At a Glance
Dates: June 17th - June 26th, 2022
Extension: We are able to offer an optional three-night extension to the game-rich South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.
Prices: £3,695 pp sharing (with a £450 single supplement), excluding flights. The three-night extension to South Luangwa National Park is priced at £1,895 pp sharing (with a £200 single supplement).
In a sentence: The epitome of a conservation success story; lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant and cheetah are all possible in the breathtakingly beautiful Majete and Liwonde National Parks.
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 and Liwonde National Park, both 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. Liwonde NP has similarly seen a number of successful reintroductions. Lion, Black Rhino and Cheetah are now present and, whilst tracking them down can be a challenge, Liwonde is undoubtedly the finest area for big cats in Malawi.
Blantyre & Majete Wildlife Reserve
On arrival into Blantyre you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative. Once the group has met, we will be collected and transferred to the excellent Thawale Lodge in Majete WR. The lodge is very comfortable and in the heart of excellent game-viewing country. We will have an evening game drive, focussed on the resident populations of Lion, Bush Elephant and Black Rhino. If very lucky, we may stumble across the elusive Leopard before returning to camp for our first night.
Majete Wildlife Reserve
This morning we will set out on a game drive targeting Majete's most elusive residents, including the reintroduced Black Rhino. 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 will be 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.
This morning we will set out for a final boat safari on the Shire River, before bidding farewell to Majete and heading for the excellent Zomba Forest Lodge.
This lodge is situated on the Zomba Plateau, an excellent area for hiking, horse-riding, birdwatching or simply relaxing. We recommend using this evening to explore the area on foot, taking in the breathtaking scenery and perhaps flushing out some local birding specials. Zomba Forest Lodge is famed throughout Malawi for its incredible cuisine and we are sure this evening's meal will be a highlight of your stay here.
Liwonde National Park
After breakfast in Zomba, we will make the short transfer to Liwonde National Park and the fabulous Mvuu Camp. Situated on the banks of the Shire River, Mvuu provides visitors with excellent views of Hippo, Savanna Buffalo and Bush Elephant from the comfort of camp.
We will arrive in time for a late morning game drive to familiarise ourselves with the local area and, with luck, encounter Liwonde's famous Lion and Cheetah. The landscapes of Liwonde are particularly diverse and stunning, and we should see our first glimpses of this during our first drive.
This evening we will set out for a further game drive, where we will be able to focus on the incredible birdlife along the Shire River. We will also be able to target the two most highly-prized species of Liwonde - Leopard and Cheetah. Both species are elusive and retiring in Liwonde, but with expert guiding and a persistent effort we may get lucky.
We will endeavour to further include a night drive after dinner. There really is no telling what we may come across in the hours of darkness.
Days Five to Six
Liwonde National Park
We have two full days to explore Liwonde by vehicle and by boat. The rarest inhabitants of Liwonde, namely Cheetah and Black Rhino, can take extensive efforts to locate, but with our local guides we stand a good chance of tracking down these fantastic creatures. Lion, Leopard and much more are also possible on each drive.
When not enjoying game drives, the surrounds of Mvuu Camp are delightful and it is easy to spend an afternoon enjoying the comings and goings of the local Bush Elephant population.
With one final morning game drive to enjoy in Liwonde, we will now head north to the shores of Lake Malawi. We will be based on Nankoma Island at the fantastic Blue Zebra Lodge, a perfect base from which to explore the lake, or simply relax in this stunning location.
Our afternoon can be spent at the lodge, or you may undertake any of a number of excursions. Nature walks and birdwatching are a great place to start this afternoon, with the lake attracting a diversity of birdlife not found in Liwonde or Majete.
Days Eight to Nine
We have two full days to explore Nankoma Island and its surrounds, with a wide variety of activities on offer. We highly recommend taking to the water with snorkelling gear or a kayak. Snorkelling allows a great view of the many endemic fish species found in the lake - a waterproof camera is a great idea - and it's great fun too! Kayaking is a great way to explore the island and there's the chance of some special wildlife being sighted - families of Otters are routinely spied here.
Today we make an early start as we head back to Lilongwe, where clients opting not to travel on the extension will be transferred to Lilongwe Airport.
For those travelling on to South Luangwa, it will be a further five-hour drive across the border to South Luangwa, aiming to arrive by mid-afternoon. If time permits, we will head straight out on an evening game drive into this fantastic reserve. There is a huge amount to be seen here, and often the wildlife comes right through our accommodation at the fabulous Wildlife Camp.
South Luangwa is renowned for its remarkable population of habituated Leopards, several of which we will hope to see during our stay. We should also expect Lion, Bush Elephant, Savanna Buffalo, Thornicroft's Giraffe, Crawshay's Zebra and Cookson's Wildebeest during our stay. If very lucky, we may even encounter a pack of African Wild Dogs, the pinnacle of any safari experience.
Days Eleven to Twelve (Extension)
Our two full days will be spent enjoying morning and evening game drives in South Luangwa, in addition to relaxing at Wildlife Camp. The camp is in a fantastic location on the banks of the Luangwa River, and previous visitors have seen four of the 'Big Five' in camp!
We can target species as the group desires during these two days, though we would recommend focussing on the Mfuwe area for excellent Leopard sightings, and the dry-country further west for the chance of African Wild Dogs. Night drives can be arranged, which offer a great chance of wildlife including Bushy-Tailed Mongoose and Four-Toed Sengi.
Day Thirteen (Extension)
After a brief morning activity, we will make the five-hour drive back to Lilongwe, where the tour will end. We strongly advise booking your return flight for no earlier than 16.00.
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 June 2022, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources. The tour will run from June 17th to June 26th.
The cost of this trip is £3,695 per person excl. flights, with the extension priced at £1,895 pp sharing. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. All drinks are excluded. We regret that we must levy a single supplement of £450 for this trip, with a £200 single supplement for the extension to South Luangwa. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,100 must be paid, plus any single supplement - the extension requires a deposit of £500.
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. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Lilongwe after 16.00 on your return to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Malawi and Zambia. 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 (and Zambia, if applicable) will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Malawi entry visa for UK citizens is £65 - this should be obtained from the Malawi High Commission in London. To acquire a tourist visa for Malawi you will require a valid passport, two passport photos, a completed application form, a bank statement, a copy of your hotel reservations, an invitation letter, cover letter, and a copy of your itinerary. The cost of a Zambia entry visa for UK citizens is £35 from the Zambian High Commission, or $50 on arrival. To acquire a tourist visa for Zambia you will require a completed application form, a passport, two passport photographs and a copy of your itinerary.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Malawi in June is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 23 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 12 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.