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Published: February 13th 2019
It was just a short drive from Zomba to the town of Liwonde. We had thought about staying there somewhere and just doing a river safari, but once we looked at the accommodation options there was no way that was going to happen. Instead we phoned Liwonde Safari Camp
(as recommended by a woman we met at Zomba Plateau!) who told us where to park so they could come and pick us up. We felt a bit sorry for Shire Camp
on the bank of the river as we left our car in their care for a couple of days. They are undergoing a bit of a face-lift at the moment and they will be well worth checking out once it's finished.
Getting to the camp was no mean feat. It soon became apparent why our saloon car was not an option. As we left the surfaced road onto the dirt track, a truck had become stuck in some really soft and sticky mud. Our landrover was able to get past and through the difficult ground with no real problems thanks to the skills of our driver, Brave. What a great name! We were shown the safari tents at the lodge and were soon
adjusting to life under canvas, 8 feet off the ground! It's almost glamping but there was a bit of a trek through the jungle to the toilets and showers so we still felt like we were roughing it. Just a little bit though. Hearing hippos and warthogs in the undergrowth around you at night is quite an experience and doesn't actually contribute to a good night's sleep though.
Meals are cooked to order on site using open fires. That means it is not fast food by any means. What they can do with these camp kitchens is incredible and we were not disappointed with anything we ordered. Breakfast was superb too and the "bush breakfast" kept us going all day long. The prices were pretty reasonable too with main meal options coming in at a flat rate of $7 plus whatever you drank from the honesty bar.
Around the camp there are a couple of viewing platforms which were beautifully positioned. Birdlife was plentiful and there are some tiny owls which live in the trees near the kitchen who are not afraid of people getting too close with their camera lenses. Hornbills played in the trees around us
There are two safaris you can do from the camp and, if you do them both on the same day it means only paying for entry into the national park once. We were up at ridiculous o'clock for an early morning game drive. Brave was our driver and he took us around for about three hours trying to find big game. They were in short supply though, but the many species of antelope were out in large numbers. We did manage to see some elephants and towards the end, a cheetah. Needless to say, we saw too many birds to list. The fish eagle was a highlight for sure.
That afternoon we ventured out on the river with our guide, Henry. Storm clouds were gathering and we did get quite wet at one stage but when you are a matter of inches away from hippos and crocodiles, you don't notice the rain so much. Some elephants came out to play by the water's edge which was brilliant. On the bird front, highlights would definitely be the egrets standing on the half-submerged hippos' heads. They have a symbiotic relationship as they eat the parasites on the skins
of their giant friends. The bee-eaters were cool too, especially the couple who sat together, but facing away from each other as though they had had an argument!
It's not full-on safari but it was a fantastic experience and one which has left us with some incredible memories. We said our sad farewells the next morning and were taken back to collect our car to continue our journey in southern Malawi.
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