I recently stayed at Bua River with a friend for a weekend. Both of us live and work in Lilongwe and Bua felt a million miles away from the city (I use the word loosely) and by the end of the weekend I was the most relaxed I've probably been all year. The camp is down a hill so you leave your car at the top car park and walk down into a valley, with the river in the middle. The view across the river is beautiful and the tents where you stay are dotted throughout the bush. We stayed in a riverside room, which didn't have much river as it was dry season. However, it was still lovely and the highlight was the outdoor shower, which was piping hot every time we used it.
At the start of our trip John, the owner, asked us what kind of weekend we wanted to have and we said 'very quiet and relaxed'. Along with his team, he ensured this was exactly what we got. We did a couple of walks to search for elephants (we didn't see them but the three other guests had seen them the day we arrived), had a sunset beer by the river and ate a lot of delicious meals cooked by the brilliant and friendly chef, Godfrey (who also gave us a bread roll recipe after we asked him how he made such good bread!). On the second evening we were treated to a very lovely surprise as our dinner table had been set up away from the main restaurant banda on a deck by the river. There is no electricity so the storm lamps everywhere mean you get an amazing view of the stars as soon as night falls. You can also sit on the bridge to the island for some top notch stargazing.
The whole team at Tongole work so hard to make sure every part of your stay in enjoyable and hassle free. We particularly liked our room tour by Johani (which was hilarious) and the walk with Clifford and Kingsley. Everyone else was also incredibly friendly and helpful, including John who checked in with us every now and again just to make sure we were ok. The team have got the balance between being helpful whilst not being in any way intrusive totally right. I am looking forward to returning to Bua very soon and both me and my friend would highly recommend a stay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Bua River Lodge is a small and unique, owner-managed lodge, where you are sure to feel at home and guaranteed to relax. We are receiving very favourable reviews, commenting on the beauty of the location, excellence of service, friendliness of the staff, comfort of the rooms and quality of the food.The lodge is located just two kilometres inside the eastern boundary of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, making access by saloon car, even during the rains, quite straightforward. The reserve, covering 1,800,000 Hectares, is the third largest protected area in Malawi and one of the least known. Largely miombo woodland, the reserve falls from around 1,000 m. above sea level to just 600 metres in the east. The beautiful Bua River, the second longest in the country, on whose banks Bua River Lodge is located, bisects the Reserve.The reserve is very much a wilderness area. Apart from the main M18 road, which runs through the reserve, only one motorable track exists. North of the river, there are no tracks at all.There is a considerable diversity of wildlife, including a healthy elephant population, buffalo, lion and leopard, as well as roan, sable, zebra and many smaller mammals, although it must be said that the wildlife is difficult to observe. Over 200 species of birds are listed, including Finfoot, Palm Nut Vulture and Black Stork. It is likely that Pel’s Fishing Owl also occurs.Bua River Lodge offers high quality tented accommodation at moderate prices, with three categories, Island, Riverside and Hillside, priced to suit most budgets. Currently, six units are available, consisting of purpose-made canvas safari tents, pitched on extensive wooden decks, shaded by thatched roofs. Each tent is pitched well away from the others, providing a degree of seclusion found in few other lodges in Malawi. On your own private deck you neither overlook your neighbours, nor are you overlooked. All you can see is the wilderness and the river! The Island tents, offering even more seclusion, are reached by a bridge and you have the option of breakfast on your deck and a personalized “butler” service.The accommodation comprises two luxury Island tents, measuring 6.5 x 4.5 metres, one twin-bedded, one with a queen size bed; two Riverside tents, 4.5 x 3.5 metres, one double, one twin; and two Hillside tents, 3.5 x 3.2 metres, also double and twin. All tents are well appointed with cane armchairs and occasional tables on the extensive decks, bedside tables and shelves. Bed linen is of high quality cotton and quilts will keep you warm on cool winter nights. All tents have open-air, but very private, en-suite facilities, with waterless toilet, wash basins and hot showers.The main camp site is serviced with hot showers and flushing toilets, a shaded deck with eating area, a barbecue, dishwashing facilities and a laundry area. Recently opened, a “wild” camp site less than a kilometre upstream from the main lodge offers a wilderness camping experience, with basic facilities. Overlooking a quiet, forest-fringed pool in the river, it is situated on the edge of a major elephant track.Two rooms near the camp site offer comfortable, clean, budget accommodation for backpackers.The main lodge, housing the restaurant, bar, reading and reception areas, is unique in Malawi. Built entirely of timber and thatch, right on the banks of the river, it has three main levels for dining and relaxation, as well as an upper viewing deck. Completely open sided, it provides shade and a cool breeze during the heat of the day, but you can dine under the stars in the evening on the open lower deck, or sit around the fire in the boma on cool, winter nights.Three delicious meals per day are provided within the price: a full breakfast, with fruit salad and cereal; a salad-based lunch; and a three-course dinner, with a vegetarian alternative. There is a well stocked bar offering beers and minerals, spirits and wines. A small selection of bottled South African wines is available.Lighting throughout relies primarily on paraffin lanterns although small solar powered LED lamps are used to provide illumination in the bathrooms and front decks of the tents and the Island and Riverside tents now have bright solar powered lamps inside. Taking the path back to your room after dinner, lit by the flickering flames of the lanterns is a magical experience. But bring a torch!Given the nature of the terrain and the density of the vegetation, vehicle-based wildlife viewing is generally unrewarding. Walking safaris are offered, with a trained and armed game ranger. Walks are tailored to the wishes of the guests, varying from short strolls along the river to a nearby waterfall, to all-day hikes, a combined vehicle safari and ascent of Chipata Mountain in the west of the reserve and, eventually, overnight safaris with fly camps. Sundowners at strategic points along the river are a particular highlight for many of our guests. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Bua River Lodge Malawi/Nkhotakota