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The Bushland of the North | Monday Malawi Memories

Nyika Plateau – 2000*

In 2000 I travelled to the north-west of Malawi with a small team who had been part of a training camp for Malawian leaders with Scripture Union. After our 10 day camp at Kande we took the long road from Kande, through Mzuzu, to Rumphi and then along dirt roads to Nyika. Nyika is Malawi’s largest park, with an area of no less than 1250 sq miles (3200 sq km) extending across the great Nyika plateau. Reaching to a height of over 8000ft, its environment is like none other in the whole of Africa, with its stunningly beautiful scenery.

Rhodesian Burner on the Nyika Plateau

Making our way along the entrance road (a dirt track) to the park I was met with a landscape I associated with the Mourne Mountains or the Scottish Highlands, not that of tropical, sub-Saharan Africa. At every turn there were rolling hills as far as the eye could see. We spent our two nights in the comfort and warmth of the old forestry houses (see below). These were basic cottages with no electricity, but had running hot and cold water. Hot water was produced using an old method in Africa called the Rhodesian Burner. It was a brick tower that had a fire pit at the bottom and a tin water reservoir that would warm up with the heat. Wood needed to be in ready supply to ensure a constant flow of hot water.

At night, with only a blanket of stars above, you felt like the only person on the planet and during the day our eyes widened with each vista over the next hill. The hills had valleys and these had lush juniper forests, with a sweet aroma and the sound of a babbling brook.

Not many people make the long journey north to Nyika, but those who do never forget just how vast and beautiful it is. Today, accommodation is much better and you can even fly direct to the bush camp from Lilongwe.

I only ever made it to Nyika, which means land of the bush in Swahili, once. I have tried to visit over the years, but the journey always seemed too much. Maybe on the next trip we will make it above the clouds to this land of beauty, so removed from anything else in Malawi.

Monday Malawi Memories recaptures memories from over 20 years in Malawi. Photos won’t be in chronological order and can be on the Lilongwe Letters blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also find them using the hashtag #mondaymalawimemories.

* Photos are scans of 35mm slides and 6″x4″ photographs

Forest House Accommodation in Nyika National Park

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