Half-submerged hippos splash about in the waters as huge crocodiles slither on the palm-fringed banks. A herd of elephants arrive on the shore and survey the scene. As you meander down the sedate Shire River, the wildlife comes thick and fast.
Formerly a gentle safari destination famed for its serene cruises and outstanding birdlife, Liwonde is now just as renowned for its revival of black rhino and cheetah populations.
Boating along the Shire River offers some of Africa’s best hippo and crocodile viewing. The adjacent plains teem with elephant, buffalo waterbuck, bushbuck, impala and the striking sable antelope. Birding opportunities are also fantastic, with the park being one of the few places on the continent where both eastern and southern African species co-exist – notable rare birds regularly seen here include the Pel’s fishing owl, Boehms bee-eater, Lillian’s love bird, and Livingstone’s flycatcher.
Adrenalin-seekers should be sure to join the park’s highly trained rangers in tracking the endangered black rhino on foot. A morning spent witnessing these magnificent creatures serves only to highlight the importance of areas like Liwonde in ensuring their survival. Re-introduced in May 2017, the park’s other recent arrivals, four adult cheetahs, have been providing some excellent sightings. The first set of cubs born in October 2017.