Nyika National Park

... some information about Nyika National Park

The Nyika National Park is located on the border of Malawi in the eastern highlands of northern Zambia. The 80km2 park forms a trans-frontier reserve, as it is contiguous with Malawi`s 3000km2 Nyika National Park, adjacent to the 986km2 Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve, thus straddling the border between the two countries.

Nyika is the only montane park in Zambia and as such has a unique and complex biodiversity of flora and fauna which is both fascinating and of great scientific importance.

The park forms part of the western margin of the East African Rift Valley system consisting of a plateau which rises from 1,295 to 2,225m above sea level providing beautiful views across the valleys.  A precipitous escarpment runs along the western portion of the park which drops down to the Luwumbu river valley.

Vegetation

Nyika is one of several highland areas in Central Africa which are remarkable for their high level of local plant speciation. The plateau vegetation consists of gentle rolling hills of montane grassland interspersed with patches of relict evergreen montane forest, the largest being Chowo (90 ha) and Manyanjere (75 ha). Lower elevations are dominated by mixed Brachystegia woodland.

Fifteen endemic species have been reported in the area and several other plant species are at the extreme south of their range, including Hagenia abyssinica.

In the summer months (October - April) the flowers bloom in the grasslands, including protea and giant lobelia. Of particular interest are the 200 species of orchid found in the park.

Fauna

Wildlife occurring in the area include eland, roan antelope (reportedly the highest concentration in Africa), zebra, reedbuck, bushbuck, klipspringer, 3 species of duiker (red, grey and blue), warthog, bushpig and blue monkey.

In the remote areas of the park (only accessible by foot or on horseback) there are elephant, buffalo, kudu, Sharpe´s grysbok, baboon and vervet monkey.

Predators include serval and side striped jackal and healthy populations of spotted hyaena and leopard.

Four major streams (Chilinda, Rumphi, Runyina and North Rukuru) and three dams near Chelinda have been stocked with rainbow trout and fishing is permitted under licence from 1 September to 30 April.

Birds

There are over 40 species of birds confined to the eastern highlands of Zambia, among them the globally threatened Blue Swallow, Hirundo atrocaerulea, which occurs as a breeding visitor and passage migrant, as well as eight other species with globally restricted ranges. Within the eastern highlands, many of these 40 species are restricted to Nyika alone, and most are characteristic of the Afrotropical Highlands biome.

435 species have been recorded in the park. Grassland species include wattled crane, Denhams bustard and redwinged francolin. Forest species include the cinnamon dove, bartailed trogon, white chested alethe and olive flanked robin. In the Miombo woodland large feeding parties of birds can be found moving through the canopy including black backed barbet, red and blue sunbird and whitetailed blue flycatcher.

Weather

Annual rainfall is about 1,000mm, with the main rains in January and February. Cloud and mist at ground level is however common in the dry season from June to September. Frost and temperatures of -5°C to -10°C may occur between May and October.

Normal Activities offered

  • Walking safaris
  • Game drives
  • Horse Riding
  • Fishing

Park Entry Fee

Not Known.  Access to the park from the Malawi side is 06:00 – 17:00 hrs.  Entrance fees to be paid in Malawi Kwacha. The Zambian entrance fee can be paid at the rest house.

Health and Insurance

Clients are advised to have comprehensive travel insurance (including Trip Cancellation/ Curtailment and Medical Evacuation & Hospitalisation.

Malaria – Whilst the park is malaria free (being too cold), Zambia is a high risk malaria area and protection from malaria if traveling elsewhere in the region is imperative. Guests are strongly recommended to take malaria prophylactics and are advised to adhere strictly to the dosages, especially for the four to six weeks after their stay in Africa.

If you come down with flu-like symptoms either during, or within four to six weeks after your visit to a malaria area, seek a doctor’s advice immediately. Tetanus and the hepatitis vaccinations are recommended.

Laundry

Whilst the camps offer laundry service, guests should be aware that these are hand washed, dried in the sun and then ironed with charcoal irons. The camps cannot be held responsible for loss or damage to clothing.

What to Bring on Safari

Casual, comfortable, lightweight clothing in khaki, brown, green and beige colours. Pale or bright colours are not advisable for walking safaris as the animals can easily see these shades. (Shorts or trousers are best for walking safaris)

• Light cotton tops and cotton trousers
• Shirts with long sleeves (even in summer; to protect from the sun and mosquitoes)
• Shorts or a light skirt
• Jeans or safari trousers for evenings and cooler days
• Sweater or warm jacket (The Nyika gets VERY cold)
• Comfortable walking shoes/boots
• Sun block, sunglasses and hat
• Strong Torch (when staying at bush camps)
• Swimsuit if your lodge has a pool
• Light, compact raincoat during the rainy months
• Insect repellent, anti-histamine cream, personal toiletries and medication
• Binoculars (Each person should have their own pair of binoculars)

Camera Equipment

  • a telephoto lens (200/300mm)
  • Flash and fast film (400 ASA) for night photography
  • Lots of film (64,100,200,400 ASA).
  • Camera cleaning equipment and a good dust proof bag
  • Videos - bring spare batteries.

If you wear prescription glasses – bring a spare pair.  For contact lens wearers bring a spare pair of glasses as the dust and insects in the open vehicles can be a problem

Getting there by Air

There are only charter flights to Nyika National Park. Charter flights can be arranged from Mzuzu (or Lilongwe) to Chelinda. The airstrip is located approximately two kilometres from the camps.

Flying times: Mzuzu – Chelinda takes approximately 30 minutes

Restrictions - It should be noted that luggage is restricted to 12kg on charter flights in soft bags.

Getting there by Road - Dry Season access:

1. Chipata via Lundazi crossing the border into Malawi at Mzimba, continuing on to Mzimba and then to the park. Suitable for 2WD

2. Mpika via Isoka (the last fuel station in Zambia), crossing the border into Malawi at Muyombe and continuing on to Kaumbi and then on to the park.

Wet Season access

1. From Lilongwe take the road via Mzimba and Mzuzu. Suitable for 2WD.

2. From Zambia take the road to Lusuthu, then Mzimba and Mzuzu and on to the park. 4WD only.

The roads within the park are fine for 2WD on most of the roads during the dry season, however 4WD is necessary for less accessible areas of the park.

Directions from Mzuzu in Malawi:

1. From Mzuzu continue on the M1 towards Katonga for 50km.

2. Turn left towards Rumphi. At Rumphi the road becomes dirt.

3. Continue through Rumphi and after 10km there is a large junction.

4. Turn left for Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve.  Drive for 20km to the park entrance on the right. The camp is 1km inside the entrance.
OR keep straight for Nyika. 52km from this junction, take the right fork. After a further 8km your will reach the Thazima entrance gate. From there go 45km to a large junction. Turn left and continue 15km to Chelinda.

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