Majete National Park
Malawi is a remarkably peaceful destination: of all the countries in sub-Sahara Africa, Malawi is probably on a par with Namibia and Botswana when it comes to mellow-mooded people, beautiful scenery and a relaxed and secure outlook. A great family destination.
Majete NP is tucked away in the south of the country not far from Blantyre, the old capital of Malawi. The western boundary is the frontier with Mozambique, its eastern boundary is the Shire River which is a formidable barrier at this stage. In his 1859 Zambezi Expedition the Kapichira Falls (which are just within Majete) was the highest point that DavidLivingstone reached. When you think that he was in a steamboat it puts this undertaking into perspective! Furthermore, he took his boat to bits, portaged around the falls, re-assembled it and continued upstream to discover what is known today as Lake Malawi. But all this took time, and during the delay his wife, Mary, contracted malaria and is buried near here, just across the border in Mozambique.
Majete suffered badly during all the civil wars that its neighbours struggled with between 1970 and 1997: Mozambique is its immediate neighbour to the south and Zimbabwe is a stone’s throw away along the Tete corridor. Both wars raised demand for ivory and rhino horn to buy arms; and demand for just about every other animal species to supplement subsistence food rations. The wildlife paid a heavy price, not just in Zimbabwe’s and Mozambique’s NP’s but in Majete too.
Enough doom and gloom! African Parks (amongst others) have done tremendous work since 2003 and have re-introduced the larger mammals. Many of the smaller species escaped the attention of soldiers looking for a meal, so their populations fared better. Animals have been translocated from South Africa to new homes in Malawi. Take a look at the gallery to see some amazing pic’s.
The main activities are vehicle-based. The park provides vehicle and driver/guide. Walks can also be arranged accommpanied by an armed ranger. It is also possible to take a launch onto the Shiree river and cruise the islands and backwaters looking for crocs and hippos. You can approach the Kapichira dam too.
In July 2012 four lions were translocated to the park and Majete is now the first park in Malawi to have the Big Five (Lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant). The park is relatively small at 700 Km² and tends to be a destination for safari lovers: if pristine African bush holds appeal for you and you value the remote, wilderness feel that a good safari brings, then Majete is for you. The trails are empty (of people that is!) and the brand new Robin Pope lodge, Mkulumadzi (opened March 2012), is just about the best accommodation you could dream of.
Where to stay.
For camping accommodation see below. For something a little more comfy Thawale Lodge is ideal; it’s further in to the park than the campsite and consists of 6 Meru-style tents with twin accommodation and en-suite facilities. Each one has a verandah out front overlooking a flood-lit waterhole. It’s a pleasant, unpretentious camp with a good little dining area and bar (also overlooking the waterhole). And for the perfect post-safari “relax and re-charge” see Pumulani, the ultimate freshwater beach. Or, if you’re still hungry for wildlife, Liwonde NP has a similarly remarkable story to tell too.
Majete also has an excellent community campsite (DIY camping).
There is also a fantastic “Behind the Scenes” tour which is unique in Africa.