Just a short one-hour drive from Lilongwe, lies Kuti Wildlife Reserve, a wild bush sanctuary in an unlikely place. Turning off the busy main road heading to the lake, we trundled down the 3km dirt track to the main gates and felt the hustle and bustle fade behind us.
Our favourite thing to do on arrival is to head straight to the Kuti raised sunset deck, pull out the binos and a beer, and look out over the wetlands which are filled with life and plenty of water birds, a pleasurable and peaceful start to our Kuti visit.
Kuti Wildlife Reserve is home to a variety of large mammals such as Eland, Sable, Zebra, Wildebeest, Giraffe etc. One of the pleasures of this place is that with the absence of dangerous predators, the animals have become quite tame and enjoy hanging around the reception, the restaurant and even the chalets. As with any bush lodge in Africa, there are plenty of yellow baboons and vervet monkeys hanging around as well, entertaining their spectators with their humanlike behaviour and cheeky antics.
As we are watching the sun go down, one of the directors, Laurie Webb, arrives in his typical khaki get-up and a cooler box to welcome us with a drink and a chat as he hands us our room key. Off to our usual room just as the sunset on another day in Africa, we unpacked the car and settled into the sounds of the bush crackling around us.
There are 3 different room types, the A-Frame doubles, standard double bush chalets and 3 self-catering bush villas which is our usual room here at Kuti, with 2 en suite bedrooms, a central kitchen with a fridge, a lounge area with 2 sofas/beds, a big khonde seating area and a social braai and bonfire area, it’s the perfect home away from home. This eco-lodge is run by solar power and fire geyser to ensure you have lights, the power to charge your phones and cameras, and plenty of hot water for a delicious shower after a day of travel and game viewing.
We wiled away the evening around the campfire, sharing stories and catching up with Laurie whilst enjoying our good old-fashioned African braai (barbecue) with the African Scops Owls hooting away around us. (All meals can be taken at the lodge restaurant if preferred).
After our meal we wandered to a clearing in the trees and looked up above to witness the majesty of the stars that only shine like this in Africa, doing our best to identify the constellations.
Settling into bed after a hot shower, we dozed off to the peace and quiet of nature. Up early the next morning, we headed to the main lodge area to order our breakfast before Laurie whisked us away on a game drive. As with every visit, we sat in awe of the beauty of the wilderness and the beautiful trees that adorn this land. The habitat is diverse, ranging from Brachystegia and miombo woodland, through to grasslands, wetlands and marshes, the perfect destination for the varied antelope and our feathered friends. Laurie hands his phone back to us to show us a picture of the very rare white-winged Apalis he saw a few days ago here in Kuti and tells us of the European honey buzzard that has also been seen around here recently.
We enjoyed sightings of running sable and grazing zebra and wildebeest on our game drive, and enjoyed a pleasant tea and coffee break by a waterhole before Laurie took us deep into the bush to see the famous giant baobab with a huge beehive in its branches and a hollowed-out trunk – a stunning area which, with a few fairy lights, would be a dream wedding ceremony location!
Back to the lodge for our full English breakfast which always hits the spot as we gazed upon the zebras who love hanging out by the pond.
We bid a fond farewell to Laurie and off we went back to reality feeling happy and refreshed, but not before we caught an awesome view of the European honey buzzard Laurie had been telling us about, a great way to end off our trip. Until next time Kuti… x