What the Lengwe National Park lacks in size at 900 square kilometres, it more than makes up with its position amid the rolling hills of the Lower Shire Valley. The landscape is dotted with low hills and sandy outcrops, thick vegetation and broad-leafed woodland, as well as the Shire, Mwanza, and Nkombedzi wa Fodya Rivers carving their way through the Park.
The park has been a haven for all the wildlife that occur naturally within its borders, including arguably the most majestic of all spiralled horn antelope, the nyala. Various man-made watering holes and hides allow visitors to view a variety of species.
Even before entering Lengwe, visitors can get a glimpse of the area’s rich cultural and natural history in the Tisunge Heritage Centre at the entrance. It includes a museum, library, and an art and craft shop.
At the end of a day discovering the hidden wonders of the park, a taste of the local life is on offer for visitors who wish to sample some home-made food or indulge in traditional dancing and singing.
Lengwe is situated near the Majeti Wildlife Reserve on the Mozambique border and a mere 80 kilometres from Blantyre. Self-drive options to the park are available while chartered plains can make use of an airstrip on a nearby sugarcane farm.
Over 2,000 nyala in the Park is undoubtedly the star attraction in Lengwe, as the park is the most northern area in the world to observe this rare antelope. Other antelopes that occur here are kudu, reedbuck, impala, bushbuck, common duiker, and the small Livingstone’s suni.
The leopard and Cape buffalo are the only members of the Big Five in the park. Visitors will also come across baboons, Samango monkeys, warthogs, bushpigs, and spotted hyenas.
The birdlife in Lengwe is prolific with more than 330 species to be observed throughout the year. The best time for birding is during the wet season, between November and April when migratory birds join the local species. These include the banded snake eagle, the African paradise flycatcher, the Bohm bee-eater, the woolly necked stork, the Rudd’s Apalis, the green-backed woodpecker, the crested guinea fowl, and the mouse-coloured sunbird.
Lengwe puts its best foot forward during the dry season between May and October. During this time, animals move around, are easier to spot due to the vegetation being thinner, and are attracted to the man-made water holes.
Visitors should take note that most accommodation options inside the park close down between the middle of January until March due to impassable roads because of the wet season.
Inside of Lengwe, safari options include guided game drives, as well as self-drive. Visitors are encouraged to explore the area on foot during a guided walk with a qualified ranger. Binoculars and cameras are essential as the park is a birder’s paradise. Just outside Lengwe, visitors can enjoy quad biking and fishing on the Shire River.
Lodging inside of Lengwe is limited with only one lodge and one camping site. More options are available in nearby Blantyre, which is approximately 80 kilometres away. Various tour operators can help visitors arrange accommodation, as well as the transport to and from the park.