What comes to mind when you think of the perfect safari? Incredible animal and bird sightings? Private vehicles and guides? Or perhaps seeing the landscapes and its inhabitants from the land, by boat and by air! Perhaps you’d like your own private concession with limited numbers of other guests in the complete wilderness – the true ‘off the beaten track’ feel. Let’s throw in a beautiful yet small lodge with great staff and food. Sounds great, doesn’t it? The perfect safari destination doesn’t exist…
Liwonde National Park is all of the above. With only 3 lodges in the park and less than 40 beds in total, this is where is it’s all at and combines perfectly with the rest of Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique.
Liwonde has always had the charm of its surroundings and beauty, the birds (over 450 species), the palm trees, the incredible sunsets and sunrises, lots of elephants, and a fair share of antelope, zebra, buffalo, etc. However, unfortunately, it fell victim to years of poaching due to a demand for bushmeat, which destroyed the park and the ecosystems… Then came African Parks to the rescue!
African Parks has moved mountains and made magic happen in Liwonde. With a small population of black rhino introduced to start with and many more thereafter, followed by cheetah who have thrived, going from seven to eighteen in the last few years, with new litters of cubs each year. Lions were reintroduced and are doing well, and a large portion of the ever-growing elephant population was relocated to Nkhotakota. This is not new and you would have read all about this on the news… and maybe even in our newsletters!
However, the real results in Liwonde are what only you can experience yourselves in the park. The numbers of kudu, sable, waterbuck, and impala have quadrupled and are a direct result of the 40,000 snares wire traps removed from the park. Side striped jackal and hyenas are more common thanks to the increase in predators and the birdlife seems to be better and better, even the vultures have returned. From Mvuu Lodge I spotted 4 different kinds of kingfishers at one time and a flurry of other beautiful feathered friends, as well as many mammals…
As I looked out from the beautiful deck at Mvuu Lodge, overlooking the lagoon, I could see all of the below at one moment in time.
4 species of Kingfishers (1 Malachite, 1 Pied, 1 woodland, 1 brown hooded)
* Oh and for the record, there are another 3 species that we saw during our stay in Liwonde (Giant, Striped & Grey Headed).
From that very deck, without having to move an inch, we saw African fish eagles, cormorants, monkeys, baboons, various bee-eaters, lilac-breasted rollers, swallows, egrets, ibises, weavers, hippos, crocs, elephant, kudu, bushbuck, waterbuck, warthog and much more. It is not uncommon to see kills here, from this very deck I have seen a croc take a terrapin and a baboon bully a baby bushbuck for dinner. There was also a recent sighting of the local resident crocs taking an impala for dinner off the banks of the marsh into a death roll and cheetah take down an impala in the car park.
The game drives were, as expected, fantastic with sightings of lion and cheetah and of course an abundance of plains game including various antelope, warthog, buffalo, zebra, and much more. Nocturnally we enjoyed various species of mongoose, civets, genets, serval, owls, … but with this was the breathtaking beauty of Liwonde and the diversity of flora and fauna in the park, especially the scenically beautiful sun setting in the distance over Chinguni Hills reflecting over the Shire River and bursting through the palm trees. The diversity of landscapes from open savannah and wet marshlands to thick forests allow for a huge diversity of game and birds.
We were fortunate to enjoy Liwonde by air and did the sunset helicopter flight with African Parks. It is breathtaking to see Liwonde from the air especially with the perfect golden light as the sun was setting behind the hills. But the highlight of this flight was learning about what African parks have achieved, below are a few examples of a long list:
So if you want an amazing helicopter flight and a feel-good factor, knowing that the money you spend on this experience is helping conservation and communities as the funds go directly back into the cost recovery of the helicopter, which is used for anti-poaching, etc. Contact us to add it to your next trip.
On this trip, we not only wanted to have a good time in Liwonde, learn as much as we could, and try to make a short video but also wanted to touch on projects/ small businesses in and around Liwonde that you should consider when visiting the park.
Obviously, it goes without saying that if you are coming internationally you should definitely consider the below to combine with Liwonde:
If you would like to visit Liwonde National Park, contact us!