NKHOTAKOTA WILDLIFE RESERVE
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, to the east of Central Malawi and near Lake Malawi, is one of the two large wildlife areas offering safaris in this region. Its vast 700 sq miles (1800 sq km) is of rugged terrain crossed by a number of rivers which tumble down the edge of the Rift Valley escarpment as they make their ways to the Lake. Most of the reserve is miombo woodland with large patches of tall grasses and occasional areas of rainforest. Birdlife is prolific with giant kingfishers and palm nut vultures among the 130 recorded species. This is a wonderful example of true, rugged, untouched wilderness. In the past the reserve proved difficult to access because of the lack of roads or driveable tracks. Although there were animals in Nkhotakota, the terrain and difficult access made them difficult to find. However, the management of the reserve passed into the hands of African Parks in 2015 and they are making rapid progress carrying out their plans to protect and further develop Nkhotakota. One of the largest elephant translocations in human history took place during 2016/17 with 500 elephants being brought in to Nkhotakota. Over half that number were successfully moved in 2016, as part of a total influx of over 1500 game animals, with the reminder brought in the following year. A sanctuary has been established and the reserve has been fully fenced to ensure the long term survival of all the animals in this rapidly developing reserve.
As well as the fast developing game viewing safaris, there are opportunities to go walking and hiking in Nkhotakota. Visitors can also paddle canoes on a boat safari down the Bua River as it cuts through the dense bush, or have a go at fishing from the banks of this mighty river.
Recent years have seen the opening of brand new, professionally-run accommodation in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve for the first time. Three lodges of international standards have been built: Bua River Lodge, Tongole Wilderness Lodge and Kachenga Bush Camp, more recent sister property of Tongole. The Tongole Foundation supports the local communities through a variety of projects and guests at the lodges are invited to engage with those local communities. Just outside the Reserve on its eastern boundary (close to Lake Malawi) is the new Rafiki Safari Camp, opened in 2019, and offering luxury tented safari units and camping.
In 2019, the sanctuary was extended to cover 80,000 hectares with access to the the Bua river included within the boundary, offering frequent up close wildlife viewing for guests at both lodges.