Liwonde National Park
This rugged park, with its lush riverside vegetation and dense woodlands, is the perfect example of an unspoiled African wilderness. The Shire River is the most prominent feature in the park, and wildlife viewing is at its best here.
Best Time to Go
May – September
Average Safari Cost
From $50 - $150 pp/day
Large populations of hippo, buffalo and elephant in Malawi, boat rides
Why Visit Liwonde National Park
From the floodplains filled with Palm Savannah and baobabs, to the Miombo found on the eastern and southern slopes, Liwonde has a diverse terrain, filled with colourful birds and rich wildlife.
Elephants, hippos and crocodiles are seen in abundance along the river, while baboons and vervet monkeys can be seen in the woodlands. Birdlife is fantastic here, with not only a long checklist, but also a number of uqniue birds such as the rare and sought-after Lilian’s Lovebird, along with Livingstone’s Flycatcher and the White-starred Robin.
Liwonde offers not only great wildlife watching, but also a peaceful escape from modern city life.
Pros and Cons
- Large population of hippo, elephant and buffalo
- Easy wildlife watching at the river and lagoons
- Peaceful lodging
- Over 300 bird species
- Beautiful scenery
- Roads can become impassable during the rainy months (November – April)
- Predators, including lions, are scarce
Best Time to Go
The dry season is from May to October and is perfect for viewing wildlife and camping under the stars, although it may be a little chilly at night and it can get quite windy.
The wet season is from November to April, and is great for birdwatchers. Note that neavy rains can cause certain roads to flood and/or become muddy, making them impassable.
For more information when to visit see our Malawi Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Start your African Adventure
Zambia & Malawi Livingstone Trail - ZMa16
An exciting safari experience exploring the diversity of the lesser travelled South Eastern African countries. This tour is not for the faint hearted, and requires some patience; the travelling can be slow, some nights the accommodation is basic, however the journey offers amazing scenery and fantastic highlights, well worth the long travel days. We recommend malaria prophylactics. A safari for travellers with a sense of adventure.
Wildlife and Birds
Liwonde is well known for its large numbers of elephants. The buffalo, hippo, crocodile and antelope species (waterbuck, impala, eland, sable, roan) are also fairly large. The bird population is good as well, with Lilian’s Lovebird being present.
Elephants are probably the most popular game to be seen here, as they are easily spotted along the river. There are several antelope species, including the rare sable antelope and roan antelope. Lions are much more difficult to spot, as their numbers are very low. In fact, two male lions were just relocated to Liwonde at the beginning of the year (2018), and last year, four cheetahs were also relocated to the park.
- Black Rhino
- Black rhino
Infrequently Seen Animals
- Roan antelope
- Sable antelope
- Lichtenstein’s hartebeest
Frequently Seen Animals
- Vervet monkey
With a variety of habitats from acacia and miombo to evergreen forests and reedbeds along the riverbanks, the birdlife is as diverse as the park itself. Liwonde has over 300 bird species and this is the only place in Malawi in which you can find the rare Lilian’s Lovebird.
For a complete list of endangered birds in Malawi Malawi Safari - Complete Travel Guide..
Endemic and Near-Endemic Birds
- White-starred Robin
- Brown-headed Parrot
- Brown-breasted Barbet
- Pale Batis
- Dickinson’s Kestrel
- Lilian’s Lovebird
- Bohm’s Bee-eater
- Racket-tailed Roller
- Pale-billed Hornbill
- Kurrichane Thrush
- Arnot’s Chat
- White-bellied Sunbird
- Black-eared Seedeater
- Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah
- Meve’s Starling
- Palm-nut Vulture
- Livingstone’s Flycatcher
- Pel’s Fishing-Owl
- Spur-winged Lapwing
Getting There and Safety
There are no direct flights to Malawi from the US or Europe. You can get to Malawi from South Africa, Kenya or Ethiopia. You can also reach Malawi by car or bus. The bus routes are from South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Once you are in Malawi, you can reach Liwonde National Park by air or road. You could either take a plane from Blantyre (the commercial capital), which will take 30 – 40 minutes, or from Lilingwe (the capital city), which will only take a little bit longer. The park does have its own airstrip, which makes chartered flights to and from the park quite common.
Driving to Liwonde National Park from Lilongwe will take roughly 4 hours, while driving from Blantyre takes 3 hours. During the wet season (February – November), driving will be impossible, and you will need to be boated into the park.
For the flights to Malawi via South Africa or Kenya, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you there and compare various ticket prices.
If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Malawi.
If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Malawi.
For more information on visas see our Malawi Safari - Complete Country Guide.
The risk of malaria is moderate in Malawi. You will need to speak your doctor about appropriate anti-malaria medication for your trip to Malawi.
As a first line of defence against mosquitoes, you should buy a good insect repellent (30% DEET or more), and keep you arms and legs covered as much as possible, especially at night.
Check your local travel health authority for more information:
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Malawi. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.
Sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and insect repellent (30% DEET or more) are essential. If you are visiting from November to April, you will need wet-weather gear. Don’t forgot to bring spare rechargeable batteries for your camera, and the battery charger. Be sure to bring along any personal medication you may need.
For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.