Kayak trip on Lake Malawi

Zambia & Malawi Small Group Budget Safari

Tour Length15 days
Priced from pps $3025 R39070 £2328 2593 A$3823 C$3794 NZ$4058 Full pricing info
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Summary of this Exclusive Small Group Camping Safari

  • Max. Group Size 12 Travellers
  • Starts & ends in Lilongwe, Malawi
  • Accommodation Bungalow or Chalet / Lodge / Fully Serviced Camping
  • Transport Game Viewing Vehicle
  • Wildlife Elephant, Exceptional Birding, Leopards, Lions & More
  •  See Departure Dates

Quick Itinerary Overview

We meet in Lilongwe and journey to the serene Dzalanyama Forest Reserve where we hike in the Miomba Forest, home to many bird species and clear streams. From here we cross the border into Zambia, our destination - the iconic South Luangwa National Park, where we embark on exciting day and evening game drives in open safari vehicles.

Leaving the bushveld behind, we return to Malawi and head for Dedza to see bushman paintings and the pottery at Dedza Pottery workshop. Driving through tea plantations we move on to the legendary Mount Mulanje, which we explore on foot.The last few days of our safari are spent at Lake Malawi - a relaxed finale to our unforgettable 15-day adventure. Arriving at the lake we kayak out to an unspoilt island, or catch a powerboat, for our overnight stay at an eco-camp. Back on the mainland you can enjoy non-motorized watersports as part of the tour, or do optional (extra cost) activities such as a boat cruises, waterskiing and scuba diving.

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Itinerary for this Tour

DAY 1: Lilongwe, Malawi

Arriving in Lilongwe, you are collected from the airport and transferred to our comfortable lodge. At 18:00, meet your guide and fellow travellers for a tour briefing at the lodge.

The lodge is set in beautiful gardens and each en-suite room has a garden view. This evening you can enjoy dinner (own expense) at the lodge and relax after your journey.

Our accommodation tonight is on a Bed and Breakfast basis.

DAY 2: Dzalanyama Forest, Malawi

Early today we do some last minute shopping before departing for Dzalanyama Forest. The drive takes about two hours, so we should arrive at the lodge in time for lunch.

After lunch we have a chance to stretch our legs on a walk up Mtsongololo Mountain, through the beautiful, indigenous forest teeming with birdlife. There are pools and streams in the forest, ideal for a quick cooling off. As darkness falls we make our way back to our lodge.

Situated in the forest, the lodge is an oasis of calm. The deck, overlooking the Makata Stream, is an ideal spot for chilling out with sundowners and recapping the events of the day. Baboons and Duikers are regularly spotted around the lodge and hyena, leopard and sable antelope are also seen sometimes.

All meals are provided (includes a picnic lunch).

DAY 3: Dzalanyama Forest, Malawi

Today you have the option of participating in the local school project if you choose to. Working with the school, our guide co-ordinates the project based on the needs of the school. Activities range from assistance with building work and painting, to repairing or replacing school materials. Your tour price includes a donation that helps to fund the school project or buy materials for the school.

Since 2003 when the school was granted the concession to run the local lodge, the school has received assistance from visiting volunteers. As a result, a derelict barn has been converted into a dormitory for the female students and a second room (for the bathroom) was built. The classrooms are painted annually, the staff room has been renovated and even wall murals have been painted. Our volunteers will spend the day working on the project and return to the lodge in the evening to meet for sundowners and a hearty dinner.

For those not joining the volunteers, our guide will recommend drives or walks for taking in the scenery and possibly spotting some elusive animals.

We spend the night in our forest lodge where all our meals are provided.

DAYS 4 - 7: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Today we cross the border into Zambia and travel to the iconic South Luangwa National Park, stopping for a picnic lunch along the way. The journey takes us back through Lilongwe and then to Mchinji where we complete border formalities, before continuing to nearby Chipata.

From there we follow the dirt road to the Mfuwe sector of the scenic Luangwa Valley. We arrive at Thornicroft Tented Camp by mid-afternoon and no doubt a swim in the pool will be most welcome. Camp in dome canvas tents complete with single beds, a small table, electric light and communal ablutions. All bed linen is provided, but you do need to bring your own towel. It is possible to upgrade to chalets at Thornicroft Lodge, if there is availability.

Our days here are spent on thrilling game drives in comfortable, open safari vehicles. Traditionally game drives start early, as this is when the animals are on the move, drinking from waterholes and feeding, before the heat of the day spurs them to seek shade. Our days begin with a light breakfast before embarking on the morning game drive, aiming for a 6:15 departure. We take drinks and snacks with us, to keep us going until we return to camp at around 11:00 for a delectable brunch.

After brunch you can relax at camp, take a snooze or swim in the pool. At around 16:00 we set off on our late afternoon to evening game drive, our vehicle armed with a powerful spotlight to search out the nocturnal animals. We find a suitable spot to watch the sunset and have a sundowner and then our adventure begins as we search for leopard, owls, hyena and other nocturnal creatures, returning to camp around 20:00 for dinner.

South Luangwa National Park is known as one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in the world and for good reason. The Luangwa River is the lifeblood of the park and provides water for over 60 animal species and 400 different bird species. Our game drives are hosted by knowledgeable guides, which enhances your safari experience as they impart their extensive knowledge and experiences. The landscape in the park changes with the seasons - dry, dusty bushveld in winter and a lush green paradise in summer.

Our nights are spent at the tented camp overlooking a lagoon, and all meals are provided (includes a picnic lunch).

DAY 8: Dedza, Malawi

We say goodbye to the Luangwa Valley today, cross back into Malawi and return to Lilongwe, stopping en-route for a picnic lunch. After a short stop in Lilongwe to possibly pick up other passengers, we continue to Dedza - the highest town in Malawi, overlooked by the Dedza Mountain.

Before arriving at our lodge we stop to view San Bushman paintings dating back to the Stone Age. We spend the night at Dedza Pottery Chalets, on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis.

All meals provided (includes a picnic lunch).

DAYS 9 & 10: Mulanje, Malawi

Before leaving Dedza today we visit the Dedza Pottery workshop, to view their range of handcrafted pottery and figurines that depict typical Malawian life. If you find an irresistible piece the shop will export to anywhere in the world. We then drive via Blantyre to Mulanje, passing through leafy tea plantations and open plains on our scenic drive.

Mount Mulanje is a granite colossus reaching over 3000 metres, surrounded by grasslands begging to be explored. There are various hikes available, which enthusiasts may join on day 10. Hiking trails range from 1.5 hours to 6 hours long, which will be explained by your guide. The lower slopes of the massif are rolling grasslands and much of the mountain is forested, supporting a large timber industry. The Mount Mulanje Conservation Trust is however working to conserve the indigenous Mulanje Cypress, Malawi's national tree.

This area is also home to tea plantations and if you are not a hiking enthusiast, you may choose to visit a plantation on day 10 or visit Mulanje town.

We overnight here in two-room chalets with bathroom, lounge and kitchenette. All meals are prepared by staff and our guide (includes picnic lunch on day 9).

DAY 11: Cape Maclear, Lake Malawi, Malawi

Today we head for Cape Maclear on Lake Malawi, by way of Zomba - the former capital of Malawi, before Lilongwe. We also pass the historical town of Mangochi, previously known as Fort Johnson. Founded in the 1890s as a defense post for the British government the town was also a hub on the slave trade route.

We should arrive at Cape Maclear just after lunch for the start of our Island Kayaking Adventure. The two-man kayaks are quite stable and the paddling is not strenuous, so you don't have to be particularly fit to take part, but if you are not keen on paddling you can always take the powerboat out to the island.

We spend the rest of the day exploring the pristine island paradise on Lake Malawi - kayaking, swimming and snorkeling.

Overnight in barefoot luxury, staying at the tented eco-camp established on the island. All meals are provided (picnic lunch included).

DAYS 12 - 14: Cape Maclear, Lake Malawi, Malawi

Our morning gets off to a laid-back start, giving us time to enjoy the idyllic island surroundings. After breakfast and a swim we paddle back to the mainland in our kayaks or take the boat transfer and check into our lodge on the shores of Lake Malawi. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore the lakeside, visit the village of Cape Maclear and unwind on the beach.

The next two days are spent relaxing on the quiet, sandy beach. All non-motorized water sports are included in your tour. You may also take a boat cruise on the lake, waterski, tube ride or scuba dive, but these activities would be at your own expense.

Our accommodation at the lodge is on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, noting that lunch is for your own account.

DAY 15: Lilongwe, Malawi

Today this memorable Zambia & Malawi Lake & Luangwa Lodge Safari comes to an end. The return drive to Lilongwe takes four hours and our return is co-coordinated to accommodate your onward travels or departure flights from Malawi.

Breakfast is the only meal served today.

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