Welcome to Liwonde
Located in Machinga District on the Shire River along the main road connecting Zomba to Lilongwe, Liwonde is an important crossroad linking the four districts in the area (Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi and Zomba). Liwonde, in an African sense, is a transportation hub. It is the junction between two highways and a rail line to Mozambique.
Liwonde is a more substantial town than first appearances might suggest. It straddles the Shire river about 40km south of the outlet from Lake Malombe, and only 5km from where it flows out of the southern boundary of the national park. Like so many Malawian towns, Liwonde comprises two discreet parts. The compact Old Town centre, which lies about 1km southeast of the Shire river immediately north of the M3 between Mangochi and Zomba, is quieter but more developed in terms of urban facilities, housing a large hospital and organised market. On the northwest side of the road barrage, a scruffier and contrast, is the satellite town referred to as Liwonde Barrage, a scruffier and livelier settlement that grew organically around the police block and bus stop on the M3.
The Liwonde barrage
Even those in transit, with no intention of visiting the national park, might want to stop at Liwonde barrage to soak up the archetypal tropical African river scene: low-wooded hills in the background, fishermen punting past in traditional dugouts, hippos grunting and snorting, and thick reed beds rustling with birdlife, one of the several hotels that line the river on wither side, or leave yourself time to spend a night on the riverfront, and maybe take a boat trip a short way upriver to look for hippos, birds and other wildlife.
Getting there and away
Liwonde is a major route focus, situated alongside the M3 about 100km north of Blantyre, 50km north of Zomba and 75km south of Mangochi. Branching west from the M3 a few kilometres north of town, the M8 leads via Balaka to the M5 northward to Salima and the M12 to Dedza and Lilongwe, which is 220km away. All these roads are surfaced and in good condition, but taking traffic into account, allow 90 minutes to drive from Blantyre in a private vehicle, and three-four hours from Lilongwe. There are regular buses in every direction, though many don’t actually go into town but stop at Liwonde Barrage and the turn off to the Old Town centre. By contrast, minibuses out of Liwonde leave the station in the Old Town centre. Liwonde is also the best place to board the train to Nayuchi on the Mozambican border.
Liwonde is a fast growing up coming town and with the railway line being maintained and re constructed, it surely will be one of the busiest locations in the country. One feature though that makes Liwonde such an important tourist destination is the Liwonde National Park. Many consider the 580 sq km Liwonde National Park to be the jewel in the Crown in terms of game – viewing; and it is certainly one of the most scenic, with the Shire River winding along its western border.
Liwonde National Park was named after Traditional Authority Liwonde. The park became famous during the pre colonial period because of its wide range of big game. The old, missionaries and white farmers used to hunt big game for sports and trophies.
Realizing the need to conserve the animals, the Chief proclaimed it a controlled hunting area in 1962. This proclamation was endorsed by the Malawi Government in 1970, which was followed by enactment of Game hunting laws, became Liwonde National park by act of parliament in 1973 and in 1977 the area was extended to the western side and northern side covering the districts of Balaka and Mangochi respectively. The park area is 548Km2.
In spite of its small size, Liwonde National Park is referred to as the jewel in the Crown in terms of game – viewing. It is perhaps the most popular of all National Parks in Malawi.
The park is easy to access. It is about 100 miles (160 km) north of commercial city of Blantyre and only about 100km from the hotels on the southern shore of Lake Malawi. Additionally, game viewing is enhanced because the River Shire flows along its western border, allowing boat safaris. Wildlife includes large numbers of elephants, buffaloes, Zebras and the river attracts hippos and crocodiles, birdlife and fish. Antelopes include kudu, sable and bushbuck. There are leopards and hyena and the occasional visiting lion. Six (6) black rhino were re-introduced in 1993 and this has grown to 13 todate.
Game view is easy in Liwonde National Park because the animals are in large numbers coupled with terrain of the park and the shire river which provides for wonderful boat experiences.
As in all national parks in the country, Liwonde Ecotourism is run by private company. This is a government policy that ensures Public Private Partnership (PPP). Therefore, eco-tourism in Liwonde is managed under two concessions one located on the southern tip on a hill overseeing the Shire River and the second one in the middle of the Park on the eastern bank of the same river. Both have Lodges and Camps and offer a range of tourist services including game drives, boat safaris, bird watching and rhino walking safaris.
All this has made it possible for tourism to grow so much and increasing annually. Recent tourism traffic surveys by Trip advisor indicates a growth to almost 50%. This means Liwonde is one of the key areas thats helps Malawi's economy growth.
Elephant seen along the Shire river banks during a boat safari
Bird life in Liwonde is absolutely breath taking
Ever smiling happy faces
Some of these lodges, restaurants, camps and safaris are:
Hippo view and Shire lodge
Liwonde Park Motel
Liwonde Safari Camp
Majasi Wildlife Camp - Mv Mangunda
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge & camp
Shire Camp & Safaris
Solo Cafe Restaurant
Warthog Wallow Lodge
You may also find more information upon clicking their adverts on this page or the following links below within this website:
Accommodation under Blantyre and the south
Travel tours and safaris
Game drives and boat safaris are arranged and you will never see the same after visiting the area. Plan for day trips, weekends or during your holidays. We are always here to give you direction that best suits your pocket and comfort.
Visitors on a boat safari
This page will be updated regulary for all activities and developments for Liwonde. We will keep you posted.
We wish you a lovely visit to Liwonde and please do visit us again!
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