Cycling Nyika National Park
Replies: 3 - Last Post: Dec 7, 2012 6:41 AM Last Post By: LukeIRL
Nov 3, 2012 9:56 AM
Cycling Nyika National ParkHallo,
I've already posted this question on the "on your bike" branch, but, at the moment, I haven't receive any question, so let's see if I'm more lucky:
I'm planning to cycle Malawi next august and I'd like to know if anyone managed to reach the Nyika National Park by bike.
I know that it is a bad road, but is it doable by byke? And are you allowed to enter the park (at least, until the Chelinda Lodge)?
Nov 3, 2012 10:32 AM
1You could certainly cycle it on a mountain bike. A road bike might have a bit more trouble - the road is rough in parts. Probably doable though - some of the locals get around by bike in any event. In the rainy season you can get deep mud (but you could always carry your bike around really bad stretches). It's about 185km Mzuzu to Chelinda (the only place you can stay) and you will climb about 1000m. The last 56km is inside the park.
You are unlikely to encounter elephant, though they are there, but be aware. The elephant here are not friendly and the locals are terrified of them. There are also leopard and hyena but both are likely to keep out of your way. In other words you should be pretty safe in daylight hours - don't even think of doing it as it gets dark.
The plateau is stunning scenery and great for a mountain bike. Again I think a road bike would be pretty restricted - think tracks rather than roads. You need to be very careful you know where you're going though. It is very big and pretty easy to get lost.
Finally it will be very cold in August - heavy ground frosts are common so come with plenty of warm clothing - especially if you are camping. You will also need to bring in all your food. Drinking the water is fine though (at least it did me no harm for a year).
Nov 7, 2012 4:47 AM
Dec 7, 2012 6:41 AM
3I cycled in the Nyika Park last week and found it a great trip.
I started from Livingstonia and made it in a short day to Rumphi along the back road.
On the second day I cycled from Rumphi to Vwaza Marsh (28kms) which was amazing in late November - elephants and hippo everywhere - but not sure how it would be when you're there.
On the third day I backtracked towards Rumphi as far as the 'Mzungu shop' (5km from main vwaza gate) and took a shortcut that goes directly towards Nyika's Thazima gate (crossing the main Rumphi-Nyika road at one point) (around 60km). It's up and down but many great views of Malawian countryside.
On the same day I left Thazima gate and headed in to the park. You'll pay $10 per day, but their exchange rate is really out of date so this is only 2500MWK (should be 3400MWK at the moment). The road climbs inside the park and after 20km there's a split in the road (I took the right turn that said '4x4 only'). From there it was really pretty - climbing along ridges into the park and through some forests. I bush camped that night and made it to Chelinda the next day.
I spent two more days inside the park cycling circuit routes from Chelinda. The Northern Circuit (around 80km) is a lovely one - to Domwe and Jelawe viewpoints and you could also climb the highest mountain (can't recall the name). Staying at Chelinda campsite is $15 per night and you can buy all your food in the worker's market down near the admin buildings. There's a lady there who bakes bread as well, you can order a day in advance.
After 2 days in the park I cycled to Uledi, the far Northern point of the park and hiked up to Dr. Laws' house on top of Mpanda Peak, an 11-hour hike. That was more a special interest than cycling, but you could also cycle from Uledi to karonga via the Chitipa road (I did).
Can give you more detailed info if you PM me. There are free maps available at the gates (quite good - to scale - but without distances marked)
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