Wildlife in Malawi
The first and overriding impression of Malawi is its Lake. The Lake owes its existence to the Great Rift Valley, a fault system that runs north to south along the continent and is reputed to be the largest 'crack' on the land surface of the planet. This geological fault forms a trough in which the Lake and the surrounding lowland areas are positioned, flanked by plateaux and mountains. This combination of features ensures that one of the smallest countries in Africa is extraordinarily diverse, with a wide range of climate, altitude and landscape types, scenery, vegetation and wildlife.
Much of Malawi's astounding underwater diversity is protected within the Lake Malawi National Park at Cape Maclear in the south. Beyond the immediate vicinity of the Lake, the floor of the Rift Valley rises steeply, climbing to hills and gorges with plunging rivers and precipitous valleys. These high areas are cooler and wetter than the plains, and covered in montane grassland and patches of evergreen forest with characteristic species in the Nyika National Park such as roan and eland.
In the densely populated southern reaches of the country lie Liwonde and Lengwe National Parks and the Majete Game Reserve, subtropical contrasts to the protected areas further north. This is where the bulk of the country's elephant population occurs and it is only here that the secretive nyala penetrates into Malawi.