Destination: Nyika Plateau

Nyika is Malawi’s largest park, with an area of no less than 1250 sq miles (3200 sq km) extending across the great Nyika plateau, which is a granitic dome of rolling ‘whaleback’ hills cut by streams and interspersed with pockets of sheltered evergreen forest. Reaching altitudes of over 8000 ft (2500 m), its environment is like none other in the whole of Africa, with its stunningly beautiful scenery leaving most of its visitors lost for words. Often compared to wilderness areas found in Europe, Nyika has the added attractions of being inhabited by large numbers of African safari animals and, at times, sitting above the clouds.

The name, Nyika, means “where the water comes from” and it is, indeed, one of Malawi’s most important catchment areas. It is perhaps at its best in the rainy season when over 200 types of orchid are in flower, the richest concentration of orchids in south-central Africa. though the grasslands of Nyika are rich in wildflowers in other seasons.

For birdwatchers, the park has a lot to offer: over 400 species have been recorded. The rare Denham’s bustard and the Wattled Crane are among those to be seen, as is the Red-winged Francolin – endemic to Nyika.

Nyika is wonderful for trekking and mountain biking as well as more conventional 4×4 excursions and safaris. There is such a lot to see in the vast park: waterfalls, a neolithic rock shelter, trout pools and even a ‘magic lake’ are just some of the attractions beyond the breathtaking vistas and wildlife encounters.

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