A travel guide to Malawi

| June 4, 2020

A travel guide to Malawi

Though Malawi is a small country and does not offer conventional wildlife viewing, there is still plenty to see and do in this beautiful region.

Liwonde National Park

A beautiful and peaceful park, Liwonde is home to the country’s largest remaining elephant population and also where black rhinos find refuge.

However, hippos, enormous Nile crocodiles, kudus, impalas, sables and waterbucks are the most prolific. This park probably has the best year-round birding in southern Africa and there are more than 300 bird species, including Lillian’s lovebirds and rare brown-breasted barbets.

Zomba Plateau & Town

Zomba, Malawi’s former capital, is a sleepy backwater situated beneath the Zomba plateau. The city is best known for its British colonial architecture and some particularly interesting markets. Dominating the skyline for miles around is the 1,800-metre-tall Zomba plateau, criss-crossed by streams, tumbling waterfalls and still lakes. In colonial times, views from the top were described as ‘the best in the British empire’.

Thyolo Region

This region is a fertile area dominated by vibrant green tea estates and overlooked by Mount Mulanje which, at 3,000 metres, is central Africa’s highest peak. This magnificent mountain is a large massif of basins, peaks, valleys, forests, streams, waterfalls, sheer faces and slopes of all gradients. Everything from gentle walking to serious climbing is possible. Once on the mountain, the vegetation changes with altitude and there are various small mammals and birds to be seen.

Majete Wildlife Reserve

Following a period of severe poaching, in 2003 the African Parks Network and Malawi government started a protection plan that included the reintroduction of endangered species at Majete. This has turned into a model of sustainable development and biodiversity. For wildlife enthusiasts, many exciting encounters lie in store, with the chance to view lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, elands, kudus, sables, nyalas, klipspringers, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and zebras. Endangered black rhinos have also been reintroduced into the park, though can be hard to spot.

Lake Malawi & Likoma Island 

Lake Malawi is the jewel in the crown of the country’s attractions. Its clear turquoise waters, home to brightly coloured cichlids (fish), are not only a scenic wonderland but also provide superb kayaking, sailing and snorkelling. Access to the lake is possible along much of its length, with the Southern Lakeshore and Cape Maclear being the most well known. Likoma island, off the eastern shore of Lake Malawi, has a number of lovely beaches, rocky coves and crystal-clear waters. The island is known for the impressive St Peter’s Cathedral, the size of Winchester Cathedral, and its stained glass windows and carved soapstone.

Nyika National Park

Nyika National Park is made up of a huge granite dome rising to 2,400 metres, with an environment like no other in Africa. The rolling landscapes of the central plateau are described as whalebacks and are rich in wildflowers, with more than 200 types of orchid flowering in the rainy season.

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

A true wilderness area, Nkhotakota is a vast rugged terrain traversed by a number of rivers which tumble down the edge of the escarpment as they make their way to the lake. Just 30km west of Lake Malawi, Nkhotakota supports a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, sables, antelopes and more than 280 bird species. For a special cultural experience, spend an afternoon at a traditional local village

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