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An exciting new opportunity has launched for visitors to Malawi’s Lower Shire Valley, with airboat tours of the little visited but unique and wildlife-rich Elephant Marsh.

(TRAVPR.COM) UK - August 30th, 2016 - An exciting new opportunity has launched for visitors to Malawi’s Lower Shire Valley, with airboat tours of the little visited but unique and wildlife-rich Elephant Marsh.

Elephant Marsh is part of the flood plain of the River Shire and an area of significant biodiversity. At its northern margins it is best classified as semi-permanent marshland. To the south it becomes a small lake and islands of salt are home to palms while the marsh supports a floating mat of vegetation (sudd) which grows so thick in places that boats are unable to penetrate it. In particularly wet seasons, when rainfall figures are high, the whole area may be under water. Although the elephant herds from which it took its name are long gone, hippos and crocodiles survive and the birdlife is amazing: fish eagles, storks, kingfishers, herons and countless other species will be seen even on a short visit.

Nyala Lodge, run by Jambo Africa in nearby Lengwe National Park, have been offering boat trips on the Marsh for a while, but are now responsible for operating a brand new airboat. The airboat, mv Elephant March Master, was custom-built by Aliboats in Botswana and has a flat bottomed aluminium hull making it perfect at crossing very shallow water and over soft vegetation and short sandbanks without causing damage to the water environment. Although it seats 12 passengers and has removable seats to enable it to carry cargo, for these trips there will be a maximum of 8 passengers plus skipper.

The boat is launched at Kaombe (16°32'20.66"S 35° 4'3.15"E) along an inlet water cannel approximately 1 km long which leads directly into the Elephant Marsh approximately 9 km south of the Chiromo Railway Bridge (16°33'13.67"S 35° 8'44.56"E). Most people prefer to stay the night at Nyala Lodge before their trip on the airboat, ready for an early start the following morning and sometimes stay after their trip. Kaombe is approximately 60 km from Nyala Lodge.

Current options are:

1-3 hours excursion for USD$210.00 (max. 8 people)
4-6 hours excursion for USD$315.00 (max. 8 people)


MV Elephant Marsh Master

Lengwe National Park and Elephant Marsh are key areas of focus within World Bank-funded Shire River Basin Management Program (SRBMP). Within this program Department of National Parks (DNPW) and Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) were each granted a boat for their various needs of use in the Elephant Marsh. DNPW, for research and protection and DODMA in the event of flooding as happened recently for rescue and aid distribution. The boat of choice by both departments was an airboat - the best craft to use in the Elephant Marsh. Unfortunately their independent budgets were insufficient for each department to purchase a boat large enough for their specific needs. They therefore combined their budgets to purchase one large boat that they could share.

Since it would not be in constant use by either department, and neither wished to waste such a resource by leaving it idle, the idea of a Public Partner Partnership came up. Jambo Africa already being directly involved in the Project through Lengwe National Park was selected as the official partner to provide marketing/booking tours and rentals of the boat and Agricane Ltd who have a sugar cane plantation in Kaombe on the shores of the Elephant Marsh was chosen to look after the Airboat and maintain it. As well as securing a sustainable future for the boat, a percentage of the proceeds collected for the airboat tours will be passed to a local community fund.


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Name: Kelly White
Company: Malawi Tourism
Phone: 0115 9727250
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