National Parks and Wildlife Reserves in Malawi
In the past, Malawi might not be as well known for its wildlife as its neighbouring Zambia or Tanzania owing to low numbers of animals and poaching habits, but that has all changed. Conservation programmes and protection investments have resulted in an increase in the country’s wildlife numbers. Whether you’re exploring by 4×4, walking, trekking or boat, Malawi does offer comparable and excellent game viewing experience and least crowded national parks and reserves.
There are 10 protected areas comprising 5 national parks and 5 wildlife reserves, each one unique in its own way. Malawi is Africa’s newest big five destination (buffalo, elephants, lion, leopard, and rhinoceros) and has a great variety of wildlife, over 170 species of mammals and more than 600 species of birds with over 10 percent not being seen in other parts of Southern Africa. Lake Malawi is home to over 1000 species of tropical fish.
A public-private partnership with African Parks Foundation has seen Malawi’s parks restocked with more than 2,500 animals. African Parks has also undertaken one of the largest elephant translocations in conservation history. In collaboration with the Development of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the foundation has moved up to 500 elephants from Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in 2016 and 2017. There are also many animal rehabilitation programmes throughout the country including a project to reintroduce cheetahs in Majete Wildlife Reserve. Traditionally the Wildlife Reserves have been less developed than the National Parks, but this is changing with the case of Nkhotakota and Majete.
To get the most out of a wildlife viewing safari you will need to take into consideration the climate. The best time for game viewing is during the dry season from April to November. During the rainy season from December to March, some parks are closed or impassable without a four-wheel drive vehicle, but it’s the optimum time for birdwatchers.
All parks and reserves except Majete Wildlife Reserve cost USD10 for foreigners, USD7 for resident foreigners, USD1 for Malawians per day (each 24-hour period) and free entry for accompanied children under 12. Foreign vehicles are charged USD3 to USD15 depending on weight and Malawi vehicles USD3 to USD10.