Thursday, 22 March 2012

Lower Shire valley safari, Majete game reserve, Chikwawa

As you leave Blantyre on its southern exit and head towards Chikwawa, the straight road soon becomes a winding road. The road snakes its way down a steep mountain side as you descend into the lower shire valley. And all you can see are rolling hills that blend into the horizon.

From the decent the shire river can be seen, winding and carving its way on the flat plains. The shire river drains Lake Malawi, which empties into the Zambezi then eventually the Indian Ocean.

The game reserve is only about 70km southwest of Blantyre, the commercial capital of Malawi so it’s not long until you reach the game reserve entrance. African Parks (Majete) Ltd. is the local company established by African Parks for the management of Majete Wildlife Reserve. Majete Wildlife Reserve is 691km.sq, and lies at the low attitude of about 100m. African Parks' vision is to restore, develop, and manage the Reserve in order to demonstrate biodiversity conservation and sustainable natural resource utilization for the benefit of the people of Malawi in general and local communities in particular.

It is an area of undulating and hilly country, covered in tall deciduous woodland with beautiful grassy glades and occasional patches of thicket. To the east it is mixed acacia, leadwood and marula savannah with scattered stately baobab trees and patches of ilala palms.

It is home to the elusive black rhino, elephants, buffalo, nyala, waterbuck, bushbuck, bush pig, impala, zebra sable, eland and hartebeest and many other animals. Most of which we saw, of course except the 'elusive' black rhino.

The game drive takes you through many roads within the reserve, each route specific to certain animals. There are over 150km of new roads within the Reserve.

Within the game reserve is the shire river. Hippos can also be seen in the river trail.

The Shire River forms part of the eastern boundary.

A dam was erected within the reserve that provides a dynamic force to generate power for a hydroelectric power station. Despite the intrusion wildlife thrives. An elephant could be seen in the distance, in the marshy area close to the dam.

But throughout the day we barely saw an elephant close. But when the sun started setting, there it was, right in front of us.

But as the sun set and the stars appeared in the navy blue sky, it was time to head back to Blantyre. It was a day well spent.