Lengwe National Park Safari Guide

safarigo   Malawi  

The original reserve here was set aside to protect the most northerly surviving population of nyala antelope. The park is now a stronghold of this rare mammal, but it is otherwise low key, lacking most of the big safari animals. However, the well-priced lodge and accessibility for self-drive visitors make it a worthwhile destination.

Pros & Cons


Low-key, off-the-beaten-track destination
Comfortable mid-range lodge in the park
Stronghold of the rare nyala antelope
Game drives and walking safaris are available
Only one lodge in the park
Small park with limited road network
Limited variety of wildlife


Wildlife & Animals

Lengwe doesn’t have a large variety of wildlife. Animals here are quite relaxed though, and this is a good park to enjoy the wildlife often overlooked in Big Five destinations. The only Big Five animal you are likely to see is buffalo. There is quite a variety of antelope including nyala, impala, duiker, bushbuck and the stately greater kudu.

Wildlife Highlights


The original reserve was first set aside to protect the beautiful nyala antelope, which can now also be seen at nearby Majete. Although common in Lengwe, it is at the most northern edge of its natural distribution. Another more difficult-to-spot antelope worth looking out for is the tiny suni. Spotted hyenas are seldom seen but their whooping and laughing can often be heard at night.


Birds

With around 330 species recorded, Lengwe NP offers good birding opportunities. In low-key parks like Lengwe, there is more emphasis on birding as there are fewer flagship animal species around. General woodland bird species are plentiful, and some specials can be found in the dense low-lying thickets, including the noisy crested guineafowl and the tambourine dove. There is a good variety of raptors, which include all three snake eagles found in Malawi: black-breasted snake eagle, brown snake eagle and banded snake eagle.

Best Time to Visit

July to October is the middle to the end of the Dry season, and these are the best wildlife viewing months. All water in the bush has dried out and animals congregate at the waterholes. October is, however, extremely hot and the heat is not for everyone.

May to October – Dry Season


Best wildlife viewing with animals found around waterholes
It is sunny, and rarely rains
Malaria risk is minimal
Sky is very hazy and the bush looks parched
October and November are unbearably hot
Mornings are cold from May to August


November to April – Wet Season


The scene is green and fresh
Fewer tourists, and rates might be lower
Best birding time as migratory species are present
There are many newborn animals
Wildlife viewing is better in the Dry season
Very hot and humid
Malaria is a bigger concern than in the Dry season
Roads become bad, and sometimes impassable
Park might close from mid-January until the end of May


Weather & Climate


Lengwe has a hot climate with a Wet and Dry season. Being in the tropics, the average temperature is quite stable year-round. In the Dry season, the days are cooler, and the nights in particular get a bit cold, from May to September. There is a noticeable increase in temperature in October, before the rains begin.

Dry Season – May to October


There is almost no rain in the Dry season. The bush gets more and more dry as the season progresses, and animals congregate at the waterholes. The Dry season is the best time for wildlife viewing. It is hot during the day, but cool at night.

May – This heralds the beginning of the Dry season. The bush is still lush and there is a lot of water around, but precipitation has become minimal.
June & July – There is very little rain and the bush is drying out. These are the coolest months, with daytime temperatures around 28°C/82°F. It gets chilly at night, with average temperatures of around 15°C/59°F. Warm clothing for early morning drives is essential.
August & September – It doesn’t rain at all. The bush is thirsty now – the rains can’t come soon enough. It is warming up – September has an average daytime temperature of 33°C/91°F. Mornings are getting warmer.

October – Daytime temperatures keep increasing, and average 36°C/97°F. Peak temperatures can be much higher, with the heat unbearable in the middle of the day. Mornings are lovely with temperatures around 22°C/72°F. Sometimes, the first rain falls in this month.


Wet Season – November to April


Afternoon showers are common in the warm Wet season, and there are thunderstorms, often spectacular. The sky is clear and the bush is lush.

November – The rains usually start in November. The rains come as a relief because the bush is extremely dry. The average daytime temperature is 36°C/97°F. It doesn’t rain every day, and rain mostly comes in afternoon thunderstorms.
December, January, February & March – The wettest months bring rain most days, but rarely lasting the whole day. Daytime temperatures average 33°C/91°F, while night and early morning temperatures average around 21°C/70°F.
April – This is a lovely month. There is less rain but everything is lush and green.

Getting There

Lengwe is quite low-key and isn’t on many tourist itineraries, but it is relatively accessible and can easily be fitted on any itinerary of the country.

You will most likely enter the country via Lilongwe International Airport (LLW). It is about 26km/16mi from the capital, Lilongwe. Some international flights fly to Chileka International Airport (BLZ), located 16km/10mi from Blantyre.

Lengwe NP, in the south of the country, is 433km/269mi from Lilongwe and 80km/50mi from Blantyre. The drive from Lilongwe takes about six hours, and about 1½ hours from Blantyre.

Lengwe is less than one hour from Majete Wildlife Reserve.

There are no domestic flights to Lengwe, though there is an airstrip in the neighboring Nchalo Suger Estate for charter flights.