Mvuu Lodge, Liwonde National Park


"Mvuu" in Swahili means "Hippo" and there are certainly a lot of hippos here. The Lodge and the camp are within a couple of hundred metres of each other, and are run by the same company. The Lodge is exclusive with just 8 rooms and offers individual attention; the manageress, Barbara, was incredible. . The Camp is really a large hotel and deals with more people on a mass tourism basis. Happily our choice was to pay the premium and stay at the Lodge

You reach the Lodge via a bone jarring 17 km stretch of dirt road, followed by a short boat trip over the river. The Lodge "tents" are well spaced out (the corollary being that it is a long walk from reception to get to your tent). You have a large secluded balcony, and the inside of the tent is done to a very high standard of decor and fittings. There is an inside and an outside shower, but no bath.

Mornings are filled with a 06.00 game walk, followed by breakfast, and then a boat ride to view game on the banks of the river, ending at 11.00. The afternoon drive starts after tea at 15.00 and carries on after a stop for a sundowner, morphing into a night drive to spot nocturnal animals, ending up back at camp at 19.00. We found the game drives interesting, even though we saw little of the Big Five, only a few elephants. The night drive revealed many more nocturnal animals than we had expected.

There was a BBQ in the bush one evening, which was very atmospheric with a camp fire flickering in the background and the clear starry sky overhead.

The only issue we had was with timing and communications; our guide never turned up at the appointed hour, and tea was never ready at the hour we had been told to present ourselves.

Having said that,otherwise this is a well managed lodge, and offers good game viewing. You will never see the Big Five here, but you will see lots of antelopes, hippos and crocs. The Lodge is clearly nicer, but more expensive, than the Camp. And I would always opt for the Lodge .