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On Nyika's rolling plateau: perfect country for hiking

Pearl-spotted owl in acacia

164 | MALAWI

for a few hours when travelling between Lilongwe and the lake. However, Mua Mission does have ten basic, en-suite rooms here, in five semi-detached rondavels.

NKHOTAKOTA WILDLIFE RESERVE

NYIKA PLATEAU

In the far north of Malawi, at an altitude of around 2,500m, Nyika is a rolling plateau dotted with stunning mountain outcrops. The Nyika National Park protects 3,000km² of undulating montane grasslands, rich in endemic herbs and heathers. Here you’ll find native delphiniums, lobelias, gladioli, everlasting flowers, ‘red hot pokers’ and as many as 200 species of orchid. You’ll see occasional stands of montane forest, an old pine plantation and, on the rugged foothills at the edge of the plateau, dense brachystegia woodland. Large herds of roan, reedbuck, zebra and eland occur here, together with leopard, serval and spotted hyena – but Nyika isn’t primarily a game destination; it’s about scenery.

Built out of timber and stone collected from the plateau, Chelinda Lodge has panoramic views on one side and a pine forest on the other. It has eight double- storey log cabins, each including an open- plan lounge and bedroom, a private veranda and en-suite facilities. About a kilometre from the lodge, the old Chelinda Camp is a more rustic option. Activities from both include fly-fishing excursions, 4WD trips, mountain biking and walking.

In the centre of Malawi, the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve protects about 1,800km² of often rugged miombo woodland. It’s one of the oldest, largest and least developed of Malawi’s reserves and its game includes herds of elephant that are often very visible

  • and buffalo, lion, leopard and sable which

are less so. There are also plans to reintroduce black rhino. The birding here is great, with over 280 species recorded to date.

Overlooking the Bua River in the heart of the reserve is Tongole Wilderness Lodge a small but beautifully built lodge which opened in 2011, and is already earning an impressive reputation. It has four large, open-fronted chalets, each with an en-suite bathroom and private wooden deck overlooking the river and forest. These are spacious and smart – like the lodge’s thatched dining area, lounge and extensive decks. At the beginning of 2014 a two- bedroom family villa is expected to be complete – ideal for families or friends travelling together. Activities are flexible and include walking safaris, boat trips (often using inflatable canoes), fishing, 4WD game drives and visits to a local village. We’d recommend Tongole for its quality and atmosphere, for a great ethos of working with the community, for a real wilderness experience, and for its elephants; any other game sightings are a bonus.

MUA MISSION

About 160km east of Lilongwe, in the foothills of the Dedza Highlands, Mua Mission was first established by the Roman Catholic Church about 100 years ago, and a village has since grown up around it. The KuNgoni Art and Craft Centre was started here in the 1970s and is famous for the quality of its wood carvings, and there is also a fascinating cultural museum. Most visitors just drop in to Mua

Malawi's a friendly country and travelling responsibly helps reduce poverty

Visit www.expertafrica.com for the full report on each camp, lodge and hotel

TRIP IDEAS FOR MALAWI

To give you an idea of what is possible, we’ve suggested and costed some example trips. To the right we’ve just given prices in £ sterling; our website has the same prices in a variety of currencies, plus the itineraries detailed day-by-day and links to the lodges and camps.

None of our trip ideas are fixed, they’re just examples of what’s possible, and we’ve split them into two separate elements:

  • Safaris Stand-alone trips to Malawi

including both beach and safari options, but excluding flights.

  • International flights from the UK

This is a rough guide for travellers of the additional cost for flights between the UK and Africa.

If you’re departing from the UK, you have a choice: to book your own flights, or to book them with us as part of a package. Booking them directly may be cheaper, but you’ll have less protection in the event of flight changes or cancellations. See expertafrica.com/flights for more details.

Malawi: The Facts

Currency: Malawi’s currency is the kwacha. At time of writing £1 = MK593, although camps usually charge in US dollars. Some lodges accept credit cards.

Visas:

Travellers with British/American passports do not currently need a visa (although a visa is needed for Nkwichi Lodge in Mozambique).

Health:

Several vaccines are sensible for Malawi: typhoid, polio, tetanus and possibly yellow fever. Malaria is common: you should take anti- malarials. Always check the latest recommendations with your doctor or travel clinic.

Language: English is the official language and

spoken by most people.

Food:

The standard of food is generally good, as is the local beer. Imported South African beers and wine are excellent.

Climate:

For details of Malawi’s climate, and the best times to visit, see the section on ‘When to go’ on pages 23–25.

Children: Children are warmly welcomed throughout Malawi and most enjoy the lake immensely.

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