You are able to walk and drive freely in your own vehicles from the camp during daylight hours, but please do NOT drive off the roads as this damages the grasslands. To obtain the most out of your visit a little local knowledge is a distinct advantage and our staff are very happy to advise on the best routes.
Please do not drive in your own vehicle after dark as it is against the regulations of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
Mountain bikes are available for hire from the reception on an hourly or daily basis. On day trips a guide MUST accompany all parties and it is advisable that a guide accompanies short rides as well in case there are any problems with the bicycles (i.e. punctures).
The rivers and dams were stocked with rainbow trout over 35 years ago. We have rods available for hire. Fishing licenses and fishing flies can also be purchased at the Reception. The rivers and dams are open all year, but Dams 2 and 3 are on catch and release. The bag limit is six fish per day per rod elsewhere.
Places of Interest
There are many places of interest that can be visited on a morning or afternoon drive. As well as being of scenic interest they all offer good game viewing opportunities.
• Chelinda Pine Plantation
The plantation around the camp is a 542 ha stand of experimental pulpwood pines Pinus patula and Pinus elliottii. Bushbuck and leopard shelter in the forest and the augur buzzard with its distinctive red tail can be spotted perched high in the trees. There are a number of tracks through the plantation which can be driven or walked, but please stick to these tracks as it is easy to get lost.
• Little and Big Mwenyenyezi (or Dam 2 and 3!)
Dam 2 is a short 15 minute walk from the camp with Dam 3 being a further 30 minutes. Both dams are excellent areas to watch for wildlife. During the rains there are numerous species of orchids to be found in the surrounding we areas. These dams are also stocked for trout fishing so please do not swim in them.
• Chosi Peak
Chosi is 12 kms south west of Chelinda and affords pleasant panoramic views of the plateau. It is the nearest viewpoint to Chelinda and from there you can get a good idea of the size of the park. A visit to Lake Kaulime can be combined with Chosi.
• Lake Kaulime
This small lake is 8 kms west of Chelinda just off the main entrance road. It is the only naturally occurring lake on the plateau and is surrounded in mystery. Though only 1.3 ha at high water mark, an oral tradition holds that the lake is home to a powerful spirit, which takes the form of a great serpent. Even if the serpent does not appear it is a quiet place to wait for animals to come and drink. Roan antelope regularly come to eat the waterweed.
Other places of interest require more time to visit and are ideal for a day drive with a picnic lunch.
• Chelinda Bridge and Falls
This bridge over the Chelinda River is 17 kms south of Chelinda and is a great spot for fishing. A 1.5 km walk downstream brings you to the beautiful 10 m high falls and above the bridge is Chelinda Hill, an excellent place for aloes and sunbirds.
• Dembo Bridge and Mpopoti Peak
11 kms east of Chelinda, the Dembo Bridge is another good area for fishing and above the river stands Mpopoti Peak. You need to walk the last 1 km to the peak as the track is in very poor condition. From the top there are marvelous views down the North Rumphi Valley to the distant village of Chakaka. In the wet season you may even see elephants as they traverse through the valley from the northern areas to the Mwenembwe Forest on the eastern escarpment.
• Nganda Peak
At 2606 m this is the highest point of the Nyika and on clear days offers excellent views across Lake Malawi to the Livingstone Mountains in Tanzania. It is 29 kms from Chelinda, but the last 4 kms of the track from the main road junction are in poor condition and require a vehicle with a high ground clearance. It takes 30 minutes to climb to the summit from the end of the track. You are NOT permitted to drive this as it causes erosion and seriously damages the grassland.
• Jalawe Rock
Jalawe is 34 kms from Chelinda and also offers views eastwards to the Lake. It is a 1 km walk from the end of the track to the top of the rock. Please do not attempt to drive this last section. Please also take care when climbing the rock. From the top, eagle eyed visitors can spot elephant and buffalo far beneath you in the miombo woodland 1000 m below. You do need binoculars!! Klipspringer are also regularly seen.
• Domwe Viewpoint
Domwe is on the northwest edge of the plateau 29 kms from Chelinda. Perched on the edge of the western escarpment looking across Zambia you may feel you are on top of the world. This is a good place to see various birds of prey as they use the thermals to soar above the plateau.
Nganda, Jalawe and Domwe are on the same circuitous route so a combination of two or three can be done in a day.
• Zovo Chipolo Forest
15 kms west of Chelinda are many relic evergreen sub montane forest patches that are very rich in flora and fauna. Zovo Chipolo is the largest of these (12 ha) on the Malawian side of the road and there is a well marked walking trail through the forest. This is a top spot for forest birds and mammals. The trail is only 2 kms long, but many hours can be spent in the forest, as you require patience and silence to see the forest creatures.
Nearby are Chowo and Manyenjere Forests on the Zambian side, which are also worth a visit.
A visit to Zovo Chipolo can be combined with Chisanga Falls.
• Chisanga Falls
A further 8 kms past Zovo Chipolo is a footpath clearly marked to the spectacular Chisanga Falls. Here the North Rukuru River cascades over the western escarpment for 500 feet in a series of secluded falls. The walk down to the top of the falls takes approximately 45 minutes and an hour to return. You need to be reasonably fit to do the walk. There is, however, a very rough track only suitable for 4 x 4 vehicles down to the river, from where you can walk downstream until you reach the falls.
• Fingira Rock
This huge conical rock rises 60 m out of the surrounding miombo woodland and can be seen from most places in the park. It is 22 kms south of Chelinda, but again the last 4 kms of the track are very rough. Halfway up the eastern side of the rock is a large overhang, which was used as a shelter in the late Stone Age period 3000 years ago. There are some rock paintings, but they are very weathered so difficult to see. Please do not touch them.
This viewpoint is 43 kms from Chelinda on the eastern edge of the plateau. It is frequently in cloud, but if not then Lake Malawi can be seen as well as the famous Livingstonia Mission. Directly below is the Mwenembwe Forest. A visit to Kasaramba can be combined with the Juniper Forest.
• Juniper Forest
This is a unique 20 ha relic and is the most southerly stand in Africa of naturally occurring Juniperus procera in Africa. This area was first declared a forest reserve in 1948. The trees are recognized by their red wood and their enormous height with some reaching 35 m. There is a short walking trail through the forest. It is 50 kms from Chelinda, but the last section of the road is normally in very poor condition. Much smaller Juniper trees can be seen at the Chelinda Falls and downstream from the North Rukuru Bridge.