Located at the southern tip of Lake Malombe in the the African country of Malawi, Liwonde National Park is truly a national treasure worth experiencing.
While Malawi is not as well known for the big game as other African countries, Liwonde National Park, although only 220 sq miles (580 sq km) in size, is brimming with wildlife that is literally on your doorstep. It is a must-see attraction for anyone wishing to make the most of their time in the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’.
Liwonde National Park was proclaimed in 1973 after Chief Liwonde championed for its recognition as an area of importance for Malawian wildlife heritage. After many years of disarray, African Parks took over management of Liwonde in 2015. After restoring security to the park, they began to re-establish Liwonde’s predator population. Cheetahs were reintroduced in 2017, bringing the species back to the park after 100 years. A founder population of 10 lions was also reintroduced in 2018. Wildlife populations are on the rise, and so are the number of people who are coming to the park to witness the revival. The number of tourists has increased by 25 percent and revenue has increased by 70 percent since 2016. In just the last few years, Liwonde has been given a second chance and it is being restored and transformed for the benefit of the wildlife, and for the people who live here.
Game viewing in Liwonde is enhanced because the River Shire flows along its western border, allowing boat safaris as well as the usual ones on foot or in 4x4s. A 30-minute boat ride up the river will top your list of must-dos; it gives tourists a unique opportunity to see wildlife up close. Visitors who choose to stay at Mvuu Wilderness Lodge and Camp while visiting the park will find their lodgings right on the banks of a lagoon, where they will have prime viewing of animals such as Hippopotamus, Nile Crocodiles and African Elephants. While on safari in the park, other animals that tourists are lucky enough to encounter are Sable Antelope, Impala, Waterbuck, Reedbuck, Warthog, Kudu, Yellow Baboon, Pangolin, Leopard, and Vervet Monkeys.
Liwonde is also a bird lover’s paradise and reportedly has the best year-round bird watching in Central and Southern Africa. This is not only due to the sheer number of species found at the park, but also because “specials” such as Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Spur-winged Lapwing, Lillian’s Lovebird and the rare Brown-breasted Barbet can easily be spotted. Other species that are often seen are Bohm’s Bee-eater, African Skimmer, Palm-nut Vulture, White-backed Night Heron and Dickinson’s Kestrel. Over 380 of Malawi’s 650 bird species can be seen in Liwonde National Park!
The landscape of Liwonde is highly diverse with dry Mopani woodlands covering the eastern half of the park interspersed with Candelabra trees. Areas of Miombo woodland can be found on a few hill slopes in the south and east, while Palm Savannah and Baobabs (one of Africa’s most well known and beloved trees) are found on the extensive floodplains of the river, which have a more tropical feel due to the dense vegetation along the river banks. This all make Liwonde National Park a photographer’s dream, and it’s not hard to understand how Liwonde has acquired such diversity in animal and bird life through conservation and restoration.
Join us on a Nature Travel Africa safari in this wonderful park and the rest of Malawi!