Liwonde National Park is considered by many as Malawi's prime wildlife destination. It was proclaimed in 1973 and consists of 548 sq km of diverse and spectacular landscapes, dry mopane woodlands, candelabra trees, miombo woodland, palm savannah and numerous baobabs adjoining the extensive floodplains of the Shire River where dense riverine vegetation adds a tropical feel to the habitat.
The Shire River, almost 1km wide in certain places, is home to a population of approximately 2000 hippo and attracts a wide variety of magnificent wildlife. Situated inside the park is a fenced sanctuary 4 000 hectares in size and home to rare and endangered species, including the black rhino.
Liwonde National Park offers some of the most incredible game viewing in Malawi and some of the best bird watching in Southern Africa. Accommodation types vary, catering for both luxurious and adventurous needs.
Liwonde National Park is well-managed, stocked with large numbers of wildlife and decorated with beautiful scenery and landscapes with woodlands, the Shire River and Lake Malombe.
Excellent guides employed at the select lodges have an innate knowledge of the area and are able to take guests on guided walks, game drives, night drives boating safaris.
The mixture of riverine, mopane and grassland habitats provides a variety of birdlife, and recently a few black rhinos were reintroduced to the area.
Liwonde is sparsely populated with tourists and it seems Malawi's small yet brimming national park has remained undiscovered. There are only a few lodges and visitors will feel like the experience is all their own.
Liwonde National Park offers an enormous variety of wildlife and is home to the largest remaining elephant population in the country. A dense population of about 2000 hippo find their homes in the Shire River and enormous Nile crocodiles bask on the sandbanks.
Common wildlife in the park includes large numbers of impala, reedbuck, waterbuck, warthog and the majestic sable, as well as others. Quite recently, after a 20 year disappearance, lions have made their way back to Liwonde over the Mozambican border. Liwonde has also had a number of black rhino reintroduced after many years of poaching wiped out this precious species.
The birdlife in Liwonde National Park is magnificent housing over 300 of the country's total 650 bird species. Liwonde is home to Malawi's only population of Lillian's lovebird and also plays host to the rare brown-breasted barbet. Game viewing activities at the lodges take the form of walking tours, drives, and boat or canoe trips.
Malawi’s climate remains at moderate temperatures for most of the year, only getting quite cold in the chilliest winter months of June, July and August. Early morning and evening game drives will require some bundling up, but by midday the sun is out and the skies are clear.
Summers are obviously much warmer and after the season starts changing in September and October, the temperatures start to climb and the clouds prepare for rains. The mountainous topography of the country means that the low-lying areas around Lake Malawi get a lot hotter than the higher levels.
November brings the rain, some years, while other years the rain abates until December. During December, January, February and March, Malawi receives its rainfall and the vegetation begins to grow until it is wonderfully green and lush. It is not the best season for game viewing, though, as the game spreads out and becomes more difficult to see. April and May see the return of the dry weather and the temperatures drop.
Liwonde is not the site of a vast number of lodges and camps, offering place for only the few guests that visit this wilderness retreat every season. These are our top 2 recommended options for accommodation, each providing something special for a Liwonde safari.
Mvuu Camp is situated in a magnificent location on the banks of the Shire River. It operates a river trip that takes guests 30km along the river, offering an excellent chance to see both game and birdlife among the ever-changing vegetation. Mvuu Camp is ideal for families or guests on a budget and accommodates in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge offers tranquil waterways, romantic palms and riverine forests combined with spectacular scenery and open floodplains teeming with wildlife. The lodge provides luxurious accommodation and has a variety of river and birding activities on offer.
Malawi is primarily a driving destination and there is very little use of light air transfers. The country is very small and the roads have been well maintained, making for efficient and enjoyable road transport.
The primary international airport is in Lilongwe, the capital city, which is located in more or less the centre of the country. Sun Safaris will fly their guests into Malawi at Lilongwe International Airport from where they will connect with an arranged road transfer that will take them to their wildlife destination.
In other cases, Chileka International Airport, located 16km out of Blantyre, can be used as a domestic terminal for guests choosing to fly as close as possible to their destination in the south of Malawi.
Liwonde National Park is located in southern Malawi in the upper Shire Valley. Guests will be flown to Lilongwe and then connect with a road transfer that will take them to Liwonde.