Located in Malawi’s central region, Nkhotakota Game Reserve sprawls into the horizon beneath the rocky peak of Chipata Mountain. The rugged park spans roughly 1126km (700 miles) from the edge of the Great Rift Valley in the west to just a few miles shy of Lake Malawi. A tangle of rivers wend around wooded hills and across the region’s arid miombo woodlands before spilling into Lake Malawi.
More than 280 species of birds nest in Nkhotakota, and nearly 500 elephants were relocated there after African Parks took over management in 2015. Visitors will also find buffalo, sable, kudu among other large mammals, though they require effort to track in the vast expanse. For travelers who prefer open spaces and solitude, Nkhotakota has a lot to offer, especially with the recent opening of three professionally run lodges: Bua River Lodge, Tongole Wilderness Lodge, and Kachenga Bush Camp. Rafiki Safari Camp opened in 2019 just outside the reserve’s eastern border.