“Mvuu Lodge”:http://cawsmw.com/index.php/lodges/mvuu-lodge/ is located in Malawi’s Liwonde National Park. The drive was one of our shorter journeys at around 2 hours, but the last 16km, along a bumpy dirt track, took nearly 45 minutes. After conducting formalities at the Park’s entrance, we drove to a small jetty where a boat collected us for the 5-minute trip to the other side of the River Shire. Although we’d booked “Mvuu Camp”:http://cawsmw.com/index.php/lodges/mvuu-camp/ (Mvuu by the way means hippo in the local language), we were upgraded to the Lodge (said to the most exclusive in Malawi), and so we transferred to a jeep for the short journey.
After being welcomed with cold flannels and a much-needed welcome drink, we were shown to our tent (number 5). It had an outside terrace, with comfortable chairs and a coffee table overlooking a grassy area below with various types of antelope and baboons. The spacious interior had a large bed facing towards the view, hanging space, flask of water, bedside tables, mosquito net, solar lights, laundry basket (cost of which was included), desk and chair, mosquito repellent for the room and self and a klaxon to sound in an emergency (we were told an elephant near our tent was not an emergency). There was also an animal-skin drum to beat if we wanted anything and we were told to beat five times to signify the message was from tent 5.
The bathroom was semi open-air with a large circular bath, which you had to climb down into and a shower over it. There was a separate loo. We later discovered that not all tents were like this, and tent number 5 was regarded as the honeymoon tent.
The communal lounge, with restaurant nearby, had a bar and a variety of seating, telescope, books and games and this is where tea was served before game drives along with scrummy cake.
Dinner was at 7pm and at night, you had to be accompanied as animals roamed freely. On the first evening, there were only four of us and pre-dinner drinks and nibbles were served around the fire pit. The menu was announced by the chef: chilled sweetcorn soup and dinner rolls, sliced pork in sauce, rice and vegetables followed by crème brulee. We ate on individual tables but on the second night, when there was six of us, a communal table had been laid. Unfortunately, one couple broke the dinner party rule of not discussing race, politics and religion. Their loud, patronising manner was bad enough, but compounded when the woman swapped her dessert, which had been specifically made to accommodate her low-fat diet, with her neighbour’s banana fritter because she ‘thought it looked better’. Also, when tea and coffee was offered, she asked if they did latte: where did she think she was, Starbucks? We quickly retreated to our tent as soon as was politely possible. We were dreading our final night’s dinner, but on returning from our game drive, found a romantic, candle-lit table had been set on our balcony just for the two of us – a fabulous touch and one that saved us from another night of uncomfortable conversation.
Tea was delivered to our tent before early morning game drives with a full English Breakfast, cereals, yoghurts, fruit and juices being served on return.
Lunch was at 1pm and a two-course affair. We just been served our beetroot and feta quiche when a very naughty young baboon swooped down and stole my quiche. After that, the waiter patrolled with a catapult!
There was no electricity in the tents, but solar lights were provided and there were times when batteries etc could be recharged in the bar. There was no wifi at the Lodge but if you were desperate, you could walk down to the camp. Although credit cards were accepted, they struggled to get a signal, even at the camp, and so we had to pay our bill in cash.
There was also a swimming pool, often surrounded by baboons, but we had an action-packed itinerary of game drives on foot, by boat and jeep and never found the time to use it. A particularly nice touch, was being offered a final sunrise river cruise before we left.
This was our favourite place to stay, and with a lot of little extra touches, we felt we’d been royally treated.