South Luangwa National Park was my first safari I’ve ever been on. We got a Peace Corps discount and stayed at Croc Valley in the dorms. It was a real nice place. The rooves were thatched, and it had a cool insaka (thatched shelter) you can hang out in. The lodge was right on the river, and you can hear the hippos at night. We got in late but the place had food ready for us in anticipation of our arrival. The food was so good! Three courses! Definitely more than we were picturing. The next morning we woke early and did a morning game drive. We saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, and hippos. In our evening game drive we saw the same, and even spotted a leopard! It got so close to our car. I felt a little uncomfortable though because there were about 5 cars following the leopard around with high beams on all trying to get a look. The leopard seemed a little scared. All in all though I recommend Croc Valley. South Luangwa is a beautiful park FILLED with animals.
Going here was a nice, cheap, day trip from our lodge in Nkhata bay. We met our tour guide at the lodge. Normally I’d advise against just spur-of-the-moment going with the first tour guide who approaches you. It could have very easily been a fraud. But, lucky for us he turned out to be a somewhat decent guy. He picked us up from the lodge in the morning and drove us to the park. We got stuck in a giant puddle on the way and the driver needed to pay some people to help push us out. The park had beautiful scenery. Malawi is beautiful in general, but there was something special about this place. We saw one elephant, some monkeys, some deer-like creatures and hundreds of Hippos. We saw one hippo walking through the woods. I never realized how truly big hippos were until I saw this one! I thought I was in Jurassic park or something. We spotted about a hundred hippos in the lake. We got out of the car and started walking towards them. We were able to get pretty close. Our guide got closer and seemed very excited but my friend and I stopped when they looked at us and started standing up. I know I can’t outrun a hippo. We ate lunch overlooking a beautiful valley, drove around a bit more but didn’t see anything and started back. Now I would say you should go to this park if you love hippos.. but the road leading up to the park we saw a few people carrying pieces of hippo meat that had been poached. Our wonderful tour guide even stopped to see if he could buy some, and that’s when I saw a giant hippo graveyard. So the park I wouldn’t give the highest review for conservation, or variety in animal population (as it was mostly hippos). Our guide was very enthusiastic, cheap, and friendly, but his enthusiasm at buying poached hippo meat threw me off a bit. It was a nice change of pace, and a chance to leave the lodge and see more of Malawi though. I’d recommend going to Vwaza if you’re in the area, catch a nice deal, and don’t have the biggest problem with hippo poaching.