Shire Eco Safari Camp is the best choice for eco-tourists seeking a true wilderness experience in and around Liwonde National Park. Rustic bamboo chalets (with en suite toilet and shower) are scattered around densely vegetated grounds—if it wasn’t for the signs, you might miss them! For those on a budget, there is a dorm that sleeps twelve, or if you prefer, there is plenty of space for camping, with shared showers and toilets nearby. You may bring your own food to cook for yourself, or, for an additional fee, staff will prepare your meals. Days are filled with boat safaris and game drives through Liwonde National Park, or unwinding National
in the observation hut and letting the animals come to you. Nights are spent relaxing around a campfire and viewing the night sky free of light pollution through a powerful telescope. As you go to sleep, you will swear that the hippos you hear grunting, are directly outside your room—and they probably are! In the morning you will awaken to a medley of bird songs, including the ‘ooooomph, ooooomph’ of the rare and endangered southern ground hornbill.
History & Mission
Shire Eco Safari Camp, nestled between the southwestern boundary of Liwonde National Park and the western banks of the Shire River, offers an authentic Malawian bush experience. Whereas other camps in and around the park are run by South Africans and Europeans, Shire Eco holds the distinction of being the only camp in the area fully owned and operated by Malawians.
Billy’s vision for the camp is to promote environmental awareness through the preservation of the natural environment. His employees are all from the local community and hold positions of great responsibility within the camp, with the hope that they will learn the sustainable practices that the camp utilizes (permagardening, composting, efficient cook stoves, solar energy) and carry out these concepts within their own households. Billy has also connected with local primary and secondary school wildlife clubs and encourages frequent visits to the camp. As he says, "Only when you understand and love nature, are you willing to protect it."
Billy Mphande opened Shire Eco Safari Camp for business in 2016, but it was a long time in the making. As a child, he enjoyed spending time in nature and working construction. However, fresh out of school and with a family to raise, he worked as an accountant for over 30 years. He was also a founding member of Malawi’s first newspaper following the end of dictatorship rule. Throughout it all, Billy dreamed of one day returning to his passion—the great outdoors!
In 2004, as soon as the last of his children was safely through college, Billy purchased a small amount of property alongside the banks of the Shire River near the Liwonde Township. It was here that he established
In a strategic move, Billy purchased 15 hectares of bushland directly adjoining the southwest corner of Liwonde National Park and the western banks of the Shire River in 2011. Before he took control of this property, there was a serious problem of animal poaching and deforestation on this particular land. The park mainly exists east of the Shire. Park managers had considered the river a natural barrier to poachers entering the park, so they had not yet secured its spillover property west of the Shire with a fence. Any elephants, hippos, or other animals unlucky enough to emerge on the western side were prone to slaughter. Straight away, Billy put an end to this
Little by little, Billy made improvements on the land—digging a well and distributing water throughout the camp; constructing chalets, a restaurant, a cozy lounge area, and an observation hut using sustainable materials; assembling a museum of the various animal bones and skulls collected on his property; installing solar technology to power the camp’s energy needs; attaining a state-of-the-art telescope for viewing the incredible night sky; the list goes on and on. He is quite proud of the fact that he never had to take out a bank loan or seek a financial backer, but has persevered through hard work.
he established Shire Camp, not to be mistaken for Shire Eco Safari Camp, which will come later. Over a span of several years, he built it up from nothing. He acquired a boat in which to carry tourists up and down the breathtaking Shire River and at first, he could only provide them a place to camp. Eventually, he’d made enough money to construct four chalets and a restaurant. To complete the tourist experience, he purchased a vehicle in which he could take people on game drives through Liwonde National Park. As business thrived, Billy saved all of his profits. He had bigger plans…
to this poaching by erecting a fence around his property. (The park would later add an additional electrified fence in 2016.) Soon, animals returned to the area in record numbers and the vegetation began to flourish once more.