At a Glance
Dates: September 29th - October 8th, 2024
Extension: We do not offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £5,095 pp sharing (with a £200 single supplement), excluding flights.
In a sentence: The epitome of a conservation success story; lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant and cheetah are all possible in these breathtakingly beautiful Malawian wilderness areas.
Malawi is sometimes referred to as the "Scotland of Africa", and in some areas it is easy to see why. The lush and rolling highlands of the Nyika Plateau are a marvel in themselves, but when juxtaposed with the sandy shores of Lake Malawi and the sprawling miombo woodland of Majete and Liwonde, it is clear that Malawi has a wealth of natural beauty to offer any traveller. In recent decades, it is this remarkable beauty that has attracted visitors. Now, though, wildlife is returning to this beautiful country and Malawi is once again attracting the attention of safari enthusiasts the world over.
Malawi hosts a number of national parks, several of which Pictus Safaris includes on its tours. The Nyika Plateau is a stunning national park in the north of Malawi, with arguably the healthiest Leopard population in the country. In the west, Kasungu NP is a protected area within striking distance of Lilongwe that once played host to a huge variety of game. Sadly, much of this wildlife has been lost to poaching and mismanagement, but Kasungu still has a reasonable population of Bush Elephant and is the best bet in Malawi for African Wild Dog. Not far from the ever-impressive Lake Malawi is the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. Densely forested and occasionally rugged, this reserve was once home to the largest populations of Lion and Bush Elephant in all of Malawi. Whilst this game has again mostly been lost, a re-wilding effort led by African Parks is beginning to breathe life back into this beautiful corner of Africa.
The highlights of any visit to Malawi must be the sights and sounds of Majete Wildlife Reserve, under the expert management of African Parks. Majete WR has seen a succession of reintroductions and it is now possible to encounter all of the "Big Five" here. The Lion population is very obliging in Majete, Leopards are encountered with surprising regularity and the Bush Elephant population along the Shire River is impressive.
On arrival into Lilongwe you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative. On arrival, you will transfer directly to your comfortable local hotel for some rest after a long inbound flight. Dinner will be served in the hotel following a pre-tour briefing this evening.
This morning we return to Lilongwe Airport for our two-hour charter flight north to Malawi's most scenic national park - Nyika. This plateau national park is unlike anything else in Malawi, coated in dense grassland and forest, with a cool climate and unusual wildlife. Our lodge here is truly special, offering excellent views over a nearby dam, and is in the heart of the best game-viewing in the park. Big game is not prolific here, but our afternoon drive is likely to reveal roan, common reedbuck and much more. Nyika is at its best though, after dark. After dinner, we will head out into the park to search for leopard and spotted hyena - Nyika is the best destination in Malawi for both of these species.
Days Three to Four
Our two full days in Nyika are split into morning and evening game drives. During daylight hours, we seek out birdlife, smaller mammals and generic game in the stunning surrounds of the park. As the light fades, we focus on leopard and other predators - keep your eyes peeled as even the iconic lion sometimes appears here! When not on drive, our excellent lodge is an excellent spot to admire the scenery and relax in comfort.
Vwaza Marsh NP
This morning we leave the solitude of Nyika behind, heading south-west towards Malawi's border with Zambia and Vwaza Marsh National Park. This corner of Malawi is remote and little-visited, and we should expect roads to be in poor condition for at least part of today's drive.
Vwaza Marsh is not a fixture on the typical tourist circuit in Malawi, which is a great shame, as it boasts a real 'off-the-beaten-path' feel and an authenticity that is hard to beat. Game densities are low, but being contiguous with the famous Luangwa Valley of Zambia means that spectacular species including wild dog, lion and leopard do pass through. Overlooking Lake Kazuni, though, is much more likely to bring sightings of large herds of bush elephant and abundant birdlife from our basic accommodation. This afternoon, we will head out on foot to view the wildlife of the park with a local ranger, with elephant, buffalo and hippo the most likely species we will encounter, but one can never rule out a pack of wild dogs crossing our path!
During our time here we may have an opportunity to spend time with a local NGO who survey wildlife in the park, but this depends on their availability.
Vwaza Marsh NP
Our full day is spent in Vwaza Marsh today. Some clients prefer to spend time at our basic accommodation watching the comings and goings of elephant and other species at Lake Kazuni. Others take advantage of morning and afternoon walking safaris, which offer a rare opportunity for photography of elephants and buffalo on foot. Most importantly, this is a great chance to acquaint oneself with an authentic and uncurated view of Malawi's wilderness.
We spend today transferring south on a scenic drive back towards Malawi's capital, Lilongwe, where we overnight at a comfortable hotel.
Majete Wildlife Reserve
We transfer directly from Lilongwe to Majete today, a drive of around six hours. We arrive at this superb reserve in time for an afternoon game drive, and we will waste no time in seeking out black rhino, cheetah, leopard and lion along the Shire River. Majete has benefitted hugely from the conservation work done by the South African-based NGO African Parks, and in recent years they have transformed Majete with an ambitious re-wilding programme - their most recent additions, African wild dog, will be ones we hope to pay a visit to today.
Majete Wildlife Reserve
Today allows us to set out on game drives targeting Majete's most elusive residents, including the reintroduced Black Rhino and African Wild Dog. The reserve is also home to a number of species rarely encountered elsewhere in Africa, including Selous Mongoose and Marsh Mongoose, and we will be sure to dedicate time to searching good areas for these species.
Our afternoon activity options include a boat safari along the famous Shire River. The river is home to healthy populations of Common Hippo and huge Nile Crocodiles, but our key aim will be to intercept the impressive herds of Bush Elephant and Savanna Buffalo that descend to the river in the evening. Sundowners will be provided as we soak in the beautiful surrounds of Majete.
Today we head to Blantyre Airport to meet homeward flights.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in October 2024, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources. The tour will run from September 29th to October 8th.
The cost of this trip is £5,095 per person excl. flights.. This includes all meals outside Lilongwe, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. All drinks are excluded. There is a £200 single supplement for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,550 must be paid, plus any single supplement.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Lilongwe at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Malawi. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Malawi will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Malawi entry visa for UK citizens is $50 - this should be obtained online using the dedicated e-visa portal To acquire a tourist visa for Malawi you will require a valid passport, a recent photograph and an invitation letter which Pictus Safaris will provide.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Malawi in October is hot and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 29 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 18 degrees Celsius.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
This itinerary does not visit any areas where there are currently security concerns. We are in constant communication with our partners in Malawi to ensure this remains the case, and will alert you as soon as this situation changes. All Pictus Safaris clients must take out travel insurance before travelling with us.
To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please fill out the details below.