Liwonde National Park is in Malawi.
Liwonde National Park is on the east bank of the Shire (pronounced "shir-ee") River, at the southern end of Lake Malombe. The park is long, thin and flat, with hills towards the southern tip.
Flora and fauna
To view animals, the best time to visit Liwonde is in the dry season when they come to the river to drink. Animals living in the park include: elephant, hippo, zebra, black rhino (very rarely seen), warthog, greater kudu, vervet monkey, baboon, impala, water buck, bush buck, mongoose, crocodile and monitor lizard. Some lions have taken up residence in the park, but these are unlikely to be seen.
A wide variety of birds can be seen all year round. Among them, of course, is also the African Fish Eagle, Malawi's national bird.
The birds are one of the main attractions of the park, for those who are somewhat knowledgeable in the field.
The flora is dominated by mopane woodland, so named because the tswana word 'mopane' refers to the butterfly shape of the leaves. Other species include the spectacular baobab trees and the poetic fever trees.
Liwonde National Park is in one of the hottest, most humid areas of Malawi.
A boat runs regularly from Liwonde town to Mvuu Camp and Lodge.
To drive to Mvuu Camp and Lodge, turn off the M3 at the village of Ulongwe (about a third of the way between Liwonde and Mangotchi). From there it's a 14-km drive along dirt roads to the edge of the park, and another 1 km to the river where you can leave your vehicle and get a boat across the river to Mvuu Camp and Lodge.
Bicycle taxis can be arranged from Ulongwe, but they are not for the faint-hearted.
You can also drive in from the south (the turning is just outside Liwonde town, to the east). This is the entrance to use if you are staying at Bushmans Baobabs. From the south entrance it's about a 30-km drive inside the park to Mvuu Camp and Lodge, and only about 3 km to Bushmans Baobabs. Seek advice before attempting to reach Mvuu this way.
If you do not have a vehicle it is best to call ahead and have someone from Bushmans Baobabs pick you up from the park gate which can be reached by bicycle taxi. It's best to arrange this before reaching the park, since walking into the park is not allowed (for obvious reasons) and you could end up stranded at the gate, without a phone, without a bicycle taxi and several miles from anywhere.
Another option is to use the MV Mangunda a cruise boat that runs daily trips and overnight trips into the park. Based at Villa Liwonde in Liwonde town. This is a unique way to view the park and its animals.
Fees and permits
The fees below are payable by day visitors. If you are staying in a lodge inside the park these fees should be included in your accommodation rate.
Malawian nationals: US$4
Malawian National children: US$2
Malawian residents: US$10
Malawian resident children: US$5
International visitors: US$25
International visitor children: US$12
Per vehicle per day fee: US$4
All safari activities can be organized from within the park, wherever you are staying; no need to book in advance. The guides, and any other staff, are all very welcoming.
- Game drives in a 4x4 open vehicle
- River safari in a covered boat. This allows you to get close to hippos and elephants along the river. Also a great way to view birdlife and sunsets.
- Bush walk with an armed ranger. Walking in the bush allows you to experience the area in a completely different way. You probably won't get very close to large mammals but walking gives you the chance to see the smaller wonders of the bush.
Bushman's Baobab serves excellent food; for travellers who crave something other than nshima (crushed maize meal used an an accompaniment to most meals in the region), be prepared for a three-course feast to suit all tastes, and the price is very reasonable.
Liwonde Safari Camp has a menu for breakfast and lunch and a small tasty buffet in the evening.
The bar sells the usual soft drinks and locally produced Carlsberg, pineapple Fanta, and of course, the local Kuche Kuche beer. The guide will take purchased drinks in a water cooler on the boat safari so that you can have a cool drink while watching the sunset on the Shire.
- Bushman's Baobabs (former Chinguni Hills).
- Liwonde Safari Camp.
- [formerly dead link] Mvuu Camp.
- [formerly dead link] Mvuu Lodge.
- Njobvu Cultural Lodge,Njobvu Cultural Village Njobvu Cultural Village is run by local villagers and is an important source of revenue for the community. Benefiting from Liwonde park tourism encourages communities to conserve their valuable natural and cultural resources. A percentage of the funds are used to support a nursery school. Visitors of the lodge experience the real Malawian life, by sleeping in the traditional mud brick hut in the village and meeting the villagers and their traditions.
If staying at Mvuu Camp or Mvuu Lodge, then be very careful if you need to leave your accommodation at night. Encounters with hippos are all too easy as they graze on the lawn in front of the chalets at night!