Malawi : Liwonde National Park
Malawi is not traditionally seen as a safari destination and doesn’t have the big game reserves of other parts of Africa, but Liwonde National Park, Malawi's prime game viewing area, is a lush reserve with plenty game for a few days’ gentle game viewing. Cut by the Shire River and with mountains to the south and Lake Malombe, a tributary lake to Lake Malawi, to the north, it is a diverse and very pretty park. A good deal of the game was poached in the past but with careful management and conscientious game guards and scouts, the game is returning and you can now see hippos and crocodiles, elephant, waterbuck, bushbuck, impala and sable in reasonable numbers. It also has wonderful birdlife with species including Livingstone's flycatcher, the rare Pel's fishing owl and Boehm's bee-eater.
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge is a luxury lodge and the only one in the park (apart from its sister camp). There are just eight spacious en-suite tents with private verandas overlooking the lagoon. There is a covered dining area but you will usually eat out under the stars, beside the fire and in the moonlight you can see the hippo and resident waterbuck grazing below. The lodge has a great wildlife hide and a natural rock swimming pool. There are three activities a day, including boating trips on the Shire River, game drives (morning and afternoon/evening), nature walks, bike rides and non-stop birding. In addition to the main activities, the lodge can organise bicycle trips from the boundary of Liwonde to the local villages outside the park, giving you a superb cultural experience. They can also organise the experience of a night in Ligwangwa, a typical rural Malawian village. You can either charter a plane into Liwonde or preferably drive. When you leave the main road, you will drive through local villages until you reach the Shire River, where you are met by a boatman and taken across by boat to the lodge giving you much more of a sense of the country.
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge has a more budget- and family-friendly sister camp, Mvuu Camp, not far from the main lodge with 12 chalets and similar activities.