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Tongole Wilderness Lodge from above, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

The Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve sits on the edge of the Rift Valley Escarpment. Hilly and covered in dense miombo woodland, this beautiful park is bisected by two permanent rivers that flow into Lake Malawi.

The tree-covered hills are dotted with occasional grassy openings and seasonal river gullies, whilst the south-west of the park is dominated by Chipata Mountain – a peak home to Afromontane forest and blue monkeys.

In spite of this beautiful landscape, for many years, the park was left almost unprotected and vulnerable to poachers. Once home to large populations of lions and elephants, Nkhotakota was almost devoid of large mammals by the turn of the millennium. Recently, however, things have begun to change, with the reintroduction of key species.

Track through Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
Sun through trees, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi

Why visit Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

  • Experience a pioneering conservation project, managed by African Parks
  • Hike through the park’s vast swathes of beautiful miombo woodland
  • Visit waterfalls and canoe on the swirling Bua River
  • Stay at the stunning Tongole Wilderness Lodge
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
Looking out over Bua River from Tongole, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi

Conservation success of African Parks

African Parks took over management of the reserve in 2015, ending decades of non-existent law enforcement and rampant poaching. Quickly, they restored the park’s infrastructure and started to protect its boundaries, paving the way for the recovery of its wildlife. In 2016, one of the greatest animal translocations of modern times began.

During 2016 and 2017, more than 500 elephants and 1,200 other large herbivores, including various antelope species, were translocated to the park. This huge project marked a key milestone in Nkhotakota’s road to recovery, increasing the elephant population tenfold in just over a year and transforming the ecosystem.

Despite this incredible success, Nkhotakota still faces huge long-term challenges. New road networks need to be created, fencing needs to be completed and the animals need to adjust to the environment. Therefore, presently, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve offers a beautiful wilderness experience and a unique conservation story, but it is yet to become a safari destination.

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Discover some of our suggested activities to include on your Malawi holiday

Tongole Wilderness Lodge

Stay at the stunning Tongole Wilderness Lodge, which looks out over the swirling Bua River

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Canoeing on the Bua River

Canoe down the Bua River, spotting baby crocodiles, and stop on one of the banks for a sundowner cocktail.

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Hike in Nkhotakota

Hike through the park’s vast swathes of beautiful miombo woodland, visiting waterfalls and spotting elephant tracks.

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Conservation in Nkhotakota

Experience a pioneering conservation project, managed by African Parks, and learn about one of the largest animal translocations of modern times.

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Looking out of suite, Tongole Wilderness Lodge, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
Tongole Wilderness Lodge, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Malawi

Tongole Wilderness Lodge

Overlooking the Bua River in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Tongole Wilderness Lodge is true to its name.

With just five river-facing suites and surrounded by 180,000 hectares of rugged hills and miombo woodland, the lodge offers complete seclusion in one of Malawi’s least visited parks.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Jackie Devereux

I was born in Zimbabwe. With a dad who was in the police force, we moved from place to place. I have always been passionate about travel. My grandparents mentioned that our ancestors set off from the Horn of Africa – Ethiopia – looking for better cattle pastures. They ended up settling in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe, in the Great Zimbabwe area.

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Bridget Cohen

Aged five and with my Curious George toy safely tucked under my arm, I set off with my family to travel around Europe in an orange VW minibus. Looking back on the adventures we had along the way, I now know that this was where my love for travel and exploring began.

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Why Choose Steppes?

These may be uncertain times but they are, without a doubt, still full of opportunity to discover the extraordinary safely. Through knowledge and expertise, we can connect you to those destinations embracing travellers with the added confidence of flexible booking and decades of insight.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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