Wildlife transformation is transforming Malawi
- January 9, 2018
Source: Malawi tourism board
2017 was a truly exciting, ground-breaking year for Malawi’s tourism development and that looks well set to continue in to 2018. Check out below some of the highlights from last year and what’s to come this year.
For a long time, Malawi’s stunning beaches, beautiful and varied landscapes and fascinating and friendly cultural experiences have been some of the best that Africa has to offer. With the wildlife transformations currently underway courtesy of African Parks, Malawi’s safari experiences are now starting to match its other attractions as it emerges as one of the most complete destinations in Africa.
The ground-breaking #500Elephants project completed in 2017 was the largest elephant translocation in human history and received a phenomenal amount of positive international media coverage. Nkhotakota Reserve has also received hundreds of other animals in an effort to re-stock it to former glories. Liwonde National Park received the country’s first cheetah in decades (with more coming in 2018) and will be home to a pride of five new lions from South Africa in February. Over the last decade Majete Wildlife Reserve has gone from just a handful of animals to a Big 5 reserve that’s now home to over 12,000 animals. Its lions are breeding well and more will be introduced in 2018.
With new lodges opening in these Parks & Reserves, a continuing programme of animal introductions and wildlife protection, the future for Malawi’s safaris is VERY bright.
Further evidence of Malawi’s tourism emergence is the opening of two brand new camps. Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, with its ever-growing wildlife, welcomed a new, affordable camp in 2017, while Liwonde, Malawi’s premier park is to see the opening of a new Robin Pope Safaris camp in April 2018.
Kachenga Camp in Nkhotakota comes from the same team behind the nearby (and award-winning) Tongole Wilderness Lodge. As well as offering a more affordable, mid-range option (self-catering, B&B, half and full board available and overland groups can be accommodated) Kachenga provides greater flexibility, accommodating guests who are or wish to be more actively involved with the community programmes supported through the Tongole Foundation. Both Kachenga and Tongole are planned to be incorporated into the fenced sanctuary area of the Reserve when it is expanded in 2018.
Kuthengo, meaning ‘wilderness’ in the local language, truly depicts the setting of this camp, located on a large open plain alongside the Shire River in Liwonde, quietly nestled amongst fever trees and baobabs. The camp has just four safari tents; all en-suite, each with double basins, a bathtub and an outdoor shower. With all the usual comforts of a Robin Pope Safaris camp, Kuthengo maintains a rustic charm, complemented by stunning views, which are best appreciated from your private deck with a cold sundowner in hand.
Not to be completely out-done Majete Wildlife Reserve also saw a change in lodge this year. Not a brand new one, but the established Thawale Lodge is now set to grow and flourish under the management of Malawi’s largest tourism company, Sunbird.
The Malawi Travel Marketing Consortium consists of those members of Malawi’s tourist industry that are focussed on the international markets – Malawi’s key lodges hotels, tour operators and transport providers. We’re very pleased to welcome a number of new members this year that fall in to this category:
Kande Horse – is a well-established operation on the northern shores of Lake Malawi. Now under new ownership, as well as offering horse riding for all levels and ages, they have a beautiful guest house that’s now focussed on welcoming international guests.
Zomba Forest Lodge – is a cosy and intimate guest house nestled in 20 acres of mixed woodland on the flanks of Zomba Plateau – indigenous rainforest in the valley by the stream, pine on the Plateau slopes & giant eucalyptus trees overhanging the garden. This is the perfect place to sit back and relax – or go walking on one of the many trails around the lodge and Plateau.
Serendib Hotels – is Malawi’s second largest hotel group and now has 5 varied properties in Blantyre, Limbe, Senga Bay and the Mangochi Lakeshore. Having grown rapidly since launching in 2014, Serendib now have a great set of properties, each designed to be unique and original, and provide an authentic and memorable stay.
Warm Heart Adventures – is a new small adventure tours company based in Cape Maclear specialising in tailor-made tours. It is owned and operated by a Malawian lady with an intimate knowledge of the country and many years of experience in its tourist industry. They also run a charming mid-range beach lodge at Cape Maclear/Lake Malawi National Park.
Hill Springs Lodge – is a new lodge located just outside Zomba town. Catering for individuals and groups, it provides a great base to explore the historic colonial capital and the stunning Zomba Plateau that towers above it.
Central African Wilderness Safaris
Malawi’s best known and longest established operator, Central African Wilderness Safaris are never ones to sit on their laurels. Mvuu Camp & Lodge in Liwonde National Park have been extensively upgraded, including a new lounge area and new dining deck for the lodge, and an amazing new Star Bed on the southern floodplains. They have also developed exciting new trails in Liwonde and Nyika.
Kayak Africa, who run Mumbo and Domwe Island Camps in the Lake Malawi National Park, celebrated a renewal of their concession for another 10 years! All their buildings and furnishings are created according to green practices and so use local materials and craftsmen from the local community. So all the cushions on Mumbo were re-vamped in February by the local village tailor! The wooden island ‘ferries’ have been upgraded and work is nearly complete on a wooden catamaran which will be used for sunset cruises.
Kiboko Safaris is another Malawi company that never stands still, Last year they have added Mercedes-Benz sprinter buses to their fleet, launched online platforms for all their accommodation and opened a cottage at Senga Bay. 2018 will see a new website launched, plus a new booking office and a new safari camp in Zambia’s South Luangwa.
Dynamic local operator Malawian Style has been expanding again in all areas, with a growing sales team, new managers at their lakeshore lodge and new buses (resulting in an increase in group trips). With ever more FAM trips and a mammoth 3 month marketing tour of the USA, 2017 was a great year. With new Green Season specials and a new guest house in Lilongwe on the horizon, 2018 seems sure to carry on in the same vein!
Robin Pope Safaris
Not content with opening a brand new Lodge in Liwonde (see above), Robin Pope Safaris have also managed some exciting developments at their existing properties. Mkulumadzi has seen the launch of a new Star Bed that offers breath-taking views of the starry night skies and a 360 degree view of Majete Wildlife Reserve. And Pumulani now has a brand new infinity swimming pool, with an elevated view of the Lake. RPS are also launching a number of Special Offers for 2018.
The Responsible Safaris Company
Pioneers and innovators, The Responsible Safari Company continues to launch exciting new itineraries for visitors who want much more than a ‘laze and gaze’ holiday. These include: Women’s Entrepreneurship Expeditions; UN Global Development Goals Workshops; and Global Citizenship & Malawi Triathlon Scheduled Departures. 2018 will also see them acquire a new fleet of vehicles.
Ulisa Bay Lodge
Ulisa Bay Lodge on Likoma Island has made lots of site improvements in 2017, including new paths and shades, a beach shelter and improved solar powered lighting backup. Most exciting is the launch of Ulisa Bay Pottery, with Maria, a local traditional potter and grandmother teaching guests the ancient craft of hand-making traditional pots. Improvements will continue in 2018 along with the development of the pottery.
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