LENGWE NATIONAL PARK
Lengwe National Park is 350 sq miles (900 sq km) in area and lies to the south of Majete Wildlife Reserve and 50 miles (80km) from Blantyre, in Malawi’s Lower Shire Valley. The vegetation is thicket, with some deciduous woodland and more dense tree growth along the stream courses. The eastern area is quite flat, allowing for a good and well marked network of driveable tracks. To the west the level rises and low hills, outcrops of sandstone, break the skyline.
Lengwe is quite arid outside the rainy season and many of the water courses become dry sandy channels. This aids game viewing because it forces the animals to use the few pools that are permanent supplies of water. There are hides and man-made pools in the eastern area of the park just a short distance from the main gate. The advantages of the hides is that one may see a mix of wildlife together at the water-hole. Though there are predators in the park in the form of leopards and hyena, it is antelope which will be more often seen. These include what is rare for Malawi, the very beautiful nyala. This part if Malawi is the most northerly places in the world to see these magnificent antelope. Impressive kudu also roam the park as do common duiker, the small Livingstone’s suni, bushbuck and impala. Baboon, monkey, warthog, bushpig and some strong buffalo herds are also seen in the park. The birdlife of Lengwe is attractive with about 300 or so species recorded. These include some fairly rare birds and some seen nowhere else in Malawi.
At the gate of the park is a heritage centre – Tisunge! (which is the Chi Chewa for ‘Let us preserve!’) – Lower Shire Heritage Centre – boasting a small museum, an arts & craft shop, a library, an education and manager’s office, an open plan meeting area and an ablution block. There are plans for a children’s club, a repository and a weaving area.
The government tourist lodge was renovated and refurbished in 2003 and now operates as Nyala Lodge. Lengwe can also make a good one-day excursion from Blantyre.