Central African Wilderness Safaris, one of Malawi’s long standing tour operators who also run the iconic Mvuu Lodge in Liwonde National Park and four other properties in Malawi, have released their latest newsletter. Read on to hear everything they’ve been up to in September, written in their own words.
As September gives way to October, the park now fast drying up, we witness the transition of the seasons.. and the changes that this brings. The coming weeks, until the onset of the rains, offer exceptional game viewing. As the last waterholes in the interior disappear, the wildlife moves increasingly to the riverine floodplains, and we are reminded that the Shire River truly is the lifeblood of the Park – and what better way to understand this unique and vibrant ecosystem than taking a three day walk along its banks!
We are walking again! The first Shire River Trail took place in 2019, and since then has become a popular activity. This is a 2 night/-3 day adventure on foot, through wide, open floodplains, mixed mopane thicket and along the fever trees set about the Shire River. This trail is all about feeling and understanding how the River and the Park connect, how the wildlife rely upon and use this intricate ecosystem – and getting back to nature… it’s basic, comfortable, authentic and possibly one of the best experiences out there in the safari world.
Day 1 – we set out walking with a lead trails guide and an armed scout from Mvuu Camp to a beautiful camp beside the river in a mature grove of fever trees. With close up encounters on foot, particularly of the park’s elephants, there are few experiences more humbling than walking with giants. This is a walk of approximately 9 kilometres. Be prepared for incredible sightings, stories from our professional guides and extraordinary photographic opportunities. We aim to arrive at camp in time for a late lunch. A game drive or boat safari after dark is available, followed by dinner around a cosy fire.
Day 2 – the trail will take you inlands towards the Mwalasi river , where the terrain is quite different. This walk is estimated at around 11 kilometres and is on flat terrain. Passing through mopane woodland, for which the park is famous, from the expansive floodplains of the Shire, sightings of warthog, elephant and buffalo, as well as large herds of impala, waterbuck and kudu can be expected. The first few kilometres covered on this day will be right along the river bank, where wonderful sightings of bird life, pods of hippos and crocodiles. A vehicle will be positioned for the drive back to camp. Camp life is fun, meals are delicious and cooked on site and the Bush showers and ‘long drop’ eco loos are all part of this truly unique experience.
Today’s remaining protected wilderness areas offer landscapes in which the objectives of wildlife conservation and alternative livelihoods can be married together, through tourism, to produce sustainable forms of development and environmental protection. Because of your ongoing support, after 35 years in Malawi we truly believe we are continuing to make an impact on rural livelihoods through our ecotourism operation for the better. Thank you to our entire team – from housekeeping, mechanics, smallholder farmers, safari guides – for keeping this a well-oiled machine that we are proud to share with visitors from all over the world!
We have so many stories we could tell about the ways in which tourism has changed peoples lives for the better; Chifundo and Emmanual graduated from our Children in the Wilderness Programme in the early 2000s and are now both brilliant guides at Mvuu whos’ passions for the wilderness and Malawi are strongly felt by their guests ; Danger, through the generous support of his safari guests, runs the Mtendere Feeding Centre which provides young children with nutritious meals and a good, stable primary school education; during her time as a beloved member of the Mvuu team, we purchased Elizabeth’s pumpkins from her farm across the river. It’s always worth asking your guide about their story – and to find out for yourself the ways in which Malawi’s tourism sector has provided alternative livelihoods, nurtured new passions and supported families.
We have had an exciting month getting to know our newest lion cubs – they have taken great interest in our safari vehicles, proving for some very exciting close-up encounters! We have also managed to spot lion on multiple kills on the Mwalasi floodplain – pictured below! Particularly exciting on the lion front this past month have been tracks found right outside of Lodge Tent 1 – Mvuu seems to attract all the exciting game!
While elephants particularly enjoy the riverine grass as the park dries out, Mvuu Lodge now seems to have a resident herd that frequents the car park and dining area most days. Leaving the lodge isn’t even a necessity for a proper wildlife experience! Our resident pels fishing owl has been spotted on multiple occasions, black rhino have treated us and our porcupine count continues to rise. Our birders this month have noted sightings of African Cuckoo Hawk, Bar-tailed godwit, Swallow-tailed bee-eaters and Senegalese lapwing.
Memories are made at Mvuu – a trip down memory lane for some guests this past month revealed that this was a special visit for them. Anna writes:
“Mvuu Camp holds many dear memories to us, and how lovely to revisit this park and your beautiful camp with grown up children. One of our daughters now wears a dress I was wearing when a picture of me was taken on the steps to the restaurant. We have made an identical picture of our now 25 year old daughter. And I have chosen Mvuu to celebrate my 60th birthday – couldn’t imagine a nicer place!”
What fun to recreate that moment in time and what a tribute to Malawian tailors!
In the 1980s, Malawi’s last recorded black rhino population disappeared from the Mwabvi Game Reserve in the Lower Shire Valley. In 1994, J&B’s Care for the Rare programme sponsored the translocation of two black rhino, affectionately known as Justerini & Brooks, from South Africa’s Kruger National Park to Liwonde National Park. A small sanctuary of just 40km2 was constructed, and thanks to efforts from a host of researchers, private funders and NGOs, Liwonde’s black rhino population was maintained. Thanks to the work of African Parks, the entire park has now, essentially, become their sanctuary. We are privileged to share this corner of the world with these magnificent creatures, and to share them with our guests!
Find out more about Central African Wilderness Safaris on their dedicated page here. You can also find out more about their properties using these links: Mvuu Lodge, Mvuu Camp, Heuglin’s Lodge, Chelinda Lodge & Chelinda Camp.
Many in Malawi’s tourist industry have introduced new initiatives and pushed on with a variety of developments through 2022 & continuing in to 2023. In this second article, we focus on some of the lodges and hotels.
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