Bounded by the Shire River as it flows towards its confluence with the Zambezi, the 270-square-mile Majete Wildlife Reserve was created in the 1950s but had lost almost all its large mammals to poachers by the end of the millennium. In 2003, the neglected reserve was placed under the management of an NGO called African Parks, which initiated an ambitious rehabilitation program combining conservation with community involvement. More than 3,200 individual animals representing 16 different species, including lion, cheetah, elephant, black rhino and buffalo, have since been reintroduced, and Majete now vies with Liwonde National Park as Malawi’s top safari destination.
Discover Majete Wildlife Reserve
Game drives along the 120-mile road network offer a chance of encountering all the Big Five. Elephants are conspicuous and lions are seen with increasing frequency. Buffalos, though numerous, are more hit-and-miss, as they tend to move in a few large herds, while leopard and black rhino sightings are more unusual.
A wealth of other naturally-occurring and reintroduced large mammals – cheetah, spotted hyena, giraffe, zebra, hippo, sable antelope, waterbuck, warthog, eland, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, nyala, impala, greater kudu and vervet monkey – makes Majete a great all-round safari destination.
Other activities include guided night drives, nature walks, and cultural visits to villages bordering the park.
The surging whitewater of Kapichira Falls was the obstacle that forced David Livingstone’s 1858 Zambezi Expedition to abandon its boats on the banks of the Shire and continue northwards on foot. Today, despite the presence of a modern hydroelectric power station, the falls retain a wild and scenic feel, and you can hike there on a short self-guided footpath.
Majete’s checklist of 300-plus avian species is particularly strong on raptors and birds associated with aquatic and Brachystegia habitats. Look out for the distinctive bateleur eagle flying overhead throughout the year, and the migratory African skimmer and rock pratincole along the river from July to November.