Tongole Wilderness Lodge

If conscious design, wild beauty, and secluded intimacy make you swoon, then Tongole Wilderness Lodge is hands down the place for you. Tongole ranks amongst our all-time favorite lodges in Malawi for its unusual features such as two huge tree trunks that support the lofted main lodge, it’s lovely staff—including the star guide fondly nicknamed 007 and Donna, the ultra-knowledgeable Scottish manager—who will make you feel instantly welcome, and its thoughtful commitment to the community and environment including a self-sustaining program that provides local women with chickens for eggs. Rustic-luxe may be the best way to describe Tongole’s design-concept. There are palatial soaking tubs lined with smooth river rock, king size beds situated for views of the untamed bush through the absent fourth wall, and an open-air double decker main lodge that lifts you above the tree line. Tongole may not be bursting with game, but small delights like spotting a row of bee eaters nestling together on a branch for the night or crossing the rope bridge to the edge of an elephant path feel all the more special precisely because you have to look a little harder. On bush walks at dawn, keep your eyes peeled for forest elephants—Tongole’s rigorous anti-poaching program provides a safe-haven for Malawi’s dwindling elephant population. In the evenings you’ll take your sundowners on huge boulders beside the nearby roaring river.

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