We sit in the boat, cruising down the river on a hot afternoon. Our guide turns off the motor and we quietly drift along the river. Crocodiles slip down from the river bank to cool off in the water, buck jump along in the distance and herons and fish eagles swoop around. We all sit in awe, whispering to one another while sipping on our sun downers. A big bump against the side of the boat causes the boat to tilt and we gasp in surprise, almost jumping into each others laps.
“Whoops,” says our guide.
“That’s just a hippo, came up for a breath of air in the wrong place. Shame,” he says with a smile.
We laugh. Our laughter is filled with unease, surprise and the joy of a new experience – A river Safari.
Spending time in the bush is, for me, a perfect way to reconnect with nature and self. In the main, it’s far from the busyness of every day life and more often than not an opportunity for a digital detox. Mornings and evenings are best spent watching the sun rise or set while on a safari. While visiting Mvuu Lodge and camp in the Liwonde National Park, Malawi, this included a river safari along the Shire River, which was a first for me.
The Liwonde National Park is in the southern part of Malawi. It’s 548 square kilometres of woodlands and savannah with the Shire River running through part of it. The park is managed by African Parks, in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, and has been crucial in its wildlife conservation efforts through translocations, the preservation of habitat and bringing poaching under control in the park.
While there, we stayed at the Mvuu camp which has lovely rooms, a lapa for dining and socilaising and an opportunity to lounge by the pool when not on one of the guided activities such as birding, river cruises, safaris and nature walks.
Night time brought with it a variety of activity right outside our doors. An elephant out for a walk tugs at the high tree branches for its midnight snack; the sound of laughing hippos drawing closer and closer; and the early morning bird calls summoning you to the early morning game drive. The insects are also out and about at night, so you will need that bug repellent!
Early morning game drive
The following morning, we rose bright and early for a game drive. We had learnt that a few days before out visit, our fellow South Africans – Rhinos – were translocated from Imfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. We didn’t spot them on our evening or morning safari but you know how it is when you first move to an area. You’re still quietly getting to know the area without being too extra.
The river safari was by far one of my favourite ways to explore game on a trip. I think you often get caught up in seeing all big five. While that is always fantastic find, there is so much to experience and learn about all the animals on a game drive. It reminded me of what one of the botanists said to us on our spring flower trip, “don’t just take a picture of the colourful flowers, look beyond and see the beauty around them, too.