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Liwonde National Park

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Earth : Africa : Southern Africa : Malawi : Southern Malawi : Liwonde National Park
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Sunset over the Shire River
Elephant drinking

Liwonde National Park is in Malawi.


Baobab tree



Liwonde National Park is situated on the east bank of the Shire (pronounced "shi-ray") River, at the southern end of Lake Malombe. The park is long, thin and flat, with hills towards the southern tip.

Flora and fauna[edit]

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, Burchell's zebra, black rhino (very rarely seen), warthog, greater kudu, vervet monkey, baboon, impala, water buck, bush buck, mongoose, crocodile and monitor lizard. In recent years some lions are known to 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 official bird. The birds are actually 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 includes the spectacular baobab trees and the poetic fever trees.


Liwonde National Park is in one of the hottest, most humid areas of Malawi.

Get in[edit]

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 Mangochi). From there it's a 14km drive along dirt roads to the edge of the park, and another 1km 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 or Liwonde Safari Camp. From the south entrance it's about a 30km drive inside the park to Mvuu Camp and Lodge, and only about 3km to Bushmans Baobabs and Liwonde Safari Camp. 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 or Liwonde Safari Camp 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.

If you do not want to organize the transport into the park yourself you can use a local tour operator to handle all administration. They will organise your accommodation, transport and game activities so all you have to do is turn up. Malawian Style [1] specialise in trips to Liwonde National Park and other Malawi parks.


The park entrance fees to non-Malawian residents are about $10 US a day. You will be charged this amount when entering the park, even if you have pre-paid for a tour.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Do[edit][add listing]

The park offers some very nice Safari. You can either go by 4wd for some "regular" safari drive, or you have the option to take a Canoe Safari tour, which is pretty cool & very relaxing, plus you get to see the hippos just near you (not too close, because they CAN be dangerous). Yet another option, is to take a walking tour in the park, also a very nice way to explore this relatively small, but very beautiful, park. All Safari activities can, of course, be organized inside the park, no need to book in advance, or anything like that. The guides, and any other staff, are all very welcoming.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Bushman's Baobab serves excellent food; for travellors who crave something other than nsima, 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.

Drink[edit][add listing]

The bar sells the usual soft drinks and Africa's favourite lager, Carlsberg, as well as some lovely 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.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Chalet at Mvuu camp


  • Bushman's Baobabs (former Chinguni Hills) [2]
  • Liwonde Safari Camp, [3] Liwonde Safari Camp has luxury tented accomodation, a dormetory and a campsite. There is also a restaurant, bar and a camp kitchen for self-catering.
  • Majasi Wildlife Camp [4] Located in town alongside the Shire River affording great views; offering affordable accomodation and activities complete with an onsite bar and restaurant.
  • Mvuu Camp, [5].
  • Mvuu Lodge, [6].
  • 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.
  • Shire Eco Safari Camp, Shire Eco Safari Camp has affordable bamboo huts and a campsite if you've got your own tent. Do a safari or just sit on the viewing platform overlooking the national park. In the evenings relax on the comfy sofas, sit by the campfire or let the Malawian owner Billy show you the planets and moon through his huge telescope while he answers any questions you have about science and space. Food is available on request.
  • Villa Liwonde, is a cottage (for a group of nine or rooms for individual travellers) at the banks of the Shire River with beautiful views to the opposite National Park. Rooms are air-conditioned. Socialize over a bbq, campfire and make your own wood-oven pizza while watching Hippos in the river. It can be easily reached all year round and is an ideal starting point for boat safaris.


Liwonde Safari Camp offers camping on it's spacious campsite. They also have a campers kitchen for self-catering.


Stay safe[edit]

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!

Get out[edit]

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