Overview – Liwonde NP

Ariadne van Zandbergen
Expert
By Ariadne van Zandbergen

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who write and update many Bradt guides, including the guide to Malawi.

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who write and update many Bradt guides, including the guide to Malawi.

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who author the Bradt guide to Malawi.

Ariadne and her husband form a team who author the Bradt guide to Malawi.

Liwonde NP feels like a true wilderness. Its lifeline, the Shire River, is one of Africa’s great waterways, and boat trips are highly recommended. The river supports large populations of hippo and crocodile, and elephant are encountered along the shore. A great community project run by CAWS in the park is the aptly named Children in the Wilderness, a life skills program for disadvantaged children.

Best Time to Go July to October (Dry bush, animals are easy to find)
High Season July to October (The park is busy, higher rates)
Size 580km² / 223mi²
Altitude 473-783m / 1,552-2,569ft

Pros & Cons

  • Great river safaris available
  • Superb birding, with many rare waterbirds
  • Beautiful scenery and river views
  • Night drives and walking safaris are available
  • Rhino tracking on foot is available
  • Small park, with limited road network
  • Big cats are hard to spot

Liwonde NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Poaching was once a major problem in Liwonde, but this has improved dramatically since the involvement of the African Parks organization. The Big Five are present. Elephant is common and can often be seen around the Shire River. Lion and cheetah have been reintroduced recently and black rhino is protected in a fenced-off area. The river teems with hippo and crocodile, and the park supports a good variety of antelope.

Scenery

Liwonde is a very scenic park, with the Shire River its focal point. Big, lush swampy areas with borassus palms fringe the waterways and give that real heart-of-Africa wilderness appeal. Impala lilies bring bursts of color to the dry interior most of the year, and an array of wildflowers are plentiful during the rainy season.

Weather & Climate

Although the climate is quite hot throughout the year, Liwonde experiences defined Dry and Wet seasons. The Dry season months, from May to October, are cooler overall, though temperatures spike in October just before the rains start. December to February are the wettest months; expect daily downpours. At this time roads deteriorate. By the end of the rains, a boat shuttle might be the only way to reach the camp.

Best Time to Visit

The middle and end of the Dry season (July to October) offer the best wildlife-viewing opportunities. During these months, animals are easier to spot as they are drawn to the river and other water sources. This is especially the case towards the end of the Dry season (though October can be unbearably hot). The lush emerald season (the Wet season) has its own appeal, especially for keen bird watchers, although roads can be hard to navigate at this time.

Want to Visit Liwonde NP?

Liwonde NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Loving Liwonde!
4/5

I was in Liwonde for the first day of conservation NGO African Parks’ historic elephant relocations, when they started a huge operation to move 500 pachyderms to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. It was my job to look after a darted elephant...

Latest User Review
5/5

I thought that Liwonde was a particularly beautiful national park. There were plenty of elephants, hippos. and antelope. I also was able to see African bush pigs and two new species of mongoose. The birding was excellent.