The safaris in Malawi probably don’t rival the nearby safaris in Zambia yet- well if you’re counting head-for-head game sightings anyway. However, like much else in this delightful country, the game reserves more than make up for this with their charm. Both of Malawi’s better-known game reserves fall within the length of the Shire River. Majete National Park is on the Shire’s lower reaches, and you’ll encounter fast flowing water and tumbling waterfalls. Beyond this is the bush- miombo woodland and vast ancient baobab trees, and the Mkulumadzi, an altogether slower, gentler river, and ideally explored as part of a walking safari. Majete is the site of a great conservation project and wildlife is improving all of the time. A huge amount of game has been translocated into the area and it is now technically considered Malawi’s only “Big Five” game reserve.
Upstream of Majete is Liwonde, one of Malawi’s more established national parks. This lush little reserve is ideal for a taster safari or a day or two. While there are elephants and a number of antelope to be found in the forest, really a visit to Liwonde is all about the river. Take a boat safari out on the river and look out for hippos breaking the surface and crocs slithering gently into the water. Best of all is the birding here- it’s an utter delight with bee-eaters, fishing owls, and brightly-coloured fly catchers all easily spotted.