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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > April-June 2018 (82) > Enchanting NYIKA

Enchanting NYIKA

Set in the remote north of the country, this isolated park may not harbour big game but is home to magnificent landscapes and incredible biodiversity. Laura Griffith-Jones falls under its spell when she explores it on foot
WILL BIRTLES
WILL BIRTLES
CENTRAL AFRICAN WILDERNESS SAFARIS
Birdlife is prolific in Nyika, such as this Denham’s bustard — rare elsewhere but common here; a wild lupin protrudes from parched soil in October; a roan antelope stands among a patch of invasive bracken on the plateau
CENTRAL AFRICAN WILDERNESS SAFARIS

Staring out of the Cessna’s window as we circled like an eagle above Nyika National Park, I understood what author Laurens van der Post meant when, in 1949, he wrote: “I found my pulse quickening at the view… There was a sort of Rider Haggard, a King Solomon’s Mines, Queen of Sheba touch about it.” Nearly 70 years later, in 2017, I found myself equally spellbound. The landscape looked unlike anywhere else I’d been in Africa — more similar to Scotland than Malawi.

Despite being the country’s longest-established and largest reserve, Nyika is one of the least-visited tourist destinations — in part due to its remote northern location. Seventy per cent of the park’s 3334sq km lie in Malawi, with the remaining 30 per cent over the border in Zambia. This glorious plateau and its surroundings make up a unique environment of undulating hills, valleys studded with jewel-like lakes, and, incongruously, patches of verdant bracken and dark swathes of pine trees.

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