It had been a number of years since my last visit to Majete Wildlife Reserve, and a lot has changed since then. Thanks to the military-like efficiency of African Parks’ protection, this Big 5 park has been quietly working away to create something magnificent. The wildlife has been multiplying, the birds thriving, the trees maturing and the dense landscape opening up; all of this hugging the banks of the Shire River as it barrels gently down the valley, powering the southern part of our nation.
Thawale Tented Camp, owned and run by African Parks themselves is situated just inside the park boundary. The camp overlooks an open wooded area featuring a boggy mud wallow and a refreshing waterhole for the fauna to enjoy. This space is home to a myriad of wildlife, all appreciating the shady haven. The nyala and impala spend their day around camp nibbling on the delicate flower buds and sweet grasses, occasionally eyeballing their human audience and skirting the hairy warthogs who frequent the mud bath. Not to mention an endless supply of elephants passing through for a fresh trunk flush and beverage at the waterhole right in front of the camp’s seating area – a sight we were greeted with upon minutes of our arrival – ‘Welcome to Thawale’ beams, Tiffany!
Tiffany and Jeff are the camp’s new managers. With ample experience in the safari camp industry, these two will entertain you all evening with stories around the campfire of their experiences in the bush. They head up the team of staff that run Thawale like a well-oiled machine, the service we experienced during our stay was exceptional, we were well fed with wholesome tasty meals and our glasses never ran dry.
We explored the treasures of the Wildlife Reserve with our guide Osman, a barrel of joy. You just wish you could bottle up the sound of his laugh to play on a Monday morning to fend off the back-to-work blues! Extremely knowledgeable, Osman tailored our experience to our group perfectly, as experienced safari-goers and bird enthusiasts. He had eyes like a hawk and exceptional bird and bird-call identification. He went in-depth in his explanation of the trees and special plants and insects around us and we had fun doing some tracking.
On our drives with Osman we found a gorgeous male leopard sunning himself in the dwindling evening warmth; sable, zebra, eland, and endless owls. We tracked rhinos and lions, sadly we missed out on seeing the rhinos this time, but had a wonderful sighting of 4 lions, 2 males and 2 females (one pregnant), setting off for their nocturnal activities but not before having a good back scratch up against our vehicle. Cheetah are also residents of Majete.
One morning we set off on a walking safari to appreciate a different perspective of the bush, filled with interesting facts and stories from Osman. He and the wonderful African Parks scout, Rabin, both made us feel very comfortable and safe on the ground and we enjoyed some wonderful birding.
The rooms at the camp are very comfortable. Each overlooking the waterhole, they boast a private veranda, a plus-king size bed with beautiful quality bedding (making those 5 am wake ups very difficult indeed), an en suite bathroom with his and hers sinks, a nice hot shower, a safe for your valuables, and somewhere to put your clothes. Connected to mains power, you can charge all your gadgets and fire up that hairdryer if you wish!
Majete Wildlife Reserve will soon be hitting the news with African Parks’ next big move – bringing wild dogs back to Malawi (officially)! With a few dogs hopping across the border every now and then, in and out of Zambia, it’s exciting to be able to officially say that we have a wild dog park! The dogs are expected to arrive within the next few weeks so we wait with bated breath before we can rush down to try and catch a glimpse of the glorious African painted wolves.
Committed to preserving wildlife across the continent, African Parks has taken over the management of several ecologically important natural areas in Southern Africa. In total, they manage 20 national parks, 3 of which are in our small and precious country of Malawi. These parks had almost been totally wiped of all wildlife due to poor protection and security measures. But thanks to the efforts of African Parks, with major wildlife relocation projects and fencing of the entire perimeter of these parks, they are now thriving – with flourishing wildlife and the almost complete eradication of poaching.
Two of these parks, Liwonde National Park and Majete, boast the Big 5 and more, with cheetah in both Liwonde and Majete, as well as the imminent introduction of Wild Dog into Majete. Malawi is now a model to all conservationists around the world, showing them what is possible. Malawi enjoys a booming tourism industry with people from all around the world flocking to experience these magnificent parks and wildlife, combined with the beauty of Lake Malawi, Mount Mulanje, the tea estates and the sweeping plateaus of Zomba.
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