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Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National Park

At the southern tip of Malawi’s Lake Malombe lies an African treasure, Liwonde National Park. It is a success story, the result of the vision of Chief Liwonde, who championed its recognition as an area of importance for Malawian wildlife heritage.

In 1973, the Liwonde National Park was proclaimed, and to this day a committee comprised of local chiefs, farmers, a judiciary, and Wilderness Safaris (who manage the Mvuu Wilderness Lodge and Camp) continue the most active conservation work in the country. They also work hard to expand community development projects around the park, which play an important role in the success of Liwonde National Park as a safari destination.

Liwonde is brimming with wildlife, making this park the most popular in the country. It 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 because of the sheer number of species, but also because of the rare birds such as Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Pel’s Fishing-Owl, Spur-winged Lapwing, Lillian’s Lovebird, and the Brown-breasted Barbet. Other fairly common species include Bohm’s Bee-eater, African Skimmer, Palmnut Vulture, White-baked Night-heron, and Dickinson’s Kestrel.

Liwonde National Park is home to Malawi’s largest elephant population as well as significant populations of hippo and crocodile. The park also hosts sable antelope, impala, waterbuck, reedbuck, warthog, kudu, yellow baboon, pangolin, monitor lizards, leopard, and vervet monkey. Rumor has it that lions have returned to the region in the last few years, but sightings are rare.

The park also has a fenced-in sanctuary, and there are plans to reintroduce rare species such as rhino, buffalo, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, zebra, roan, and eland, all of which were once hunted to extinction.

Liwonde has a diverse habitat 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 savanna and baobabs (one of Africa’s most well known and beloved trees) are found on the extensive floodplains of the river. The riverbanks have a tropical feel due to the dense vegetation along the river banks.

During the rainy season, this lush vegetation set against dramatic stormy skies 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. Any support you give Liwonde National Park helps to conserve the wildlife and heritage of Malawi not only for other tourists, but also for generations of Malawians to come.

Blantyre, the commercial capital of Malawi, is the closest city to Liwonde, just a thirty to forty minute flight away. However, visitors may prefer to travel from the capital city, Lilongwe, which is in the center of the country and only a little further afield.

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