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Malawi’s marvelous Majete Wildlife Reserve

Majete Wildlife Reserve is Malawi’s major ‘Big Five’ reserve and one of its top wildlife destinations. Located in south-western Malawi, approximately 40 miles from Blantyre and three hours from Lake Malawi, Majete is one of the big success stories in African conservation – an unlikely story of resurgence and restoration.

2023 marks 20 years since African Parks, a non-profit conservation organization, signed an agreement with the Malawian government to take over the management of the reserve. Prior to this agreement, Majete was neglected and, after decades of poaching, nearly devoid of wildlife – elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo, even warthog were gone, and only a few antelope remained. Trees were being felled in great quantity for charcoal, there was only a handful of game scouts, and not one tourist had visited the park in the previous three years. The once beautiful Majete seemed doomed.

Jump forward to 2023 and intensive conservation work has regenerated Majete. Africa Parks have reintroduced rhinos, elephants, lions, giraffes, cheetahs, and wild dogs – in total more than 2,500 animals have been reintroduced. The animals have thrived and are breeding well, current estimates put the total mammal population at over 11,000. By 2017, so successful had the reintroductions been, that surplus elephants and other animals were able to be moved to help repopulate Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, 200 miles away.

Majete has come a long way in the past two decades. It’s almost unrecognisable from its former dilapidated state. An incredible amount of hard work has turned the reserve into the only official Big 5 Game Park in Malawi (Big 7 if you include the reserve’s wild dogs and cheetah!). Not one rhino or elephant has been poached since they were reintroduced, and Majete is completely transformed. This once hopeless reserve is now one of Malawi’s best game parks, offering some wonderful safari experiences and putting the country on the map as a great wildlife destination.


Visitors to Majete can look forward to some amazing wildlife experiences, including boat safaris on the magnificent Shire River (temporarily unavailable), as well as the usual safaris by vehicle and on foot. Go in search of Majete’s magnificent wildlife on an adventurous safari! Most of the wildlife in Majete has been reintroduced, including large numbers of elephant, buffalo, zebra, sable antelope, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, nyala and waterbuck. Several lions and black rhinos have also been brought in, as well as wild dog and giraffe. The reserve also boasts somewhere in the regions of 70 lions, and the largest variety of antelope species in the country, including greater kudu. The 2,000 or so buffalo move in huge herds, and the Shire River teems with hippos.


Majete is home to over 300 different species of birds, including four species of vultures and numerous Bateleur Eagles. Other bird highlights include the Boulder Chat, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Boehm’s Bee-eater, Cuckoo Hawk, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Rock Pratincole. There’s plenty of variety to keep even the keenest of birders entertained.

5 reasons to visit Majete

  1. Majete is an incredible conservation success story – 20 years ago, it was nearly devoid of wildlife, but now it is Malawi’s premier Big Five destination with thriving animal populations and plentiful birdlife.
  2. It is the only reserve in Malawi where Giraffe and African Wild Dog can be seen.
  3. Majete carries the highest concentration of predators in Malawi. These include Hyena, Cheetah, Leopard and Lion.
  4. Situated only an hour and a half from Blantyre, this is the perfect reserve to visit in Malawi.
  5. All funds generated in Majete contribute towards the management of the reserve. African Parks is a non-profit organisation – your contribution helps sustain this incredible story of hope and revival.

Best time To visit

Although Majete is open all year round, weather conditions vary considerably depending on the season. The best months for wildlife viewing are July – October, the Dry season, when animals are drawn to the river and waterholes. It can however be very hot in October, which might be difficult to bear. The scenery is lush and green in the Wet season months, November – April, but animals tend to be harder to find and the roads become difficult to navigate.

How to get there

For those who want to drive to the reserve, vehicles are available for hire in Blantyre. The last 12 miles is an all-season dirt road and can be driven throughout the year, but a 4×4 vehicle is recommended during the wet months. The journey takes about an hour and a half. For those who’d rather fly, Majete has an airstrip, and charters can be booked with local providers.


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Majete accommodation

Thawale Camp is a classic tented camp in a prime location. The lodge is set on the edge of a bustling waterhole that regularly attracts a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants and numerous antelope. Situated within the reserve boundaries, the lodge is completely unfenced, giving guests a real experience in the natural surroundings. There is a main lounge and dining area and 6 tented chalets for accommodation (including 2 family chalets). There is also a bio-swimming pool on site for guests’ use. Note the lodge does not accommodate children under 3 and children must be supervised at all times.

Located within the reserved, the Game Capture Community Campsite is set under a grove of trees, for shade and cooler temperatures. Accommodating up to 25 in designated tent sites, as well as up to 8 guests in shelters, this is a great base from which to explore the reserve. The site is open allowing wildlife to move freely through camp, but it does however have a short fence around it to stop elephants surrounding your tent.

The Research Campsite is located next to the Mwembezi entrance gate. This camp is completely unfenced. The camp has 4 tented rooms, each with two single beds and en-suite bathrooms with hot water. There is a shared kitchen, seating area, firepit and BBQ. Meals, drinks and activities are not included, but can be booked at reception. Reservations can only be made 14 days in advance.

Mkulumadzi Lodge, run by Robin Pope Safaris and in its own private concession area, has 8 beautiful chalets located on the banks of the Shire River and offers real luxury in a fantastic setting. All ages are welcome and the lodge is open from 16 March – 9 Jan.

Visiting Majete during your trip to Malawi is an opportunity you definitely don’t want to miss!

Sarah Kingdom

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, before moving to Africa at the age of 21, Sarah Kingdom is a mountain climber and guide, travel writer, yoga teacher, trail runner, and mother of two. When she is not climbing or traveling she lives on a cattle ranch in central Zambia. She guides trips regularly in India, Nepal, Tibet, Russia, and Ethiopia, and takes climbers up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro numerous times a year.

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  1. What a turn around story this is! Let’s hope that it is an inspirational for other regions throughout Africa.

  2. Hi Jenny,

    it’s incredible what Africa Parks have done and what they are continuing to do across Africa. Majete was the first park they took on in Africa and since then they have just gone from strength to strength.


    1. Hi Julian, Majete is definitely a big 7 destination, and well worth a visit :)


  3. Nice to see some wild dogs. On my last safari we spent an entire 3 hour game drive searching for some wild dogs … and never found any.

    1. Steve, wild dogs really are incredible animals and so great to spend time with. When I was in Majete last I actually got to go out with the ranger team tracking some of the collared wild dogs, it was an epic hike through thick undergrowth and we only caught a glimpse of them, but it was still a fabulous experience. The dogs in Majete are actually much more accustomed to vehicles, than people on foot, so you get some great sightings on game drives there.


  4. My mind is ticking over that you could have a two centre holiday of Majete and then a more kick back and relax time by Lake Malawi.

    A 3 hour drive from Majete to the lake really isn’t too bad by African standards.

    1. Absolutely Mary, Malawi is pretty tiny and you can have both a ‘beach holiday’ at the lake and then a safari (Majete and Liwonde are probably the two best parks for that in Malawi in my opinion). There’s really something for everyone in Malawi, there’s also some terrific hiking if that’s of interest.

  5. It seems to me that Malawi is flying under the radar. It’s a country that gets a lot less attention than the likes of Botswana, Kenya, South Africa etc when it comes to safaris and tourism. When you read this post and look at the fantastic pictures it’s a country that really does seem to be offering a lot.

    1. Hi Sue,

      Malawi is definitely flying under the radar. It’s a great country with fantastic people, and long been a favourite place of mine. There’s a lot to see and do here and another great thing is that it’s without the crowds of so many other African destinations. To be honest the tourism infrastructure isn’t nearly as well developed as many other African destinations, but in a way that’s part of the charm! Definitely a bucket list destination


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