Liwonde National Park
is an important conservation area and the best known location for safari in Malawi
The reserve lies on the eastern side of the Shire River, where it passes through Lake Malombe on the way north to feed into the southern tip of Lake Malawi.
It is an extremely beautiful place, with a mix of riverine, mopane and grassland habitats, set against the backdrop of Rift Valley escarpments and containing good populations of elephants, hippos and crocodiles in particular, as well as really superb bird life.
The main activity is motorboat safari, which really can be excellent, supported by vehicle safari and some modest walking safari.
Conservation in this area has historically been rather lax, with significant human encroachment and animal poaching. But in recent decades the park has enjoyed much greater levels of protection, leading to a big increase in the numbers of antelopes in particular.
There are hopes that this recovery will also lead to higher densities of lions and leopards, but progress is slow and Liwonde should most definitely not be considered as a prime location for viewing major predators.
The lack of high impact safari in Liwonde means that visitor numbers remain low, which is unfortunate from a conservation perspective, but a boon to the few travellers who come to enjoy the gorgeous landscapes and more subtle wildlife appeal.
Clearly Liwonde is a place which is better suited to more experienced safari travellers, who tend to be less concerned about the lack of predators. It is also a very attractive option for birders.
We find that it also combines really well with South Luangwa
in Zambia, where guests can get their fill of predators before coming down here for a more relaxed experience out on the river.
The area is usually reached by road from Lilongwe, a journey of around 4 hours. The vast majority of visitors tend to stay in just one camp for 3 to 4 nights.Mvuu Lodge
... is the slightly more upmarket option, situated on the eastern bank of the Shire River in the heart of the national park.Mvuu Camp
... is in a similar location, but is slightly simpler and lower cost.