Nyika Plateau and northern Malawi
Malawi is dotted with rolling plateaus, the most famous and largest of which is the Nyika Plateau, found in the far north. Less well known than the rest of the country, north Malawi has so much to offer. With a lower population density, it is a region for those who wish to experience Africa at its most unspoiled. Its astonishing beauty is the lasting memory of all who explore this unique region.
North Malawi has been described as a forgotten region. It has a different character from the rest of the country, recognisable in its scenery and its people.
Except for that part of the region which is occupied by Lake Malawi, the north is characterised by its great highlands. The Nyika National Park, at an altitude of around 2,500m, is a beautiful vista of rolling hills, dotted with over 250 species of orchid, many other wild flowers and punctuated with vast granite outcrops, small streams and waterfalls.
It extends across the great Nyika Plateau which is essentially a granitic dome and its environment is like none other in the whole of Africa. The name Nyika means "where the water comes from" and it is, indeed, one of Malawi’s most important catchment areas. The rolling scenery is at its best in the rainy season when over 200 types of orchid are in flower. The grasslands of Nyika are rich in wildflowers in other seasons.
Nyika is wonderful for trekking, mountain biking and horse riding safaris, as well as more conventional 4x4 excursions.
Vwasa Wildlife Reserve, an area of marsh and plain with a few rocky outcrops, lies along the Zambian border north-west of Mzuzu. The reserve has a wonderful mix of vegetation: forest and grassland, thin woodland and marsh. It is this rich habitat which attracts a splendid range of birdlife.
Lake Kazuni, near the main entrance to the reserve is famous for its hippos. Buffalo are present in the reserve but their roaming habits make their sightings less easy to predict.
Kasungu National Park also lies in the north of Malawi's central region and provides some great wildlife viewing opportunities, particularly at the end of the dry season when there is little water in the region and animals flock to the remaining watering holes. The park offers sightings of the highly sought after wild dog, as well as elephants, zebra, antelope and impala.