Chongoni Rock Art Area - A view from our expert author

Chongoni Rock art by Ariadne Van Zandbergen

Children stood in front of ancient rock paintings in the Chongoni Rock Art area near Dedza ©

This prehistoric rock art site is one of Malawi’s national treasures.

Stretching northwest of Dedza for about 25km, the Chongoni Rock Art Area is one of Malawi’s most neglected national treasures, containing 127 rock faces and shelters that represent an ancient painting tradition dating back at least 2,000 years. Despite being inscribed as the country’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site (the other being Lake Malawi National Park) in 2006, the area has seen little formal tourist development. Despite this lack of development, several panels can still be visited with reasonable ease by interested travellers, most notably those at Chencherere, Namzeze and Mphunzi. At the core of the 126km² UNESCO-inscribed rock-art area, the Chongoni Forest Reserve lies immediately east of the M1 north of Dedza, and is also the site of the Chongoni Forestry College and associated Kazela Forestry Resthouse. Two-thirds of the painted panels lie within the forest reserve, including Chencherere and Namzeze, but the rock-art area also extends southwest from the M1 as far as Mphunzi Mountain, where a cluster of eight panels forms the most worthwhile goal in the area for those with time to visit one site only.

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