I saw Vwaza mentioned on another thread as a possible stop-over in Northern Malawi and thought I'd post as, despite being a real gem, it seems hard to find much recent info about it.

It is about half an hours drive off the road from Rumphi to Nyika. Look for a turn to the left about 10km out of Rumphi. The road is no worse than the one you turn off. There is actually a fuel "station" at this junction which you won't spot without looking carefully. It is just a big tank connected to a hand pump. Worth a look given Malawi's fuel situation as we have been lucky here in the past when there has been nothing in town.

There is a relatively new concession in place which I believe is Malawian owned and run and they were busy working on upgrading the chalets and campsite last time I was there (in April 2011). They have previously suffered from water/borehole problems but hopefully they are now on top of this. The chalets are ensuite, simple and beautifully situated on the lake shore. They are basically reed huts. I believe they now cost 10,000MK per unit. There are also small very basic huts - just two beds and nets - for 5,000MK and camping is 1,500MK for a lakeside spot. They were busy building reed shelters to camp alongside last year.

There is a communal cooking and eating area and a resident chef (Dickson) who will cook your own food for you if you wish. There is nowhere to buy food.

Vwaza's big draw is it's elephants. I have seen a hundred congregate on the lake shore in the dry season. There are also hippo, various buck and a wealth of bird life. There may even be wild dog - there have now been a few confirmed sightings at Nyika just up the road.

One of the big pluses for Vwaza for me is that there's not much point in driving around as the game tends to congregate around the lake and the bush is thick. You can just sit back with your binos and relax. You can also do very reasonably priced guided walks.

On the down side, unless you are a birder there is not so much to see in the rainy season when the elephants disperse. Also be aware that these elephants are not the friendliest - they have been poached in recent times and are nervous around humans. Keep an eye out around camp as they are often in the bush nearby.

You should be able to make contact on the following number +265 999 632 786, or you can contact Arif Mirza at [email protected].