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Nyika National Park

The park covers practically the whole of the Nyika Plateau in northern Malawi, about 480 km north of Lilongwe and 60 km north of Rumphi by road. Access is by a single dirt road which branches north off the road from Rumphi to the Katumbi border post, and winds its way up the south-western scarp of the plateau, continues over the top, where it forms the border with Zambia, then descends the north-west scarp in a series of bends, and continues north to the Chisenga border post. On the top of the plateau, a spur goes east to Chelinda, the headquarters of the park nearer the centre. Although the park boundary comes within 35 km of Livingstonia there is no access from the eastern side.

The name Nyika means "where the water comes from" as the plateau's elevation makes it wetter than surrounding areas. Other suggested meanings are "wilderness" and "short grassland". The top is frequently in cloud, both in the rainy season and in the cold dry season when dense fogs, called Chiperoni, may persist well into the morning and sometimes all day. The persistent moisture brings over 200 types of orchid into flower. The grasslands of Nyika are rich in wildflowers all through the year but especially from January to April during the rains.

This is the largest and oldest National Park in Malawi. Most parts lie about 2 000 metres above sea level. The plateau is perfect for game drives and horseback safaris, as well as walks through the long grass. One of the most popular ways to see the region is to set out on a ten day Malawi Horse Safari.

This area is reputed to have the highest concentration of Leopard in Central Africa. Elephant and Rhino live on the lower ground; however this area is not easily accessible. On night drives various animals can be seen, including Hyena, Jackal and Owls or maybe even a shy Leopard.

There is a small airstrip near Chelinda Camp for access by air, otherwise the drive from Rumphi is uncomplicated, although it is mostly on dirt roads which are very rough, and a 4x4 vehicle is a must during the rainy season.

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