Malawi's oldest reserve is easily one of the most magical experiences in any trip to the country. Towering over 2000m above sea level, the Nyika Plateau is enigmatic; one moment its rolling grasslands recall the Yorkshire Dales, but then an antelope leaps across your bonnet, you note the nearby mound of steaming elephant dung and you remember you're in Africa (and that Nyika is home to a very large population of leopards!).
In this enchanting landscape, other possible sightings include elephants, hyenas, bushbucks, reedbucks, roan antelopes, elands, warthogs, klipspringers, jackals and duikers. Twitchers should note that more than 400 species of bird have been recorded – including such rarities as the wattled crane and the moustached green tinkerbird. And after the wet season, the landscape bursts into life in a blaze of wildflowers. Around 200 species of orchid alone grow on the plateau.
There are two lodges and a campground in the park. Activities on offer include wildlife drives, nature walks, mountain biking and fishing. You can see a little of the park with your own transport, but it's not worth enduring the excruciatingly bumpy drive if you're not staying overnight.