Well, hello there. I hope that you have had a fabulous weekend with lots of fun and general frivolities. Here in the Luangwa, we are sunny one minute stormy the next, the river comes up and then it goes down so really, we are all a little topsy turvy but it’s all quite fun as we wait to see what is coming next. The animals seem to be undeterred by everything and continue to put their best foot forward. However, this week the news doesn’t come from us here in the Valley instead we have a write up from Penny Hooper in the UK, who brought her young family to our camps in Malawi this past October. Penny over to you:
“I was nervous about our family safari to Malawi, with Charlie aged 5 and Benji aged 3. Our friends thought us “brave” … It turned out to be our best family holiday and included one of the most incredible wildlife sightings of my life.
We started at the gorgeous Pumulani, where the adults watched pied kingfishers diving into the azure waters of the Lake, while the kids happily splashed in the beach pool. With 2 pools and a private beach, Pumulani was always going to be a winner, and once you’ve added baboons, vervet monkeys, stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking, snorkelling, a village trip by tuk-tuk and a boat trip, there was plenty to keep everyone happy.
The Pumulani team hit exactly the right notes with food, providing dishes the kids enjoyed, as well as delicious meals for the adults. A highlight for the adults was a private, candle-lit dinner for two, with children safely in bed (with a babysitter), but for the kids the highlight was roasting marshmallows over the open fire. Leaving Pumulani was hard, there were tears! But there were further adventures to be had.
With Benji intent on seeing squirrels (tree and ground) and Charlie keen to see a chicken (?!) our first safari was going to be a challenge. The boat trip to Kuthengo Camp in Liwonde offered our first glance of big game: we saw elephants, a buffalo herd and hippos grazing, and this was all on our way into camp.
With the re-introduction of lion, leopard, cheetah, more black rhino and plenty of Plains game to Liwonde, expectations were high. Filling up with a lavish lunch and a long dip in the pool (where binoculars are a must, with so much game and bird life around) our guide Angel soon had us spotting warthog with piglets, grey duiker, reedbuck, bushbuck, kudu, big male sable; the kids were still ticking off animals in their RPS booklets when we found the family of 7 lions, including 2 three-month-old cubs! This was followed by an elephant sighting with a tiny baby. On return to camp, the children rushed up to Kuthengo team, to announce proudly that we saw 11 squirrels!
The massive male lion made himself known at 1.30am, with a roar to raise the hairs on your neck, close enough to be IN our tent, and his vocalising continued for a good couple of hours. I admit to being pretty nervous with lions so close to my sleeping boys, but of course they were perfectly safe. When dawn arrived at 4am, we were treated to the most phenomenal sighting: the whole pride ambled by, metres from our tent, lit beautifully by the morning sun. When the managers arrived to escort us to breakfast, they confirmed that a waterbuck had been killed not far from our tent! The boys missed all this drama, and the majestic sighting, as they slept happily through the whole thing.
Onto Mkulumadzi, where the swimming pool took centre stage, providing fun for the kids and excellent bird, croc and elephant sightings for the adults. We were now in a happy rhythm of morning and afternoon safaris, with kids eating at our sundowner time: the team chose some stunning spots for us.
Despite the recent introduction of wild dog, cheetah, giraffe, leopard, lion, and various antelopes to Majete Wildlife Reserve, we had to work hard for our sightings. The squirrel count was low, but guide Enerson found two African Green Pigeons Charlie had found in the bird book, and we were all astonished by the vicious giraffe fight!
After all my concerns about safari with our kids, it turned out that the hardest part was leaving.
Thank you so much to all the teams we had a truly wonderful and memorable holiday and can’t wait to come back.”
Wow thanks so much Penny! It all sounds so wonderful and what a treat to have the lions outside your tent. Thanks so much for sharing all with us. From here there is little to follow up with, so I shall keep all other news for next week. In the meantime, have a fab week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one-another.