Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National park

Liwonde national park is commonly known for the large herds of elephants that traverse through it and many tourist come to the National park just to gaze upon the large animals. This small national Park as compared to other National parks in the country is one of the top destinations for tourists that come from all over the world just to get to it. Since most of the animals have been poached on by the locals in the country, the Liwonde national park is extremely big on conservation as there has been re-introduction of some animals that had almost been extinct that is the black and white rhino and elephants.

Found in the southern part of Malawi, the Lilongwe National Park is mostly watered by the Shire River and is just a few minutes away from the city Blantyre. The large baobabs that can be seen in the National park also greatly contribute to the large number of tourists that visit the area and the unique vegetation that is mostly the woodland and grassland vegetation.

The Liwonde National Park faced a crisis many years ago when the locals almost poached all the animals out of the park until the management was taken over by the Department of National Parks and wild life in Malawi. These gazette the park and put up strict laws for anyone who poached and this is how it was saved and some animals were transported into the park after this to renew the former glory of the park.

Before you travel to the Liwonde national Park, there are a few things that you need to know and you can call them highlights and these highlights or facts include:

  • The park is surrounded with about 900,000 locals and they normally survive on the nature that surrounds the Park.
  • The snares that had been put in the Park to capture the animals have been removed meaning that poaching has greatly reduced.
  • Getting to the Park is quite easy as you can either use road transportation from Blantyre or by plane.
  • There are reduced animal attacks on the locals living in the area due to the fact that there is a wall that has been erected to separate the villages from the park.

The Liwonde National Park like any other park in the country experiences two seasons that is the wet and dry season and these highly determine what activities that tourists can carry out when they visit the Liwonde National Park and if you get to know when the two seasons that it experiences, then you will have a good chance at knowing when exactly you should visit the Park.

Things To Do in Liwonde during the dry season

Since the Park is easily accessible especially during the dry season, there are many activities that you can carry out and these include:

Taking nature walks through the park, there are several tour routes that you can use when taking nature walks but these can only be done with the help of a tour guide. The nature walks will help you get a wide perspective of what you can find in the park like the different animals that habitate within the park, the birds that can easily be seen in the morning and getting to know more about the tree species that can be found in the park. Although you will need strong hiking shoes for your walks so that you don’t get blisters on your feet.

Game drives throughout the Park, these are best done during the dry season because then the roads within the park are easily accessible and animals can be seen moving around the Park in search of water and food due to the sparse vegetation during this time and dried up water holes. Some of the animals that can be seen in the game Park include the African buffalo, antelopes, elephants, black rhinos, leopards, bushbucks, baboons, impalas, kudus, warthogs and many more other species.

Take a cultural walk to the villages, one of the many ways that you can get to know more about the culture that is practiced in Malawi is by visiting the local communities. This is mostly done during the dry season because it is much easier to walk without having mud all over your shoes and some of the best memories that you will have is the warm welcome in the village by the locals. You will be able to get to know their cultural practices and traditions, their way of life and get to also taste their good food especially in the evening as the elders tell their stories.

Take a boat cruise on the Shire River that is it is easier to enjoy your boat ride if it is done during the dry season because during this time, the water levels are a bit on the low and calm. This will enable you to enjoy watching the animals form a different perspective especially the hippos and crocodiles and a few bird species that habitate around the Shire River. The boats are always on hire from the locals or if not you can use one that is provided by the accommodation facility where you sleep and before you get on the boat, make sure that you ask for a life jacket in case something bad happens.

Go for fishing on the Shire River. This is one of the many activities that can be carried out during the dry season and you will find a lot of locals using their local people in their canoes fishing and you can join them for as long as you avoid the areas that are mostly infested with the crocodiles. But before you go for fishing you should know that the fly fishing that is done on the Shire River is just for spot meaning whichever fish that you catch should be put back into the water so that it is conserved.

Things To Do in Liwonde in the wet season

The Liwonde National Park experiences the wet season in the months of November to April and this is the best time for one to go for birding. You will have to go with a tour guide and even though the park is hardly accessible during this time, there are many endemic birds that can be seen and not forgetting the migratory birds that fly into the country. The Liwonde national park has about 400 bird species that can be viewed in their different habitats and some of the bird species in the Liwonde include the black heron, the Bohm bee-eater, the pied kingfisher, the long toed lapwing, the African fish skimmer among others. Before you head out for birding in the Liwonde national park, there are some things that you need to take with you so that your birding experience is memorable and some of these include:

  • A good camera, this will help capture all the birds in their different forms.
  • Binoculars, these will help you in seeing all the birds that are extremely far away from you or in hiding.
  • Hides, these help in keeping your presence away from the birds that fly away when they notice they are being watched.
  • A recognition book, this has all the birds and their descriptions and help you identify them easily.
  • Insect repellent, tie will help you ward off the insects and bugs and do not forget the food and water because you will not be able to get any of that when you start your birding session.

Game viewing can also be done during the wet season that most crocodiles and hippos are best seen when the water levels in the Shire River are high. All you need is to pack warm clothes and something to cover with in case it rains heavily.

When it comes to accommodation facilities within and outside the park, and you can choose whichever fits into your standards and the money that you have to pay for them. There are camp sites where you can lodge in for the night, hotels and lodges that are within budget, mid-range and luxury facilities. The best way to know what will work for you is if you ask your tour operator for the best reviews on each accommodation facility.

When to visit Liwonde National park

Wildlife viewing can be done almost throughout the year although it is best done in the months of May to October when the dry season sets in. during the dry season the animals can be seen moving towards the Shire River so that they can get some water as many of the water holes dry up during this season and others move around the park in search of food.  The rains always come in during the months of November to April and this gives you a chance to go for birding and it is within this same season that the hippos and crocodiles increase in number can be seen at the banks of the Shire River.

 

Accommodation

There is a luxury safari lodge in Liwonde National Park- Mvuu Lodge and a campsite all overlooking the winding water stream of Shire River.

Even though just 220 square miles or 580 square kilometers, Liwonde is probably the most renowned of all national game parks in Malawi. The park is approximately 100 miles or 160 kilometers north of the town of Blantyre and just a little over half that very distance from the various hotels along the southern Lake-shore. in addition, game viewing is improved since River Shire cascades along its border on the west, enabling boat safaris in addition the standard foot safaris or game drives in 4WD.
The Wildlife here comprises of rather huge populations of elephants and as well the river draws several hippos plus crocodiles. Among the Antelopes are the bushbucks, kudus as well as the sable. Additionally leopards plus hyenas as well as the unusual visiting lions are seen. Black rhinos too have been re-introduced. The Birdlife is remarkably diverse. The river draws fish eagles as well as weaver birds construct their nests within the slim woodland. Pel’s fishing owl is frequently spotted at sunset along the edge of the river.
The Accommodation offered is top-notch with the lavish Mvuu Lodge plus the close by Mvuu Camp and a camp site, right on the banks of the Shire and within the park. To arrive at riverside lodge, visitors may approach using road and later be ferried crossways the river, they may drive all the way through the stunning park or may use an arranged boat sailing from the town of  Liwonde. Furthermore There is an airstrip close to this lodge, and it is served by various charter flights.

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