Travel from Lilongwe to the iconic South Luangwa National Park in Zambia for open 4x4 game drives in one of Africa's finest wildlife destinations. Then journey back into Malawi to the serene Dzalanyama Forest Reserve, where we hike in the indigenous forest, home abundant bird species and clear streams.
Next, we drive to Dedza to see bushman paintings and the pottery workshop, before visiting the scenic Shire Highlands where we stay in an excellent game park. Take a walking tour, have lunch and taste teas at Satemwa Tea Estate, climbing the lower slopes of Thyolo Mountain.
Spend the next few days at Lake Malawi - relaxing along the sandy shores, visiting local villages and doing non-motorized water sports and optional activities. Kayak out to an unspoilt island, or catch a powerboat, for our overnight stay at an eco-camp. Back on the mainland, we head to Kuti Wildlife Reserve via Mua Mission where we gain insight into the history and cultures of Malawi. In Kuti, we look out for wildlife and enjoy unspoilt nature, before returning to Lilongwe where this beautiful 15-day adventure ends.
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. After the meeting, dinner will be served and you are free to unwind.
The lodge is set in beautiful gardens and each en-suite room has a garden view.
Leaving Lilongwe we drive to Mchinji, where we cross into Zambia. Border formalities complete we continue to the Mfuwe area of Luangwa Valley, enjoying a picnic lunch along the way.
We arrive at our lodge in the mid-afternoon and settle into our en-suite chalets. Take a swim in the pool, have a drink at the bar and relax in the wilderness.
Our days here are spent on thrilling game drives in comfortable, open 4x4 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. Then we search for leopard, owl, hyena and other nocturnal creatures, returning to camp at 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.
In between morning and afternoon game drives visits to the local community projects and tribal textiles workshop can be arranged. You can also take an optional walking safari (in season), instead of one fo the game drives.
After breakfast we travel to Dzalanyama Forest, arriving in the early afternoon.
After checking into the chalets you can join a walk through the indigenous forest up Mtsongololo Mountain. This beautiful forest is teeming with birdlife and dotted with pools and streams, ideal for a cool dip. As darkness falls we make our way back to our lodge.
Situated in the forest, the lodge is an oasis of calm. The deck overlooks a stream and 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.
On day seven we visit the rural village near the reserve to experience some Malawian culture. Take a walk through the village and meet the residents as they go about their daily lives. Find out how maize is ground, taste the local food and sample the local beer. Malawian people are known for their friendliness as this authentic encounter will confirm. Our cultural experience is followed by sundowners and dinner back at the lodge.
Driving south from Dzalanyama Forest we head to Dedza, the most elevated town in Malawi.
Before arriving at our lodge we stop to visit San Bushman paintings dating back to the Stone Age. Then it's time for a picnic lunch before we head to Dedza Pottery where you can take a tour of the pottery workshop or treat yourself to a delicious slice of cheesecake on the verandah.
By mid-afternoon, we check in at our next lodge. Relax in the comfortable lounge and bar area or join the optional sunset excursion up Dedza Mountain.
Please note that new travellers may be joining the safari today.
After breakfast this morning we set off on our scenic drive south through Malawi, travelling along the Mozambique border via Blantyre. En route to our next lodge, we stop to view rock paintings, admire the views of the lake and visit market stalls.
The lodge is set in the indigenous forests and grasslands of a game park in the Shire Highlands region of southern Malawi. The reserve is home to plains game, including kudu, roan, eland, sable, giraffe and zebra, as well as prolific birdlife.
End the day off with a dip in the pool and a sundowner in the Victorian-style bar at the lodge beside Lake Bvumbwe, followed by a delicious dinner at the restaurant.
On day 10, we have breakfast and explore the scenic area.
We take a walking tour of the internationally known Satemwa Tea Estate, which produces a variety of white, black, gold and flavoured teas. While at the tea estate we also enjoy a tea tasting workshop.
Then we tuck into a delicious lunch at Huntingdon House, the grand old colonial manor on the tea estate. After lunch, we take a short drive, followed by a walk on the estate. We walk up to a beautiful picnic spot on the slopes of Thyolo Mountain, taking in the sweeping views of the estate and surrounding Lower Shire Valley. Keep an eye out for the rare and endemic Thyolo Alethe and other birds in the forest.
Later this afternoon we retrace our steps to Game Haven where you are free to laze at the pool, play a round of golf, or explore the reserve on foot or mountain bike.
Next, we drive to Cape Maclear on the shores of Lake Malawi. We travel via Zomba, the former capital of Malawi, where you can visit the lively market. Crossing the Shire River, we proceed through historical town of Mangochi, previously known as Fort Johnson. Founded in the 1890s as a defence post for the British government the town was also a hub on the slave trade route.
Passing through Mangochi we continue north along the shores of Lake Malawi, reaching Cape Maclear by mid-afternoon. Head straight to the beach and watch a serene sunset over the lake.
Day 12 is free for you to relax and do optional activities at the lake. The lodge is set right on the lakeshore within easy walking distance of the local village, making it easy to explore on foot. Non-motorised activities, such as snorkelling and kayaking, are included in your tour price, whilst motorised sports, like skiing, are offered at extra cost.
You can take a walk in the village or surrounding mountains, visit a local pub or historical sites and go scuba diving (extra cost).
This morning we set off on our overnight kayaking adventure to one of the islands of Lake Malawi.
First, we head to the base camp for an introduction to the kayaks and equipment and then we paddle to the island in Lake Malawi National Park.
The paddle is done in stable, two-person kayaks or alternatively, you can travel by powerboat to the island. Arriving at our island camp we have a picnic lunch, followed by leisure time. You are free to explore the island by kayak or on foot, stopping to swim and snorkel in the calm, clear waters.
In the morning we paddle back to the shores of Lake Malawi, or you can return by boat. Reaching the mainland we head for Mua Mission, two-and-a-half hours' drive away.
Mua hosts the KuNgoni Centre of Culture & Art, including the Chamare Museum, the Carving Centre and the Research Centre and Library. We visit the museum to find out more about the Chewa, Ngoni and Yao cultures and traditions, their interactions with one another and their encounters with Christianity and Islam. The museum houses a unique display of Gule Wamkulu masks, texts and images, as well as presenting dance performances by arrangement. Mua is home to a thriving local community including the arts and crafts centre where students learn to make the fine wood carvings found in Malawi.
After our cultural intrigue in Mua, we drive on for an hour to reach our next destination - Kuti Wildlife Reserve. Kuti is a scenic game reserve incorporating 2000 hectares of diverse habitats, ranging from woodlands and grasslands to marshes and wetlands. Its rich habitats are home to a variety of wild animals and birds, including herbivores like zebras, impalas and sable antelopes.
On the afternoon of day 14, we embark on an afternoon game drive, bush walk or bicycle ride in Kuti Reserve.
On our final day, we have breakfast at the lodge and depart for Lilongwe in time to catch onward flights.