Nyika National Park in detail

Flights & getting there

Despite most maps showing otherwise, there is no road of any sort between Chelinda and Livingstonia or any other town on the eastern side of the plateau. Getting to the park by public transport can be a bit of an ordeal, so it's much easier if you can hire wheels in Lilongwe.

The likes of Central African Wilderness Safaris and Ulendo Travel Group can organise transfers from Lilongwe, as can accommodation and tour operators in Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay, but this is an expensive option running to hundreds of dollars.

Remote Kaperekezi Gate, in the west of the park on the Zambian border, is rarely used by travellers, as it's reached from the north on poor-quality roads.

Air

Ulendo Airlink operates charter flights to Chelinda from Lilongwe (adult/child US$495/329) and Likoma Island (US$365/260). Alternatively, check the 'bid to fly' section of Ulendo Airlink's website for discounted seats on upcoming flights.

Car, Bicycle & Bus

The main Thazima Gate (pronounced and sometimes spelled Tazima) is 55km northwest of Rumphi – about two hours' drive. Once inside the park, it’s another 60km, two-hour drive to Chelinda. Especially from Rumphi to Thazima Gate, the corrugated road is appallingly bumpy; do call to check on its condition in the wet season. Petrol is available at Chelinda but in limited supply, so fill up before you enter the park.

It’s possible to bring a mountain bike into Nyika; if you pick up a ride from Rumphi to Thazima, you can cycle the last 60km to Chelinda. An early start is recommended due to the distance.

Unfortunately, getting to Chelinda by public transport is tricky. From Rumphi, a truck or matola (pickup; MK3000) heading north to Chitipa could drop you at the turnoff to Chelinda, 16km west of the lodges and campground near the Zambian border. However, that will leave you somewhat stranded, and, when you make it to Chelinda, you will then have the return journey to tackle. On the bright side, taxi services in Mzuzu and Rumphi offer transfers; the main drawback, if the driver is hanging around and taking you back to Rumphi, is that you will have to pay for his or her accommodation.

If you are prepared to wait around, it may be possible to make an ad-hoc arrangement for staff from Chelinda to pick you up when they go shopping in Rumphi or Mzuzu.