Richard Chimwala- General Manager, Mvuu Camp and Lodge
Richard began working for CAWS in 1994 where he was employed as a general worker for a year before taking the job as barman at Mvuu Camp. After working as a barman for two years Richard trained as a guide where-after in 1998 he began guiding full time at the Camp and Lodge. In 2003 Richard took over the management of Mvuu Lodge whilst also continuing in his role as a guide until new managers took over in 2012. During this time Richard was trained for the position of General Manager of Mvuu Camp and Lodge, a position which he has held for the past three years. Richards previous training and experience as a safari guide, and manager of Mvuu Lodge means that he has extensive knowledge of the workings of the business and is therefore perfectly suited to the role of General Manager
Lizzy – Food and Beverage Manager, Mvuu Camp and Lodge
Lizzy grew up in Zambia and Zimbabwe, before working for six years as an Accounts Director for an advertising agency based in Rwanda and Burundi, whose clients included the Rwanda Tourism Authority and Econet Wireless Burundi. In 2011 Lizzy moved to Mozambique where she ran a lodge and hotel in Tete, before moving back to Zimbabwe in 2014 to oversea the production of a Television series entitled Zambezi News.
Lizzy loves to travel and enjoys learning other languages, while her spare time is often spent playing scrabble which she admits she is hopelessly addicted to!
Veronica Phekani – Front Office Manager. Mvuu Camp and Lodge
After obtaining a BA degree in Political and International Studies and History from Rhodes University, Veronica gained employment as an Assistant Manager at Huntingdon House in southern Malawi. Veronica then took the job as Assistant Manager of Chintheche Inn on the northern lake-shore in 2012 before being transferred to Mvuu Camp in August 2013 where she is now employed as Front Office Manager.
Chrispin Shawa – Maintenance Manager, Mvuu Camp and Lodge
Chrispin originally worked in Kasungu National Park for some years before being employed as maintenance manager at Chintheche Inn in 1997. In 2001 Chrispin was transfered to Liwonde National Park where he was offered the position of assistant maintenance manager at Mvuu Camp in 2003. Since 2011 Chrispin has taken on the role of maintenance manager at Mvuu Camp and Lodge where he runs a skilled team of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, builders and labourers.
Chrispin also runs CAWS ‘back of house’ tours. Here guests can go behind the scenes to see how waste is recycled and sewage is put through a filtration system, where it is treated, before being released into a neighbouring waterhole as clean drinking water for the animals. “Nothing bad goes back into environment ” says Chrispin. “Guests are always amazed at how efficient we are and when they see how the sewage treatment works they want the same system in their properties back home!”
Mvuu Lodge and Camp Guides:
Apollo Ngwira – Safari Guide Manager
After completing his school education in his home town of Zimba near Rumphi, Apollo travelled to South Africa where he initially worked in a bar in the Western Cape. “I had a friend who was in charge of Knysner Elephant Park and through him I got the chance to train as a guide in South Africa.” says Apollo. “I started training in 2001 and soon completed my Level one Field Guides of Southern Africa (FGASA) qualification. In 2002 I completed the level two qualification, and in 2003 the level three. In 2004 I did my SKS (Special Knowledge and Skills in Dangerous Animals) qualification.
After working for three years in South Africa, I came back to Malawi where I worked in Nyika National Park for three years. This was fantastic as Nyika has some incredible terrain and really nice weather. I was promoted to position of safari manager at Nyika, and then continued in this position for a further five months before being transferred to Mvuu Lodge and Camp. I have been the safari manger at Mvuu since March 2014. Because of my SKS qualification I am able to specialise in finding larger animals such as elephants or buffalo’s, so that’s what I enjoy doing most when I’m out with guests. I particularly love watching elephants crossing the river. It’s amazing that the little ones are able to make it across! Liwonde National Park is such an incredible place and it feels like every day I’m able to see something new. Just three days ago I saw my first ever White-tailed Mongoose. It was just the mother and the young ones who were playing around, so it was a great sighting”.
Chifundo Nyambalo– Safari Guide
Chifundo has worked for CAWS at Mvuu for four years. “I grew up in a village close to the park and I loved studying the wild animal at school, so I was always eager to work with wildlife” says Chifundo. “I was particularly aware of the problems faced by wildlife here in Malawi, such as poaching so I was keen to become someone who was actively involved in protecting wildlife. When I was in primary school I had very good grades but my family were poor and my parents could not afford to send me to one of the higher schools to continue my education. Because of this I was taken on by Children in the Wilderness who sent me to one of the higher schools and this is how I got my scholarship and was able to train as an accountant. Although I am trained in accountancy, I saw a vacancy at Mvuu Camp as a gardener and applied for this position as I hoped it would be a way for me to secure a job as guide. After working as a gardener I then worked at Mvuu as a plumber, and also as a pool attendant. After this I became a guide two years ago. My favourite part of the job is meeting people from all over the world and being able to share our experiences and learn from one another. I have an all round knowledge of wildlife but am more interested in the larger animals as these are the animals that inspired my love of wildlife when I was just a young boy at school. I really want to try to encourage people from the surrounding villages to take care of the park as it provides for us in so many different ways; the park offers employment to many people so it is important that we conserve it.”
David Mkandawire – Safari Guide
David originally started his career at CAWS working as a chef at Chintheche Inn, but after training to be a guide he transferred to Mvuu in 2009. “I love it at Mvuu because there are lots of guests and I really enjoy being around people and getting to meet so many new people from different parts of the world” says David. “I have a broad knowledge of wildlife, so I’m really flexible; whatever the guests need I am able to provide. We had a guest once who really wanted to see the black rhino. He had come to Malawi specifically for that reason, so I was keen to find one for him. We were on a walking safari and managed to get closer than I’ve ever been to a Black rhino; I had to clap my hands to prevent the rhino coming any closer! Our guest was so very happy; he never expected to have such a close encounter! It was an incredible experience for him.”
David enjoys studying different animal behaviours and also loves birding. “I really like the Narina trogon (Apaloderma narina) it’s such a beautiful bird but finding one is extremely difficult. I have been very lucky though as I have had five separate sightings! I also love Pels Fishing-0wl (Scotopelia peli); it’s such a beautiful, big bird. I’m still waiting to find an African pitta (Pitta angolensis) though; many of my colleagues have seen it, but I’m still waiting”.
Justin Mwaiwatha – Safari Guide
After working as a waiter and barman at Mvuu for seven years, Justin finally landed his dream job of working as a safari guide in 2007. “I have always been passionate about wildlife since I was in school”, says Justin. “It was actually coming to Mvuu on a school visit when I was a child that inspired me to become a guide. I really admired the guides who worked here. It took me seven years of hard work to become a guide but it was well worth it, as I love my job and have fulfilled my ambition of becoming a guide.
I really enjoy working in Liwonde National Park; I just love the birds here. Liwonde is such an amazing place for birds; it’s what makes Liwonde one of the best parks in Malawi. I love seeing the Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus); it’s such a beautiful bird. I also like to see the African pitta (Pitta angolensis), although I’ve only seen it twice in seven years!
I really enjoy taking guests on walking safaris as you encounter so many smaller things that you miss on the game drives. In the morning it’s so amazing to be able to walk amongst this untouched wilderness. I love being able to educate people how the wildlife and environment is linked to local culture, and tell stories about local beliefs and traditions. Guests are always fascinated about how trees and plants can be used for medicines; the bark of acacia tree for example is really good for treating yellow fever and the sausage tree is good for skin rashes. These are some of the things that you only really notice when walking, and can be easily missed while on a game drive.”
Justin is based primarily at Mvuu Lodge.
Matthews Matewere – Safari Guide
Matthews’s career at CAWS began over ten years ago when he was originally employed as a barman and waiter. During this time Matthews was heavily involved in his main passion; teaching children at Nanthomba school. “As a barman I worked six days on and then six days off, which was great because it meant that in my free time I was able to teach at the school” says Matthews. While working as a barman, Matthews saw how the guides were able to interact with visiting school groups and educate them about local environmental issues. This inspired him to become a guide.
Matthews completed his training and became a full time guide in 2004. “My favourite part of the job is the boat safaris, as I love interacting with the guests and these safaris are a unique opportunity to get really close to the animals”, says Matthews. “I’m not a bird specialist but I do enjoy birding. I love the fact that birds, with their different plumage, can look so different throughout the year, and these birds often trick me a lot; it can be very challenging! I really enjoy the rainy season when we have lots of different insects at varying stages of development. I think when you start out as a guide you really focus on the bigger animals, but once you have been here awhile you start to develop an interest for the smaller things”.
During his time as a guide, Matthews has also been able to maintain his passion for teaching by becoming actively involved in the Children in the Wilderness (CITW) program where he holds the position of ‘Camp Coordinator’. In 2010 Matthews had further training with CITW which he views as a turning point in both his career and personal development. “Because of this training I really started to develop leadership skills, and other life skills that have developed me as a person. The CITW program has been very inspirational for me and seeing the positive effect it’s had on the children’s lives has inspired me to further myself academically. I hope to start correspondence courses in community development in the near future.”
Matthews is based primarily at Mvuu Lodge.
Macloud Kaliati – Safari Guide
“I have worked with CAWS since 2003, and have been at Mvuu Camp the whole time”, says Mccloud. “I’m originally from central region. When I was young I was very interested in wildlife and attended the wildlife clubs at school where we would get to travel and visit different national parks such as Kasungu, Liwonde and Lake Malawi national park; so working as a guide is my dream job – I can truly say that I love every single day that I work here.
I enjoy going on the river cruises and watching the elephants – especially when the little ones drink from the river and wallow in the mud. I also enjoy birding – I really like the malachite kingfisher, it has such amazing colours and the way it behaves is so fascinating; they sit on these tiny branches and you can see them testing to see if it will break!
My favourite place in Malawi is Lake Malawi National Park. Mumbo Island and the area around that region is just so incredible; you can swim and kayak while watching wildlife, it’s amazing!”
Patrick Maulidi – Safari Guide
Patrick has worked at Mvuu since 2003. “I started work as a security guard where I assisted spotting for guests at night before completing my guide training here in 2005”, says Patrick. “I was always interested in biology at school so listening to the guides talking about insects and wildlife made me really interested in conservation and made me want to become a guide.”
“I really like elephants and watching their behaviour and how they associate with each other. I also love watching birds, in particular the African skimmer (Rynchops flavirostris); I find the way they fly and their behaviour fascinating so when I’m stopped in the vehicle watching them I could stay there all day! I still want to see an Angolan pitta as I have never seen one as they are quite rare.
My favourite part of the job though is the walking safaris. I really enjoy the walking safaris; even more so than the driving safaris because you get to see things more intimately. On a walking safari you can take your time to see all the small things that are really interesting such as insects and plants. People often assume that bigger is better, but when you look into the lives of the smaller things they really are extremely fascinating.”
Samuel Chihana – Safari Guide
Samuel has worked at Mvuu since 2007, but has spent much of his life surrounded by wildlife. “As a little boy my father worked for National Parks and I grew up living in Kasungu National Park. My father used to tell me stories about eland and other wildlife, and in it was in Kasungu where I saw my first elephant when I was really young” says Samuel. “There used to be an elephant there that we called Charlie and he’d always come to our house to try to steal my mother’s soap! I also lived in Nyika National Park for some time as well, but when my father stopped working for National Parks, we moved away.”
“After I finished secondary school I became a tobacco farmer, but was desperate to get back to the parks of my childhood, so when an opportunity came up to work as a chalet attendant in Nyika I jumped at the chance! I spent three years as a chalet attendant before becoming a waiter and then a barman. While working as a barman I passed my driving test, and then trained in my spare time to become a safari guide. It was hard work and tiring, but I had my sights set firmly on becoming a guide.”
Samuel worked as a guide in Nyika National Park from 2000-2007, before transferring to Mvuu, where he has built a special relationship with one of Mvuus’ resident elephants. “There is one elephant that is very special to me called Nellie” says Samuel. “Every morning she feeds in the same place at around 04:30, so she is the first one to greet me in the morning. One day I was out on a drive and some elephants started to come towards us. Nellie stepped in front of the, and put out her trunk to prevent them from charging our vehicle. After that she led them away. It was a very special moment for me.”
Samuel is a Wildlife Society member and often volunteers to take part in game and bird counts. Although Samuel has a good all round knowledge of Malawi’s wildlife he is particularly knowledgeable about Liwonde’s bird population. He also likes studying animal behaviour, “every day is different; it could be the same animals but due to the variety of behaviour they display, every day is different.”
Stanford Sinyangwe – Safari Guide
Stanford has worked at CAWS for six years. Having originally started work in the northern town of Rumphi, transferring guests to Nyika, Stanford started working as a guide in Nyika in 2012. “I became a guide by chance”, says Stanford, “when I finished school in 2003 I got my driving license in Mzuzu. One of my relatives worked for CAWS so I joined as a watchman and from there developed an interest in wildlife. During this time I volunteered as a spotter, and used to love going out at night with the guests. After this I travelled to South Africa to work but wasn’t happy there, as I really wanted to be in the bush. I was so happy when I got the job at Nyika; the scenery there is fantastic and there are so many big herds of animals there such as zebra, roan and eland, plus plenty of leopards of course!”
After working at Nyika for six months, Stanford then transferred to Mvuu where he has worked for the past two and a half years. “I was so excited about coming to Mvuu because I really wanted to see crocodiles; and there are some really big ones here, some up to five meters long! My favourite part of the job at Mvuu though is meeting people from all over the world. I get to share my knowledge of wildlife while at the same time learning about where these people come from and their different cultures.”
Danger – Safari Guide
Danger has worked at Mvuu for 17 years. After starting work as a night guard Danger completed his guide training and is now one of the most experience guides at CAWS. Originally from Mulanje district, Dangers parents moved him to Liwonde when he was ten years old. Following this Danger completed his schooling in Liwonde before studying woodwork in the hopes of becoming a Carpenter.
However, after taking the job of night guard at Mvuu Danger quickly saw the potential of becoming a fully qualified safari guide. “When I came to Mvuu as a guard I quickly became fascinated with nature as I had never been in a national park before” says Danger. “Now it’s fantastic because I get to do a job I love that allows me to be out in the bush every day. I love the walking safaris here in Liwonde and also up in Nyika. The three day walking safaris up in Nyika are incredible you get to see such amazing scenery!” Danger worked at Nyika for 8 months during 2010 which he really enjoyed. ”I love the landscape at Nyika it’s so beautiful” says Danger, ”the flowers and orchids really are amazing. It was on my return from Nyika that I really started to push for walking safaris here in Liwonde and now we regularly take guests out on bush walks. You get to see so much on a walking safari. The boat safaris are the same, you get to see animals really close because they are so relaxed”.
Duncan – Safari Guide
Duncan has worked as a guide at Mvuu for six years. ”Liwonde is such a fantastic National Park. We have some incredible wildlife here such as elephants and fantastic bird life including African skimmers and Pels fishing owl” says Duncan.
Originally from the northern town of Rumphi, Duncan began his guiding career in Nyika National Park, where he worked for seven years. Duncan still holds this part of Malawi very close to his heart. ”Nyika is one of the most beautiful places in Malawi’ says Duncan. ”It has really healthy populations of leopard’s, orchids and rare birds. The great thing though is that CAWS arrange 60 km hiking safaris on Nyika Plateau, where you have the opportunity to see everything there really intimately. On the first day you walk 20 km and then tent for the night in the bush and can listen to hyaenas calling. The next morning you have breakfast and head down to the village where there is a coffee plantation. On the final day you head down to Livingstonia Mission. Its such an incredible hike and I would recommend anyone visiting Malawi to get up there and do it. Everyone who comes to Malawi should visit Nyika. Coming to Malawi and not visiting Nyika is like going to Egypt and not visiting the pyramids!”