Peace Parks Foundation has a long history with this landscape, dating back nearly two decades when, together with the governments of Malawi and Zambia, the Foundation started exploring the conservation benefits and commercial opportunities that a peace park could offer to this region.
Johalize-Koch, a conservation planner for Peace Parks, is on a field trip to do a ‘situational analysis’ of the Chelinda area in Nyika National Park. Chelinda is in the centre of the Nyika National Park and houses the park staff and a few tourism facilities. Johalize will look at how best to upgrade the area for the future and ascertain the potential of the area for sustainable tourism opportunities. The challenge facing Peace Parks is that the area is in need of substantial renovation, having fallen into disrepair over years of neglect.
On the first day of her visit, Johalize makes for Chelinda Village, the headquarters of the park. Chelinda Lodge and chalets look out onto incredible views of the countryside. Johalize is convinced that there are plentiful and unique tourism opportunities in this highland region that could generate a sustainable future for the communities living here. However, at the moment, there are many obstacles to overcome, many due to the tricky but magnificent terrain. At the moment it takes eight hours to drive from Lilongwe to the park, for example, so access remains a real barrier for most tourists.
Optimistic that access issues can be overcome, Johalize stresses that, even now, for adventure travellers, there are many rewards waiting in Nyika. On Johalize’s first day, she is treated to a lovely surprise at the back of the chalets. The exotic pine forest there holds the potential for bike trails, walking trails, canopy trails and even mushroom harvesting.