Reviews of Mkulumadzi
Wildlife sightings and reviews
26 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Mkulumadzi and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
"Mkulumadzi Lodge - skybeds and boat trips"
Our second impression of the camp was "where are the staff?". Having trudged down from the room for afternoon tea, there was no-one to take our order for tea and coffee. There isn't much time before heading out on a game drive and you don't expect to have to go and find someone to take your order. Our guide Mustafa would turn up, ready to go, before our tea! This happened on several occasions which rather aggravated my husband. We spoke several times to Nienke and she explained how they were indeed short of staff at very short notice. Once she realised how upset we were, she and Teun went all out to rectify matters. They were keen to listen to any suggestions for improvements such as allowing guests to make their own tea in the afternoon to leave the staff to concentrate on other things. They also made every effort to be available when guests were in camp.
But once we got over that little bump, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Majete. It isn't the kind of park to get the close up encounters that you can get in other parks - there is a lot of undergrowth that can get in the way (we saw the bottom half of a giraffe) and there isn't a high density of game. But we knew that when we booked. Sadly the rhino and cats remained elusive but we had a fab encounter with two elephants having a great time crossing the river. Oh, and there was the rock climbing hippo! If you love bird watching, you'll love Majete. In total we saw 85 different species - 53 of those were birds - in our 5 nights which is just 8 less than in South Luangwa.
The Shire river was deep enough to allow boat trips which were a welcome break from game drives. They allowed you the opportunity to see the fantastic scenery beyond the trees as well as have great views of the sunsets. We also had a short walk along the river one afternoon. The plan was to get closer to the rapids but we got side tracked by sightings of an elephant and a buffalo. We got to sleep on the star bed which is on a raised platform overlooking the trees, about 10mins away from the camp. The scariest part of it was the drive there (Nienke's driving is pretty full on!). The stars and moon were so bright and there was a lovely breeze - we slept really well. The following morning, we had about an hour's walk through the bush which was followed by a full English breakfast cooked over an open fire overlooking the river.
Talking of food, Mkulumadzi manages to squeeze in one more meal than any other camp we've stayed in. Lunch and dinner were always excellent and I'm guessing that the menu rotates over 4 days. We were there for 5 nights and dinner on nights 1 and 5 was the same. The size of the camp means that you have a choice of places to eat including down on the sand below the dining area. On our last night, Nienke arranged for us to eat by the pool.
And finally, a big thank you to our guide Mustafa who was a great spotter and enjoyable company.
" See all these reviews: 9n in Zambia; 5n in Malawi
"Great Hospitality at Makulumadzi"
Food was copious and good, with a fixed menu, although slightly stodgy
Staff were very attentive and the acting Manager was awaiting another Manager to arrive the following week, who would concentrate more on working with the guests.
The Lodge was quiet with only one other group of 5 guests. The weather was extremely hot and there was little shade around the pool, so we did not use this. The spacious room had a lovely balcony overlooking the river, an outdoor shower and a large bath, which did use up all of the hot water! (solar heated). The breeze bed facility, whilst being an excellent idea, did not seem to work properly.
Game viewing was difficult due to the density of vegetation, although the guiding was very good. We asked to look at smaller animals, birds and vegetation rather than concentrating on large mammals. We undertook one walk, which was cut short due to a heavy rain shower. We did get caught in a heavy rain shower on a game drive also, but waterproof ponchos are thoughtfully provided.
We had a lovely sundowner boat trip, but were surprised that lifejackets were not available, particularly as the small boat was filled to capacity.
Requested Sightings : see below
Also saw Waterbuck, Impala, Porcupine, Common Duicker, Nyala, Kudu, Orange Baboon, Reedbuck, Bushbuck, Liechtenstein Hartebeest, Vervet Monkey, Livingstone's Suni, Crocodile and many different and interesting birds. " See all these reviews: 16n in Malawi
"Makulumadzi Lodge and safaris"
We saw 4 of the Big 5 -- not a Leopard tho other people staying there had seen one.The safari drives were long and you didn't always see a lot especially after sundown about 5.30 when drive went on until 7.30 or 8.
Only saw 1 rhino at night water hole and 4 lions similarly at another water hole but saw hippos in and out of water and roaming at night. Saw elephants 3 times including at water hole 2 matriarchs with 2 young. The driver guide was very good and very helpful trying to find what we wanted to see as a request from fellow guest to see giraffes and another time zebra was facilitated.
The rope bridge was an interesting cross over each time!!" See all these reviews: 4n in Malawi; 1n in Zambia
"Mkulumadzi Lodge review"
Good guiding from Mali
Food the best of all the 20+ lodges we have been to in Africa & some of the others very good
Service at meal times also very good " See all these reviews: 7n in Zimbabwe; 5n in Malawi; 1n in South Africa
"Close Encounters with the Nyala at Mkulumadzi"
Mkulumadzi Camp is a beguiling property in a fairytale setting, and both the main reception/dining area and the "bush chalets" are classy, well-equipped and comfortable. Given all the right circumstances, this would be a dream-come-true camp.
Certainly the food is out of this world. One day we had a salad so delicious that I absolutely had to know its secrets, and Chef Thomas willingly obliged. As for my guides, both Michael and Mali were outstanding.
However, during my four days at Mkulumadzi the regular camp managers were away on leave, and several of the staff members seemed to be new on the job and unsure of their responsibilities. The situation gradually improved, but mealtime was particularly problematic for a person dining alone.
To further complicate matters, periodic – and at times torrential – rains made navigating the paths through the camp’s sloping terrain a definite challenge and obviously necessitated the cancellation of all boating activities. Moreover, much to my dismay, the roof over my bed leaked. A final disconcerting development was the arrival of a Bushbaby – and perhaps more than one – whose exact location in the rafters of my chalet was often unascertainable. (She – or they – stayed with me for two days.)
On a happier note, I thoroughly enjoyed hiking across the famous footbridge (suspended high above the Mkulumadzi River) every time we went out on a game drive and again when returning to camp.
" See all these reviews: 11n in Zimbabwe; 10n in Zambia; 7n in Malawi
"Stunning Location with wonderful hosts.."
The location, the refreshing pool, the unique rope bridge giving access to the camp, the spacious and well equipped rooms with stunning river views were all very special, however what made our stay so memorable were the excellent managers Dave & Tammy and their staff.
Dave & Tammy are superb hosts & any lodge would be fortunate to have them. They have a genuine love of their job, their guest experience, the environment, and are extremely professional and hospitable without being overbearing. Nothing is too much trouble for them and if they can accommodate a request then they will. Their guidance and encouragement amongst their staff is also clear to see with their smiling faces. Personally I would like to see staff wearing name tags especially if you are there for a few days as it is easy to forget staff names.
For the last two nights of our stay we were joined by a group of fourteen which could potentially have changed the dynamic of the experience, however Dave and Tammy managed all the guests with courtesy and exceptionally well and we all enjoyed each others company whilst respecting each others space and privacy. Mkulumadzi has a very laid back and comfortable feel which we loved. The camaraderie with other guests and evenings and conversation around the campfire were wonderful.
We were extremely well fed at Mkulumadzi - the chef Thomas does a superb job of managing requests and food given the presumed difficult of obtaining supplies. Rooms were equipped with a fridge with basic supplies, there was no kettle in the room but the kitchen were happy to provide a flask of hot water for tea and coffee. The bed also had a unique and effective air conditioning system within the mosquito net. We had never seen this before and have to say that it worked extremely well.
Before we travelled we were aware of the situation with the amount and visibility of big game and since we have seen big wildlife elsewhere this was not a priority for us, however those visiting to see the "Big 5" maybe disappointed without correct research.
We simply enjoyed being out in such a wonderful environment and seeing the wildlife especially along the river and some wonderful birdlife. Game drives were morning (6.00am) and afternoon/evening (3.00-3.30pm) with the option of river trips as well. We especially enjoyed the river trips as they were something that we had not done previously and enjoying sundowners on the river was very special. We were fortunate to see a Pel's Fishing Owl which created great excitement amongst the avid birders on the boat - many thanks to Dave's efforts & guidance for that experience!
There were two main guides who were very enthusiastic and tried very hard to give guests a wonderful experience despite not being to always show the larger wildlife. We thoroughly enjoyed the company and discussions with Mali & Dali and they gave us a different experience to other drives that we have been on elsewhere. Their enthusiasm is wonderful to see. It is my understanding that African Parks do track larger wildlife but that their location is not shared with the lodge therefore making tracking and sightings difficult.
I will say however that at the moment the lodge seems to have only the two guides and guiding vehicles which quite honestly I do not feel is sufficient especially when close to or at full capacity. During our stay when the large group arrived Dave borrowed a vehicle from African Parks and guided himself which although great with his experience should not be relied upon, however it is to his credit that he borrowed another vehicle to enhance guest experience rather than have everybody squashed together.
We very much liked the fact that excluding tips the lodge was all inclusive, therefore you are not worrying about carrying money or how to pay or what activities to choose to maximise your experience. We gave guide tips separately but otherwise left an envelope to be shared with the remaining lodge staff who apparently have an elected committee who open and distribute tips accordingly.
We had nothing but a positive experience at Mkulumadzi and wish them continued success. There are so many wonderful lodges and experiences to be enjoyed in Africa, but we would not hesitate to return to Mkulumadzi if the opportunity arose.
We most definitely felt like we left as friends... Our thanks to all for a truly special and memorable stay.
" See all these reviews: 9n in Malawi
"Wonderful start to holiday"
We saw a lot of wild life the scenery is stunning and the whole stay here could not be faulted.
The lodge managers were the perfect host and hostess forever attending to our needs without being asked" See all these reviews: 12n in Malawi; 3n in Mozambique
"Mkulumadzi Lodge review"
The food (lunch and dinner) at Mkulumadzi was exceptionally good. Breakfast was ok, but we missed the porridge and toast around the campfire.
The chalets are spacious and functional, but the concrete construction has little character. Each chalet has a decking overlooking the Shire river, and we enjoyed watching the birds and animals from there.
The miombo woodland of the Majete National Park is very dense. Although we saw a large number of antelopes, including sable, hartebeest and nyala, it is not ideal for keen wildlife photographers. Majete National Park advertises "come and see the Big Five", but this is unrealistic. The few lions and leopards are extremely difficult to spot in the extensive thicket, and the few black rhinos are totally protected away from guests,
When we were there for 5 nights, there were only 2 safari vehicles and 2 guides for potentially 20 guests. Fortunately, the Lodge was far from full (except on our last afternoon), and the camp manager (Dave) made a big effort to accommodate the wishes of the guests with the resources available to him. Dave and Tammy made us very welcome, and we enjoyed wide-ranging discussions with them around the camp fire after dinner.
" See all these reviews: 9n in Malawi
"Mkulumadzi Lodge review"
I thought the design of the chalets , although luxurious and comfortable ( particularly the ingenious in-mosquito net air-conditioning ) and very modern, was all a bit at odds with the ethos of a safari lodge. In particular the massive concrete construction of the chalets which didn't really blend in with the surroundings. This is of course just my opinion. I did find the swimming pool very refreshing as it was particularly hot during my stay.
another noteworthy feature is the "rope bridge" which is the only access to the camp. It is undoubtedly spectacular , and a very different way of entering and leaving , but gets a bit tedious when used several times a day, particularly in the dark with limited lighting. Also if several people use it together it tends to sway and undulate. I find it remarkable how all the supplies for the camp , regardless of size ( as I saw ) are carried across this bridge, so hats off to all the staff !
The activities were good , with very good game drives. There are very few predators , so I was not expecting to see any. There were excellent sightings of Elephant, and many antelope. Some magnificent Kudu, also sable and Nyala and many waterbuck. We also had an excellent sighting of a magnificent Crowned eagle which are not often seen.
There are waterholes scattered in the Majete reserve, one with a very good hide which gave good views of many animals , particularly elephants coming down to drink in intensely hot weather.
We had a very interesting boat safari on The Shire river , seeing many waterbirds and mammals of all kinds on the riverbank. One factor in planning these boat trips is the river level which tends to fluctuate depending on the activity of the nearby hydro electric dam. We did get briefly marooned when the water level dropped , but got back safely! The guides Mustafa and Mali were truly excellent and each had an engaging sense of humour to match their other skills.
Majete reserve is not the easiest to navigate in view of the numerous gullies and small hills , and the tracks are quite rough and stony in places , which necessitates good driving skills. The bush is dense and mostly comprised of small trees, and even in the dry season with most trees devoid of leaves , calls for skilful guiding. Unfortunately we saw no Rhinos, but these animals are very elusive and hide in the dense bush.
The food was very good , although not to quite the same standard as I had had in the South Luangwa. The managers David and Tandy were friendly and professional, and helped make my stay very pleasant." See all these reviews: 7n in Zambia; 6n in Malawi
"Spectacularly located Mkulumadzi"
The National Park has done well to re-populate the park so quickly, although the elephants are less than happy which makes for uneasy encounters.
The waterholes created as a focus for wildlife, with hides for use by travellers, meant we got to see large numbers of different plains game and antelope which might otherwise have been elusive.
The nyalas were particularly special." See all these reviews: 9n in Malawi; 4n in Zambia; 3n in Botswana; 1n in South Africa
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