Mvuu is a small and intimate lodge, nestled in the thick riverine vegetation.
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge: Our full report
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge is a comfortable tented lodge set back from the banks of the Shire River in Malawi's Liwonde National Park. It overlooks a lagoon (an old ox-bow side-channel of the river) where game can very often be seen coming down to drink.
All guests arrive at Mvuu Lodge by boat and reach the main area via a long, raised wooden walkway, designed specifically to let some of the smaller game move freely through the camp without being disturbed. The main dining/bar area of Mvuu is at the far end of this walkway and is raised on a high deck with a high thatched roof, overlooking the lily-covered lagoon. A large bar and a comfortable seating area with sofas and chairs (complete with the ubiquitous game of Malawi bao) make this a great place for relaxing during the day. There is also a bookshelf with a selection of nature books and magazines. The dining room is to one side and most meals are taken here with a view of the lagoon below.
This same walkway leads from Mvuu’s main area back (via a spectacular loo-with-a-view!) to the swimming pool. This is situated in a large decked area, with a number of sun loungers around it, and is very refreshing during the heat of the day. Mvuu Lodge also has a fire pit area, surrounded by a low “ha-ha"– a stone wall with a deep ditch on the far side: an effective barrier to the many elephants that wander through the camp – but close enough to give an exciting viewing experience. This is a popular spot for guests to meet in the evening with a drink and discuss the day’s game viewing.
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge has eight tented rooms, each with a view over the lagoon. Three of these tents are larger with an indoor seating area, open plan bathroom and outside shower. The honeymoon tent has an outdoor covered bathroom with a sunken bath as well as a thatch-shaded gazebo, down a sandy pathway, with a few comfy chairs, overlooking the lagoon.
The other four tents are a bit smaller as they don’t have an indoor seating area and have a separate enclosed bathroom behind the bedroom. Each has a sunken bath with a shower over it.
All the tents are raised on decks with an outdoor seating area. They are constructed using solid poles for the structure and canvas walls, and have dark polished floors.
Central to each room at Mvuu is an enormous double bed surrounded by a walk in mosquito net. Each room has plenty of canvas windows, allowing a cool breeze through the room even on the hottest of days. At night calico curtains are drawn. Between the bedroom and the bathroom are two cane armchairs and a low coffee table with information about the camp and the surrounding area.
The bathroom is separated from the bedroom by a reed screen and is fairly dark due to the dark wood paneling around it. The shower is large and spacious and there is a flush toilet in a separate cubicle. In the centre of the bathroom are two ceramic basins set into a carved wooden counter top and a large mirror suspended from the ceiling.
The outside deck has two directors chairs, a table and a free-standing hammock for whiling away the afternoon.
Activities at Mvuu Lodge centre around the Shire River – and the lodge has a great covered boat, perfect for drifting down the river. Sightings of hippos and crocodiles are virtually guaranteed as well as elephant coming to the water to drink. On our recent visit (November 2013) we managed to get very close to a very large crocodile, before it slithered off the bank into the water. Also on offer from Mvuu are guided walks with an armed scout, as well as day and night game drives. On an early morning walk our guide took us to see some porcupine burrows with the hope that we would see one. Unfortunately we were not so lucky although there was lots of fresh evidence that they were around! That same evening we had a lovely sighting of a couple of sable antelope on a game drive.
Elephant, impala, warthog and baboons are often commonly seen with large herds of waterbuck grazing on the river bank. Less common are sable, kudu and bushbuck and the bird life is also plentiful. The park is not known for its population of cats. Lion are very uncommon, but are occasionally seen at the far eastern end of the park.
It’s also possible to visit a local village, either by bike or on foot, with a guide from the lodge.
Our ViewMvuu Lodge is a comfortable lodge in a lovely part of the Liwonde National Park. It’s a great place to come for birding and river activities. The game viewing is good, if you discount the lack of predators, with a good population of elephants – although it doesn't have the density or variation of game that you'll find in larger parks, like Zambia's South Luangwa.
Ideal length of stay: 3 - 4 nights
Directions: The lodge has an airstrip five minutes' drive away and from there it's a one-hour flight to Lilongwe and a 35-minute flight to Blantyre. By road, guests are taken by boat across the river, from where they are driven by vehicle to Lilongwe which is 4 hours away, or Blantyre which is 3 hours away. During the rainy season guests are transferred by boat one hour down the river to Hippo Point Lodge, from where they are driven onwards by road.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we visited Mvuu in November 2013, we found the food to be good and wholesome.
- We were served a surprise breakfast whilst out on a morning boat trip. After about an hour pottering up the river, our guide tied the boat up to a tree. Out of a hamper he pulled out jars of cereal and some fresh fruit salad. His assistant took out a portable gas stove and cooked eggs and bacon to order and also made some toast. There was also fruit juice and tea and coffee available. It was a lovely way to spend breakfast with water lapping under the boat and watching the wildlife around us.
- Lunch is served in the main area. We had a choice of chicken kebabs or vegetable quiche served with a selection of salads. On our second day the choice was fish cakes or vegetable lasagna. Desert was a coconut pancake with syrup.
- Our first dinner was shared with other guests around one large table. We had gazpacho soup as a starter served with homemade breadsticks. The main course was beef fillet served with potatoes and fresh vegetables, followed by a desert of tasty chocolate tart and cream.
The second evening we were the only guests in camp so we were served dinner by candle light on the deck of our tent. We had tomato tart as a starter, followed by a main course of port fillet served with baby potatoes and vegetables. Desert was a tasty fruit crumble and cream.
Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Mvuu. Approximate costs – a bottle of wine varies from U$20 – U$35. Beers U$2 a bottle, soft drinks U$1, spirits U$3 and a glass of wine U$3.00.
Further dining info: Room service is available on request at Mvuu Wilderness Lodge.
Birdwatching: The excellent boat trips from the lodge are a ‘must’ for keen birders on a birdwatching holiday in Malawi. A handful of species here include fish eagles, purple-crested turaco, bee-eaters, lilac-breasted rollers and many water birds.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Malawi
Wildlife safaris: The wildlife in the park centres around the river, the life-blood of the park. Families of elephants can often be found bathing and drinking, and the population of hippos is huge. We were lucky enough to find a group of sable during one of our drives.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Malawi
Walking: Mvuu arrange guided walks with an armed scout, which explore the area surrounding the Shire River. This may appeal as an addition or alternative to a boat trip, and the chance to do some walking on holiday in Malawi.See more ideas for Walking in Malawi
Attitude towards children: Children over the age of 12 are welcome at Mvuu Wilderness Lodge.
Property’s age restrictions: 12 years and above
Special activities & services: There are no special activities available although the swimming pool is a draw for children during the heat of the day.
Generally recommended for children: Mvuu Lodge is suitable for children 12 years and older.
Notes: With plenty of elephants around, and other big game, children should be carefully supervised at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: There is solar electricity in the tents and a generator in the main area and the kitchen. There are plug points in the tents for charging batteries, however these are not suitable for hairdryers.
Communications: There is no WiFi in Mvuu Wilderness Lodge and patchy cell phone reception.
TV & radio: There are no TVs.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: Borehole water is fine for washing and filtered drinking water is provided in the tents.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: All of the managers are first aid trained – the nearest doctor is at a clinic in Liwonde which is 60 minutes drive away and the nearest hospital is at Zomba which is 2 hours drive away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There is a park ranger based in the camp and there are unarmed night watchmen on duty at night.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside the tents as well as in the main areas.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included and is machine washed.
Money: There is a safe in each of Mvuu's rooms. The lodge does not have a currency exchange.
Accepted payment on location: Cash is welcomes for any extras, in US dollars, UK sterling, euros, Malawi kwacha or SA rands. Alternatively, Visa cards are accepted, with no surcharge. No other credit cards are accepted. Alternatively, Visa are the only credit cards accepted, but there is a 15% surcharge on all these transactions. No other credit cards are accepted.