A National Park With A Difference

Posted On November 18, 2009 

Country Info

Liwonde National Park is located in Malawi. (area: 1,18,000 square kilometers) located in south-east-central part of Africa. It is flanked by Zambia in the north-west, Tanzania in the north-east and Mozambique in the east, south and west. The country was formerly known as Nyasaland. The national capital is Lilongwe. Malawi is one of the world’s least Liwonde National Parkdeveloped and most densely populated countries.

Primary Info

Liwonde National Park is located on the eastern side of River Shire in the Malawi in Africa. The national park is located 140 kilometres from the town of Limbe and 205 kilometres from Lilongwe. The park with an area of 580 square kilometres and altitude ranging between 472-961 kilometres has a rich variety of flora and fauna. The area also features open savannah, lagoons, marshes, floodplain, mopane woodland and hills. The park was proclaimed in 1973.

The Liwonde National Park is georphically a well-defined place. Apart from the River Shire, the park is also bounded by Lake Malombe and hills and ridges. The mean annual temperature in the region is 13 degree Celcius with a mean annual rainfall between 650-2,250 mm. The topography is generally a gentle slope upward from River Shire.


Seven main vegetation types are found in the Liwonde National Park. The most common is the mopane woodland marked by short grass. The banks of the river and the Lake Malombe have riverine and floodplain vegetation.


The Park features a diverse fauna. The mammals found in the park include lions (although scarce), leopards, jackals, elephants (now declining in numbers), hippopotamus, antelopes (including impala, waterbuck, kudu, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, elegant sables and bushbuck varieties among others), zebras, buffaloes, baboons and crocodiles. Also found are Greater and Lesser Galago, Spotted Hyena, Side-striped Jackel, Scrub Hare, Porcupine, Wild Pig and Pangolin Recently, black rhinos have also been introduced in the national park from South Africa.


Hippos are special attractions of Liwonde National Park. As per the census of 2002-03, the number of hippos in the area might touch 1,000. Hippo population in the area gets dispersed over food availability and not water refuge since the Shire River is a perennial source of water. Grazing range of the hippos extend upto 5 km in the east and 1 km in the west of the river. Over grazing in limited areas suitable for grazing could leave a serious impact on the hippopotamus population here.


Over 200 birds species are found in this national park including the rare Nyasa lovebirds along with fish eagles and weaver birds. Pel’s Fishing Owl is also viwed on the river banks. Palmnut vultures and Ospreys are some of the other avifauna types found here.

Time of visit

June to August is the best time to visit Liwonde National Park. The consequent dry season extending till November is also suitable to visit the park. The park experiences heavy rain between November and March with the temperature starting to become cooler from April.

Accomodation in Liwonde National Park

There are limited accommodation facilities in the park. Chinguni and Mvuu are two of the main private accommodation lodges in the area.

Chinguni Lodge offers good safari camping opportunities for the mid-budget traveler. It is located between the Chinguni LodgeChinguni and Mbawala hills and offers panoramic views of the wildlife in Chikalogwe plains. It was made a guesthouse in the 1980s. Chinguni Lodge is focused on establishing a good value for money bush lodge and safari camp for the budget and mid-range traveller.

Mvuu Wilderness Lodge is small but stunning accommodation setting. Four large tents and a stone and thatch honeymoon suite are located on the edge of a lagoon, off the river, offering a private view of the lagoon. Besides, the 28-bedded Mvuu Camp also offers excellence of nature in a less exclusive atmosphere. Mvuu is the only lodge in the park that offers boat trips and game drives round the clock. Tourists can avail road or waterways to reach the lodge. There is also an airstrip that allows reaching the lodge by flight.

Other fun activities in Liwonde National Park include:
  • Canoe safari to see hippopotamus and sun-bathing crocodiles
  • Walking safari through the African savannah
  • Night drive to watch animals otherwise not easily visible
  • Boating trips to watch elephants bathe and hippos and crocs
  • Birdwatching
  • Bicycle trips into the local villages and overnight stays there

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