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Wvarza Marsh and Nyika National Parks

MALAWI | Monday, 19 August 2013 | Views [610]

Chalet at Chelinda Lodge, Nyika NP

Chalet at Chelinda Lodge, Nyika NP

We had a nice birding walk with Hassan around the lake.  He’s a nice guy who speaks good English and he knows his birds.  We walked trails and sneaked through the bush but only one of the dozens of species we saw was new to us.  Towards the end of the walk we crossed paths with a herd of elephants.  They look much bigger when you are on foot and they don’t have the respect that they have for a vehicle.  Elephants have the right of way and were forced to retreat to a hippo trail.

The rest of the day was a dusty, bumpy 125 km on the worst roads imaginable to Nyika National Park in northern Malawi on the border with Zambia.  The landscape is like no other in Africa, a blend of Serengeti and the Scottish highlands.  And at 8000 feet above sea level, it’s chilly.

Our cabin has a fireplace, two bedrooms, a kitchen with a wood stove and a “donkey boiler” for hot water.  We have electricity from six until nine and can get very weak broadband connection for the computer at times.  Since Joey neglected to arrange for lodging for Evans, we gave him the extra bedroom – but only after nine at night.  Sorry, but we don’t like sharing.


Mostly we are self-catering but tonight we splurged on dinner at the restaurant.  Wilderness Safaris, who runs the Chelinda Lodge, has a reputation for high prices.  But the food was good and we’ll be eating canned spaghetti and meatballs for the next couple of nights.

Our first “game drive” with Evans at the wheel was daring, both because he didn’t know the route and because we had to replace another puncture with a bald spare.  The birding is disappointing, probably the wrong season, but we’re doing our best.  The wildflowers are just beginning to bloom and herds of roan antelope dot the hillsides.  The prize sighting was the parks icon, Denham’s bustard, one of the largest flying birds.


     White-browed coucal

We bit the bullet today and booked a forest walk with White, the birding expert.  He grew up here and really knows his stuff; he knows the bird songs and can even call some of them in, which is good in the dense forest understory.  We got some great photos of birds and antelope and added another eight species to our life list.


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