Africa Tour Operators

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Every part of Malawi is paradise in its own way but when you visit the Nkhotakota this is when you will know that true paradise exists. The landscapes coupled with the wild life in the reserve will leave you mesmerized and visiting the park is not all about viewing the big five as compared to other parks, but it is the perfect place for all those that love nature and the freedom that it offers.

There are fees that need to be paid before you gain access to the Reserve and the fees are differ according to how you are entering the reserve that is either by walking in or driving to the various destinations in the reserve.

If you are driving, then the type of vehicle that you use will determine how much you pay for the entrance fees that is vehicles weighing over 5000 kilograms pay fifteen dollars, vehicles weighing about 2000 kilograms pay three dollars and vehicles weighing about 4000 kilograms pay about five kilograms.

For all those that are going to trek through the reserve, the fees also differ depending on different factors for example

  • Non- residents of Malawi pay ten dollars.
  • Citizens of Malawi pay 450 dollars.
  • The Malawi residents pay seven dollars.
  • All those that are under the age of 12 do not pay anything to gain access to the Nkhotakota reserve.

Go for fishing within the reserve

The Bua River is referred to as the heart of the Nkhotakota valley because it is the main source of water where all the animals drink from and can easily be spotted especially during the dry season. The Bua River crosses through the Reserve before it pours its waters into the Lake Malawi. The various fish species that can be found in the River include the paper mouth fish, the cat fish, the Mpasa, Redeye labeo and the Nkhotakota fish species but before you go for fishing in the Bua River you must know that there is one rule when it comes to fishing that is whatever type of fish that you catch must be returned into the river and not cooked. That is the only way that you will be allowed to fish and equipment will be given to you for fishing.

Spotting the elephants

A home to the largest number of elephants in the whole country, it is the one place that you will want to be if you are a fun of seeing these large animals walking about the Reserve. The elephants in the Reserve were hunted and poached by both locals and some tourists for their husks and the number dwindled from about 1000 elephants to like only 100 elephants. The National parks in Malawi then decided to keep on transporting the elephants from the other National Parks so as to make sure that the elephants were protected. It is not very hard to spot the herd of elephants but you will need to be careful as they can turn out to be violent and that is why you will need the help of a tour guide to help you out with spotting them without being attacked. Note that when the wind blows in your direction and the elephants get your scent, they will all turn away from your direction walking to different parts of the reserve which is why you will have to be careful so that they do not notice that you are watching them.

Explore the Chipata Mountain

The Chipata Mountain is located in the western part of the Nkhotakota Reserve and a hike to the top of the Mountain will be one of the best decisions to make while on a visit to the Reserve in Malawi. The Mountain rises to about 1700 meters above sea level and it is separated into about 40 slopes all of which can be explored especially with the help of a tour guide. There are a lot of things that you can get to see when you hike up the Mountain like the beautiful vegetation that surrounds the Mountain, some few Mountain bird species and when you get to the summit, you will also have a clear view of the entire reserve.

Trekking through the Reserve

The Nkhotakota reserve has small dirt roads that lead into the depths of the forest around and these cannot be navigated alone and that is why you need a tour guide with you. It is also not easy to take walks around the reserve as there will be animals around and you do not want to definitely bump into one on your own. The best time to visit the reserve for trekking is during the dry season because then the narrow dirt roads can easily be accessed unlike during the rainy season. While trekking through the reserve, you will find many tree species that are indigenous to the reserve and as the tour guide will let you know, most of these are medicinal so if you want to learn more about the medicinal values of trees, this is a perfect chance for you and your family to know more about them on your walks through the reserve.

Birding within the reserve

The Nkhotakota wild life reserve is a good place for anyone who wants to go for birding and this can be done mostly during the rainy season especially during the morning hours. The reserve is a home to many bird species that amount to over 200 bird species some of which are indigenous to the country and they include the Bohm’s bee-eater, the Bohm’s flycatcher, the Arnot’s chat, the Souza’s shrike, the olive headed weaver, the African harrier hawk, the black stork, the Miombo double collared sunbird, the Miombo scrub robin and many more other bird species. It is better if you go with your own equipment for birding so as to enjoy the beauty of what the reserve has to offer when it comes to bird life.

Canoe along the Bua River

The Bua River is the perfect place for one to enjoy canoeing while in the Reserve. It is the perfect way to explore the water covered bit of the reserve and observe the animals that live around the River, the park while enjoying the cool weather. The locals have boats that are always made ready to take you around while showing and explaining about everything that you will see and all this at a small fee. But before you go canoeing, make sure that you ask for a life jacket.

Wild animal viewing in the reserve

Besides having the largest number of elephants in the whole country, there are also other animals that habitate within the reserve and these can be best seen during the dry season that runs from May to October because this is the time when most of them can be seen heading to the Bua River for a drink and some of the animals species you will see when you go to Nkhotakota include yellow baboons, the warthogs, lions, buffalos, Zebras, hyenas, monkeys especially the Vervet monkey, leopards and many more others.

When to visit the Nkhotakota wild life reserve

The reserve can be visited all throughout the year although it is better for you too first find out when to visit especially if you are planning on taking on various tourist activities within the reserve. If you are going in for the animal viewing and trekking, it is more advisable if you go during the dry season that is from the month of May to October because it will be easy for you to spot them as they gather around the River Bua to have a drink.

For all those that love birding, then the right time for one to visit the reserve is during the rainy season because during the rainy season, birds from the neighboring countries fly into the country and join the indigenous bird species of Malawi.

The peak season for the Nkhotakota wild life reserve is between the months of May and October and during this time, many tourists can be seen roaming around the reserve which means that everything will be high when it comes to prices and therefore you should book everything early enough before they hike the prices and if you hate crowds, it is better if you avoid these months and travel within the other months that are not so busy.

Accommodation facilities in Nkhotakota wild life reserve

There are several accommodation facilities that can be found within and outside the Nkhotakota wild life reserve and a few camping sites but in order for you to get the best accommodation facilities you need to book early with your tour operator so that you get some of the best accommodation facilities in the area. Remember that your budget will highly determine where you will sleep during your tour around the reserve because there are budget friendly accommodation facilities, mid-range accommodation facilities and luxury accommodation facilities.

Nkhotakota, found east and close to the Lake, is actually one of the 2 huge game areas within the Central part. Its huge 700 square miles or 1 800 square kilometers is of rocky ground intersected by a several rivers that flow down the rim of the escarpment as they find their way towards this Lake. The majority of this reserve is miombo wood-land with huge patches of high grasses as well as infrequent patches of rainforest. It is an amazing example of genuine wilderness that mostly attracts people that desire to have

walking safaris,

fishing as well as climbing. This reserve is hard to access since there are a small number of roads or passable tracks. The variety of mammals is as excellent as anyplace in Malawi even though the surrounding makes viewing challenging. Birdlife is plentiful with palm nut vultures as well as giant kingfishers among the one hundred and thirty documented species.
The previous two years have seen the launching of brand new, expertly managed accommodation within

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

actually for the very first time. 2 lodges of international standard have been constructed: Tongole Wilderness Lodge plus Bua River Lodge.


Nkhotakota Game reserve is in central Malawi and covers nearly 1800sq km near Lake Malawi. It is dramatically located near the Great Rift Valley escarpment and the rugged terrain dominates the park’s scenery.

The vegetation is majorly miombo woodlands, riparian forests and grasslands spread to some areas. This game reserve is good for walking safaris, fishing on river Bua and adventure hiking. Bua River boasts catches of Mpasa and Lake salmon among other species of fish although fishing is by authorization!

There are more than 50 different species of mammals in the reserve including buffalos, lion, hyena, leopard, elephant and several species of antelopes. More than 150 birds are recorded in the park such as Pel’s fishing owl, Palmnut vulture, fishing eagle, kingfisher and may other woodland species.

There are two lodges in the reserve Bua river lodge and Tongole wilderness lodge. A  designated campsite near Bua river offers self catering camping facilities.