Expert Reviews – Lengwe NP

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A engaging but low-key gem for self-drivers
Overall rating

Set in the luxuriant Shire Valley, this little-visited national park ranks low on the Big Five scale (only buffalo and possibly a few secretive leopard are present), but it is an ideal budget-friendly destination for self-drivers with a broader interest in African wildlife. It protects the most northern naturally occurring population of the handsome nyala antelope (estimated at more than 2000 individuals) and is also an important refuge for the localised thicket-dwelling suni antelope. Other common mammals include greater kudu, impala, common duiker, bushbuck, warthog, vervet monkey, samango monkey and yellow baboon. Birds are plentiful, with more than 330 species recorded, notably the racquet-tailed roller, pale-billed hornbill, Boehm’s bee-eater and three species of snake eagle. Lengwe is one of those reserves that is underwhelming on paper, but is more than the sum of its parts when visited.

Where the buffalo and nyala roam
Overall rating

There is nothing earth-shattering about this park, but if you’re looking for pleasant midrange accommodation and the ability to self-drive, this affordable place might just work for you. There is plenty of wildlife around the lodge, but it gets more scarce as you drive further away. The roads are overgrown in any case, so we stuck to the small area around camp. Here, most animals are very relaxed and are great subjects for photography. You’re not likely to see any big predators, and most flagship safari animals are absent. There are buffalo and the gracious nyala antelope is particularly common. The Saturday barbecue at the lodge is legendary and you might want to consider planning your stay around this.

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.0/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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