Nyika National Park is located at an altitude of 2500 meters in the north of Malawi. It’s the oldest and largest park of Malawi. You don’t really visit Nyika for its wildlife but for the breathtaking landscapes such as rolling hills, forests and rivers. It doesn’t look like Africa but more like the Scottish highlands. Although spotting wildlife isn’t the main purpose of a trip to Nyika it doesn’t mean that you won’t see any animals. Even at this altitude, you’ll see different antelopes like the roan antelope and the African Eland. There are even occasional sightings of hyena and leopard!
History of Nyika National Park
In the 1960s they thought it was a good idea to build a pine tree plantation on the Nyika Plateau. This way they could produce paper out of the pine trees. Once the plantation was in place it turned out to be difficult to actually transport the logs to the factories down below. They then decided to leave them here and make this a National Park in 1964. The name Nyika means “where the water comes from”. The highest peak in the park is the Nganda Peak at a remarkable 2607 meters high.
How to get here?
You’ll enter Nyika through the Thazima Entrance Gate. This is where you pay your entree fee. After that is approximately 46 kilometers to get to the heart of Nyika where the Chelinda camp is located. Coming from Mzuzu this will take you about 4 hours by car. Do check the current state of the roads when you leave since it can become quite muddy after some rains.
Activities in Nyika National Park
So what else is there to do besides your game drives? Well there’s plenty! You can try to catch some fish, there’s plenty of trout in the small ponds for you to catch if you have a permit. Another option is to mountainbike or hike through the park. There are 6 wilderness trails where you can wander around. The trails take anywhere from 1 until 5 days and make sure you take your own camping gear and food with you. The Livingstonia Trail is one of the most well-known trails in this area. This three-day walk starts at Chelinda and you’ll walk all the way to Livingstonia. If you rather jump on a mountainbike you can pick multiple routes around Chelinda. Do note that the terrain is rough with mountains all around you so you better be prepared.
Best time to visit Nyika
Since Nyika is located at an altitude of 2500 meter it doesn’t get warmer than 21 degrees Celsius. The best season is from September to May since rains do fall between December and March. January and February are known as the orchid months. When the sun goes down, even in summer, it’s time to put on a warm sweater or to make a campfire. The colder season is from June to August and it might even be below 0 degrees Celsius. You’ll experience the prettiest colors from November to March after the rains have passed since the rolling brown hills turn into carpets of green and flowers appear everywhere.
Accommodation in Nyika National Park
Your best option is to stay inside the boundaries of the park. If you want the more fancy option you can stay in the luxurious Chelinda Lodge or get a cabin in the Chelinda Camp. If you want a more affordable yet amazing option you can camp on the Chelinda Campsite just like we did. Read more about our camping adventures…