It’s Monday 30th May and exploring new territory


It’s Monday 30th May and exploring new territory

Well, it’s been another really busy week in Malawi, lots of exciting things happening with the Mkulumadzi works finishing and a thousand other tasks to be done in order for the new lodge to open on the 15th of July. Lots of planning and training going on, and I was lucky enough to experience a trial version of the activities we will have to offer there during one of the post Indaba educational trips we conducted.

Starting from the beginning: this trip consisted of one of our Malawi itineraries and included: Pumulani on Lake Malawi, Mvuu Lodge in Liwonde National Park and finished in Majete Wildlife Reserve at our new baby Mkulumadzi.

On a typically beautiful sunny day in Malawi, I made a quick visit to Pumulani. The magnificent view of the Lake, which has a mirror-like quality to it, never ceases to amaze me. Lake Malawi accounts for almost a third of the country and is known as the Calendar Lake: it is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide!

Liwonde National ParkWhite-breasted Cormorant

The next two nights were spent at Liwonde National Park (a great opportunity to be back in the bush!). This park has a unique landscape; a combination of various thicket and open woodland vegetation types contrast with the lush, tropical ambience created by tall and elegant palms along the Shire River.

ElephantsWire-tailed Swallow

Time for activities: the two night drives provided an array of smaller, nocturnal wildlife (the guide even managed to spot spiders in practically pitch darkness!!), water mongoose, Meller’s mongoose, genet, elephant shrews and bush babies. Impala, waterbuck and a few crocodile were also spotted, as well as more than fifty elephants in two wonderful sightings not far from our land cruiser.

Malachite KingfisherPied Kingfisher

On a morning boat safari we saw a pair of Hamerkop near their nest, various kingfishers, Bohms Bee-eater, White-backed Night Heron, Pels Fishing Owl, Lilians Love-birds, Brown-breasted Barbet and a large colony of White-breasted Cormorant.

Pels Fishing OwlPels Fishing Owl

Back on the road. we reached Majete Wildlife Reserve after a four hour drive. It was great to see Mark and Jenna again, they looked so happy with little Charlotte (their 6 month baby). After a good night’s rest at African Parks Camp, Mark took us out early in the morning on a pleasant game drive and told us all about Majete’s wildlife and its curiosities.

Debating about sub-species of Zebra, it turns out the coat pattern of zebra in this part of the world is unique in that they have a dorsal stripe on their belly as well as stripes that go all the way down to their ankles/hooves! Just like the ones we have in South Luangwa. These are the subspecies of the Common or Plains Zebra, Equus quagga crawshayi which occur across much of Northern Mozambique, Malawi and Eastern Zambia.

We did not see another vehicle during our stay in the reserve which gives a sense of exploring a new and exciting territory.

NyalaWaterbuck

On our drive and our walk along the Mkulumadzi river, we saw eland, sable antelope, zebras, plenty of posing waterbucks and handsome nyala picking their way through the riverine thickets. Majete marks the Northernmost point of the Nyala’s distribution in Africa and regular sightings of these beautiful antelope are a signature of the park.

Sable antelopePels Fishing Owl

The park’s altitude varies from over 700m on Majete Hill in the west to 150m on the Shire River in the east. Bird specials such as Boulder Chat, Racket-tailed Roller, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Arnotts Chat and Rock Pratincole should entice any “twitcher”.

Dorian Tilbury, the Field Operations Manager for African Parks Majete, informed us that leopard are to be introduced this year to increase the current population that is still in recovery from the poaching years. Reintroduction of lions is planned for 2012 to ensure that Majete is once again a Big Five reserve.

Hippos in the ShireSwing bridge

Mkulumadzi lodge bathroomMkulumadzi lodge bar area

I could not contain my surprise on arriving at the lodge; the dramatic entrance over the swing bridge is fantastic and sets the tone for the adventure to come. The dinning area and bar are looking stunning. The 50 plus team of builders are working hard to have the lodge ready in a month and a half. Mark and Jenna seemed to have the works under control – well done guys!

Warthogs and Yellow BaboonWalking in the Mkulumadzi River

On the last morning we managed to squeeze in a visit to African Parks Environmental Education Centre located at the reserve’s main gate. It’s just recently been built and is not quite operational yet. The centre is to cater to school, and other learner, groups to improve awareness and understanding of protected areas and wildlife conservation. Dorian also showed us the museum with interesting cultural artefacts.

Need to close now as the story is getting long. Just a quick note to welcome a new member of the team, Stephanie. She is Zimbabwean and has some experience in the industry and is here to help out on the marketing side.

Have a wonderful week!

rita

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