Elephant Marsh Malawi

Africa is full of surprises for the hardy traveller. Whilst many nature parks are internationally famous, there are many more parks in most regions of Africa that are seldom heard of and which, when visited, offer the traveller an opportunity to see nature at its best without the crowds.

In the landlocked south eastern country of Malawi is Elephant Marsh, a place that is almost perpetually covered with water. It was given its name because famed African explorer Dr David Livingston once counted 800 elephants in the area in just a single day. Sadly poachers soon followed, and many hundreds of elephants were killed. It is now a national park, and, despite its name, elephants no longer dominate, although wildlife are in the process of being preserved with the hope that numbers will increase.

Elephant Marsh is part of the flood plain of the mighty Shire River, and the levels of its water coverage vary with the seasons. In the occasionally harsh climate of Southern Africa, where you get permanent water you will also see an abundance of wildlife.

Unfortunately, some of that wildlife can get too abundant. As the waters of Elephant Marsh teem with fish, so do they teem with a natural predator of fish, the crocodile. Crocodiles don’t always play by the rules, and often don’t limit their diet to fish. Some of the less agile monsters have developed a taste for humans, and about 20 locals per year are taken and eaten by crocs in the marshes, with many more of the locals being able to escape from a croc’s jaws, sans missing limbs.

The Marsh covers an area of 910 square kilometres (350 square miles), and also has a large population of hippos and about 300 species of birds, making it a very rich, though little known, environment to visit. The best time to view the birds and wildlife is in the cool of the morning before they settle down to rest during the heat of the day.

Near to Elephant Marsh is Lengwe National Park, located in which is Nyala Lodge, which offers guests boat trips through Elephants Marsh. The Lodge is an easy drive from Blantyre, the largest town in the region, just 75 kilometres away, via an attractive ride down the Lower Shire Valley.

Malawi shares it borders with Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, it is a former British Colony which is now a self-governing republic. Whilst it does have a variety of social issues, generally it is safer to visit than many other parts of Africa.

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