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Majete Wildlife Reserve

Majete sits to the west of the Shire River in the Lower Shire Valley 70km south west of Blantyre. This area of Malawi is low lying and hot with the river winding it's way south through to Mozambique. The park covers around 70,000 ha and was first introduced to the western world by famour explorer, David Livingstone, in 1859 as he attempted to navigate the Shire River. The Capichira Falls blocked his journey, resulting in him moving inland towards Lake Malawi.

Historically, much of the game here had been badly poached and long ago migrated away or been hunted out. African Parks Network, a company based in South Africa, took over the management of Majete in 2003, sharing responsibility for conservation, rehabilitation and management with the Malawi government. The hope is that properly managed parks contribute to the economy of the country, provide jobs and improve infrastructure as well as conserving the wildlife.

In recent years Majete along with neighbouring Mwavbi has been re-juvinated with many species, including elephants, having been re-introduced and are settling in really well with the current population of around 250 animals. As well as the elephants, there are many large antelope species here such as Sable, Kudu, Nyala, Waterbuck and Hartebeest. Other species present include civet, genet, serval, mongoose, bushbaby, porcupine, aardvark, hyaena, warthog, baboon and monkey, bushbuck, impala, duiker and reedbuck. Since 2003, the reserve has been fenced, its infrastructure developed and over 12 different species, some 2,500 animals, introduced, including Black Rhino. In 2012 lions were introduced into the reserve, making Majete a Big-5 reserve once again.

The reserve is mainly miombo woodland with thick forest patches along the river. This is a beautiful wilderness area,and has fabulous bird watching with over 300 species plus great walking and stunning scenery. Hike up nearby Majete Hill just outside the reserve and enjoy spectacular views.

The park now has a couple of camps and more are being devloped with the infrastructure of road networks and support growing all the time. Mkulumadzi Lodge, owned and operated by Robin Pope Safaris, offers excellent accommodation within the reserve. You can also experience rural Malawi village life and watch the traditional Gule Wamkulu dancers. There is a heritage and information centre at the park headquarters. Within the park are a few waterholes and hides to watch game up close.

Around 130,000 people live in the villages bordering Majete and the park projects include many community support programmes as well as providing jobs through tourism at the camps and odge in the area and as parks staff. Majete is committed to supporting community infrastructural projects such as boreholes, school classrooms, health clinics, livestock drinking troughs etc. Majete also supports disadvantaged students from the surrounding communities by paying their school fees through a scholarship programme. Environmental Education is promoted and Income Generating Activities are stimulated such as beekeeping enterprises, oyster mushroom cultivation, pottery making, tree nurseries and local handicrafts.

Thanks to Bentley Palmer for photos.

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Majete Wildlife Reserve accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT +2 hours

Flight time:

International flights to Malawi are either with Kenya Airways (via Nairobi) or South African Airways (via Johannesburg) then to Lilongwe or Blantyre.

Language: English is the official language but not widely used in rural areas. Chichewa is commonly used.

Visas:

Not needed for most nationalities but check with your embassy. You need a Mozambique visa for Nkwichi Lodge.

Health:

No vaccinations are compulsory but some are recommended. Yellow Fever certificate required for Nkwichi Lodge (Mozambique). See your GP for advice.

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