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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Dzalanyama, Ntchisi, Dowa


Less than 50km west of Lilongwe, Dzalanyama is about two hours away by car. Like Dedza, Dzalanyama is a working forestry area, with both pine and gum plantations. There are also wonderful areas of unspoiled forest and bush, with plenty of scope for mountain biking and hiking, or simply enjoying the fresh mountain streams and waterfalls. Dzalanyama has great significance for many of the people of Malawi who believe that it is the site of creation - the footprints of the very first man are still, they say, to be seen in the rocks where God set him down. This forest range is the catchment area for most of Lilongwe’s water supply.


The rewards in getting to Ntchisi make it well worth the effort. The Reserve includes one of the few true relic rain forest areas in Malawi. Cathedral-like glades of buttressed trees are hung with lianas, and butterflies dart like fish in the leaf-filtered gloom. The call of a green bulbul or the hollow “chonk” of a samango monkey echo through the mossed stems. Not long ago elephants used to wander around the Lodge, and leopards still prowl among the rocky outcrops. Be warned: do not go walking alone in the rain forest. Several of the game trails can have pit-fall traps in them. It is safest to take a guide with you.


To the south of Lilongwe, Dedza Mountain rises almost 2200m above the Great Rift Valley. From the summit, a glorious view of Lake Malawi is possible. Accessible, almost to the very top, by a 4 x 4 track, Dedza is a bird-watcher’s delight. Pockets of indigenous montane forest tucked into gullies between rolling grasslands provide a wonderfully varied habitat. Make it a full day’s outing from Lilongwe, and have lunch at Dedza Pottery’s garden tea-room in the village below. Here is Malawi’s biggest pottery where items may be designed to customer’s specifications and shipped anywhere in the world.