Ntchisi Forest Reserve covers approximately 75 sqkm and is surrounded on all sides by rolling hills covered by subsistence farming and dotted with traditional villages. It is an untouched paradise, entirely undiscovered by mass tourism.
Before it became a protected area, the forest was used as a refuge by the local Chewa tribe against attacks by the warring Ngonis in the 19th Century. Because the forest proved so vital as a shelter for people, it largely escaped the deforestation for firewood that has unfortunately decimated so much of Africa’s indigenous woodlands. It later became a designated Forest Reserve. Bird life is prolific and this is an excellent destination for the professional or amateur bird watcher due to the variety of habitats. Some mammals, butterflies, and strange and unknown plants and orchids are also plentiful.
The Forest Reserve contains some of the last remaining indigenous rainforest in Malawi. Some trees tower thirty metres overhead while lianas and strangler figs compete for the sunlight. The lush vegetation is home to a plethora of orchids, as well as an abundant bird life, troops of samango monkey, baboons, hyenas and the odd bushbuck and bush pig. A black leopard has recently been sighted on the mountain near the lodge. The rainforest offers finds of strange fruits and colourful seed pods. In the rainy season it provides delicious mushrooms for guests’ dinner and pickles made from wild figs. Montane forest and grassland provides a contrasting habitat of open forest and bush. It is excellent hiking and mountain biking territory and is home to a variety of bird species and a stunning display of wildflowers each year when the rains start. Accommodation is now available at the Ntchisi Forest Lodge, recently developed for international visitors and rapidly gaining an excellent reputation.