Thursday, 29 August 2013

Nyika National Park

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to score a seat in the Go Bananaz safari car to Nyika. Luckily the guys who run Go Bananaz are good friends of mine and I could go and just chip in fuel and food costs. Result! It pays to be friends with these guys at last!

Nyika is one of the national parks in Northern Malawi. Based about 100km from Rumphi, a small town located about 65km from where I live in Mzuzu. Nyika is the largest national park in Malawi and is also the oldest. It is accessed by a dirt road that really is 4WD only. At points the road is very loose and and very steep and you would need a driver that is confident with 4WD. Luckily Puncque had driven the road over 100 times and knew it well. We made it in a little over an hour from Rumphi where as normally it would be at least 2.5 hours.
Terrible to see the deforestation. 

Once you arrive at the park gate, Chilenda Campsite is another 60km inside. We all got residents rate as we all live in Malawi and the game viewing started as soon as we drove away from the park gate. Nyika is a beautiful park with, what is said, the highest concentration of leopards in Southern Africa. The rolling hills, the scenery and the peace make it the ideal place to get away from it all.

We drove slowly to the campsite, eyes peeled for spotting roan antelopes, impalas and zebras. Stopping en route to pose at the Zambia border (no immigration post here so no new stamp :( ), allowing Bjorn to take a piss, we went leopard spotting before arriving at the camp at dark. It was all hands on deck with people putting up tents, chopping veg and boiling water. It was bliss, we had the campsite to ourselves. So following a few drinks around the campfire I retired to be lulled to sleep to the sound of distant hyenas (or possibly Gareth's singing).

View from Chosi point

Next morning, I awoke to Gareth's delightful tones as he attempted to light a fire and cursed at the wood, the matches, the distant impalas. Luckily on of the campsite attendants put him out of his misery, and by the time I had showered (hot water showers, at a campsite!), there was coffee ready. Result. After a hearty breakfast, we went off for some more exploring. After a spell driving on the air strip, spotting some more impalas and seeing the devastating effects of logging, we returned to the campsite for some nsima and usipa and after packing up the car again we headed off on our last drive of the day. At this point we passed the dam en route to Chosi point. Here we were greeted with a beautiful panoramic view over Nyika National Park. At this point, the vastness of this place hit me. We had just barely scratched the surface of this amazing place. At no point did we encounter other visitors to the park and our only human interactions were with park employees. True bliss.
"I'm on top of the world"

>Travel information< It is impossible to get to Nyika national park on public transport. You need to have a 4 wheel drive or go with a safari company. From my experience, the park is vast and if you want a chance of seeing wildlife, as opposed to just admiring the beautiful views, you would need a good map or guide. I can highly recommend the guys at Go Bananaz (check out their Facebook page) safaris, as people who will not only show you the amazing sights but who you will have fun with also.

Costs: As I am a resident, I had a discounted rate of MK3,000. Camping at Chilenda camp is $15 per night which includes camp attendants who will light fires for hot showers, do your washing up and light your campfire for you.
Once you are there, there are options for mountain biking, horse riding or further game drives, including night drives to try spot leopards.

Goodbye Nyika


  1. That looks fun! Hopefully I will make it to Malawi with optometry one day. See you there?

    1. Hopefully. Thanks for the invite to the competition.

  2. I've heard great thing about Malawi. Would you consider Nyika NP to be a must see/do when visiting the country?

    1. It really depends on the context. Will you be travelling through a lot of Africa or just in Malawi? What do you want from the trip? Are you more concerned with seeing the "big 5"? Nyika is a beautiful, serene place but if wildlife spotting is top of your list, there are better places. I loved Nyika and would recommend people to go there, but as I said, it really depends on what you want from the place