The entrance to Liwonde National Park is around five kilometers from Liwonde, Malawi, which is on the M3 highway. Liwonde National Park is around two hundred twenty kilometers southeast of Lilongwe, one hundred fifty kilometers south of Cape Maclear (with a change on public transport in Mangochi), and a hundred kilometers north of Blantyre.
The national park covers about five hundred fifty square kilometers, with the Shire River running through it. It's quite a small park, so multiple animal sightings are very common -- there are frequent sightings of elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, and several species of antelope. Two black rhinos were introduced into the park in the late twentieth century, and four cheetahs and two lions have been added in recent years. Nocturnal species such as bush babies, side-striped jackals, and spotted hyenas can also be seen on night drives.
Virtually all visitors stay in the national park rather than the town. Liwonde National Park has a couple of budget camps with hostel dorm accommodation. The Liwonde, Malawi hostel camps are the best places to organize safaris and nature walks in the park and these are extremely rewarding. The dorm accommodation is comfortable and spacious and you can either self-cater or take the set dinners and breakfasts. The hostels in Liwonde National Park also have viewing platforms from which to game watch, particularly in the late evening when the cooler temperature mean that some animals are more active just before sundown.
The park also has a healthy population of bird species including rarities such as racket-tailed roller, brown-breasted barbet, white-starred robin, Kurrichane thrush, and broad-tailed paradise whydah. Taking a boat safari is a great way to appreciate the park and you'll be rewarded with sights of crocodiles, hippos, and many bird species.
Liwonde is an essential stop for any international traveler in this part of the world. It gives visitors one of the best wildlife experiences in Southern Africa. The park is relatively small, but holds large populations of many of the most iconic African wild animals, making wildlife viewing immensely rewarding.
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