Back to life

Contemplating a safari? African Parks is a non-profit organisation that is restoring some of Africa’s national parks and protected areas. Witness these conservation success stories for yourself by hopping on board one of KQ’s 737-800s…

BackToLifeWe are facing a conservation crisis in Africa in which national parks and protected areas are being lost. Today many parks exist only on paper and maps: in reality they have disappeared. African Parks, a non-profit organisation, is taking on the direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks and protected areas in Africa to ensure their survival.

Majete Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
One of African Parks’ great success stories is Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi. Majete is a small park in the Lower Shire River Valley of Malawi. It is approximately 70,000 hectares in extent. Just ten years ago it had no wildlife in it at all – rhino were wiped out in the 1970s, the resident population of over 300 elephants was gone by the late 1980s and everything else by the start of the new millennium. It employed just 12 people, the infrastructure was in a state of ruin. It did not receive a single visitor in three years, and consequently did not generate any income. The trees were being felled for building materials and charcoal, and local people were beginning to settle within its formal boundaries. For all intents and purposes, it had no economic value to Malawi whatsoever.

Today, this park has been fully restocked with black rhino, elephant and other species including buffalo, waterbuck, sable and impala. In the last couple of years predators – lion and leopard – have been reintroduced. Both the lions and leopards have bred successfully since their reintroduction.

The park’s infrastructure is fully restored. It has an active and successful community engagement plan, including school support, a malaria eradication programme and a visitation scheme for thousands of schoolchildren who can now see what a live elephant looks like. It has three tourism lodges or camps, employs around 120 people and receives 7000 tourists annually.

Plan your visit
The amazing and truly inspirational story of the success of the recovery, and of the restoration and continued protection of endangered species, has led to Majete becoming one of the most popular reserves in Malawi. Majete is a beautiful, tranquil reserve which provides you with a total wilderness feel – allowing you to get close to the wildlife without the crowds.

Majete Wildlife Reserve has something to offer at all times of year. Game viewing is, however, far superior during the dry season (June to November). Due to its position in the Shire Valley the terrain is rugged and undulating, and game viewing is best along the Shire River and around established water holes.

SEE
To date, more than 2559  animals of 13 different species have been reintroduced to Majete. These include, most notably, the ‘Big Five’ (elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion), together with eland, sable, waterbuck, nyala, hartebeest, impala, zebra and warthog. The birdlife is varied, with ‘bird parties’ of different species often seen working their way through the miombo areas – with Arnot’s chat, pale-billed hornbills and various shrikes and wood hoopoes in attendance.

SLEEP
• Thawale Lodge Tented Chalets
Completely unfenced, the camp is an amazing place to see wildlife which come and drink at the waterhole. Thawale Lodge offers six double- and twin-tented chalets all en-suite and each with its own private verandah overlooking the waterhole.

• Thawale Lodge Family Chalet
The chalet is a brick building with a thatched roof and has two en-suite bedrooms, a lounge area, small kitchen and minibar. There is a large verandah with excellent views of the waterhole where animals come to drink.

• Majete Community Campsite
Near the entrance to the park is a self-catering campsite that was built in 2007 and is  equipped with a thatched bar and dining space, barbeque area, toilets and hot showers.
Visit www.african-parks.org for more information and to make a booking.

DO
Wildlife viewing is the highlight of a visit to Majete, and you can choose to do this on a game drive or a bushwalk. Learn about the daily life and culture around Majete or visit the community projects. Taking part in traditional music, dancing and meals is also possible.

• Game Drives and Guided Bush Walks
You can experience the wilderness of Majete on a game drive in a game-viewing vehicle guided by a professional wildlife guide. From the high vantage point in the vehicle and with the sharp eyes of the guide, you will have a good chance to spot the different animals that inhabit Majete. Game viewing is especially rewarding early morning or late afternoon.
Cruise the islands and channels of the Shire River and Kapichira Dam looking for hippos, crocodiles and riverine birds. Experience the rapids and the breathtaking sound of the Kapichira Falls. The Falls are an important historical site offering an interesting view over the Shire River. Close by there is a baobab tree where David Livingstone, the famous Scottish missionary, set up camp when he visited the area. The grave of Thornton, one of the members of Livingstone’s expedition, is located at Maganga village a few kilometres from Majete.

• Community Tour
Experience genuine Malawi village life through a community visit. By visiting one of the many different community projects in the villages surrounding Majete you will learn how conservation activities can benefit communities. The aim of the community programme is to develop a constituency among local communities that supports biodiversity conservation in the face of other competing land uses. The community programme makes a contribution towards the improvement of the socio-economic status of communities living in areas around the park. During community visits, you can listen to the music from a Namajete or Valimba band or be entertained by dancers performing the Gule wa Mkulu traditional dance. The rhythms of hypnotic drums and the mesmerizing moves will ensure that this is an experience you are unlikely to forget.

Behind the Scenes at Majete
The ‘behind the scenes’ tour is a chance to see and learn how Majete was transformed from a depleted reserve into the thriving wildlife destination it is today. Visit the law enforcement operations room where law enforcement officers describe the period before African Parks took on responsibility for the rehabilitation, development and management of the Majete Wildlife Reserve. You will be shown the muzzle-loading guns, snares and traps that have been confiscated over the years and learn about the current anti-poaching activities. You will also learn about the reintroduction of over two-and-a-half thousand animals from 13 species, and visit the holding bomas used before a release, as well as visiting the 142km fence that surrounds the park and helps protect the wildlife and the surrounding communities. Finally, you will be taken to one of the artificial water-holes within the Reserve that were constructed to provide strategic water points for the wildlife. This tour provides you with an in-depth understanding of the troubles Majete faced and the initiatives that led to its resurrection.

About African Parks
African Parks is a non-profit organisation that takes direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks and protected areas, in partnership with governments and local communities. By adopting a business approach to conservation, and supported by donor funding, it aims to make each park sustainable in the long term, thereby contributing to economic development and poverty alleviation. It currently manages eight parks in seven countries – CAR, Chad, Congo, DRC, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia – with a combined area of 5.9 million hectares.

Three other African Parks to visit
Hop on board one of our 737-800s to visit these remote and adventurous safari destinations

1. Bangweulu Wetlands, Botswana
Situated in the upper Congo basin in northern Zambia, the Bangweulu Wetlands not only offer stunning wetland wilderness scenery but also provide exceptional game viewing of some extraordinary species. Vast open areas give a sense of freedom and adventure, reminiscent of the old Africa.

WHEN TO VISIT: May to December
TOP TICKS – BIRDS: Wattled cranes, pelicans, spoonbills, open-bill storks, collared pratincoles, blue-throated bee-eaters, lesser jacanas, black crakes, several species of flufftails.
TOP TICKS – ANIMALS: Tsessebe, black lechwe, oribi, sitatunga, zebra, buffalo, reedbuck, hippo, hyaena.
DON’T MISS: The peace and serenity of a banana boat ride through the Bangweulu wetlands and the sheer spectacle of 75,000 black lechwe.
For more info visit: www.african-parks.org

2. Garamba National Park, DRC
Garamba National Park is one of the oldest and best-known national parks in Africa. It is one of the last true wilderness areas. Vast, open, gently undulating grasslands set the scene for spectacular encounters with large herds of elephant, buffalo and Uganda kob, while less common species such as giraffe and roan antelope appear unexpectedly.

WHEN TO VISIT: January to June
TOP TICKS – BIRDS: More than 340 species have been recorded in the park. Look out for colonies of carmine bee-eaters along the banks of the River Dungu and clouds of cattle egrets circling over the large herds of buffalo.
TOP TICKS – ANIMALS: The elephants found here are believed to be a hybrid between the savannah species and forest elephant. Look out for the Congo giraffe – there are a few that roam the park. The secretive bongo antelope also occurs in Garamba, although it is rarely seen. There are several species of duiker.
DON’T MISS: Take a camping safari deep into the park and spend the night in a true wilderness listening to the howling of hyenas and the unmistakable song of the fiery-necked nightjar.
For more info visit: www.african-parks.org

3. Odzala-Kokua National Park, Congo
In the heart of the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest, second only to the Amazon, lies a vast expanse of protected frontier forest, Odzala-Kokoua National Park. Situated in the northwest of the Republic of Congo, this 13,546 sq km of pristine wilderness is home to all the incredible biological diversity that is characteristic of such an extraordinary and complex ecosystem.

WHEN TO VISIT: June to August for the best chance of dry weather.
TOP TICKS – BIRDS: Over 430 recorded species. Thick forest makes it hard to get good sightings, but birds to look out for include black and white casqued hornbill, lyre-tailed honeyguide, gabon woodpecker and the rare black dwarf hornbill, white-crested tiger heron and Congo serpent eagle.
TOP TICKS – ANIMALS: Forest elephants, forest buffalos, western sitatunga and black forest duiker. There are 16 species of primates. The rivers are also home to dwarf and slender snouted crocodiles.
DON’T MISS: The chance to spend time with rare Western lowland gorillas – two family groups are habituated for visitors.
For more info visit: www.african-parks.org