Liwonde National Park

With the stunning riverine setting of the Shire River, open floodplains and dense woodlands, this diverse and fertile landscape supports a vast array of wildlife.

Experience Liwonde

Liwonde National Park is one of the must-visit safari destinations in southern Africa today – and drifting down the Shire River amidst hippo and other animals coming to drink, it is easy to see why. 

Few visitors leave Liwonde disappointed thanks to excellent populations of elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, hippo and other large mammals, regular predator sightings – lion, cheetah and wild dog – and amazing views across the Borassus palm-studded floodplains.

Cathedral-like mopane woodlands interspersed with candelabra euphorbia offer good chances of seeing buffalo and sable antelope. Finally, Liwonde is a birdwatcher’s delight with easy viewing of Pel’s fishing-owl, Boehm’s bee-eater, Lilian’s lovebird and Livingstone’s flycatcher.

People in a truck, man with binolars self driving around Liwonde National Park

Self-drive through Liwonde

Visitors can self-drive on all roads, depending on season and road conditions – some roads are closed during the rainy season. 4×4 vehicles are recommended generally between December and April. Park hours are 6:00am to 6:00pm.

Available For: Day Visitors

A guide with a group of tourist driving through Liwonde

Self-drive with a Guide

Community Guides are available to accompany visitors on a self-drive through the park. They can be hired at the main gate.

Available For: Day Visitors

Lioness sitting in the field while tourists view her from a tourist vehicle

Game Drives

Two-hour game drives take place in the morning or late afternoon and can be booked when staying at Chimwala or via external operators such as Kutchire Lodge or Liwonde Safari Camp just outside the main gate.

Available For: OVERNIGHT visitors at Chimwala Camp

Boat cruising on the Shire River.

Boating Excursions

Thanks to the Shire River, Liwonde has some of the best river-based wildlife viewing to be had in southern Africa. Boat trips are very popular here and are offered at Chimwala and by external operators.

Available For: OVERNIGHT visitors at Chimwala Camp

A guide and photographer walking at sunset in the Liwonde

Guided Walks

Two-hour guided nature walks take place in the early mornings during the dry season at Chimwala; maximum group size is six.

Available For: Chimwala Camp

Where We Are

Located in southern Malawi, at the southern end of Lake Malombe, Liwonde is 548 square kilometres (212 sq. mi) in size.

Getting Here

2.5 hours’ drive (120km) from Blantyre, and 4 hours’ drive (250km) from the capital of Lilongwe; 4x4s recommended in the wet season. Also accessible by private charter.

The Weather

A tropical to sub-tropical climate, temperatures are high year-round. Visit ideally in the dry season (April-October), when the bush is dry and open, making game easier to spot.

Liwonde’s Wildlife

Liwonde has one of the largest elephant populations in the country, to say nothing of thriving numbers of other wildlife thanks to its anti-poaching and conservation efforts.

Where to Stay

By visiting Liwonde and Mangochi, you are helping to generate funds that contribute directly to the reserve’s long-term sustainability, community support and wildlife conservation. Choose from the different accommodation options available below and enjoy a spectacular wildlife experience.

A room at the Chimwala Camp

Chimwala Camp

This self-catering camp with spacious en-suite safari tents lies in the south of Liwonde, at the base of Chinguni Hill and overlooking the Chikalongwe lagoon and floodplain.

Interior shot of Mvuu Lodge accommodations

Mvuu Lodge

Mvuu Lodge has five comfy tented chalets with private viewing decks that overlook Namagogodo lagoon, as it flows from the park interior out towards the river.

View of an interior of the accommodations at Mvuu Camp

Mvuu Camp

Mvuu Camp is a family-friendly option with a spectacular vantage point on the banks of the Shire River. The river is a magnet for wildlife and draws an abundance of fauna to its banks.

View of the inside of tent at Kuthengo looking out to the water

Kuthengo Camp

Located on a large open plain stretching towards the Shire River, Kuthengo Camp has four modern safari tents set among fever trees and baobabs.

More About Liwonde and Mangochi

Liwonde National Park is located on the banks of the Shire River and Lake Malombe, which flows out from Lake Malawi. Floating meadows and palm-studded floodplains, formed by the tranquil Shire, are synonymous with the park. Floodplains teem with waterbuck, impala and warthogs. Specials include buffalo, sable antelope and eland. Elephants crossing the Shire River are always a treat, and lion and cheetah sightings are frequent. At night, the sounds of roaring lions echo over the plains, while smaller predators such as civets and jackals hunt in the cover of darkness. It is home to the rare and critically endangered black rhino as well as over 400 bird species.

In 2018, African Parks’ mandate was extended to incorporate the adjoining 358 km² Mangochi Forest Reserve. This addition increases the area of conservation, and Mangochi therefore is a critical ecological catchment – it serves as an important dispersal area for elephants and other species in this region in Malawi. It is home to a small elephant population, a good number of leopard and uniquely occurring bird and butterfly species.