"We had a really wonderful holiday and it ranks up as one of the best. Thank you again Andrew - we really enjoyed ourselves."...... Mr and Mrs D, Guiseley, October 2007
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Malawi is both quintessentially African and yet unique. Whether you have been to Africa many times before or it is your first visit to the Dark Continent, this is an ideal destination. Malawi was voted the friendliest country in Africa in a recent poll by Lonely Planet, and is renowned for its warm welcome and open smile. It is also quite a small country with good roads, which make a big difference when it comes to travelling around. The absence of lions in Malawi allows us to do a lot of birding on foot.
Our time in Zambia will be more like a traditional safari, with the fantastic birdlife of South Luangwa complemented by mammals such as Lion, Leopard and Giraffe. This national park is justly famous as one of the great wildlife parks of Africa. There will be game drives twice a day, relaxing between times at the beautiful Kafunta Lodge. We will visit a breeding colony of Southern Carmine Bee-eater, and see other birds that we may not have seen in Malawi, such as Grey Crowned Crane and Three-banded Courser.
We will be sufficiently north of South Africa and Namibia and south of Kenya to make the flora and fauna surprisingly different from those destinations. Hundreds of bird species occur; almost four hundred were seen on our last visit. We can also expect a good selection of mammals including Elephant, Hippopotamus, Buffalo, Spotted Hyena, Warthog and Burchell’s Zebra.
After our overnight flight, we will welcome the fact that our lodge for the first two nights is just a short drive from the airport. Exploring the extensive grounds of Kumbali Lodge, we will look for Schalow’s Turaco, Heuglin’s Robin and Scarlet-chested Sunbird. We will visit Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary where there is African Broadbill, Hildebrandt’s Francolin and Half-collared Kingfisher.
We will then have four nights at the superb Mvuu Camp in Liwonde National Park. The Shire River is the only outlet from Lake Malawi and the Liwonde Reserve encompasses the huge wetlands that surround it just to the south of the lake. We take a boat to the camp where the gardens run down to the river. This area has the highest density of Hippos anywhere in the world, and we will get amazingly close views. They even come on to the hotel lawns during the night. Many birds can be seen around the grounds. We will take several boat trips from the lodge. Pel’s Fishing Owl is regularly seen fishing during an evening boat trip, and we have even seen them from the restaurant. Besides abundant Nile Crocodiles and Hippos, birds should include many species of heron, ibis and stork, including the amazing Saddle-billed Stork. Water Thick-knees and Long-toed Lapwings can be seen along the banks. In the trees are Lilian’s Lovebird and the rather secretive Brown-headed Parrot. Half a dozen species of kingfisher and several species of bee-eater can also be seen. A speciality is the rare Boehm’s Bee-eater which is actually both common and confiding around the grounds. They nest in burrows dug directly into the ground, sometimes in the middle of the dirt tracks used by the safari jeeps!
Elephants are very common here and though we are allowed to wander around on foot we are always accompanied by an experienced tracker. A large area of the park has also been protected by a security fence where Black Rhino breed.
Malawi is famous for the huge lake that constitutes almost a third of the surface area of the country. Our base for the next two nights is Chintheche Inn, which lies approximately half way down the western edge of the lake. The hinterland behind the lake offers a range of excellent habitats from the delightful Miombo forests with their open nature to much thicker evergreen forests. Birds include Hammerkop, Palm-nut Vulture, Brown Snake-eagle, Tambourine Dove, African Barred Owlet, Pennant-winged Nightjar and Black-collared Barbet. We will take half a day off here for swimming and relaxing, although those that want to will find plenty of opportunities for birdwatching in the hotel gardens and surrounding area.
NYIKA AND VIPHYA, MALAWI
We will drive north to the Nyika Plateau and spend a good deal of the day stopping and birding along the way. We will stay at Chelinda Lodge for three nights, deep in the Nyika reserve. Nyika has a different feel to the rest of Malawi, being situated on a high plateau and having a much more open nature. It gets cold at night and all the rooms have blazing log fires. At Nyika we should see large herds of the huge Eland Antelope along with smaller numbers of Burchell’s Zebra, Reedbuck and the beautiful Roan Antelope.
Spotted Hyenas and Spotted Eagle Owl can be heard from your bed. On optional night drives we stand a good chance of mammals such as Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Porcupine, Civet, Genet and Thick-tailed Mongoose.
Birds of prey include Pallid Harrier, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Augur Buzzard, Wahlberg’s Eagle and Verreaux’s Eagle. A small population of Wattled Crane are still hanging on here and we have had superb views of this extraordinary bird on previous visits. Other specialities of the area include Red-winged Francolin, Denham’s Bustard, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Bar-tailed Trogon, Moustached Tinkerbird, Angola Swallow, Blue Swallow, Bar-throated Apalis, Cinnamon Bracken-warbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler and Malawi Batis.
After two full days birding the plateau we will spend the next day driving and birding Nyika and will arrive in the late afternoon at Luwawa Forest Lodge on the Viphya Plateau. Good birding is to be had in the garden. Birds include Bronze and Copper Sunbirds and African Wood Owl. The elusive African Broadbill gave great views here on our last visit. Scaly Francolin is found nowhere else in Malawi. The next day we will have a full day birding on the Viphya Plateau.
SOUTH LUANGWA, ZAMBIA
After two nights on the Viphya Plateau we will drive over the border into Zambia and have a picnic lunch, arriving at Kafunta River Lodge in South Luangwa in the late afternoon. We will have two full days to explore the park, with morning and afternoon game drives on both days. This is a great area for Leopards, Lions, Elephants and Giraffes. Birds include Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Grey Crowned Crane, Saddle-billed Stork, Crested Barbet and Three-banded Courser.
After three nights here we will spend a leisurely day driving back to Kumbali Lodge. The following morning we will head to the airport for our flight home.
CLIMATE AND PACE
At this time of year the temperature is very comfortable. We can expect warm days, hotting up in the lowlands in the afternoons. Upland areas are pleasantly warm, with chilly nights. Rain is unlikely throughout. Breakfast will mostly be taken early (7am or earlier). On other days it may be taken later to give us time for pre-breakfast walks. Due to the fairly high mid-day temperatures we plan to do morning and late afternoon excursions, with time off in between to siesta. Travelling is made a pleasure due to the high standard of most roads and small size of the country. Basic fitness is all that is required. There will be a little optional uphill walking at Nyika. Otherwise the terrain is fairly flat.
ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD
Full-board accommodation is provided, with two nights at Kumbali Lodge, Lilongwe, four nights at Mvuu Camp in Liwonde, two nights at Chintheche Inn, Lake Malawi, three nights at Chelinda Lodge, Nyika, two nights at Luwawa Forest Lodge, Viphya, three nights at Kafunta River Lodge, South Luangwa and one night back at Kumbali Lodge, Lilongwe. All rooms have en suite facilities. The standard of food is very good and Malawians like the full English breakfast rather than the continental style. Except on travelling days, lunch will normally be taken at the lodges.
PRICE INCLUDES …..
All birdwatching excursions with expert leader and local guides, full-board accommodation (starting with lunch on 9th, ending with breakfast on 26th), soft drinks at meal times, local transport by mini-bus and safari Land Cruisers, all boat trips, site entrance fees, international flights and airport taxes.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED
Travel insurance. Cost of obtaining Malawi and Zambian visas (total US$125 and both obtainable on arrival). Items of a personal nature, alcoholic drinks, laundry.
Flights are from London Heathrow to Lilongwe (via Addis Ababa), using the scheduled services of Ethiopian Airways. Outbound flight departs mid-evening, return flight arrives back early morning. Domestic flights from Manchester and other UK airports are avaiable on this tour. See booking form for details.
Southern Carmine Bee-eater
Leopard at night, South Luangwa
A big male elephant blocking the road.
click here to see the photographs in our Malawi Album
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