Nyika National Park is unlike any other park in southern Africa with its green rolling hills, pockets of evergreen forests and high-lying peaks overlooking the valleys below. Add to this the moody clouds that often hang about, shimmering streams cutting through the hills and flashes of colour bursting out from amongst the green grasslands. From pink to orange, yellow to purple, this incredible protected area is home to the richest concentration of orchids in south-central Africa, making it a botanist’s dream come true.

The Importance Of Nyika

Nyika is Malawi’s largest and oldest national park, located on a relatively large granitic dome known as the Nyika Plateau. The name Nyika means ‘where the water comes from’ and, due to its high-lying position, plays a vital role as a catchment area for water production in the country. Not only this, but its unique climate and hard-to-reach places also serve as a refuge for rare and unique species of both fauna and flora. Today, Nyika’s Counter-Poaching Coordinator, Norman English, gives us a glimpse at what one might expect to see when visiting.

Getting To The Root Of It All

In one of Nyika’s evergreen forests, giant fig trees can be seen towering into the high canopy above, attracting an array of insects, birds and animals who enjoy devouring its sweet fruit. The unusual thing that Norman notes about this tree is that many lateral roots have developed and grafted onto the tree’s branches, creating a somewhat ‘knotted’ and unique root structure.  

Finding Orchids In Unexpected Places

It is not only Nyika’s forests that hold incredible fauna. In an area this rich in biodiversity, little orchids can bloom in the most unexpected places!

After finding a fallen branch with orchids sprouting out of it at a ranger camp, Norman and his team decided to take the branch back to base to see if the orchids would continue to flower. Two years later, this branch that many would assume to be lifeless is now sprouting some of the park’s most colourful and unique forms of life.

Peace Parks Foundation and partners continue to work closely with Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife to ensure that life continues to flourish in this park – even if it is in the most unusual places.