Herds of elephants fill Nkhotakota; cheetahs balance atop termite mounds while lions roar within Liwonde; and every “Big Five” animal roams throughout Majete. This is Malawi.
Malawi is known as the “Warm Heart of Africa” because of the kindness of its people. But more recently, this small and beautiful country is also being recognized as an emerging wildlife destination and one of the best-kept secrets in Africa.
CNN Travel recently called it “the place to be if you want to enjoy a natural paradise without everybody else.”
Since 2003, through a partnership with the Malawian Government and African Parks (who manages four parks in the country), Malawi has seen a resurgence of wildlife. Together with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, African Parks have transformed these landscapes through deploying effective ranger units, delivering community benefits, and reintroducing a host of species – including elephants, rhinos, lions, cheetahs, giraffes and many others, to help repopulate these landscapes.
Tourism is a wonderful way to generate revenue for the parks and for surrounding communities, while also creating jobs, and supporting a local conservation-led economy.
A visit to Malawi is certainly worth a visit to one or all of these four parks, whether you’re already within Malawi or on your next trip on the continent.
Majete Wildlife Reserve
Just 16 years ago, Majete was an empty forest with nothing but a few remaining antelope, only 12 employees and zero tourists. Today, after African Parks reintroduced more than 2,900 animals of 15 species, employment is up 10-fold with more than 160 full-time employees, and over 11,000 tourists (50% of whom are nationals) who contributed $500,000 back to the park through tourism revenue last year. Majete has become Malawi’s premier wildlife destination with several lodging options ranging from a budget community campsite, to the picturesque Sunbird run Thawale Tented Lodge to the stunning Robin Pope Mkulumadzi Lodge situated on the falls of the Shire River.
Liwonde National Park & Mangochi Forest Reserve
Liwonde National Park is a quiet, serene, protected space for African wildlife, which is contiguous with Mangochi Forest Reserve. Visitors can drift peacefully down the Shire River as elephants, hippos, and crocodiles glide into view. Iconic predators like lions and cheetah – after having been absent for decades – now roam the plains. Prior to 2015, Liwonde had more wire snares within the park than large mammals. Today, after just four short years, the park has been transformed. Poaching has practically been eliminated; we have drastically reduced human-wildlife conflict, and the park is now a safe harbour for elephants, rhinos, and recently reintroduced lions and cheetahs.
Visitors have the option of staying at the new and rustically charming Robin Pope Kuthengo Camp, made up of four spacious safari tents nestled among fever trees and baobabs; or the Central African Wilderness Safaris Mvuu Camp and Lodge, with extraordinary viewing opportunities of wildlife on the floodplains.
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
A vast network of rivers weaves their way through the wooded hills and dense forests of this recovering sanctuary. Prior to 2015, most of the wildlife in Nkhotakota had been hunted out, but together with the Malawian Government, we completed one of the world’s largest wildlife translocations which included moving 500 elephants and two thousand other animals to help repopulate Nkhotakota and jumpstart the local economy. Today, the reserve has become the premier elephant sanctuary within the country. Visitors can choose between the award winning, high-end Tongole Lodge with breath-taking views of the reserve, or the charming Bua River Lodge in the miombo woodland – both are situated along the Bua River.