I'm an adventurous traveler and like to get off the beaten track. I'm a writer and photographer, and I enjoy a wide range of topics, especially travel, adventure, and nature. See more of my work at www.morgantrimble.com
Written on: May 14, 2015
I visited in November 2014
Majete Wildlife Reserve is a beautiful park in the southern part of Malawi. It’s conveniently located a few hours from Blantyre, so it is a good weekend trip. There are two options within the park for accommodation. The very comfortable Thawale Tented camp consists of a family chalet and a number of two-person luxurious tents with ensuite bathrooms (more like hotel rooms than tents). Thawale guests enjoy generous meals and drinks from the bar at the communal lapa. The lapa and tents look out onto an always busy waterhole. During my stay I saw elephants, sable, waterbuck, zebra, buffalo, impala, nyala, and warthog by day. At night the hyenas came to visit a few times. The one night I went to bed early after dinner, other guests saw an aardvark at the waterhole, a very lucky sighting! Safari tents in Thawale are spaced out to give a nice feeling of privacy. The community camp site is a budget option for self-sufficient guests with their own equipment.
Majete is the only option in Malawi for a big five safari. Elephants are very easy to find on game drives along the Shire River. Buffalo are also quite abundant, but you’ll have to be a good deal luckier to spot a lion, leopard, or rhino. They are there, but the recently reintroduced populations are still growing. Sable antelope and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest are some of the rarer antelope that you will likely see away from the river in the woodlands. My favorite place to drive was along the river though—there is so much life there and so many hippos, crocodiles, and birds.
Majete is a great place for birding with a number of specials. I saw many species there for the first time in my life including the Rock Pratincole, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Bathawk, and Bohm’s Bee-eater.
Self-drive game driving is allowed in the park, and you can hire a scout to accompany you to increase your chances of finding animals and tell you what roads are the best. Otherwise, you can book tourist activities through Majete. They offer both day and night drives. Night drives are a good way to see some of the more elusive, nocturnal species. Majete also offers bush walks, which are great for birders, and boat trips on the Shire River for a different perspective on the landscape.
Majete also offers a community visit to the village near the park gate. Watching a few demonstrations on cooking and crafting in the village and taking in the phenomenal Gule Wamkulu dancing was actually the highlight of the trip for me. Gule Wamkulu is a type of secret society where elaborately costumed dancers portray the spirits. It’s hugely popular in the village, and for good reason! It’s amazing to see.
Majete is a great place to visit for a few days if you’re in the area. It’s your only chance in Malawi to see the big five, and the community visit is top notch.