​Expert Reviews – Nyika NP

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Philip Briggs   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Multiple times

Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.

3 people found this review helpful.

A Remote Highland Paradise
Overall rating

Malawi’s largest and most scenic national park protects the lofty Nyika Plateau, which averages over 2,000m in altitude and supports a mixed cover of grassland, moorland and forest. In conventional game-viewing terms, it is something of a mixed bag. Big Five enthusiasts might glimpse a leopard (Nyika has one of the densest populations anywhere in Africa, and I’ve hit the jackpot on two previous visits) and possibly even elephants, but there are no buffalo or rhino, while lions are very occasional visitors from Zambia. On the plus side, the plateau supports an estimated 3,000 Crawshay’s zebra, a localised subspecies with a striking narrow pattern, and they are so common that I suspect I saw every last one of those 3,000 on my most recent visit, in May 2024. This is also probably the best place anywhere in Africa for regular sightings of the handsome roan antelope, and eland, common reedbuck and bushbuck also border on abundant. Spotted hyena, side-striped jackal and smaller nocturnal predators are often seen on night drives.

Nyika is very much a park for certain niche interest groups. Of particular interest to botanists are roughly 200 orchid species, which generally flower in January and February. For birders, the grassland around the only camp is a good place to see Denham’s bustard, Crawshay’s red-winged francolin and montane marsh widowbird. The Chowo Forest is also home to many localised species, notably bar-tailed trogon, Sharpe’s akalat, olive-flanked robin-chat and white-chested alethe. Another special bird here is scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, which experienced guides can usually find for you by visiting the specific proteas on which it feeds. Above all, this is Malawi’s finest walking and hiking destination, thanks to the spectacular scenery, overwhelming sense of space, and the high chance of spotting wildlife on foot. Note that you need to fly in or drive along a very rough road, so allow for a stay of three nights or longer to justify the effort of getting there.

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.3/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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