Liwonde national park is considered the most prolific wildlife area in Malawi, despite its size – only 580 sq km. however, the shire river – the country’s largest river and Lake Malawi’s only outlet – forms the western boundary of the park and is a magnet for wildlife. Nearly a kilometer wide in places, with flood plains extending to three times that width in the south, the Shire River harbors a dense population of about a thousand hippo, flotillas of crocodiles and large numbers of elephants – the largest remaining population in the country. Antelopes such as Kudu, waterbuck and bushbuck are common along the banks. Sable occur in one of the greatest numbers in all Africa and one of only two breeding groups of black-rhino in Malawi reside in the park. Lion and leopard occur but are rarely seen, while cape clawless and spotted-necked otters are an exciting sighting.
Named after chief Liwonde who championed the protection of this area, the park is generally flat with fertile alluvial soils accounting for its lush beauty. The floodplains that surround the Shire River have dense riverine vegetation which adds a tropical feel to the habitat, fringed in turn by palm savannah and numerous baobabs. In the east, relatively dry Mopane woodlands are interspersed with candelabra trees, while patches of miombo woodland occur on the few hill slopes in the south and east.
Nearly 300 bird species occur here, with specials such as Bohm’s Bee-eater, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Pel’s fishing owl and the only population of Lillian’s Lovebird in Malawi.
Liwonde National Park is a place of extraordinary biodiversity and conservation potential. It is there fore the focus of many NGO’s and non-profit organizations, as well as the park in Malawi in which wilderness Safaris is most involved.
A great diversity of animals can be seen including large numbers of elephant, Sable, hippo, impala, waterbuck, and occasionally the rare black rhino. Huge crocodiles, leopard and serval are also fairly common and birds are prolific. This park probably offers the best year-round birding. African Fish Eagle and Pel’s fishing owl are frequently sighted, as well as Bohm’s Beater, African skimmer, palm nut vulture, white –backed night heron and a host of other “specials”.