The weekend visit to Majete Wildlife Reserve is an outing near Blantyre, in Southern Malawi. I provide details that include my opinions, facts, photos, videos and links to additional details. This is a self-guided adventure on a shoestring. Follow the links to dig deeper into the adventure.
Let me start by saying that the hardest part of this trip was deciding where to stay for the weekend. There are a number of options within the Reserve and camping is available (always my first method). There’s also a lodge located directly across from the Reserve main gate, located on the Shire River. Stay inside the Reserve or outside the Reserve? Why was this decision so difficult?
I’d been told that the lodges in the Reserve are located on waterholes and that each day these holes are visited by a large variety of wildlife (including elephants) each morning and evening. But then what are you supposed to do for the rest of the day? Drive around the park? I have a tiny Nissan March (almost 10cm of road clearance it seems) so most of the Reserve is not within self-drive reach for me. Guided options are also out of my price range. Plus staying at these lodges also includes paying multiple day entry fees to the Reserve.
The other option is the N’gona Lodge located on the Shire river (outside the Reserve). The lodge has lovely camp sites, outstanding food and best of all, an infinity pool facing the river. Now those are very desirable options.
Camp in the Reserve and see lots of animals and then be bored most of the day or self-drive the eastern Shire River side of the Reserve in the morning and evening and spend the rest of the day outside the Reserve in the N’gona swimming pool and eating well?
We opted for the swimming pool and to a limited extent it was the wrong choice.
We did drive the Reserve eastern side in the morning and evening (mid-March) one day but saw very little wildlife. There was simply too much water available in the reserve rivers and the Shire, plus the grass and trees were much to robust. This is a bush park (trees and bushes with few open spaces), not a Savannah park (open ranges that are excellent for spotting wildlife). In Majete we only saw wildlife if they were in the road or within a short distance off the side.
We did spot a small family of elephants, but again, they were off the road in the trees and only small grey areas of hide were seen. We could hear them and they could hear our car and started off deeper into the bush as we approached.
Perhaps if we had a high clearance vehicle (and 4×4 for some marked sections) we would have seen more but I doubt it. The reality of a bush Reserve is that you have to visit in the dry season when water levels and and bush are at a minimum or you should stay at a waterhole lodge in the Reserve for serious wildlife spotting.
On the other hand if you want to lay around at the pool then you will need do a bit more homework. For instance, we noticed a swimming pool at the restaurant located behind the main gate area. If I’d known of its existence I might have opted for the Thawale Lodge and its waterhole. Then I’d have had the wildlife and something to do for the hot part of the day. Also, the N’gona welcomes day visitors.
Live and learn.
Download the majete_gps gpx file and load it into your phone’s Google maps or a phone GPS app such as Locus. Then you will have a track on your phone that you can follow when confused. Note that I could only drive the non 4×4 roads in the Reserve because I had a very low clearance car.
The African Parks AR2017 – Majete pdf guide.
Link the the official Majete Game Reserve website.
Visit Malawi Outdoors on a Shoestring for more adventures