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Liwonde National Park
Liwonde National Park offers some of the best game viewing in Malawi, along with some stunning birdlife © Dana Allen, Central African Wilderness Safaris
There is a wealth of wildlife to be seen in Liwonde, and sightings here feel very genuine, wild and pristine.
Dominated by the sluggish Shire River and its lush fringing vegetation, Liwonde National Park evokes every romantic notion of untrammelled Africa, especially at night, when the air resonates with the uninhibited chirruping of frogs and grunting of hippos. And while this 548km² reserve has to rank as a second-string safari destination compared with the continent’s finest, it does offer perhaps the best wildlife viewing and birdwatching in Malawi, and its aesthetic merits – this is the quintessential African river scene – elevate it close to being one of Africa’s truly great game reserves.
Liwonde is a relatively small park, only 50km long and nowhere more than 15km wide, and an estimated 100,000 people live within 5km of its boundaries, where they attempt to scrape a living in what is technically a marginal agricultural area. As a result, there has been a long history of conflict between wildlife and local villagers, and poaching is an ongoing problem, one that resulted in the local extinction of several large mammal species, including lion and African wild dog, though following the park’s fencing in 2017 lion – and cheetah – have been reintroduced. There is a wealth of wildlife to be seen in Liwonde, and sightings here feel very genuine, wild and pristine.