Reviews of Mkulumadzi Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Good but no game!
We were aware this lodge was accessed via a rope/steel footbridge over the river. What we did not realise that this was to be used daily every time we went on a game drive. It's a tad unnerving and not, in my opinion, suitable for young children or the elderly who might be infirmed as it does tend to swing sideways when several people are crossing.
The stone built chalets with thatched roof are well appointed, spacious and comfortable with hot water available at all times but you might have to wait some 10 minutes or more for the shower to run from cold to hot. There is a mini fridge stocked with beers and soft drinks but no tea making facilities (ie. no kettle) but the staff will bring a hot thermos to the door so you can make tea or coffee which are provided. Food was very good, no bush food served, and the 'full English' breakfast following the early morning game drive was most appreciated. The chalet viewing deck could do with some TLC - there were rusty nail and screw heads protruding through some fairly uneven boards which could easily rip your feet.
The downside was there was virtually no game to view. In the 4 days apart from plenty of antelope species and many birds we saw the back end of 4 Zebra and a glimpse of 5 elephants. Appreciate it may have been the rainy season but the area is very large and although there is supposed to be 500 elephants, 17 rhino, Leopard, and one lion pride (no cheetah or giraffe) the land is mostly dense thicket so the chances are actually seeing any game is fairly slim since they 'disappear' very quickly.
The staff were very attentive and welcoming and no effort spared to ensure our stay was enjoyable and despite the lack of game the guides were very enthusiastic.
Expert Africa comments
Mkulumadzi Lodge thanked these guests for their feedback. They advised that they are replacing the decks and substructure with metal instead of wood to avoid uneven boards and protruding screws in the future.
High style and dramatic location above river
Mkulumadzi was voted the family favourite, or rather first amongst equals, of all our lodges.
The lodge is fantastically stylish and clearly a work of great innovation and drive. The main buildings are beautiful and full of art, with amazing views across the rocky river Shire and the rapids upstream. The approach across the long, pedestrian suspension bridge over the Mukulumadzi river is a dramatic, Indiana Jones entry to the lodge and nothing disappoints on arrival.
The rooms were huge and beautifully appointed with very effective in-mostiquito net air conditioning and great views over the river. The pool was the best of all the lodges - a perfect place to watch the wildlife with a gin and tonic. The staff were friendly and charming and the guiding top-class - Eric our guide, Mani the apprentice and Edo our ranger were great company and we had some adventurous guiding and exciting encounters with wildlife.
The Majete is a great success story in restocking a once barren game reserve; the bush is much thicker than the South Luangwa, so game is glimpsed often, but this gave a different not diminished experience.
Mkulumadzi Lodge review
Mkulumadzi had top class accommodation, a beautiful setting on the River Shire and we had an excellent guide in Eric.
The birds were not as good as at Mvuu. This was probably due to the fact that river trips are not available as the lodge is between two hydro stations and they were taking much of the water. I don't know if this changes during the rainy season but everyone was disappointed that boat trips were advertised and not available.
We had the best elephant encounter we have ever had. Eric was very good at the slow approach and we must have watched a herd of elephants including young ones all around us going about their business for 30 minutes.
The food was good and a large cake was provided for Ann's birthday which we shared with some of the other guests and staff.
Mkulumadzi Lodge review
This lodge is somewhere where every serious safari traveller should visit. At present it doesn't have the big game of other safari locations but it compensates with great antelope and bird sightings. The lodge itself is superb and the staff are exceptionally welcoming. The views over the Shire river are breath-taking.
The accommodation is superb being very stylish and spacious and the food is of the highest order. The atmosphere is very relaxing and so are the safari trips but we still saw sable, hartebeest, kudu, impala, waterbuck, reedbuck and nyala as well as over 50 bird species. The night drives also seemed more productive than anywhere else and it was great to see bushbabies.
Liwonde was a good guide, very knowledgeable on birds and helpful with my photography. I'd like to say a big thank you to Alex and Karien who were very helpful and supportive while my wife was poorly during our stay. They made us feel so welcome that Mkulumadzi was an brilliant end to our safari holiday. On one night they served our evening meal at our chalet which was special.
The highlights of our trip were seeing the elegant sable, a two day old warthog and the bushbaby that visited us while dining in the evening. There are no negatives about this camp other than the lack of predators to see - but this will surely change over the coming years.
Anyone considering a balanced safari holiday, with a touch of something different, should seriously consider a trip to Mkulumadzi. It is an easy transfer from Zambia to Malawi and the views of the Shire river are inspiring. Finally, anyone visiting is helping Malawi recover its wildlife heritage and enable it to become a safari destination of choice.
A beautiful place to stay.
Mkulumadzi is set in an excellent location overlooking the Shire River. It is peaceful and very beautiful,we could watch the hippos, warthogs and so on from our chalet and all common areas.
The chalets are simply beautiful, spacious, stylish, everything you could wish for. Staff is friendly and attentive. Food is great.
Wild life viewing is, however, disappointing, in spite of the fact that I knew about this when booking. We did not manage any lions, leopards or rhino. The guides were good and did their best to make the best of this, but some more predators are badly needed. ,
Wonderful lodge and food, great game drives
We had a wonderful 4 days here. The lodge and accommodation were great with a beautiful river setting with hippos, crocs and birds. The food was superb and service from staff throughout was professional, friendly and individualized.
We thoroughly enjoyed the game walks and drives and particularly appreciated the professional approach of our main guide, Osman. During our transfer he went out of his way to take us everywhere we wanted to go, took us to the nearby town to buy a present and gave great information during the drives and walks. He helped to make our stay really enjoyable.
Thank you very much to everyone.
Mkulumadzi Lodge review
Efficient friendly staff, fabulous setting and lovely accommodation.Read more about the whole safari
Superb lodge and safari at Mukumuladzi
Wonderful accommodation and food, excellent and welcoming hosts. Guides very knowledgeable. Walks and game drives really informative and enjoyable.
Surprise lunch by the river one day, just for us, was great. Staff all really helpful and courteous. Nothing was too much trouble. For two nights we were the only guests and service remained superb. We can't fault our time spent there.
Mkulumadzi Lodge review
The lodge was fine, but I think that generally people should know that they are not necessarily going to see all the game they may think they are, given the developing situation in the reserve. Also they should realise that Malawi is hilly!
It can and does get cold in July - particularly in the evening. There is a slight problem with local people thinking--through RPS at Blantyre that they can pre book events to do, without any consultation with the lodge. Again apart from the weekend when the lodge was full of locals, for whom it is very popular, there were not a lot of other guests and so the atmosphere was a bit flat.
I would say though, Chris and Emma the lodge managers, and Jake, a relief manager, did their best to make sure the people present were happy.
Mkulumadzi Lodge was a disappointment.
This lodge has the most fantastic situation of any we have been to, The rooms are second to none and it has every facility you could ever need.Furthermore for part of the time we were the only guests and had first class attention from all the staff. It is a perfect place to take time out and relax.
However we went there for game viewing intent on seeing the black rhino of which there are said to be 12. They also claim a population of all the Big 5. But what a disaster the game drives turned out to be.
First of all the weather was quite unseasonal, cold, blowing and often raining. But the lodge had the solution - overall waterproof ponchos and blankets, suitable for almost any wet weather. Consequently we set off on the first cool evening to find that the guide had only provided one blanket between the two of us and had failed to test the night lamp which was defective.. I froze and the night drive was uneventful!
On the following morning we set off early for a full day game drive to try and find the Rhinos. When the rain set in at 10.00am we discovered that the guide had failed to pack the ponchos and the hot flask of cofee was cold. We abandoned the drive and I made a complaint to the manager which resulted in us being given a new guide that afternoon.
So we did a simple but pleasant drive and boat safari with new guide Samuel complete with ponchos and blankets. He really pulled out all the stops to save the day and to a point he succeeded,
Our final day we set out an hour earlier than normal with Samuel to try and find the rhino and others of the Big 5. We drove for more than 12 hours covering many miles in the park but the nearest we got to the Big 5 was a single buffalo. Samuel and Scout Mike really tried hard but the animals were just not there.
So to conclude we suffered at the beginning by carelessness of the guide and his management who failed to check the vehicle facilities were correct. Samuel did all he could, but we would never recommend Mkulumadzi as anything other than a place to unwind, never as a game viewing destination.
Expert Africa comments
We are very pleased that these travellers appreciated Mkulumadzis location as well as the standard of its rooms and the service they received during their stay. However we were sorry to hear that they did not enjoy their safari experience there. We forwarded their comments to Mkulumadzis management team who replied saying that they were very sorry to hear about the problems these travellers experienced during their stay.
There was unseasonably wet weather whilst they were there; it doesnt usually rain in July. This affected both the game movements as well as the road conditions. This was not helped by a few hiccups: with bad road conditions they got stuck twice, an oversight resulted in the spotlight not working on their first evening night drive, and not enough warm blankets/ponchos were on the vehicle.
After voicing their dissatisfaction they were allocated another guide, the spotlight was fixed, the road repaired, and there are now better checks to make sure that blankets and ponchos are never forgotten.
Having visited Majete and Mkulumadzi ourselves, wed never recommend the park as a top Big 5 game destination although we did see some plenty of antelope, including nyala and eland, and a scattering of elephants and buffalo. Were sorry that the weather seems to have had an adverse impact on the game-viewing for these travellers.
Our own information on Majete Wildlife Reserve
currently (up to Aug 2013) notes that there are seven black rhino in the 700km2 wildlife reserve, so this isnt a destination that anyone should come to expecting good rhino sightings.
We are sorry that these travellers had a disappointing time and hope that this did not mar the overall enjoyment of their trip.