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Responsible tourism: Malawi self drive vacation
Liwonde National Park in Malawi is now a place of extraordinary biodiversity and conservation potential. Previously, decades of poaching and habitat encroachment meant that the Park had deteriorated considerably and the Malawi government was forced to seek help. South African National Parks and the Frankfurt Zoological Society assisted in the development of much of the infrastructure of the Park (wildlife, building structures and border fencing). Local Malawian businesses, as well as the J&B 'Care for the Rare' circle also became involved in this excellent programme.
In 2006 and 2007, helicopter aerial game censuses of Liwonde National Park took place, funded by the owners of Mvuu Lodge and formed part of their involvement in the long-term vision for the future of the Park. The results and conclusions allowed a number of management questions to be addressed. Among these are the movements of elephants out of the Park, and the population increase of various species.
The 'Endangered Species of Malawi Circle' draws its enthusiastic members from all walks of life and identifies projects to save endangered species, organising the funding and the ground support needed to carry out the specific project.
In conjunction with South Africa National Parks, the Circle has provided technical expertise in relocating no less than six black rhino to Liwonde Park, where they live in a fenced sanctuary not far from Mvuu. Since the project began, three breeding pairs have been successfully introduced to Liwonde.
The owners of Mvuu Lodge assist the Endangered Species of Malawi Circle by running the sanctuary on a day-to-day basis, pumping water into the waterholes, fixing the fences and maintaining the equipment. They have also two sponsored chalets at the camp, from which 20% of all income is donated to the Circle. The motivation behind this project is to eventually release the rhino into the Park and to diversify the dwindling gene pool of black rhino in Africa so that if and when conditions materialise for their reintroduction elsewhere, some of the Liwonde rhino can in turn be relocated. The Circle has also assisted in the relocation of zebra, buffalo and Lichtenstein's hartebeest into Liwonde.
Mvuu Lodge hosts over 2 000 schoolchildren annually from all over Malawi on day visits to Liwonde National Park, encouraging a sense of appreciation and responsibility for Malawi's threatened natural heritage. Children are taught about the importance of conservation.
Nanthomba School is situated in the Machinga district of Malawi, just outside the western gate of Liwonde National Park. Its construction is the brainchild of three Mvuu Camp and Lodge employees: Matthews Matewere, Dinara Kankhuni and Mike Mtewa. Inspired by Wilderness Safaris' Children in the Wilderness programme which runs annually at Mvuu Camp, they began planning the construction of a school in this area.
With initial contributions from guests at Mvuu Lodge, they purchased bricks, sand and cement for construction. The successful completion of this task qualified the school to receive funds from a European Union (EU) Micro Project school building programme, where the EU pledges to match the funding collected in order to complete the construction of the school; the project allows for two classroom blocks and some teachers' houses.
The overall concept was to transform a traditional rural school into a substantial and well-equipped primary school with eight classrooms of 40 pupils each. The pupils are orphans from the surrounding area, as well as children of Mvuu Lodge employees and the Department of National Parks staff. A board of trustees has been formed, comprising teachers, Mvuu Lodge staff and local leaders.
In early 2006, the school received a wonderfully generous donation from the Wolstein family in Ohio, USA, and this allowed the project to expand its vision into the building of a 320-pupil primary school. The Wolsteins continue to be generous supporters of the project and their foundation - called H.E.L.P (Hope, Educate, Love, Protect) MALAWI - continues to support this project.
The Nanthomba School Project was completed by late 2007. Phase 2 is to raise enough funds to run the school on a long-term basis as well as to buy books, furniture and uniforms for the pupils.
The reality in Malawi is that it is simply not economically feasible to run a good school in the rural areas on the school fees that the pupils, living after all in an economy with virtually no money, can afford to pay. Therefore the aim here is to build structures and get materials in place that will allow children to obtain a decent education.
Reviews of Malawi self drive vacation
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.
I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 17 Aug 2015 by Giulia Rap
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Mvuu camp and the night safaris
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Before leaving, i suggest to buy maps and guides because you will not find any tourist indication. They prefer to provide you a guide instead of selling maps and written indication.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Yes, I think so for the majority of lodges in which we stayed.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?