Liwonde National Park Malawi

A cheaper and beautiful alternative

to the expensive parks of Zambia 

Victoria Falls guide for the budget traveller

Malawi isn’t exactly the first country in Africa to pop up in internet searches when it comes to Safaris, and so we’ve been surprised to discover this little beautiful park which lies at south east near the border with Mozambique

The Liwonde National Park has been recently “acquired” by African Parks and has been restored from the neglect state it was in the last 20 years: lions were reintroduced, some 500 elephants have been moved to other parks because they were too many, and fences have been built to protect the park bonudaries.

On the way to Victoria Falls

How to reach Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National Park is located conveniently between Blantyre and Lake Malawi, only 60 km from Zomba Plateau.

From Lilongwe by car:

1. From Lilongwe take the road through Balaka (M8) and cross the bridge across the Shire river to arrive to Liwonde Town. Now you need to turn left into the road which is officially called the S131 in Liwonde town.

2. To find this turn off, follow the signs for Liwonde National Park from the Malawi Wildlife Service or the signs for the Malawi Fertilizer Company

3. There will be a Petroda filling station at this turn off.

4. At the next intersection, turn right (again follow Liwonde National Park and Malawi Fertilizer Company signs).

From Lilongwe by Public Transport

Most of the travellers reach Liwonde from Cape Maclear or Monkey Bay which are on Lake Malawi south side. From Monkey Bay, take any minubus (Matola) going to Mangochi, then change to Liwonde. The whole route takes about 3 hours, depending on traffic. Once in Liwonde if you have arranged your stay in one of the lodges, they will pick you up usually at the petrol station in front of the bus station.

From Blantyre by car:

1. When driving up from Blantyre via the Zomba road (M3), you need to turn right into the road which is officially called the S131 in Liwonde town.

2. To find this turn off, follow the signs for Liwonde National Park from the Malawi Wildlife Service or the signs for the Malawi Fertilizer Company, that look like this:

3. There will be a Petroda filling station at this turn off.

4. At the next intersection, turn right (again follow Liwonde National Park and Malawi Fertilizer Company signs).

5. Once you pass the Malawi Fertilizer Company, which will be on the left side of the road, keep on going straight for another 2 km. Then turn left at the sign for Liwonde National Park. (You now leave the tarmac road and it’s all good dirt road from here.)

6. You now go straight for 2 km, but before reaching the park entry gate, you will see a sign for Liwonde Safari Camp, pointing you to the turn off to the left.

7. Just follow this road for another few kilometers, until you reach the Liwonde Safari Camp.

From Blantyre by public transport:

Mini-bus taxis from Blantyre and Limbe provide regular service to Liwonde, be aware that the larger public transport busses are not known for their speediness.

Impalas in the Liwonde National Park Malawi - Liwonde National Park Malawi

What to do in Liwonde National Park

Game drive

Tha park is relatively small at 541 kmq, so usually a game drive of half a day will be enough to cover most part of it.

Liwonde has a population of approximately 12,000 large mammals, and hosts more than 380 bird species. Large mammals include African buffalo, antelope (including Common eland, the endangered sable antelope, and waterbuck), baboons, black rhinoceros, bushbuck, elephants, hippopotamus, impala, kudu, monkeys, and warthogs. The park is home to dozens of other grazing mammal species, as well as crocodiles.

Lions have been reintroduced in the park in 2017, and there are now a dozen of them, and they can easily be seen especially if you do the game drive in the morning.

Game drives are cheap a 25$/pp plus 20$ park fee

Boat tour

The park lies along the Shire Rivers, and this offers the possibility of cheap boat tours ($25pp). The boat tours lasts three hours, usually in the afternoon, where the sun casts its shadows along the river banks, and the chances to see the elephants and other mammals are higher. You will see dozens of hyppos bathing in the slow stream, and luckily some of them outside of the water!

Elephant in Liwonde National Park Malawi - Liwonde National Park Malawi

Where to stay

Apart from the luxury tent camps with crazy prices, we have found through a friend in Cape Maclear a new simple but well run lodge called Kutchire  Lodge

that offers excellent accomodation in chalets or tree houses 35$/pp including breakfast, lunch and dinner, and cheaper options if you choose to sleep in the simple but cozy dorm, or in tents.

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Sometimes we’ll be off-grid but that’s the exciting part right?

Cheers from Sigfrido & Valeria 🙂