Danforth Lodge stands in a beautiful spot at Cape Maclear, which is lined by lovely beaches. Inside, eight beautifully designed rooms with a nautical theme face the swimming pool and the beach beyond. Each has private en-suite facilities, fans, air conditioning and mosquito nets, and comes with high-quality furnishings. There is a central dining area and bar, although (weather permitting) guests usually dine under the stars. The PADI watersports centre here has good diving equipment, plus Hobie Cats, waterskiing and kayaks; the area’s diving is excellent.
Additionally there is their large, ocean-going catamaran, Mufasa, which can be booked for anything from a short sundowner cruise to a live-aboard yacht charter right across the lake. This stunning 38-foot yacht is fully rated for ocean conditions and can be used under sail or as a motor-cruiser.
LIWONDE NATIONAL PARK
Malawi doesn’t have the huge reserves that you’ll find elsewhere in Africa, but if you feel like a couple of days of gentle game viewing close to the lake, then Liwonde is ideal. It’s a very lush park, totally tropical in atmosphere and reminiscent of the setting for Bogart and Hepburn’s African Queen.
At its heart is the palm-lined Shire River, whose banks are home to numerous hippos and crocodiles, whilst the adjacent plains and forests harbour elephant, waterbuck, bushbuck, impala and beautiful sable antelope. The rich birdlife includes species from both East and Southern Africa – Boehm’s bee-eater, the palmnut vulture, Pel’s fishing owl and Livingstone’s flycatcher. So while Liwonde isn’t the biggest or most spectacular safari park in Africa, it has a winning ambience and first- class birdwatching.
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge is perfect for exploring this park on 4WD safaris day and night, guided walking safaris and wonderful river trips by motorboat. Mvuu Lodge has eight luxury tents with en-suite bathrooms and private decks overlooking the lagoon. The central dining, bar and lounge area is raised above the lagoon offering a great spot for game viewing whilst you enjoy your meal. There’s also a welcome swimming pool for cooling off in the heat of the day.
Nearby, the larger family-friendly Mvuu Camp caters to more budget-conscious
travellers. It has seven en-suite twin chalets and five en-suite family units, each with two bedrooms. Its thatched lounge and dining area share the same lovely views up the Shire River as the lodge, and its safari activities are similar, too.
Overlooking Liwonde and the Shire River Valley, Zomba Plateau is Malawi’s oldest forest reserve. Here, waterfalls, trout dams and walking trails are interlaced with pine and indigenous montane forests.
Perched on the edge of the plateau, Sunbird Ku Chawe is a super mountain retreat, with friendly service. Commanding panoramic views of the valley below, it makes a perfect base for gentle hiking in search of birds, wild orchids and the occasional antelope. Lepidopterists will already know that Zomba is renowned for its butterflies.
MAJETE WILDLIFE RESERVE
In southern Malawi, Majete Wildlife Reserve was designated in 1955, but has only been intensively protected and restocked since 2003; it now covers about 700km² of rugged bush in the Lower Shire Valley. We first visited in 2011, and feel that it’s the most interesting wildlife reserve in Malawi.
The park’s eastern boundary follows the Shire River, which drains Lake Malawi into the Zambezi. In Majete this tumbles over a series of rocky rapids; it’s amazing to see hippos and crocodiles in such fast-flowing water! On land, there are good numbers of nyala, bushbuck, zebra, kudu, waterbuck, eland and warthog, and countless impala and baboon, as well as elephant and buffalo; we also saw clear evidence of black rhino. Leopard were reintroduced here in 2011 and lion followed in 2012. Fortunately, tsetse flies are notably absent from the park!
Owned by Robin Pope Safaris (see page 144), Mkulumadzi is a small, smart lodge with eight solid en-suite chalets, most with ‘green’ vegetated roofs. Six have one bedroom, each with a king-size bed at the centre – kept cool by an innovative air- conditioning system inside its walk-in mosquito net – and a view out over a wrap- around veranda to the tumbling water below. Two of the chalets have two bedrooms, and are designed for families.
There’s a magnificent central lounge/dining area and a small swimming pool. Activities are flexible, and guided to high standards, with game drives (day and night) and walking safaris, as well as boating on both the river and a lake above lovely Kapichira Falls. All in all, Mkulumadzi is a class act: spacious and well built.
Study the options: thousands of lodge pictures and videos at www.expertafrica.com
A playful hippo in Liwonde National Park
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