be rich with multiple species of kingfishers, herons, egrets, ospreys, palm nut vultures, African skimmers, and lapwings.
Boat trips upstream to Mvera and Lake Mlombe have been a favourite this month. Highlights on this slightly longer boat activity are the chance to see Livingstone’s baobab and have sundowners while experiencing the spectacular sunsets that the area is known for.
“Seeing elephants up close on our game drive. Sunset game drive. THE BOMA! Amazing surprise.” - Taylor, Maggie, Molly and Rhianna
“Land safari was fabulous. The camp is stunning – fantastic location.” - Adrian Montgomery
“David, the guide, is far and away the best I have ever come across including SA, Kenya, Botswana, Namibia and Zim. Clement, the waiter, was superb as were all the staff. Malawi Rocks!!!” - I.J. de Munnik and W.T. de Munnik
Chelinda Lodge & Camp
Weather & Landscape
We have had minimal rain between 1-15 March, with only two showers in recollection. The hills around us are mostly lush and green with patches of copper-coloured bracken which is dying off. We’ve had some wonderful hot mornings or afternoons (never both) with temperatures heading into the low 20’s, otherwise an average of around 19C dropping to 14/15 in the evenings. We had a spectacular lightning storm on 11 March, with lightning running in massive, spreading veins sideways across the sky. On 16 March, guests saw a proper rainbow on their night drive in the light of the moon.
Game viewing has been slightly predictable with similar sightings on almost all of them, including; eland, roan, bush buck, zebras, and eagle owls. The slopes are littered with a great mix of antelope surrounding Chelinda, especially around sunset when they congregate in large mixed herds of up to 80 animals. Leopard sightings have also be quite frequent with at least one sighting each week. There was also serval sighting near the airstrip. Plenty of very young bush buck and zebras around at the moment, always sticking close to their mothers. Roan antelope had to be chased off the airstrip twice for a landing plane, as they are very stubborn and really seem to enjoy it there, as do the zebras.
Birds and Birding
A fairly uncommon sighting of a long-crested eagle at the Camp. Bigger birds, seen mainly around camp, have been black shouldered kite, lappet faced vulture, white stork, augur buzzard, pallid harrier and our constant friend at Dam 1, the giant kingfisher. These birds are constantly being harassed by some of the very large population of pied crows, especially when they come to perch in any of the trees surrounding the camp.
“I enjoyed all the safaris, especially the night safari was great! Though there are less animals than in Tanzania, I enjoyed it better than Tanzania because of the private atmosphere” – Akane Suto 28 Feb – 2 Mar
“Loved it! Wow, one of the most relaxing, unique experiences I ever had.” – Christine Djondo 14 - 16 March
“The place is wonderful! Everything good/excellent. Saw elephant, leopard, eland, owl. You exceeded my expectations – will be back! Thanks for warm hospitality.” – Jaynet Kuyeli – 4 – 6 Feb
Weather & Landscape:
During the month it has been hot and humid with some rain showers at times. It is slowly cooling down and it seems we are coming to the end of the rainy season.
Birds and Birding:
Discovered a helmeted guinea fowl in a nearby bush tending to an egg in its nest. Other birds seen this month include the less common; African golden oriole, Pel’s fishing owl, lilac breasted roller, giant kingfisher, tropical boubou, and African green pigeon. The more common birds sighted included the usual suspects; Malachite kingfisher, spectacled weaver, broad billed weaver, African fish eagle, woodland kingfisher, little bee eater and many more.
There are many swallowtail butterflies around at the moment with their beautiful colours. Also see is a common resident the tree agama
A visiting group was treated to the dancing on the beach by the Bandawe choir to much applause. It was great to see everyone joining in the dancing and showing off their skills.
Children in The Wilderness (CITW) Programme
CITW Reps from various countries recently visited Malawi to discuss and share ideas and also see first-hand some of the work the eco clubs have been doing. Accompanied by CITW Malawi‘s Symon Chibaka, the visitors included; Janet Wilkinson Program Coordinator from CITW South Africa, Mary Hastag Program Coordinator from CITW Botswana, Ketji Program representative from Namibia, and Sue Goatly Program Coordinator for Zambia and Zimbabwe (CITW Zambezi)
Among the various activities during their visit, the team, participated in the handover of the new school blocks at Nanthomba by HELP Malawi, they met various Eco clubs from various clusters in the Liwonde area, in addition they visited the Kindle reading project at Namalomba Secondary School.
The discussions that followed the various visits covered areas such as: how CITW Malawi and the CITW Group could delivers on its operational objectives based on specific areas such as; Eco-Club curriculum development, Lesson plan templates, Evaluation forms (for the month, the school term and annually), monitoring and evaluation, data keeping and administration, other tools related to micro-projects for the clubs and teachers’ capacity building training.
The whole group agreed the visit was a success and something that should be undertaken more regularly to other countries to allow for better cross fertilisation of ideas.
Root to Fruit – Tree Nurseries Update
What began as a simple community development project has blossomed into an innovative and sustainable partnership between Wilderness Safaris Malawi and Southbound Travel Group. Root to Fruit Ltd is a carbon-offset initiative that partners with individuals and companies, primarily in the travel industry, to face the effects of climate change head-on through the planting of trees to neutralize carbon emissions. Under the
expert guidance of Master Banda, retired Forestry Officer, Root to Fruit for the just ended 2013/2014 season worked with over 200 community groups in the Northern Region of Malawi to plant 76,322 trees, all of which will be monitored for survival in the coming year, with a target 70% survival rate. Not only will these trees offset over 3050 tonnes of carbon in their first 2 years of mature growth, but they will also provide communities with much-needed fruits, shade, fuel wood, income-generating activities, improved soil fertility, and decreased erosion. Root to Fruit also provided agricultural and forestry training to schools, churches, families, and clubs, with the hope of encouraging community members to reconnect with the incredible value of Malawi's trees.
Wilderness Safaris P O Box 489, Sanctuary Lodge, Lilongwe, Lilongwe: T + 01 771 393 E firstname.lastname@example.org Blantyre: T + 01 836 960 E Wilderness.email@example.com www.wilderness-safaris.com, www.wildernesstrust.com, www.childreninthewilderness.com