Tongole Wilderness Lodge is the only luxury accommodation available in the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, one of the jewels in Malawi’s crown. Tongole offers an indispensable opportunity to explore the area’s striking natural beauties while keeping a clear environmental conscience.
After either a scenic four-hour road transfer or a half-hour trip by charter plane, from the moment the guest sees Tongole Lodge it’s evident that great care has been taken to make the facility ecologically friendly and aesthetically at one with its surroundings. Constructed using almost exclusively local materials and methods, the lodge sits on the banks of the Bua River. Inside the welcoming communal areas, everything is wood and traditional thatch with high peaked roofs, imaginative arrangements of mezzanines and large decks overlooking the river and forest. The furniture is locally sourced and very comfortable, and there is, thankfully, a well-stocked bar.
Food & service
The restaurant is well regarded, and its cuisine includes a four-course menu that is a particular favourite with guests. Dining can be indoors or out; there are numerous secluded areas of decking where food can be served, and in-room meals can also be arranged.
The sleeping rooms at Tongole Lodge comprise four spacious Riverside Suites and a larger Family Cottage. All feature large decks with beautiful views to enjoy while indulging in a sundowner, either king size beds or twins that can be combined upon request, en-suite facilities with hot water, sunken baths that double as plunge-pools, flush toilets, twin marble washbasins, mirrors, 240v power and Wi-Fi. The Family Cottage, a separate building, provides two large bedrooms as well as extra shared lounge space, making it perfect for a family or two couples. Throughout all rooms the decor combines contemporary comfort and understated style with a strong local flavour, which resonates from thoughtfully-used reclaimed wood and traditional furniture and upholstery.
A range of activities can be undertaken using Tongole as a base, including fly camping trips, fishing, bird and canoe safaris and visits to the local Malawian communities, where it’s possible to see how Tongole benefits the area itself.
The Tongole Foundation works closely with African Parks to benefit both the local community and the environment. Additionally, Natural Resource Committees at village level have been formed to create awareness of the benefits of conservation.
The Foundation has also set up Wildlife Clubs in local primary schools and invited these schools to visit the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, helping to educate the next generation of conservationists.
During the lodge’s construction over 100 jobs were created, and the lodge currently employs over 30 local staff. Locally sourced food and materials are used whenever possible, whilst hot running water and the 240v power is generated by a self-sustainable solar-powered system.
The lodge is a proud member of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that encourages guests to bring school supplies with them when visiting Tongole, while the Foundation has supplied four primary schools – Wozi, Chankhokwe, Mwalawatongole and Chilimani – with crucial materials such as pens and uniforms.