North Malawi

North Malawi
Nyika National Park
Nyika National Park is Malawi´s largest ( 1250 sg miles / 3250 sq km ) and longest established. It extends across the great plateau which is essentially a granitic dome rising to 8,000 ft / 2,400 m with an environment like none other in Africa. The rolling landscape of the central plateau are described as whalebacks and are rich in wildflowers. Over 200 types of orchid flower in the rainy season. Nyika is wonderful for trekking and mountain biking, and for conventional 4 X 4 safaris. Horseback safaris will be re-introduced in 2010. The montane vegetation attracts larger numbers of antelopes from the diminutive duiker to eland and roan. Zebra are common and leopard, hyena and jackal also live on the plateau. The leopard population is one of the densest in Africa. Elaphants and Buffalo usually keep to the lower ground on the edge of the park. For the birdwatcher, the park has a great deal to offer with over 400 species recorded, including the rare Denham´s bustard, wattled crane and red-winged francolin. Other things to see in the vast park include waterfalls, a Neolithic rock shelter, trout pools and even " a magic lake ".

Livingstonia Mission
Livingstonia Mission is wonderfully sited between Nyika´s eastern edge and the shore of Lake Malawi. From 3,000 ft / 1,000 m there are views of incredible beauty across the lake to Tanzania, Livingstonia is a facinating mission settlement dating from 1894, established by Robert Laws, a disciple od David Livingstone. The Old Stone House, the home of the Laws family, is now a resthouse and museum.

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve
Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve is 400 sq miles / 1,000 sq km of march and plain, with a few rocky outcrops. The reserve has a wonderful mix of vegetation; forest and grassland, thin woodland and marsh. It is this richh habitat which attracts a splendid range of birdlife. Nearly 300 species of birds have been recorded including stork, heron and the white-faced tree duck. For safaris, Vwazaz offers, the more traditional ' bush game ' experience - a perfect complement to Nyika's rolling grassland hills. Herds of thirty or forty elephants are regularly seen and there are large numbers of hippos - particularly found in Lake Kazuni, near the main entrance. Buffalo, various antelope, baboons and plenty of smaller mammals are also to be seen. Lions are the main predators.

Mzuzu the capital of the north, lies in a saddle in the highlands. It stands at the junction of the lakeshore road ( MS ) and Malawi's main north - south highway ( M1 ). The town, which has grown rapidly in recent times, has an airport and a host of other facilities in the crowded centre.

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North Malawi
The Northern lakeshore is Lake Malawi at its most varied - everything from high cliffs dropping sheer into the lake , to secluded coves accessible only by boat.

Chintheche has a concentration of small Lakeshore resorts, making the most of some of the best beaches on the lake - long stretches of white sand. Nearby is an area of cultural interest, the Bandawe Mission site.

Nkhata Bay
Nkhata Bay is better describedas a large village rather than a town. It is at the most northerly point on the Lake reached by David Livingstone. Its small sheltered harbour is a focus for the Lake's fishing industry and a major stopping point for the lake ferry, the llala. It is also an increasingly important tourist centre, mainly for independent travellers.

Karonga is furtherst north with a fascinating new museum telling something of the interesting history of the area back to pre-historic times. the skeletal remains of the Malawisaurus dinosaur have been unearthed nearby as have been the oldest human remains in the country. Karong's 19th Century history is equally of interest.

Likoma Island
Likoma Island is off the eastern shore of the lake : a little piece of Malawian territory in Mozambican water. Likoma's claim to fame is its Cathedral ( The size of Winchester's ) on which work began in 1903. This vast building has some interesting features including stained glass and carved soapstone. The island also boasts some lovely beaches. Access to Likoma is by boat oraircraft.

Manda Wilderness
Manda Wilderness is an ambitious project on the Mozambique marinland nearest to Likoma Island. This is a 120,000hectare community reserve of unspoilt wilderness - brachystegia and riverine forest, savannah, swamps and streams, mountains and miles of beaches with crystal clear fresh water. It is an area known for its biodiversity and used to be one of the biggest game area in the country. Conservation projects are now being run with the local communities in this genuine wilderness area.

The Viphya Highlands
The Viphya Highlands are the forested spine of North Malawi, stretching up from Central Malawi all the way to Nyika. This is a wonderful area for those seeking a combination of stunning scenery and solitude. The undulating plateau rises to 6,000 ft / 1,850 m although some peaks stretch a further 1,000 ft / 300 m higher . It is an ideal area in which to unwind but there are also opportunities for trekking, mountain biking and varios other activities. Though not a safari destination, the birdwatching is excellent and there are small mammals, and the occasional leopard to be seen in the forests.