Arriving in Nyika’s magical highlands after a quite bumpy road from Rumpi can be confusing. Am I in the Yorkshire Dales? No you are in Nyika and it’s better because there are hyenas in the wild flowers and elephants in the forests. It is unlike any other park in Southern Africa.
Brachystegia woodland turn to rolling hills, isolated ridges and small pockets of forest. Take a stroll up to the highest peak, Nganda and enjoy the 360 degree view. Add to this dramatic clouds, zebra stripes, glittering pools, gigantic boulders and a flash of a trogons colourful plumage as he swoops past.
Plants with purple velvet leaves, succulents, orchids, Nyika is a botanists dream. The park is home to masses of wild alpine flowers which burst into life after the wet season, exquisite dieramas, gladioli, protea and kniphofia. Around 200 species of orchid alone, grow on the plateau. At the entrance to the park you can also buy delicious honey made from the wild flowers of Nyika, which supports the local communities surrounding the park.
At first you will wonder where all the animals are, but the further you venture into the park, the more they seem to welcome you with their chilled presence (except the Reedbuck which seem a little nervous with their jumps and screechy warning calls). I would personally say that if you want to see roan antelope, Nyika is the perfect place. With their rabbit like ears and strikingly animated faces, they fit very well into their fairytale grasslands.
Other possible sightings include elephants, Crawshay’s zebra, bushbucks, elands, warthogs, klipspringers, jackals and duikers. While twitchers should note that more than 400 species of bird have been recorded. Predator wise Nyika is home large numbers of leopard and hyena. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of this spotted stalker, skulking in the shadows beneath the trees (even in daytime due to the temperate climate). During your slumber, hyena will come and visit you at the campsite and probably sniff your tent.
Nyika is very reasonably priced, camping at Chelinda is $10 and the facilities are well equipped. A roaring fire awaits your arrival, there is constant hot water, a dover stove and a sheltered area for your tent. They even gave us a solar powered torch to use in the evening. Also in comparison to the park fees in neighbouring countries not naming any names (Tanzania)
US $40 per vehicle and US $30 per person per day - Ruaha National Park
US$ 30 per vehicle per day and $50 per person per day - The Serengeti National Park
US $ 5 per vehicle per day and $10 per person per day - Nyika National Park
Obviously all parks are unique, but this is something to consider if you are thinking about costs.
During our visit Nyika was pretty empty, which is cool, there aren't seven cars looking at one leopard (we were the only car there) however Nyika needs more visitors to preserve it. It is a gem and by spending your holiday money there, you are contributing to the conservation of the park and securing it's future for many years to come.
The Nyika-Vwaza Trust is an independent organisation that is involved in environmental and wildlife conservation in the Nyika area; Wilderness Safaris is partnering with the Trust in its endeavours.