Robin Pope Safaris has a couple of fantastic lodges in Malawi and I had the pleasure of staying in both of them. We made our way to the town of Blantyre via small aircraft which is the closest airport to the Majete Wildlife Reserve. The drive from Blantyre is a two hour drive and well worth the visit to the Reserve. Because of the extensive poaching in the 1980’s and 1990’s a joint effort started in 2003 between the African Parks Network and the Malawi government reintroducing a number of endangered species. They have had great success and it has become the only Big Five Park in Malawi. The park has mature woodlands, hills with large granite boulders and fast moving rivers. If you couldn’t see the hippo and elephant in the river you would think you were in Utah.
It isn’t easy to get to Mkulumadzi which is located in the Reserve and this is not a lodge where I would send someone that is disabled. Once you arrive at the river you have to walk a footbridge to the other side of the river where you are met with a vehicle or golf cart to take you up the hill to the lodge. The eight chalets are arranged along the river and you need to be able to walk up and down the trails to get to your chalet. The chalets are gorgeous with fantastic views of the river from your bath, the bed and the veranda. The bath consists of a large sunken tub and outdoor shower with a double basin and separate toilet facilities. The food was fantastic all cooked by their South African chef and some of the best food I have had in Africa.
After a couple of nights at Mkulumadzi we transferred to the southern coast of Lake Malawi. Malawi is hoping to put in place a small airstrip near the Majete Wildlife Reserve and Lake Malawi. Service between these two destinations is needed because you have to drive back to Blantyre for two hours and then drive another three hours to Lake Malawi. But it is worth it! Lake Malawi is one of the largest inland lakes in the world and I don’t think I have ever seen such crystal clear waters.
Our accommodations were at the beautiful Pumulani located on the southern tip of Lake Malawi. When you arrive you enter a gorgeous lobby with a bar and outdoor dining on the deck overlooking the lake. Just below is the infinity pool with a sunning deck. As you walk down the hill the ten villas are arranged along the hillside and are well away from each other to give you complete privacy. Each beautiful villa has a large living area, wet bar, bedroom, bath, air conditioning, fan and private deck. And all come with stunning views of the lake.
Once you are at the bottom of the hill you find yourself on the white sand beach of the lake. They have a full service bar located at the beach, and offer many different water sports, sunning chairs, a couple of speed boats and a fun excursion is a sunset cruise on their dhow. This is a great destination for snorkeling or diving too because the lake is home to more native fish species than anywhere else in the world.
At night the stars come out and it is one of the clearest night skies I have seen in Africa. The lodge has its own Telescope and we enjoyed getting an up close view of the Moon and Saturn. They also offer a number of other activities such as hiking and bicycling. We had a ride to the local village and we were welcomed by everyone in the village. The Malawi people are hospitable and were happy to show us their work, traditions and homes.
Nancy Decker Davidson