Malilangwe is a private reserve covering 526km² of beautifully unspoiled bush bordering Gonarezhou National Park in south-eastern Zimbabwe. Malilangwe means ‘Call of the Leopard’, an appropriate name for a reserve that hosts this gorgeous feline, along with its four counterparts that make up Africa’s famous Big 5.
A safari in this reserve is made even more special by the potential to sight 16 rare and endangered wildlife species, including roan and sable antelopes, African wild dog and cheetah. Key wildlife conservation efforts in the reserve include the reintroduction of rhino and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, a locally extinct species. Malilangwe also has a Little Six, made up of Southern Africa’s small and elegant antelope species, the klipspringer, Sharpe's grysbok, grey duiker, steenbok, Livingstone's suni and oribi.
Not only is Malilangwe considered one of the region’s greatest destinations for big and small mammals, it is also a haven for avid birders and twitchers. Bird species number over 400 and most notable is the dense population of raptors, namely 14 eagle, 11 hawk and nine owl species. Woodland kingfishers arrive at the start of summer, followed by huge colonies of quelea who come to nest at the end of the season. Asian steppes migratory eagles and falcons come to join the reserve’s resident raptors.
Exploring Malilangwe takes you through cathedral mopane forests, fascinating ‘upside-down’ baobab trees, sandstone outcrops, and 100 rock art sites that date back more than two centuries. With just one luxury lodge within the park, it is a private and exclusive safari experience with a suitable variety of activities. Game drives are held in the morning, afternoon and evening in open 4×4 vehicles, while for those that wish to get closer to nature, there are canoeing safaris and guided walks, which include visits to the rock art sites. Anglers will be happy to know that fishing is offered throughout the year in the reserve’s dam, with tiger fish, bass,catfish and bream (tilapia) being some of the fish you might just get to reel in.
The Malilangwe Trust is a non-profit organisation that partners with neighbouring communities to run the reserve. It has since become a sustainable livelihood source for local people, who are further empowered through improved healthcare and education provided for by funds generated by the trust. For those that prioritise responsible travel, you can know that a safari in Malilangwe makes a meaningful difference to the lives of people in the surrounding areas.
Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve is just 200km from the South African border and is accessible via direct twice-weekly flights from Johannesburg's OR Tambo Airport.
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