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 principal 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. The 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 secured the Park and commenced a large-scale reintroduction program for species historically occurring in the Area.
Wildlife in Majete 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. The excellent news is that Majete has not lost elephants, rhinos or lions to poaching since they were reintroduced to the park.
Activities in Majete Wildlife Reserve
1. Game drive
The best way to enjoy the park and its wildlife is 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 USD (at 6 am, 10 am and 1 pm); the evening game drive lasts 3 hours and a half and costs 35 USD (at 4 pm).
2. Walking safari
It’s conducted by a professional guide and a ranger that will show you the different animals and habitats found in the Reserve, including the beautiful river banks abundant in birdlife. It lasts around 1 hour and a half and costs 20 USD (it starts at 6 am).
3. Boat safari
It’s an enjoyable activity along the Shire river looking for hippos, crocodiles, elephants and river birds. It lasts 2 hours and costs 20 USD (at 10 am and 3.30 pm – with sundowners lasts 3.5 hours and costs 35 USD).
4. Self-drive safari
If you like to use your own vehicle, you can ask the reception a map of the road networks and a guide to get the most out of your visit. It costs 15 USD.
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 USD.
Need to Know about Majete wildlife reserve
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 reserve’s main gate on google maps as Majete wildlife reserve and African parks Headquarters.
The Reserve offers a different choice of accommodations among Community Campsite with all the facilities (10 USD with your tent; 25 USD Tent hire), Thwavale Tented Lodge and Mkulumadzi Lodge.
Tip: if you visit Majete WR during the high season (July-August), we suggest booking to advance the park’s activities. We booked the community campsite and our activities by 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 USD; gate opening time: 6 – 18.