The Reserve sits on the escarpment of the East African Rift Valley, on Ntchisi Mountain, and has stunning views of the valley, Lake Malawi and even across the lake to the mountains in Mozambique.
Flora and fauna
One of the last remaining patches of tropical rainforest in southern Africa, Ntchisi Forest Reserve is a haven for rare birds, several species of monkeys, hyena, small antelopes, civet, serval cat and many other small species. The rainforest flora, however, is the real highlight of this area of outstanding natural beauty.
At 1500-1700 metres, the climate in Ntchisi Forest Reserve is cooler than the surrounding low-lying areas, making it a welcome escape from the heat. It is also mosquito-free.
One of the most beautiful dirt roads in the country lies between Mponela and Ntchisi Forest Reserve, the most direct route from Lilongwe. The Reserve is around 2 hours drive from Lilongwe, or 1.5 hours from the airport, making it an easy first destination on arrival in the country. A four-wheel drive car is required in the rainy season.
Fees and permits
Entry to the Forest Reserve is free.
There are many hiking trails of varying length covering Ntchisi Mountain and surrounding slopes. A guide can be hired at Ntchisi Forest Lodge, who can also arrange village tours or walks in the forest with the local traditional healer.
Ntchisi Forest Lodge can also arrange tours of their community projects in surrounding villages.
- [dead link] Ntchisi Forest Lodge, Ntchisi Forest Reserve (2 hr north of Lilongwe), ☏ . The lodge has a restaurant famous for its fresh home-cooking. Only open to guests at the lodge or with reservation.
- [dead link] Ntchisi Forest Lodge, Ntchisi Forest Reserve, ☏ . The lodge has a beautiful 'rainforest bar' open to guests at the lodge.
- [dead link] Ntchisi Forest Lodge, Ntchisi Forest Reserve (2 hrs north of Lilongwe), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Cosy, owner-run lodge with just five rooms in one of southern Africa's last remaining patches of tropical rainforest. This is a great destination for nature-lovers seeking peace and quiet and a taste of the real Africa. The lodge terrace has stunning views of the Rift Valley and hiking trails start right from the doorstep. Other activities include guided rainforest hikes, walks with the traditional healer and cultural village activities. Camping is also available. Reservation necessary.
Various excursions are possible if you are based in Ntchisi Forest Reserve:
- Local markets in Ntchisi town
- Village visits to remote parts of Malawi
- Nkhotakota, with access to Lake Malawi and Nkhotakota Pottery (working pottery with restaurant and beach), is 1.5 hr drive east.