Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

“One of Malawi's last remaining, truly unexploited areas of wilderness that is home to the historically significant elephant translocation of 500 elephants and more than 1,500 game animals”

Nestled beneath Chipata Mountain, a vast network of rivers weave their way through wooded hills, nourishing the dense miombo forests that makeup Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.

Nkhotakota is a port town in central Malawi, on the shore of Lake Malawi. The lakeshore has sandy beaches, traditional huts and a ferry dock. West of town, the woodland and rivers of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve are home to elephants, lions, kingfishers and stork, as well as growing populations elephant, buffalo, eland, sable and greater kudu. Predators are rarely seen, but lion, leopard and spotted hyena are present in small numbers. African Parks has relocated different species of antelope and 520 elephants from Liwonde and Majete to Nkhotakota.

This large reserve stretches from the Great Rift Valley in the west of the country to just short of Lake Malawi in the east. The rugged terrain covers a range of habitats with vast patches of miombo woodland, grassland and pockets of rainforest. 

The region has three distinct seasons. The best time to visit is the dry season from April to October, as the game is easier to spot during this period. 

The seasons are: 

November – March 

November to March is the rainy season, during which there are spectacular storms off Lake Malawi and the escarpment. Temperatures are typically hot and wet, and the humidity peaks during January and February. The bush is a lot thicker at this time, and as a result, it can be difficult to spot the game. However, Nkhotakota comes to life with many of the plants flowering over this period. Most of the mammals have young providing some lovely game viewing, and migratory birds move through the area. The turbulent flow of the rivers in the park provides a mesmerising spectacle for those who just want to relax in the beautiful setting. 

April – August 

The rains begin to end in April, and by May, temperatures are cool in the morning, particularly along the rivers and in higher areas of the reserve. During this time of year, be sure to bring along some warm clothes. The vegetation is still lush, and many species of animals are active all day.  This is the perfect time of year to go up Chipata Mountain as the temperatures are cool, and the views are at their best until late June. 

September – October 

This is the hottest time of the year, and many visitors choose to combine time in the park with visits to Lake Malawi nearby for some water sport or time at the beach. This time of year provides some of the best game viewings as the vegetation is thin, and mammals are drawn to water points in the core game viewing areas. 

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