A few years ago a friend of mine told me that we were going to buy some land together by a National Park. We would have elephants on the lawn. There would be plenty of room for us to have seperate houses or cottages and all the necessary privacy.
He's the kind of guy who thinks, 'Look at this opportunity, I [or we] am [are] doing it.' When I ask him a question he always has a quick and clear answer, this is a useful trait for a friend to have.
I remember someone used to do impressions of me for a group of mutual friends. Eventually he was persuaded to allow me appreciate the same show. The impression involved a very long silence with someone contorting themselves into various poses all with something of 'The Thinker' air about them. Finally, with a Churchillian flourish I (or my impersonator), would deliver the kind of look that precedes a moment of momentous oratory. Then finally I would deliver a grand total of one word: 'Yes' or 'No'.
Of course, he was being too kind. When presented with the idea of some land with elephants it was not the long silence that was different. Well, perhaps the 'man of destiny' look during the long silence was something more like a pained look. At the end of this the decisive answer was replaced with various 'What about..?' responses.
So, a few years later, what is the state of play? Well now he has opened a lodge with nice chalets, dorms and a platform for meals and star gazing right in the midst of elephant territory. I of course am a very welcome guest and my children are always asking me when we are going to visit uncle Sam and his elephants.
Not a week (or two) pass without Sam relating his latest stories of life in the wild. Such is life for those who decisively grasp the opportunities that arise. As you may have gathered, I can be quite cagey. I have returned to Malawi as an adult so that my life can be much more connected to the great outdoors of Africa that I love. In reality however I am trying to take things one step at a time and while we have small children there are advantages to living in a city - with great access to the wildlife, mountains and lakes of course. Perhaps a little later on in life my residence might be that step further away from modern schools and hospitals.
For now I am restricted to visiting those parts of paradise that are under the stars and away from the city lights. Being a small country, these places really are never too far away. Instead I am contenting myself with doing something to help facilitate visits to these places. (See our transfers page or the vouchers page on this website).
Something that strikes me again and again about tourism in Malawi is the small scale and personal nature of what is on offer. There are a few large upscale exceptions to this of course although even then, these things are relative. It is inevitable that because Malawian tourism is on a small scale that for many lodges, when you visit, it feels as though you are visiting and old (or new), friend. So, to describe a lodge in Malawi, you need to understand something of the owner as their personality and life permeates every aspect of their lodge and hospitality.
Sam is popular with international visitors because he is straight-forward, honest and humourous. When he and / or his people look after visitors on a tour it is all encompassing. With Sam you have driver, guide, security and the very pinnacle of the top level of concierge service in Malawi. If you have a question it is very likely that he knows the person who is the answer. It also helps if you like a lot of meat on your BBQ.
Now what about Kutchire Lodge? The location is, as I said, on the boundary of a National Park. Of course, the wildlife do not strictly recognise human boundaries and for this reason the National Park fence is not on the actual National Park boundary here. For sensible practical reasons the actual fence gives the wildlife the space to use what they recognise as their territory even though it stretches beyond the legal boundary. Kutchire Lodge is therefore within the National Park fence and situated overlooking a river that forms the southern boundary of Liwonde National Park. This part of the river, and the mud, are very popular with wildlife. To go and stay with him at Kutchire is an ideal relaxing getaway whether you are an individual or a couple. It is also an ideal set up for groups with the dormitory accommodation available. It is because of this that elsewhere on this website we decided it would be good to allow friends abroad to buy vouchers for their friends in Malawi to stay here.
Liwonde National Park is a major birdlife hotspot in Africa. Over 400 different species of bird, including numerous water and riverside birds have been seen here. It is listening to the sounds of nature that is one of the real highlights for me of staying at places like these. Of course seeing the big wildlife up close and personal gets most of the headlines. However, what really can beat the beauty of the whole experience of sitting quietly while listening and looking at the true African wild all around you at Kutchire Lodge.