Mvuu Camp: Our full report
The family-friendly Mvuu Camp is located right on the banks of the Shire River, in the Liwonde National Park, ...... and caters for the more budget-conscious traveller.
Mvuu Camp is close to its more luxurious sister camp, Mvuu Lodge, which offers the same activities. Elephant, impala, warthog and baboons are commonly seen here, with large herds of waterbuck grazing on the riverbank, and plentiful birdlife. Less common are sable, kudu and bushbuck. Liwonde National Park is not known for its population of cats and lion are very uncommon, although they are occasionally sighted at the far eastern end of the park.
Mvuu Camp has 13 comfortable stone-and-canvas chalets under a thatched roof, including five designed for families. Each has a small veranda at the front set with a table and canvas deck chairs: a great spot to enjoy views of the river. Though note that rooms one to four are set slightly back and so don’t have uninterrupted views over the water.
Inside, the bedrooms are fairly rustic, but light and airy with low gauze windows on three sides allowing a breeze to flow through. At night, cream-coloured curtains can be drawn for privacy. Twin or double beds, covered with tasteful African print fabrics, are surrounded by mosquito nets, and have bedside tables equipped with solar lights and mosquito repellent. Each chalet also has a day bed that can be converted into an extra bed for a child, and hanging space for clothes.
Behind the bedroom, separated by a stone wall, is a small but functional bathroom with a flushing toilet, washbasin and shower. Soap and towels are provided.
The five family chalets have another twin-bedded room at the back with the bathroom shared between the two.
Behind the chalets at Mvuu Camp is a large swimming pool which has a shallow kiddies’ play area. Surrounded by a reed fence with a gate, this is more child friendly than pools at most other lodges we have visited. Sunloungers set around the pool are shaded by a number of thatched gazebos.
The main area of Mvuu Camp is a very spacious open thatched structure built between two enormous baobabs. It overlooks a shady lawned area and has lovely views of the river. Here you will find a well-stocked bar, a lounge area with wooden chairs covered with green cushions, and a large dining area with simple wooden furniture. There is also a small shop selling postcards, safari clothing and some curios.
In a corner is a children’s play area with brightly coloured plastic children’s furniture and some toys, while outside is an enclosed playground with a concrete slide, swings and a wooden climbing frame.
Activities at Mvuu Camp , as at the neighbouring Mvuu Lodge, concentrate around the Shire River. The camp has a covered boat for trips up and down the river, where sightings of hippos and crocodiles are virtually guaranteed and elephant come to the water to drink. Also on offer are guided walks with an armed scout, as well as day and night game drives. It’s also possible to visit a local village with a guide from the camp, either by bike or on foot.
Mvuu Camp is a comfortable, affordable family-friendly camp with a lovely location right on the riverbank. Its not as luxurious as its sister camp next door but the activities here are the same. Those looking for a more intimate camp experience might be put off by its size.
Country manager: Malawi
- Liwonde National Park, Malawi
- Ideal length of stay
- 3 - 4 nights
- By air, it’s a one-hour flight from Lilongwe to Mvuu Camp’s airstrip, or 35 minutes from Blantyre. From here, it’s a five-minute drive to camp.
By road, it’s a journey of about four hours from Lilongwe to the Shire River, or three hours from Blantyre. Guests are then transferred across the river by boat.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- We did not eat at Mvuu Camp on our recent visit in October 2014, but the manager explained the following :
Breakfast is generally a buffet with a selection of cereals, fresh bread, fresh fruit and juices. A cooked breakfast is also available.
Lunch is a two-course meal with a choice of pasta, burgers or fish and salads, followed by a light dessert.
Dinner is usually a three-course set with a selection of red or white meat and a vegetarian option. Some evenings there is a barbecue outside under the trees.
All meals are served as a buffet, to which guests can help themselves.
- Great birding in this lush Malawi reserve
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are welcome at Mvuu Camp.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There is no minimum age limit to stay in the Camp, however there is a minimum age limit of 12 years for walking activities and a minimum age limit of six years for boating activities.
- Special activities & services
- The swimming pool is popular with children during the day. At the main area there is an outside play area with swings and a slide and inside there are games for children to play with.
There is a special childrens menu.
Child minders are available however parents need to mindful that they are camp staff and not qualified child minders.
- There are cots and high chairs available.
- Generally recommended for children
- We recommend Mvuu Camp for children, as there is a lot here to keep children occupied.
- Parents need to supervise children at all times as there is wild game wandering through camp day and night.
- Power supply notes
- There is solar electricity in the tents and a generator in the main area and the kitchen.
There are plugpoints in the tents for charging batteries.
- There is WiFi in the main area and patchy cell phone reception.
- TV & radio
- There are no TVs.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Borehole water is fine for washing and filtered drinking water is provided in the tents.
Helping local children grow
In partnership with H.E.L.P, an international NGO focusing on sustainable development in Malawi, Mvuu Camp is determined to increase educational opportunities for children living in the outskirts of Liwonde National Park. The camp has facilitated the construction of Nanthomba Primary School, which is frequented daily by over 1000 students.
Over the past 10 years, the quality of education at Nanthomba has improved, making it one of the most competitive in Malawi and winner of distinguished awards from the Malawian District Education Office. Currently ranked 3rd best school in the country, its mission is to foster growth for students to become productive citizens and future leaders.
A scholarship programme has also been initiated to boost access to public secondary education. While the average gross national income per capita in Malawi is $340, tuition fees are estimated to $570 a year per student, thus having a negative impact on many children’s chance of continuing their studies. Donations helped sponsor the costs of tuition for 446 students, of which 59 have graduated from secondary education and 8 have gone on to tertiary/university.
Mvuu Camp’s efforts to support future generations also include annual visits to Liwonde National Park and hosting workshops aimed to encourage a sense of appreciation and responsibility for Malawi's threatened natural heritage.
See more great sustainability projects in Malawi
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- 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.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included and is machine washed.
- There is a safe in each of the 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.
Other lodges in Liwonde National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.