When I decided to go to Malawi for a primarily bird watching trip, I had heard that Liwonde was a very beautiful National Park, but when I got there what I saw far exceeded my expectations. Liwonde is a rather small National Park, lying along the Shire River, which flows out of Lake Malawi into the Lower Zambesi. In early November it is extremely hot, the rains are building up and humidity fills the air. Animals rely heavily on the water of the river to drink and feed on the grass and marshes that grow on the banks. Birdlife is simply amazing, with a huge variety of species easily visible, and some extremely rare and fascinating birds being relatively easy to see, such as the Pel’s Fishing Owl, the White-backed Night-heron or the Bohm’s Bee-eater.
Mammals are also quite interesting. I had sightings of some species I had barely if ever seen, such as Sable Antelope, Suni, Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest and Bush Pig. But the highlight for me was the boat ride in the river. From mid morning until after lunchtime, Elephant herds come to drink, bathe and play in the fresh water of the Shire river, and it is extraordinary to watch them from the boat. Some bulls even like to just lounge in the water for hours like Hippos do, with only their back and the tip of their trunks stiking out of the water.0