Majete Wildlife Reserve, Malawi

Photo: Robin Pope Safaris
Photo: Robin Pope Safaris

Hey, world traveler. So you’ve been everywhere, huh? You’ve explored ancient cities, hopped between gorgeous islands, and stood atop majestic mountains. You’ve left footprints on every livable continent. But your African experience has been limited to the coasts: the pyramids in Egypt, the souks in Morocco, and Cape Town, one of your favorite cities of all time. But you still haven’t taken that life-altering safari. It’s time to finally change that.

Malawi is the ideal introduction to Africa’s vast interior. The boomerang-shaped country is landlocked; it’s surrounded by Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Originally called Nyasaland, Malawi gained independence from Britain in the 1960s, and it’s been relatively stable and peaceful ever since. Malawians are such friendly, welcoming people that the country is known as “the warm heart of Africa.”

That warm heart extends beyond visitors. The country has made great strides in restoring its wildlife populations. Southern Malawi’s Majete Wildlife Reserve has successfully reintroduced enough animals to be considered a big five park.

Photo: Robin Pope Safaris
Photo: Robin Pope Safaris

Along the confluence of the Mkulumadzi and Shire Rivers you’ll find the easily accessible Mkulumadzi Lodge. Cross a footbridge over the Mkulumadzi to enter the lodge. A waterbuck’s ear flickers as it watches you from the riverbank. Your chalet is surrounded by giant Leadwood trees and wild mangoes. Inside, an innovative Evening Breeze air conditioner ensures energy isn’t wasted outside of your mosquito net.

Wake up to the sound of rushing water outside your chalet. Roll up your pants and walk through the water on a morning walking safari. Hike Chimwala Hill for views over the Great Rift Valley. Watch baboons play from the pool, elephants bathe from a river cruise, and water tumble over the boulders at Kapichira Falls. Scan the horizon for antelope: sable, eland, and kudu. You’ll see buffalo and black rhinos with their calves later on a night drive. And while eating dinner under the stars, you’ll hear hippos grunting in the distance.

As you sit in a canvas chair around the campfire with one last Carlsberg beer at the end of the evening, you listen for more rustling along the river. It’s unbelievable it took you so long to do this. The trip was life changing, but in so many more ways than you expected.

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