A Delightful Retreat at Kuthengo Camp

It’s been three weeks since my last write-up, and another week prior to that I had the pleasure of visiting the newly opened Kuthengo Camp by Robin Pope Safaris at Liwonde National Park. Having been to some of their other establishments in Malawi, such as Pumulani Lodge, I knew that this camp would stay up to their name.

My best friend and I set off early to make for the 4 hour drive from Lilongwe to Liwonde. Compared to my solo travel to Mumbo Island the previous week, the company was a welcome change with the memorable conversations and comfortable silences as we made our way through the roads. At the entrance of the National Park, we were told that in another 200 metres or so the boat pickup would take us to Kuthengo camp.

At the vehicle drop off, we were introduced to Patrick, who warmly welcomed us and took us on our boat transfer to the camp.

Shire River-2

Views of the Shire River

10-15 minutes later, we were greeted by the hosts of the camp, Jason and Steegan. As we trekked through the bush, the camp lay before us, with a small dining area, bar lounge and the grasslands before us. The ambiance with the birds twittering was all too welcoming as well as the chill breeze.

Lunch had been a welcome sight indeed. I don’t know if I should point out at this time or later that our Chef, Dickson, had been an all-round star with the food that we had over the next three days. From me being a vegetarian to my friend Erin being gluten-intolerant, it had been a mild concern that we would have some trouble with the food. But boy was I wrong! We were constantly set up with a feast for every single meal.

Kuthengo lunch

Lunch with a view!

Lunch

What a lunch!

It was after lunch that we got the opportunity to see our room – a breathtaking space of rustic beauty, with an open shower and bathroom, comfortable bedding and a clear view of the Shire River. For a moment we got lost in the beautiful setting!

Kuthengo Room 1

A reading space

Kuthengo Room 2

The bedroom, air-conditioning included

Kuthengo Room 3

Luxury bathroom!

Kuthengo room

The view from outside

A couple of hours and a high tea later (high tea involving delicious muffins and tea or coffee), Patrick took us out on a boat safari – a completely different experience from the usual game drive. The bird displays were glorious throughout the safari and we also spotted an elephant munching its way through the bushes close to the river edge.

Elephant reeds

An elephant playing hide and seek..

Birds flying_

White-breasted cormorants flying across the river

The day ended with more snacks and sun-downers to watch the beautiful sunset glow across the Shire River…

Shire River Sunset

Sunset glow…

Sunset Shire River

Typical African sunset ❤ 

Dinner under the stars was equally magnificent, with a boastful 3-course dinner and a campfire under the stars where I was finally able to explore some night photography.

Kuthengo Stars

The milky way!

Our next morning out was another promising boat safari with a trustworthy guide from Robin Pope – Stanley. We set off at 6am after a cold breakfast and coffee with the hope of seeing some elephants by the water area. Blankets were provided to keep us warm from the chill – trust me it was quite cold! – and the wind woke us up as well as the anticipation of seeing more animals. A couple of crocodiles here and there, plenty of hippos (of course!) as well as a great deal of birds – Liwonde National Park is known for them. 🙂

Hippo

Sometimes hard to capture these because the moment they see the boat they dip underwater

Then we spotted the herd of elephants just moseying their way around the river…

Elephant Liwonde

Elephants…

Liwonde Elephant

Fairly young elephant? Doesn’t seem like a full-grown male…

As we got back from our boat safari content with our sightings, we were promised by Jason for a delicious hot brunch – ideal for the cloudy weather that we seemed to be facing that day!

Later that afternoon, we’d opted for a walking safari. Stanley mentioned to us that there are two sides of the National Park; one with the lions and cheetahs, amongst elephants and other species of animals – the other (where we would take our trek) with only elephants and a variety of antelopes ;). It was a wonderful 2 hour walk going through the bush, with both Stanley and our Ranger, Felix. We didn’t see much other than antelopes frisking their way through the bushes, but the experience on the whole was exciting enough.

Liwonde copy

Out in the bush

Walking safari

Just another evening stroll 🙂

Jason and Steegan joined us for dinner that night and we chatted the night away with another delicious dinner. From anecdotes of our own lives to debates and discussions with current affairs, they’d been lovely company and it was a wonderful end to our day.

   On our last full day at Kuthengo, we opted to head out into the bush on a full day’s game drive within the National Park. 7:30am sharp, we set off with the hope of being able to spot the big 5…

Game drive

Open jeep!

Our morning drive around the Park and into the Rhino Sanctuary was a pretty sight indeed. We drove by the river area as well to try spot some elephants, although the most we spotted was antelope and some warthogs.

Liwonde Park

Driving around the park

Liwonde Park (Waterbuck)

Waterbucks all alert

With our eyes peeled for any possible sightings of the big 5 throughout the day, we were mildly disappointed that we didn’t get to see any of them. I’d been the keenest to try spot some elephants, however luck just wasn’t on our side. Our highlight of the day would definitely be the variety of antelope that we saw.

Sable

A Sable Antelope watches keenly

Liwonde Park (Impalas)

Impalas frolicking around

Impalas 2

Impalas hiding within the woods

Kudu

A magnificent Kudu

Shout-out to our guide Stanley and Felix who patiently took us around the whole park and tried their best to find some sightings for us! They were experts at noticing the beautiful birds as well 🙂

Guides

Felix (left) Stanley (right)

Bird

Boehm’s Bee eater

Birds-4

Lilac breasted roller – gorgeous one!

My disappointment of not seeing elephants again did get sorted though. When we’d packed up and left Kuthengo the following morning after we bid farewell to the entire team, the boat transfer back to mainland allowed us to view a gorgeous herd of elephants right by the river bed! That was the icing on my cake 🙂

Elephants

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway at Liwonde National Park, Kuthengo Camp is the place to go to!

More about Kuthengo Camp

Kuthengo Camp is currently a 4 chalet private lodge ideal for those looking for an intimate experience in a National Park. They have beautiful rooms as shown above, the hosts are wonderful (see below), the food is delicious, and the location is completely relaxing.

Note: Since Kuthengo Camp is within Liwonde National Park, during the daytime you have to be extra careful. Please note you’re only permitted to walk around the premises at night with a security guard in the scenario you run into any of the animals.

Things to do at Kuthengo Camp

  • Game drives
  • Walking safari trails
  • Boat safaris
  • Relaxing at the camp

When to visit

Ideally during the dry season you’re more likely to see animals pop out – recommended between May to October before the wet season.

About the host

Jason and Steegan have both been in and around Africa, including some experience in the Middle East. They decided to return back to Africa where their heart lies and joined Kuthengo Camp for its opening. They were lovely hosts and we had a brilliant time getting to know them 🙂

Shout-out to Robin Pope Safaris for the amazing experience at Kuthengo Camp! Rest assured I hope to be back soon.

Kuthengo Staff 1

The whole team!

*Although hosts of various lodges may not stay long-term, I believe that if I’ve had a good experience with the host I’d like to mention them in my blogs.

Follow @this.girl.from.malawi for more of my photos on Instagram – link on the side too. 🙂

Follow @Robin_Pope_Safaris for more of their photos on Instagram.