I didn’t have my heart set on a safari, or anything really, my goals were simply to be in Africa and to see The Fabulous family, and maybe avoid illness/parasites. Looking back, though, I will be forever grateful that Dr. Mama Fabulous did arrange for us to do some vacationing in the Warm Heart of Africa.
Lake Malawi shoreline with traditional fishing boat in foreground
We spent a couple of days in Senga Bay on the lake. I love what Lonely Planet has to say about the place:
Senga Bay travel recommendations and tips from Lonely Planet. Discover 0 things to do & 1 places to stay with expert reviews and booking
Zero things to do – oh yeah!!
Rental house outside and inside, path to the beach
We stayed in a rental house (Dr. Mama had a connection) and enjoyed swimming at the beach there, also we swam at a pool and private beach down the road for a small fee – it was part of a resort chain called Sunbird. We paid a local who took us in a small boat to a nearby island in the lake. It is called Lizard Island for its large-sized lizards, of which we saw none, unfortunately. We did have a great boat ride, a nice hike all over the little island, and we went snorkling and saw the famous cichlids in their habitat. We fed them crackers and they surrounded us like a dancing underwater bouquet.
Sunset next to Lizard Island
After Senga Bay, we headed to the glorious Hippo View Lodge – this place would feel at home in New Jersey with its brightly colored hippo statues and other kitschy decorations on hand.
The spectacular Hippo View! Note zebra and giraffe statues on R photo!
from Hippo View, we met our connection for the Mvuu Lodge. I should mention here that Mvuu means Hippo in chichewa. So, we signed some paperwork – sigh, it appears that litigiousness has reaches the banks of the Mvuu – and got into the riverboat.
“Sorry – it’s our first hippo!” I blurted by means of apology after standing up in the boat minutes after we had promised to remain seated. There were so many hippos! Eventually, we kind of got used to them. They lazed around in clumps, only their eyes above the water. There were also birds, and one elephant we saw during the river ride.
Mvuu Lodge was luxurious. There was a main eating/gathering area with a thatched roof, and paths to small tent/cabin structures on the grounds. We had 2 of these, so Fiercely and I had our own. Each was equipped with umbrellas and also an emergency whistle. Luckily, there was no rain or threatening wildlife while we were there so we needed neither! The bathrooms were so beautiful with stone, wood, and bamboo, I can’t believe I took pictures of them but I did.
That night, we went on an evening safari in Liwonde National Park, where the Lodge is located. There were herds of impala, numerous monkeys and warthogs and kudu, and we saw one elephant. Apparently the rainy time of year makes elephants more scarce because they have more options for drinking water. During the dry season, they are more predictable. So we felt lucky to see a few on this trip! The sunset by the river was beautiful.
Warthogs eat kneeling down! Who knew?
Well, the night was boisterous with any number of birds, bugs, hippos and other creatures making their nightly music. It was all so loud and unfamiliar, it woke me up more than once! The walls of our cabin were screens so we could hear everything, I loved it. The next morning we took a river safari and saw crocodiles, birds, and more hippos. Then it was back on the river to Hippo View and a drive back to Lilongwe.
Oh! I almost forgot our hippo story! When we first arrived at the Lodge, we heard a commotion and looked at the path in front of the thatched main building. There, crashing through the riverside brush, were two hippos, one chasing the other! They ran faster than you might imagine through the Lodge grounds and past the little cabins, making deep imprints in the packed ground with their heavy feet. The victorious/bully hippo turned back and returned to the river from the brush where they had emerged, job done. The poor hippo being chased continued and barged through a fence across the lodge grounds and back to the river.
Hippo footprint and victorious hippo