40 posts in this topic

Timely reading and response.  Thanks @inyathi!

 

The last photo in post #20 reads not available.

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@Africian I just loved your trip report, especially since I will be going to Malawi next year as part of my safari to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. I will be visiting the Lake, the Nyika Plateau, and of course Liwonde National Park. I know very well that it is an up and coming safari destination. I keep hearing increasingly better reviews of it. 

 

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Many thanks all, I’m pleased you’re enjoying our wander round central/southern Malawi.


@Zim Girl , @Atravelynn – I was aware that Sable could be found in Liwonde & Majete and it was a real bonus to have seen them when they weren’t either disappearing at a great rate of knots or just getting a glimpse of them hiding in an impenetrable forest.  As @inyathi mentioned, Nkhotakota used to have lots of Sable and African Parks have indeed translocated some from Liwonde & Majete this year.  Obviously our “difficulties” at the start of the trip meant we didn’t see as much of Nkhotakota as we’d hoped but it’s a very picturesque part & African Parks are doing a great job of building it up again.


I hope there are plans for more cheetah to be translocated, assumin this guinea pig continues to do well.   - they actually moved 5 from various parks in South Africa but unfortunately one died.  The others were due to be released pretty much as we were leaving Liwonde.


I’m not at all sure what’s gone wrong with the last photo in post #20 – when I clicked on it, it jumped me to the Flickr album as expected but then that blanked out as well but if you click on it in the Flickr album then it zoomed as normal.  I replaced the image in the Flickr album & all seemed OK and now if I click the photo outline in the ST post then it jumps to Flickr and displays – Quite bizarre!


Thanks @TonyQ , @Towlersonsafari, @optig – It is indeed a beautiful country – the only thing we’ve missed out on are the rhino & big cats but keep reading……


Finally, a big thank you @inyathi for all the bird Ids, especially the White-backed Night Heron – I don’t think I’d have got that in a million years! Whilst the beak is typically fish-eater, I’d ruled out heron as they have long necks & legs don’t they?  I hadn’t considered it might be hunched-up/crouching down to avoid being seen. 
 I would also concur with your thoughts  it is a great place to go if you are looking to go somewhere a bit different.  Also, because it’s a relatively compact country it’s a good place to go if you are, time limited as it doesn’t take too long to travel between places unless you want to visit both north & south.  Coincidentally, a former colleague was there in April, primarily so his wife could visit where her father & mother met/got married. They took in Nyika and also had a fire in the evening (even in April).  It was their first visit to “safari” Africa but I got the feeling it might well not be their last!
 

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Posted (edited)

Next morning there was time to check out the locals 

 

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before a trip into Zomba town for visit to the fabrics shop & the crafts market.  Souvenirs and enough fabric to clothe a large village duly purchased it was time to hit the road once more, stopping just after Blantyre for this view over the Lower Shire valley – Majete is at/just off the right hand side of the photo, the bright green areas across the centre ground are sugar cane.

 

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Our base for Majete was Thawale Lodge – a nice camp set round a floodlit waterhole.  Accommodation is in these large "safari" tents, set on concrete plinths with porch out front (ideal for just sitting and reading/watching the activities at the waterhole) and a brick en-suite behind. (Photo courtesy of son's iPhone which doesn't do shooting into the sun too well) .

 

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There is a fairly constant supply of animals coming to drink at the waterhole just in front of the lodge & tents and even as we were discussing our options for later in the day we had visits from Sable and both female & male Nyala

 

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before we headed out with guide Jimmy for a boat trip.  In truth, boat trips in Majete are not as good as Liwonde, mainly due to the speed of the river meaning the engine is working hard against the flow so it's not a peaceful trip and the wildlife gets plenty of notice of your arrival.  This evening was particularly quiet with only this Waterbuck catching the eye.

 

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A fellow guest who accompanied us on the boat said they'd had much more to see the previous evening but "that's the way the cookie crumbles" sometimes and tomorrow is another day....

Edited by AfricIan
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Posted (edited)

Stepping back to the missing image at the end of post #20 for a moment, it's still not displaying for me at home but does display on my PC at work (during my lunchtime ;) ). Both systems are PC, Windows 10 & Chrome - even more bizarre!

 

Anyway, today is another day and this mornings mission was to head east & north, following the river upstream on a hunt for some cats that Jimmy thought were in that area.  


Passing this nice male Nyala en-route

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It didn’t take too long before Jimmy picked up some tracks but their makers weren’t proving very co-operative with the tracks heading one way then another then back again. I think we’d gone round one particular loop about 4 times before Jimmy asked if we’d had enough.  We’re not quitters though so round we went again and just as we were rejoining the main track totally confused by the tracks, a cacophony of baboon alarm calls revealed that we weren’t alone:

 

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Persistence pays off, mission accomplished!


Back at the lodge, the buffalo herd decided it was time for a breakfast drink at the waterhole

 

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Thawale’s “standard” offering is out early, returning 8:30/9:00 ish for breakfast then going out again from ~4pm and although I’d initially thought only two “activities” a day was a bit on the light side, there was plenty to see during the day as there was a pretty constant stream of visitors to the waterhole although a waterbuck decided the bird bath was a safer option!. 

 

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Does anyone know what causes the blue metallic sheen on the tusk?

 

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Female Nyala

 

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The animals seemed quite happy walking through the camp, typified by this Nyala my son spotted walking between their tent & ours.

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Whilst away from the camp:

 

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Bohm’s Bee-eater

 

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And after dark we ended the day with what I think is a Spotted Eagle Owl and a serval (again, I think) with her kitten

 

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They both look more interested in what was happening behind us!

Edited by AfricIan
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Posted (edited)

This morning it was time to stretch our legs again and our amble took us past the airstrip where preparations were well advanced for the elephant capture team who were due in about 3 weeks time.  As is normal, the wildlife sees you well before you see them and most sightings are of a rapidly departing rear-end but this eland & waterbuck at least gave us the courtesy of a look

 

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The main gate to the park has a “visitor centre” with a small swimming pool & restaurant for day visitors and Thawale are quite happy to run you down there & come to pick you up so son daughter & I took the opportunity for a bit of a splash round – they’ll even put drinks etc on your Thawale tab. I didn’t take my camera with me (basic error #15!) so I missed out on photographing the little birds that were flying down & “belly flopping” into the water before flying off again.


For the afternoon activity we opted for the boat again, reasoning that the guest who was with us on our first day had said he'd had some good sightings then we might be as lucky. It was still relatively quiet (apart from the noise of the outboard!) but we did see this raptor which from its colouration and orange/red beak & legs is a Goshawk, probably a Gabar or Dark Chanting.

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Plus Egyptian geese, Kudu pair, adolescent Nyala

 

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and what I’m sure Jimmy said was a Juvenile Palm-nut Vulture

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Finishing with a Warthog playing chase the egret 

 

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Although the lodge waterhole is floodlit, all the power is turned off at ~10/11pm so we don’t really know what was occurring right outside our tent at about 2am – there was lion roaring, elephant trumpeting, baboon barking + lots of other noises so it was with a little trepidation we headed over to the lodge just as dawn was breaking, only to discover said noises were right outside daughter & son’s tent and also right outside tents 4 & 5!! - we can’t all have all been right and is a clear demonstration of how well sound carries at night.
Anyway, Jimmy thought he knew where the lions might be so, on the last morning of our trip, we headed off to the west and sure enough we soon came across some tracks walking down the road in the same direction we were and very soon after, a tantalising glimpse.

 

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When African Parks reintroduced lions into Majete in 2012, they brought in two male and two female lions from South Africa.  Sadly one of the females died during the flight, but the other three lions flourished with a litter of cubs being born in 2013 and another litter just last year.
The original two males are still calling the shots although, as Jimmy explained, one was much less “vehicle friendly” and despite us staying well back, he soon moved off the road into the bush where he was clearly much more in his comfort zone.  Both lions were calling regularly and Jimmy thought they were trying to locate one of the females that had moved away from the pride to have her cubs.

 

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The other male was quite happy with our presence behind, even pausing for a bit of a sit-down.

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As we hung back, the second male came back out of the bush to join his “bro” and they continued to pad off down the road, eventually heading into the bush

 

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Our drive continued with many of the "usual suspects"

 

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Adolescent Nyala

 

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Although it's a bit harsh to class a Sable as a "usual suspect":rolleyes:

 

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Bushbuck

 

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Sparing Impala - you could tell it wasn't serious because they kept stopping to look round!

 

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Kudu

 

Whilst over breakfast an Eland came down to the waterhole for a drink

 

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so ended our time in Majete and indeed Malawi as we started the long drag back home.  Blantyre airport is less than 2 hrs away from Majete, where we said farewell & thank you to Eric and reflected on what had, for us, been a different sort of Safari.

 

Thanks for staying with me, I've enjoyed reliving (most of) the trip with you all.  I can now get back to catching up on what everyone else has been upto!

Edited by AfricIan
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Thank you for a great report about a country not often visited. Excellent photos throughout. A really good selection of antelopes in the last section - the Nyala and Sable being particularly beautiful.

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Serval and kit-wow!  Sable as a  usual suspect, what a place.  Other good antelope!

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I have learned a lot from this report and enjoyed reading it.  In the hope of obtaining a bit more detail, I have sent you a personal message.

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Thanks for the great report! And a palm nut vulture I would love to see one.What a varied and beautiful trip @AfricIan

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Posted (edited)

On 9/9/2017 at 9:51 AM, AfricIan said:

 

I didn’t take my camera with me (basic error #15!) so I missed out on photographing

 

 

Just fill in the blank there for me. That's my basic error # 1, and I've committed it more times than I care to recount. Now, I carry my camera around like a baby, even to meals, because the way it works is, if I leave it behind, something incredible always appears. Always. (I wish it worked the other way around, but no such luck). 

 

The serval and kitten are most special, but everything has been great. 

 

Thank you for a most enjoyable report about a place I didn't know much about. Very interesting and appealing. 

 

Edited by Alexander33
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Thanks to all for your likes and especially to @TonyQ, @Atravelynn, @douglaswise@Towlersonsafari & @Alexander33 for your comments, hopefully I'll be able to relive some of this trip by reading the accounts of your own trips to Malawi in the future :rolleyes:.  

Malawi, as you've seen, is a very varied & picturesque country and African Parks are doing a great job in building up its national parks so I don't think it should be thought of as a beach add-on to a safari in Zambia any more, it can definitely stand on its own now.  We packed a lot into our fortnight but because distances are relatively small we never felt there was too much travelling.  Although we had Eric driving us, if you discount getting stuck on Zomba then there wasn't any part of the trip that couldn't be done as a self-drive - indeed from Mumbo to Liwonde to Zomba to Majete our track was mirrored by a couple of French travel agents who were "route recceing" in a standard Toyota Corolla saloon (though they went up Zomba with a guide in his vehicle not the Toyota!).  

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@AfricIan 

Your goshawk is dark chanting, the barring on the underside isn’t right for gabar.

 

Although you can see nyalas without too much difficulty in the right parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe where I have seen them, for anyone who has never seen one these beautiful antelopes before, it looks like Majete would be a great place to go and good for other antelopes as well.

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Never having seen nyala I hadn't realised that the females have their own very attractive markings and colouring as shown in post #30.

The palm nut vulture is a rare sighting. I remember the excitement of the guide when seeing one years ago in South Luangwa.

 

I have found this a fascinating and very informative report @AfricIan learning more about Malawi's wildlife nowadays, the parks and camps, and also enjoying the landscapes and scenery and street scenes with the "widest load" etc. Thank you.

 

You've really got me thinking it's time for a return after my all too brief visit in 2000.

 

 

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Many thanks for the Goshawk confirmation @inyathi, I’m pleased I managed to get the ID so close.  I’ve never considered myself a birder (& still don’t) but armed with my copy of Newman’s I’m definitely getting better.

I think the only time we’ve seen Nyala before this trip was in Hluhluwe/Umfolozi so it was great to get reacquainted.  As you and @Caracal say they are very attractive animals – my favourite is the adolescent male, that partway coloration is particularly attractive.

 

I'm also pleased you've enjoyed the non-wildlife aspects of the trip, I did wonder how much to include but decided that as safari is the Swahili word for journey then it was reasonable to cover the whole.

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