River levels and the effect thereof in the summer rainfall season

Contributors: Paul Kilham & Samuel Chihana

The rainy season in Malawi is a time when greenery permeates the country and water bodies fill up. The ample supplies of fresh rainwater, give rise to a burst of life and activity. During this season, the rise in water levels of the lake, rivers and streams throughout the country allows for a range of interesting patterns and phenomena to be observed in a wide variety of flora and fauna species that inhabit the country’s key areas of wilderness.

With Lake Malawi receiving over 60% of its water from four major rivers which originate from the Nykia Plateau, Nyika is an ideal place to witness some of the country’s largest headwaters. With the onset of heavy downpours from January to March, the river levels rise whilst sediment and moribund vegetation are carried away to lower levels, cleaning up water ways in the process. This in turn allows for splendid views of Chisanga and Chelinda falls, located in close proximity to both Chelinda Camp and Lodge. Guests staying either at the camp or the lodge during the green season can stop by and observe these clear cascading waters.

Safaris in Nyika National Park during the Green season also call for visits to the Dembos (headwaters), containing some of the very few peat bogs remaining in the African Continent. With the ample moisture from the rains, these peat bogs become replenished to form remarkable patterns in the grounds, allowing for excellent photographic opportunities.

In Liwonde National Park, the months from January to March allow for sightings of many reptiles and aquatic animals along the river borders. Sightings of an array of different fish species swimming across the river or young crocodiles feeding on insects found amidst water weeds can be enjoyed in abundance during the green season.

Some bird species like Spur winged lapwings that have been breeding copiously during the dry season also emerge from their nesting areas due to increasing water levels. These birds can often be seen flying across the park’s crisp blue skies, on a mission to reach the adjacent grasslands before the river banks get submerged by heavy rainfalls. Many antelopes including Impala calves and water bucks are also frequently seen grazing on lush floodplains along the river, allowing guests on safari to witness some interesting behavioural patterns.

Over the course of the reviving Green Season from January to April, rivers and streams that dry up during the cold winter months gurgle back to life, reminding us all of the important role that water sources play in our ecosystems and areas of wilderness. To learn more about the impact of the rising river levels on the park and its inhabitants, feel free to ask our expert team of guides any questions they might have. Our guides are continuously learning and do their very best to provide our guests with personalized safari experiences and insights that are based on their personal preferences.

About Central African Wilderness Safaris:

Central African Wilderness Safaris (CAWS) is an ecotourism company that offers the finest quality safari experiences and the ultimate holiday getaways in Malawi, the warm heart of Africa. CAWS offers both up-market tailor-made luxury safaris as well as more affordable budget safari options. The company is dedicated to offering personalised and authentic travel experiences that have a minimal impact on the planet and a lasting impact on people.

Photo credits: Samuel Chihana, Mike Myers, Bentley Palmer & CAWS Archive

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