Majete Wildlife Reserve was proclaimed in 1955 and is fast becoming one of the most beautiful parks in Malawi. Situated southwest of Blantyre in the Lower Shire Valley in southern Malawi, Majete Wildlife Reserve consists of 700 sq km of prime African wilderness and offers fantastic wildlife viewing which is the highlight of a visit to the park.
This reserve was once wiped out by poaching, like so many wildlife areas in Africa, but Majete has come back with a vengance. After one of Africa's biggest relocation projects was undertaken and moved 2000 animals to the reserve, Majete is now a haven for endangered species, as well as being the only game park in Malawi to offer the Big 5.
The vegetation is diverse, ranging from wet miombo woodland in the western hills, to dry savannah in the east with prominent thickets along the riverbanks. Majete Wildlife Reserve offers a wide variety of activities, including elephant tracking, and visitors can also learn about the culture around Majete and visit a local village.
Majete holds promise as Malawi's next top wildlife destination with its successful relocating and breeding of animals in the reserve. The woody habitat, hilly topography and mystic waterfalls gives it definite appeal.
Effort by the African Parks Network and the Malawian government has turned Majete into a model of sustainable development and biodiversity, which is a true example to follow by wildlife reserves across the continent.
The first lions in 30 years were reintroduced in August 2012, which makes Majete one of the only reserves in Malawi where the Big 5 can be seen.
The upkeep of Majete ensures that the local people benefit from tourism in the park and have an input into park management. Sustainable resource harvesting is permitted within the park.
The Majete Game Reserve is known as one of Malawi’s best kept secrets. Over 2000 animals have been reintroduced into the park including elephant, black rhino, buffalo, zebra, sable antelope, eland, waterbuck, nyala, hartebeest, kudu and many more species. It has been consistently restocked with game over the last 10 years and is the only park in Malawi with the Big 5.
Majete Wildlife Reserve offers a variety of activities that involve trekking, hiking or driving among a good population of game. Bush walks are accompanied by experienced guides, game drives are conducted in open 4x4 vehicles while exploring the magnificent Majete. Elephant tracking is a highlight and is certainly a unique experience. Guests will go and search for elephants on foot using a radio transmitter and experience close encounters with these magnificent animals.
Birders will be happy to know that there is a varied population of birds in Majete, with special species such as Pel's fishing owl, boulder chats, racket-tailed rollers, cuckoo hawks, Livingstone's fly-catchers, Boehm's bee-eaters, and rock pratincoles.
Malawi’s climate remains at moderate temperatures for most of the year, only getting quite cold in the chilliest winter months of June, July and August. Early morning and evening game drives will require some bundling up, but by midday the sun is out and the skies are clear.
Summers are obviously much warmer and after the season starts changing in September and October, the temperatures start to climb and the clouds prepare for rains. The mountainous topography of the country means that the low-lying areas around Lake Malawi get a lot hotter than the higher levels.
November brings the rain, some years, while other years the rain abates until December. During December, January, February and March, Malawi receives its rainfall and the vegetation begins to grow until it is wonderfully green and lush. It is not the best season for game viewing, though, as the game spreads out and becomes more difficult to see. April and May see the return of the dry weather and the temperatures drop.
Majete is one of Malawi's least discovered wildlife reserves seeing fairly few visitors every season and thereby maintaining its untouched status. It is more of an expedition to embark on a safari in this wild area, and there are not many accommodation options, but with the chance of seeing the Big 5 and a host of endangered species, it is well worth a visit.
Situated within Majete around a serene floodlit waterhole that attracts a variety of wildlife, Thawale Lodge is a peaceful haven from which to experience the reserve. Completely unfenced, the camp is regularly visited by wildlife. Guests can venture on boat trips on the Shire River or hike in Mabele Hills.
At Mkulumadzi Lodge, guests can head into the bush to track rhino, hike to the peak of Majete Hill, take a cultural tour of local villages or simply lounge on the shaded riverbank listening to the gentle grunt of hippos. The lodge has eight superb chalets, all built on a high riverbank overlooking the Shire River.
Malawi is primarily a driving destination and there is very little use of light air transfers. The country is very small and the roads have been well maintained, making for efficient and enjoyable road transport.
The primary international airport is in Lilongwe, the capital city, which is located in more or less the centre of the country. Sun Safaris will fly their guests into Malawi at Lilongwe International Airport from where they will connect with an arranged road transfer that will take them to their wildlife destination.
In other cases, Chileka International Airport, located 16km out of Blantyre, can be used as a domestic terminal for guests choosing to fly as close as possible to their destination in the south of Malawi.
Majete Wildlife Reserve is located in the far south of Malawi and is only a short drive from Blantyre. Sun Safaris will fly guests to Blantyre and book a road transfer to the lodge, or fly guests direct to Majete airstrip.