Mvuu Me!

Jon and I planned an awesome safari trip to celebrate our 4th anniversary – Mvuu Lodge in the Liwonde National Park. It’s situated on the Shire River, an offshoot of Lake Malawi (the 9th biggest lake in the world). We headed out early and listened to podcasts and audio books, as per usual. Then, two hours later, we realized that we had forgotten our water jugs, our raincoats and my glasses. Oops! Good start. We stopped for breakfast in Dedza, a really nice place that’s famous for its pottery, and arrived at the Hippo View Lodge in time for our boat to our destination. I described this place as an off-brand Disney from the 80’s. But since you can’t drive to our lodge during the rainy season, they have this arrangement with Hippo View to let guests leave their cars there. We ordered a quick lunch because we were hungry, got in trouble for feeding a stray cat & then got on the boat. All in 30 minutes! We saw lots of animals on our 45-minute ride, which was an auspicious start. The dock is on the ‘camp side’ of the property and they drove us to the ‘lodge side,’ where we were staying. They have a lovely lounge area with misters, a bar, WiFi and a place to charge your devices, since there is no power on the property. (It’s all operated by generators…) We went to the restaurant and had lunch #2 (oops) and went to our chalet to get settled. It was really nice – spacious and had an outdoor seating area, outdoor shower, solar lights, etc. We got picked up for the game drive and headed out, seeing animals along the way with our awesome guide (Chifundo). We stopped for sundowners in a lovely setting by the river and headed back for dinner when it started to get dark. They surprised us with a bottle of champagne for our anniversary, which was super nice! I took a shower – a little trickier when it’s dark and you can’t see how many hippos are watching you – and went to bed, as we were to wake up at 5:30 am for a drive the next day!

The next morning, they brought tea and coffee to our room in a picnic basket (!) and we headed out. We saw the sunrise, chatted with some animals and had a great time. Then, we went back to have breakfast (buffet and then a made-to-order plate with eggs, grilled tomato, etc.) and got ready for the boat drive. It was amazing – elephants, elephants, and elephants! After, we had lunch and played games at the lodge, enjoying tea and coffee and the scenery. A few of the folks from our game vehicle checked out, new people came (incl. a group of 10!) and we headed out on our game drive. (Our car only had five people in it this time – the smallest we’ve ever had!) We saw an incredible group of elephants right at sunset, which was amazing. (We couldn’t get a good picture with the light, sadly… And, frankly, we didn’t want to move much because they were RIGHT next to us.) We came back, had cocktails and a great dinner before going to bed early. Awesome day!

The next day, we woke up a little later (7:00 am – woah!) and went to breakfast. We headed out on a game drive and then had a nice buffet lunch when we got back. Jon and I went to play games again – I was pissed about losing in a tight match of 7 Wonders: Duel the day before – and had tea and coffee before our evening river cruise. We saw a TON of hippos (getting pretty close at times!) and had our sundowners in a marsh with elephants and hippos all around us. Incredible. We got back and they told us they had planned to set up a private dinner for us on our chalet’s porch but since it was raining, they had to cancel it. It was such a nice gesture! We had a great last dinner at the lodge, with everyone, and got ready for bed. But not until after Jon fixed the hole he tore in our bed’s mosquito net, trying to kill a bug with his shoe! (Luckily, he always has a small sewing kit, which is good because he wouldn’t have been able to sleep, thinking about the mosquitos getting in…) :/

Our last day – 😦 – we woke up at 5:30 am and had coffee and tea brought to the room again. (Man, that’s such a nice touch.) We went on a nature walk, which was really neat. (My first time!) We saw lots of animal prints, looked at dung, watched birds, learned about the medicinal uses of plants, etc. We had to be accompanied by a guide with a rifle, who was constantly scanning for buffalos, elephants, etc. We got back and packed up before breakfast. We checked out after we ate and waited for the others so we could drive to the camp and get on our last boat safari, where we saw another elephant party! (That NEVER gets old…) We came back, bought a few things at the camp shop and took the boat back to the Hippo View Lodge and got on the road. {On the way back to Lilongwe, we got stopped at a checkpoint – which are super frequent – and the cop asked Jon if he’s ever given a cop a ride before. When Jon said he never has, the cop asked why he hadn’t. We were very confused and couldn’t tell if he was saying that we should’ve done that in the past (or maybe the cop had heard that we hadn’t, somehow, and that’s why he was asking)…? It ended with him saying that he wanted us to give him and his partner a ride. So for 30 minutes, these two cops that barely spoke English sat in our backseat – it was quite interesting (and, luckily, uneventful). We won’t be doing that again.} All in all, though, an incredible weekend! So fun and memorable…

– By Naama


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