Liwonde National Park is a national park in southern Malawi, near the Mozambique border. The park was established in 1973, and since 2015 it has been managed by the nonprofit conservation organisation African Parks. It has been host to incredible wildlife translocations and reintroductions, which has recently seen predators restored to the park for the first time in two decades.
When African Parks assumed management of Liwonde, the park was riddled with tens of thousands of wire snares – more snares existed than large animals – and it had some of the highest human-wildlife conflict levels in the region. Liwonde was a park in decline, teetering on the edge of total collapse.
But since then, Liwonde has removed more than 40,000 wire snares, and orchestrated historic animal reintroductions. In 2016 the park was at the epicentre of one of the largest elephant translocations in history. A total of 336 elephants were relocated from Liwonde to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi to reduce pressure on Liwonde’s natural habitats and help address human-wildlife conflict situations around the park.
In 2017, African Parks began to reestablish Liwonde’s predator population and reintroduced cheetahs, bringing the species back to the park after 100 years. In 2018, a founder population of 10 lions was also reintroduced from South Africa and Majete Wildlife Reserve. In 2019, the park hosted one of the largest international black rhino translocations in history, where 17 black rhino were relocated from South Africa to the park to boost population numbers and genetics, and in 2021 eight African wild dogs were introduced.
Now, Liwonde’s wildlife populations are on the rise. In just a few short years, Liwonde has been given a second chance, being restored and transformed for the benefit of the wildlife, and for the people who live here. You can expect some of the best river-based wildlife viewing in Africa in an intimate setting, as it is not a mass tourism destination.
Where to Stay
We have listed some accommodation places in this area. If these don't suit you, we are more than happy to create your custom tour with your priorities.
Kutchire Lodge is located inside the boundaries of Liwonde National Park Game Reserve, approximately 2.5 hours from Blantyre and roughly an hour from the southernmost resorts on Lake Malawi. It is the best budget accommodation available in Liwonde.
The lodge offers all-inclusive and eco-friendly accommodation in treehouses, luxury chalets, family rooms, dormitories, hammocks, and campsites. Whether you want a luxurious safari experience or to sleep under the stars, they have you covered. Staying at Kutchire Lodge includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They offer local and western food and are capable of catering to your different dietary needs.
Accessible boat and land tours in and around Liwonde National Park are available.
Liwonde Safari Camp
Liwonde Safari Camp is perfectly located for tailor-made safari trips in Malawi's Liwonde National Park.
The rustic atmosphere of the camp is enhanced by its location in one of the richest habitats of the park. Just lazing about on one of the camp's various observation decks to watch the elephants or count the many species of birds is the perfect way to spend a day there.
The accommodation options include luxury safari tents, a comfortable dormitory and a campsite with fireplaces and sitting areas. The restaurant serves breakfast and dinner buffets, but you will also have access to the self-catering kitchen. Furthermore, you can plunge in the pool to cool down on hot days.
Walking safaris are available around the camp. Fully equipped safari vehicles are always ready to take guests on game drives, and the staff's expertise and experience in the park guarantee an amazing safari experience.
For an idyllic sunset trip, they can arrange a boat safari on the Shire River amongst the hippos and crocodiles. Morning boat safaris are another possibility.
The local community is always more than happy to show the guests around, and a village walk is a perfect way to appreciate Malawian hospitality.
Chimwala Bush Camp
Chimwala Bush Camp at Liwonde National Park is an excellent opportunity to experience the beauty of Malawi’s Wildlife in a small and safe place.
The camp is located in the south of the National Park at the base of Chinguni Hill overlooking the Chikalongwe lagoon and floodplain. It is operated by African Parks.
Tucked up against Chinguni hill and sheltered by mopane and miombo trees, the camp is constructed from local rock and thatch. The tents, while classic in style, have some modern features: oversized windows, lovely décor, private verandahs, and open-air outdoor bathrooms.
At the camp, up to eight guests can be accommodated in 4 comfortable and spacious en-suite safari tents on a self-catering basis. Within the camp compound there is an expansive thatched dining and lounge area for guests to socialise and relax and a pool filled with borehole water. The dining area has a moderately stocked bar.
Hidden amongst the iconic fever trees of the magnificent Shire, Mvuu Lodge overlooks Namagogodo lagoon as it flows from the park's interior towards the river.
The lodge facilities include two stunning wooden dining decks, one at ground level and another sheltered amongst the trees, both offering a panoramic view of the wildlife-filled Mvuu lagoon and the Shire River. A wooden pathway over the lagoon will lead you to a refreshing swimming pool and sunbeds, nestled between fever trees. Animals love spending time around it too! The path continues, taking you to a relaxing and mindfulness-infused yoga deck built entirely with local materials.
5 comfy tented chalets with private viewing decks and 3 spectacular secluded suites with plunge pools are available. Each room includes an outdoor shower.
For something different, Mvuu Lodge offers the Namagogodo Retreat. It is a new concept consciously developed for those with a passion for the bush. Ideal for a longer stay, the Namagogodo Retreat suits groups, friends or couples wanting a totally secluded environment with private safaris, intimate dining opportunities, three superior chalets set apart from the rest of the lodge, a lagoon setting with savannah backdrop and a private boma.
Mvuu Camp has 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.
The camp, comprising 14 units, is a mix of spacious stone and canvas chalets and specially designed family tents. An impressive thatched dining and lounge area offers a magnificent river vista that is framed by two large baobab trees. Dinners are sometimes held under the stars in a specially constructed boma. An education & conference centre with facilities is also available.
Mvuu Camp is best suited for families with smaller children as it offers a two-bedroom chalet designed for this purpose. Making Mvuu Camp suitable for youngsters has been a priority for the owners, who have brought up all their children in this special environment.
Located on a large open plain stretching towards the Shire River in Liwonde National Park, you will find Kuthengo Camp nestled among fever trees and baobabs. With resident fish eagles nesting in these baobabs, you will awake to ‘Africa’s voice’ calling as you rise in this wild and natural paradise.
The four spacious and modern safari tents are all en-suite, each with a bathtub and an outdoor shower. Cool off in the plunge pool in the hotter months and enjoy the view from there.
The rates include accommodation, activities, and meals and are charged per person per night, depending on the season. The park entry costs are extra. For guests staying more than 7 nights, there are long stay discounts available.
Activities in the Area
Game drives: Over 420 different species of wildlife call Liwonde National Park their home, including vast numbers of hippos, crocodiles, and elephants. The park features Burchell's zebra, warthog, greater kudu, velvet monkey, baboon, impala, water buck, bush buck, mongoose, and monitor lizards. Visitors may also catch a glimpse of black rhinos, bufallos, lions, cheetahs and leopards. Witness this abundance of wildlife with a guided safari or in your own vehicle and try to spot the big five.
Boat safari: The Shire River is teeming with wildlife. Experience its unique environment on a boat safari. Special morning or sunset boat safaris can be arranged through the lodges.
Walking safari: Explore the bush on foot with one of the many experienced guides eager to share their wildlife knowledge.
Best Time to Visit
The ideal time to visit Liwonde National Park is during the dry season from April to October. During this time, the bush is dry and open, making it easier to spot wildlife.
There are three distinct seasons in the area:
November – March
When the rains begin, the conditions are generally hot and wet. Humidity peaks during January and February, and the bush is thick, making it difficult to spot game. However, Liwonde is magically turned from a dust bowl into an emerald paradise during this time, and is particularly beautiful.
April – August
Temperatures are cooler and rainfall drops during this period. It is advisable to take warmer clothing for activities during the early morning and evenings or on the river, particularly in July and August.
September – October
Temperatures are extremely high and it is very dry during these months. The landscape is sparse and dry with limited vegetation cover, but game viewing is amazing.
Park Entry Fees:
Children: US$7.5 (free for children under 6)
Fees per vehicle per day: US$4