African Parks (Majete) Ltd. is the local company established by African Parks for the management, rehabilitation, and development of Majete Wildlife Reserve from 2003 to 2028.
Since African Park's arrival, restocking has taken place in phases, and will continue with the aim of restoring populations of the original species that were present in the Reserve. To date these animals include: black rhino, buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck, eland, hartebeest, zebra, bush pig, impala, nyala, and sable. The aim is to restock the Reserve with populations of extirpated species, acquired from other protected areas in Malawi and neighboring countries. These animals were originally released into a 14,000 ha area while the perimeter fence was being constructed. This fence was completed a couple of years ago and all wildlife are free-roaming in the whole reserve.
The infrastructure has been upgraded, including construction and maintenance of 150 km of new roads within the Reserve, and maintenance of the 16-km road from Chikwawa to Majete, clearing and maintenance 40 km of firebreaks for fire management, completion of 6 scout houses with electricity and water at every house, administration facilities, including a fully equipped workshop and operations room, and Thawale tented camp, with 4 luxury tents, lapa, kitchen, a 44 KVA generator and staff/volunteer accommodation. Three artificial waterholes were constructed in the original 14,000 ha sanctuary.
Majete Wildlife Reserve covers 700 km² and lies at the low attitude of about 100 m. The Shire River forms part of the eastern boundary. It was gazetted as a Game Reserve in 1955. Further extensions occurred in 1969 to include dry season water sources, and in 1976 it was extended to include the full width of the Shire River. In 1988 there were estimated to be over 200 elephants in Majete, but by 1992 all had been exterminated.
Majete Wildlife Reserve is an area of 70,000 ha in the Lower Shire Valley, about 70 km southwest of Blantyre, the commercial capital of Malawi. It is an area of undulating and hilly country, covered in tall deciduous woodland with beautiful grassy glades and occasional patches of thicket. To the east it is mixed acacia, leadwood and marula savannah with scattered stately baobab trees and patches of lala palms. All the watercourses have a fringe of riverine thicket and the rugged western highlands are dominated by miombo woodland.
Flora and fauna
Majete Wildlife Reserve was, at one time, hugely rich in a variety of species of animals and vegetation. Whilst the flora is undoubtedly varied and flourishing, it will continue to take a while before the Reserve is fully inhabited by its entire wealth of indigenous species once again.
To rehabilitate Majete’s wildlife, the agreement between African Parks and the Malawi's Department of National Parks and Wildlife stipulated provisions being made for the restocking of wildlife with populations of extirpated species acquired from other protected areas in Malawi and, in certain circumstance, from elsewhere in southern Africa. Nearly 1,000 animals have been moved to Majete from other national parks in Malawi, and some from private reserves in Zambia and South Africa. Animals introduced so far include: black rhino, lion, buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck, Livingstone’s eland, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, sable antelope, nyala, zebra, impala, and warthog – nearly all of which have bred successfully and increased their populations by at least 10% since reintroduction. A founder population of five cheetahs from South Africa was reintroduced in 2019. Very large numbers of crocodiles and hippos still occur in the Shire River. Majete Wildlife Reserve is also very rich in birdlife, the total number of species recorded being 311, which is a reflection of the varied habitat.
Fees and permits
Malawian nationals: US$4
Malawian National children: US$2
Malawian residents: US$10
Malawian resident children: US$5
International visitors: US$25
International visitor children: US$12
Per vehicle per day fee: US$4
You can do game drives through the lodges in the park or you can self-drive. The Reserve is committed to the environment so there are no tarmac roads and the number of artificial bridges is kept to a minimum. Because of this, you will need a 4x4 vehicle for getting around the reserve. You can rent a vehicle in Blantyre.
Game drives, bird watching, night drives, sight seeing, local entertainment, braais.
- Sunbird Thawale Tented Lodge: a local chain of hotels runs this lodge. Prices range from about US$220 to $400 pppn between seasons.
- Mkulumadzi Lodge: Robin Pope Safaris runs this lodge. Rates start at about US$370 pppn
Chalets and camping are available, along with cooked meals and self-catering facilities. The camp is in a lovely setting overlooking the Matitu Falls on the Shire River, an ideal location for fishermen or people who like to be in the wilderness.
- Community Campsite: this is owned and run by local communities surrounding the reserve. Up to 20 guests can be accommodated, starting at US$10 per person per night. You can bring your own tent or rent one there from US$25.