Expert Reviews – Vwaza Marsh WR
Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
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Underrated and low-key place to kick back
We arrived after a long day on public transport, with our backpacks on our shoulders and covered in red Malawi dust. Arriving at a game reserve without any personal transport might seem crazy, but it can be done here. We stayed in a basic cabin and we spent a few days reading books and watching animals come and go from the vast lake in front of us. Buffalos are particularly common, so we obeyed the rules of not walking around on our own. We did, however, enjoy a stroll to the lake’s edge with an armed ranger to see a hippo pod. All in all, it was a very low-key experience in terms of game viewing, but in travel terms a highlight. We had the whole place to ourselves for several days, cooked on a little gas stove and watched the stars at night.
Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
Super-accessible elephant and hippo viewing
A contender for Malawi’s best-kept game-viewing secret, this underpublicised reserve holds more appeal to backpackers than to upmarket safari-goers. For independent travellers on a budget, its game viewing centrepiece is Lake Kazuni. Not only easy to reach on public transport and serviced by a wallet-friendly tented camp, Kazuni also hosts several hundred hippo and attracts regular visits by elephant, buffalo and various antelope. For those on an organised safari, Kazuni makes a good place to break up the long drive to Nyika National Park. However, the rest of the park – including the eponymous marsh – is difficult to explore, especially in the west summer months, thanks to the lack of proper all-weather roads and abundance of tsetse flies. It is thought that lion, leopard and African wild dog still occur in small numbers. The lake itself supports a great many waterfowl, including the osprey, African fish eagle and palm-nut vulture, and you might tick 50 species in a few hours in the woodland behind the camp, most notably the extremely localised white-winged babbling starling.