We wanted to head off the beaten track a little and have an adventure in Malawi with our young children this year. We contacted Far and Wild, giving them a basic brief of what we liked, how long we had and a budget and, after some cogitation and a little bit of refinement, they presented us with an itinerary that met all of our requirements. Our adventure was to include some safari, some luxury accommodation, some culture, some relaxation and a little bit of astronomy. Thoughtfully, each transfer took no more than a couple of hours to best suit the kids. We couldn't wait.
The UK summer holiday was the perfect time to travel to southern Africa, as it is pleasantly warm and dry without the oppressive heat and humidity that hits later in the year - and fewer mosquitoes, too. Our stays at Mkulumadzi Lodge in Majete National Park and Mvuu Camp in Liwonde National Park were particularly memorable; the accommodation was stunning with wildlife and spectacular scenery right on the doorstep. We would awake to the sound of the dawn chorus and watch the starry sky give way to daylight, with hippos and crocodiles visible while we lay in bed!
We were lucky enough to see leopards in Majete, had a thrillingly close (yet safe!) encounter with elephants during a boat safari in Liwonde and saw numerous antelope and bird species. Our guides were knowledgeable, patiently answered our and our childrens' questions, and they learned our interests and adapted our game drives so we saw more of what we wanted to see. They even took us out after dark to go star gazing.
The safari experiences alone would have made for an unforgettable holiday, but there is more to Malawi than 'just' safari. Our trip was rounded off with a stay at the luxurious Pumulani Lodge on Lake Malawi, where we relaxed and recharged, and had a chance to use their telescope to view the planets, before heading home.
The scenery, ranging from the Baobab-studded plains dotted with traditional villages, to the dizzying escarpments and vast vistas of the mountains and plateaux, to the shimmering expanse of Lake Malawi itself, formed the backdrop of our adventure. The people we met exuded a warm friendliness and humbling stoicism. Malawi was beautiful and inspiring and we made some memories there that will stay with all of us for life.