Where to find the “Big Five” in Malawi

The Majete Wildlife Reserve is located in the Lower Shire Valley, at the bottom of the Rift Valley, only 70 km from the major city of Blantyre. It was proclaimed as a wildlife reserve in 1955 and its area of 70.000 hectares includes moist miombo woodlands, dry savannah, and prominent thickets that cover the river banks.  Poaching of large mammals ravaged the Reserve until the 2000s reducing their population to minimal numbers or even extinction. Since 2003 the reserve has been passed under the management of the no-profit organization  African Parks that secured the Park commenced a large-scale reintroduction program for species historically occurring in the Area.

A lion resting, Majete wildlife Reserve
A lion resting, Majete Wildlife Reserve

A total of 2500 animals from 15 different species were translocated into Majete, making it Malawi’s first “big five” Reserve. Nowadays it is possible to spot black rhinos, elephants, lions (about 15), leopards (rare), Cheetah (4 from august 2019), hyenas, hippos, civet, servals, giraffes (about 13), buffalos, zebras, several species of antelope (including Nyala), and over 300 species of birds. Really good news is that Majete has not lost elephants, rhinos or lions to poaching since they were reintroduced in the park.

 

Activities in Majete Wildlife Reserve

1. Game drive

The best way to enjoy the park and its wildlife are by Majete open vehicles guided by a professional guide that will lead you around beautiful wilderness drive. The morning game drive last 2 hours and costs 25 $ (at 6 am, 10 am and 1 pm); the evening game drive lasts 3 hours and a half and costs 35 $ (at 4 pm).

2. Walking safari

It’s conducted by a professional guide and a ranger that will show you the different animals and habitat found in the reserve including the beautiful river banks abundant in birdlife. It lasts around 1 hour and a half and costs 20 $ (it starts at 6 am).

3. Boat safari

It’s a really pleasant activity along the Shire river looking for hippos, crocodiles, elephants and river birds. It lasts 2 hours and costs 20 $ (at 10 am.  At 3.30 pm with sundowners lasts 3.5 hours and costs 35 $).

4. Self-drive safari

If you like to use your own vehicle you can ask the reception a map of the road networks and also a guide to be sure of getting the most out of your visit.  It costs 15 $.

5. Mabele hill hiking

Mabele hill rises up 700 meters and lies in the northeast of Majete. The hike allows you to take a game drive to the hills and pass by the Diwa waterhole. The hiking is led by a guide and an armed scout (it takes 45 mins to reach the top). It costs 30 $.

The Shire rivers' banks, Majete Wildlife Reserve
The Shire rivers’ banks, Majete Wildlife Reserve

Need to Know about Majete wildlife reserve

How to get there: The reserve is located 70 km from Blantyre. Drive on the M1 and once you reach Chikwawa, turn on the T416 (the last 20 km are gravel). You’ll find the main gate of the reserve on google maps as Majete wildlife reserve and African parks Headquarters. Check our itinerary around Malawi clicking here.

Where to sleep: the Reserve offers a different choice of accommodations among Community Campsite with all the facilities (10 $ with your tent; 25 $ Tent hire), Thwavale Tented Lodge and Mkulumadzi Lodge. Click on the name of the accommodations for more information.

Tip: if you visit Majete WR during the high season (July-August), we suggest booking in advance the activities in the park. We booked the community campsite and our activities contacting the MWR management by email. In the low season, you can book your activities at the Heritage Centre next to the main gate (where you’ll also find a restaurant and a pool).

Entrance fees: 20 $; Opening time of the gate: 6 – 18.

Click here to see the official website of Majete WR.

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