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Located at the southern tip of Lake Malombe in the south of Malawi, Liwonde National Park, although only around 580km2, is widely regarded as Malawi’s best game viewing destination and is one of its most popular parks.
Liwonde was proclaimed a national park in 1973 after Chief Liwonde wanted to recognise it as an area of importance for Malawian wildlife heritage. Conservation continues to play a large role in the park, local chiefs and farmers work closely with other organisations and are actively involved in conservation and development projects in and around the park.
Liwonde has a diverse landscape, made up of Mopani woodland, Miombo woodland and Palm Savannah. The park is dominated by the Shire River and the lush vegetation along its banks which gives it more of a tropical feel. The river is home to many hippo pods and crocodiles. It also attracts many of the parks animals, especially during the dry season when water sources are scarce elsewhere.
As well as hippo and crocodile, Liwonde has elephant, waterbuck, kudu, impala, bushbuck, sable antelope, leopard and hyena. Lion are also found in the park, however, sightings are not commonplace.
The birding is excellent here too, with a whole host of species recorded, it has been reported that over 300 of Malawi’s 650 bird species live in Liwonde National Park. The river acts as a magnet for fish eagles and Pel’s fishing owl is also a relatively common sight over the river at dusk. Livingstone’s flycatcher, the spur-winged lapwing, Liliians lovebird and the rare brown-breasted barbet have also all been seen within the park.
In the centre of the park, there is a sanctuary that is used by conservationists as a prerelease site for rhino and other animals that are being reintroduced into the Liwonde. Other species such as buffalo, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, zebra, roan and eland, all of which were once hunted to extinction, are also being reintroduced.
You can choose to explore the park on foot, by river cruise or game vehicle - all of which are fantastic ways to witness the majestic wildlife of Liwonde!
© ecoTravel Africa 2011