Sunrise at Lifupa Dam
Experience Malawi

For a relatively small country Malawi offers a surprising diversity of experiences. The surface topography is dominated by the Southern Rift Valley which gives rise to spectacular scenery. There are three freshwater Rift Valley Lakes, Lake Malawi itself, Lake Malombe on the Shire River and Lake Chilwa. Each provides a distinct environment from the steep-sided escarpments and sandy beaches of Lake Malawi to the swampy wetlands of Lake Chilwa.

Much of the remainder of the country is high plains grassland interspersed with rocky outcrops known as Inselbergs, the Mulanje Massif and Zomba Plateau being two prime examples of the latter. In the north-west is the Nyika Plateau a unique example of high-altitude (>2000m) grassland while in very south in the Shire River Valley are the swamplands of Elephant Marsh and the low-elevation Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve.

The National Parks and Wildlife Reserves contain a variety of wildlife, including the Big 5, which can be seen without being part of a cavalcade of 4x4s. In some of the locations the opportunity of getting up-close to elephants and hippos is not to be missed opportunity.

The Chongoni area provides a graphic historical record of the region's past and there are numerous sites across the country relating to the arrival of Scottish Missionaries who followed David Livingstone and shaped modern Malawi. Learn more about cultural history at the Kungoni Centre and at Karonga Museum. Many locations within the country offer cultural experiences and the opportunity to experience the warm heart of Africa in person.

While the three major cities are not special they have all the facilities necessary to support exploration of their respective regions and to provide a comfortable environment to recharge your battery.

World Heritage Sites
Lake Malawi National Park

Lake Malawi National Park

 The area at the southern end of Lake Malawi is a designated National Park and since 1984 recognized as a World Heritage Site. This recognition is for its biodiversity and in particular its fish diversity. The area is home to many hundreds of cichlid fish of which the great majority are native to the lake.

The National Park encompasses the headland of the Nankumba peninsula , a number of near-offshore islands and the surrounding lake, offering a wide range of scenery.

  Cichlids. Many bird varieties including kingfishers, fish eagles, cormorants, Dickinson's kestrels, and freckled nightjars. Classic Rift Valley scenery.

  Kayaking, snorkelling, diving, motorized lake trips. Feed fish from your hand.

  From humble backpacker lodges to some of the finest on the continent, e.g.Mumbo Island

  Go There!

Chongoni Rock Art

Chongoni Rock Art Area

  In a cluster of forested granite hills, near Dedza, 127 distinct sites feature the richest concentration of rock art in Central Africa. The sites record the cultural history and traditions of the peoples of the Malawi plateau: the transition from a foraging lifestyle to food production, the subsequent Ngoni invasion of the Chewa people, and the coming of the white man. Some of the art is thought to be >3000 years old. The symbols in the rock art, which are strongly associated with women, still have cultural relevance amongst the Chewa, and the sites are actively associated with ceremonies and rituals.

  Ancient and relatively modern rock-art. Dedza Pottery. The Chamare Museum at Kungoni Centre of Culture and Art, Mua Mission.

  Hike to some of the rock-art sites (guides arranged at Dedza Pottery or Malawi College of Forestry and Wildlife). Forest or mountain walks. Visit Mpira Wood Art Gallery.Visit Art Gallery & Showroom at Kungoni Centre.

  Namalikhate Lodge at Mua Mission,Dedza Pottery Lodge. Kazela Lodge at Malawi College of Forestry and Wildlife.

  Go There!

National Parks
Hippos at Liwonde National Park

Liwonde NP

  Situated at the southern end of Lake Malawi and bordering the Shire River, Liwonde has been a National Park since 1973. It packs a range of habitats (mopane and deciduous woodland, river swamp and grassland amongst others) into a relatively small 580 sq km. The compactness and diversity offer high probability of sighting of elephant, hippo, crocodile and various antelope. Small numbers of rhino, lion and leopard are less likely to be seen.It has some of the best bird watching in Southern Africa.

  Elephants, hippos, crocodile, water buffalo, warthog. Numerous antelope (sable, impala, waterbuck) and >400 varieties of birds.

  Safari by foot, boat or 4x4. Guided rhino walk (90% success rate) through Mvuu Lodge.

  Inside the park, Mvuu Lodge and Mvuu Camp . Outside the park Liwonde Safari Camp  , Shire Camp and Bushman's Baobabs

  Go there!

Bull elephant at Kasungu National Park

Kasungu NP

  Kasungu is Malawi’s second largest National Park by area and is located on the Central African Plateau adjoining Zambia. It is mainly woodland punctuated by a few inselbergs in the west of the park.

It is best known for its population of elephants which even today are under threat due to poaching. It has significant populations of Southern Reedbuck, Hartebeest and Oribi and is also home to pack of rare painted dogs.

  Elephants, hippos, several varieties of antelope. Over 350 bird species have been recorded.

  Safari drives, game drives, guided walking safari. Watch sunrise and sunset from Black Rock.

    Rondavels, safari huts, dorms and safari tents on-site at Lifupa Lodge

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Zebra at Nyika National Park

Nyika NP

  Nyika is Malawi's largest National Park and the grassland plateau at an altitude of 2500m is unique in South-East Africa. Game viewing can vary with the season but the park is blanketed in colour during and just after rainy season when hundreds of wildflower (including many varieties of orchid) come into blossom. The park is classified as a Centre of Plant Diversity with 46 species endemic to the park and surrounding area. Lion are being reintroduced and the park has the highest leopard density in the country..

Zebra (Crawshay's) and antelope (roan, reedbuck, eland). Leopard, jackal and spotted hyena. Lion and elephants are also possibilities. ~ 400 bird species.

  Game drives (day / night), mountain biking, nature walks, birding.

   Inside the park, Chelinda Lodge and Chelinda Camp

  Go There!

Other National Parks
The last of Malawi's National Parks is Lengwe. Located in the Lower Shire Valley it is about 75km south of Blantyre. The park is renowned for its population of Nyala antelope, a shy but distinctive resident. In-park accommodation at Nyala Lodge.
Wildlife Reserves
Young hippo and family at Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

  Vwaza is 1000 sq km of woodland and marsh in NW Malawi. The park adjoins Zambia with herds of buffalo and elephants that traverse the border. Lake Kazuni is home to a large population of hippo with June-July being best time to see young hippos.

Although the onsite accommodation is rudimentary it offers a fairly unique opportunity to be in close proximity to both hippos and elephants.

  Hippo, elephant, impala, kudu, warthog, puku, baboon. Occasionally buffalo. Over 300 species of birds including herons and storks.<

  Self-drive safari on park trails. Guided walking safari.

  Camping and basic chalet on site (carry-in food). Park staff will light fire for cooking. Otherwise Matunkha Safari Lodge in nearby Rumphi.

  Go There!

Giraffe at Kuti Wildlife Reserve

Kuti Wildlife Reserve

  Run by a non-profit trust that focuses on engaging the local community on environmental conservation and wildlife preservation to support the growth of responsible tourism. Kuti is located just a short distance from Salima town, approximately 4kmdown a dirt road linking with the M14 (between Lilongwe and Salima)

  Giraffes , warthogs, wildebeest, zebra , civets, genets, primates, antelope (sable , kudu, duiker, nyala, oribi , bushbuck, reedbuck, waterbuck, impala, grysbok)

  Enjoy a sundowner at the marshland viewing deck. Cycle the many trails throughout the park.

  Camping, A-frames, Cottage, Bush Villas on site. (

  Go There!

Bua River in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

  This park is an area of largely undeveloped and difficult to access terrain. Historically poaching has been an issue but recent investment by the World Bank and the park coming under the umbrella of African Parksmanagement provide hope of improved environmental conservation and sustainable development.The range of mammals in the park is as wide any area of Malawi and there are plans to reintroduce giraffe and black rhino. The reserve is one of Malawi's Important Bird Areas.

  Elephant, waterbuck, reedbuck, bushbuck, warthog and baboon. Less likely lion, leopard and sable antelope. >280 species of birds

  Game drives. Walking safari, kanoeing, fishing, climbing. Cultural visits.

  Two new lodges have opened in the reserve. Bua River Lodge, Tongole Lodge

  Go There!

Other Wildlife Reserves
Majete Game Reserve is west of the Shire River, about 70km south-west of Blantyre. Thanks to a partnership between the Malawian Government and African Parks the park area has been fenced off and repopulated with hundreds of animals. It is Malawi's official home of the Big 5. Accommodation (camping to luxury lodge) in the park is available at African Parks and Mkulumadzi Lodge. Mwabvi at the southernmost tip of the country is the smallest and least accessible of the game reserves. It is home to a variety of species of antelope, buffalo, hyena and leopard. Lions are known to traverse the border with Mozambique. Camping, dorm and lodge accommodation are available in the park.
 Fisherman in dugout at Senga Bay

South-Central Lakeshore

  Senga Bay (nr Salima) is the closest lakeside resort to Lilongwe and here is a variety of accommodation options on its long sandy beach. You can appreciate the important part the lake plays in everyday life by observing the fishing, laundry etc. activities as you walk the beach.

Nkhotakota has historical significance due to its connections to the slave trade. It was here that under a fig tree that Livingstone brokered a treaty, to end the slave trade, between the Arab slaver Jumbe and local Chewa chiefs. The tree can be seen at St Anne's Mission Hospital.

  Monitor lizards on Lizard Island (Senga Bay), Fish and Crocodile Farms (Senga Bay), Hippo and birdlife at Mpatsanjoka River.

  Boat trips, kayaking, snorkelling. Take a pottery class. Volunteering projects through Cool Runnings.

  There are many lodges and hotels on Senga Bay. Cool Runnings offers good food and eclectic accommodation at a good price. Near Nkhotakota are Fish Eagle Lodge, Nkhotakota Safari Lodge and Nkhotakota Pottery Lodge.North of Dwanga is the highly rated Ngala Beach Lodge.

  Go There!

Horse Riding at Kande Beach

Central Lakeshore

  After Dwanga there are few towns of significance until the Lake port of Nkhata Bay is reached. The lakeshore does however have many stretches of excellent sandy beaches and a number of resorts along the Lake take full advantage of this. Whether it be the quiet sophistication of Mbamba Beach or the lively party atmosphere of Kande Beach you are sure to find somewhere that's just right for you. Nkhata Bay has its own vibrant personality and is a popular tourist center in addition to being a gateway to the islands and some of the less accessible areas to the North.

  Bandawe Mission

  Horse Riding, snorkelling, water-sports, mountain biking, scuba diving. Village visits

  Mbamba Beach Lodge, Kande Beach Resort,   Chinteche Inn,   Flame Tree Lodge,  Mayoka Village

  Go There!

Sunrise on Lake Malawi nr Chiweta

Northern Lakeshore

  North of Nkhata Bay towards Chiweta much of the shoreline is steep Rift Valley escarpment. There are a number of small fishing villages in this section which can only be accessed by the boat or by foot. As such the area is very undeveloped but is of great natural beauty. Sandy beaches return in the section from Chiweta to Chilumba and there are a number of lodges here. Further north towards the Tanzanian border is the town of Karonga, home to Malawi's most impressive Museum

  Malawisaurus Skeleton at Karonga Cultural and Museum Center.

  Volunteering opportunities in Usisya, Ruarwe, Chilumba. Swimming, snorkelling, hiking. Cultural interactions.

 Zulunkhuni Lodge, Maji Zuwa Lodge

  Go There!

Areas of Scenic Splendour
View of Lake Malawi from Mushroom Farm, Livingstonia


  Perched on the escarpment 300m above Lake Malawi, Livingstonia offers both scenic beauty and a taste of history.

It was founded by Scottish missionaries seeking to find a malaria free location for their mission. Their focus on education and health led, under the leadership of Dr. Robert Laws, to the establishment of a regionally significant school (now part of Livingstonia University) and hospital (David Gordon Memorial).

  The views of Lake Malawi and across to Tanzania. Views towards Nyika Plateau. Livingstonia Mission Church. Stone House Museum

  Hike to the 125m high Manchewe Falls. Explore the Chombe Plateau and historic Livingstonia. Visit the Lukwe Permaculture Gardens. The Chelinda (Nyika) to Livingstonia walk is one of the region's most beautiful.

 Mushroom Farm  , Lukwe Eco-camp   The Stone House

  Go There!

View of Mulanje Massif


  The Mulanje Massif is by far the largest of the inselbergs that scatter the country south of Lake Malawi and dwarfs the surrounding area. The plateau averages a height of 2000 m and there are >20 peaks of which Sapitwa at 3002 m is the highest point in Central Africa. There are trails and climbs to meet all standards of hikers and mountaineers needs.

There are numerous tea and coffee estates nearby, of which the Satemwa estate is one of the more famous.

  Likhubula Waterfall and Dziwe la Nkhalamba(Pool of the Elders). Tea and coffee estates.

  Walking, hiking and climbing. The Mountaineering Club of Malawi are a good source of information. Swimming in natural pools.

 Kara O'Mula Lodge   CCAP House Likhubula

Huntingdon House and Chawani Bungalow at Satemwa Tea Estate  

  Mulanje Pepper Pizza

  Go There!

Openbill Stork at Elephant Marsh

Elephant Marsh

  Elephant Marsh is an area of over 400 sq km of semi-permanent marshland and small lakes that forms part of the Shire River floodplain. It is known as a location of tranquillity and outstanding beauty.

The elephant herds from which it draws its name are no longer there and although the marsh contains many crocodiles and hippos they are less likely to be seen on a visit. However the marsh has aquatic birdlife in abundance.

  Fish eagles, storks, herons, kingfishers etc.

  Dugout / boat trips.

  Very basic: Tiyesembo Guesthouse in Makhanga, EM 7 Guesthouse in Muona. More luxurious and more expensive at Nyala Lodge who offer motorized boat trips.

  Go There!

Other Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Likoma and Chizumula Islands are Malawian enclaves in the Mozambique side of Lake Malawi. The islands feature azure waters, sandy beaches and excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. Interestingly Likoma has the 3rd largest cathedral in Central Africa a vestige of its history as an important mission site of the Scottish Universities Mission to Central Africa. A variety of accommodation options are available including the upmarket Kaya Mawa romantic resort. Zomba Plateau is a mountainous granite-like area rising to over 1800 m. There is a forest reserve together with streams, waterfalls and lakes on top providing offering beautiful hiking opportunities. Get a guide to maximize the experience. Rock climbing, horse riding, bird watching, fishing and mountain-biking are also possibilities. The Ku Chawe Inn, which lies right on the edge of the plateau is the most luxurious hotel in the area. Other options are Zomba Forest Lodge and camping facilities at the Trout Farm.
St Michael and All Angels Blantyre


  The commercial and industrial centre of Malawi, founded by Scottish missionaries and named after Livingstone’s town of birth. The ivory trade was the first step in its development as a regional trading hub. Mandala House was built as the African Lakes Corporation's first trading post and is the oldest building in Malawi. Also dating from this period is St Michael and All Angels Church. It is all the more impressive on viewing this edifice to learn that it was designed by a Scot, Rev David Clement Scott who had no previous architectural training and built by local labourers who had never constructed such a building before

  St Michael and All Angels

  Visit La Galleria Art Gallery and Society of Malawi Library at Mandala House. Walk the Njira ya Mtanda

  Casa Mia, Chez Maky, Hostellerie de France

21 Grill on Hannover,   Hostellerie de France  Casa Mia, Chez Maky,

  Go There!

Lilongwe Street Scene


  Lilongwe is the main port of arrival for air travelers. It replaced Zomba as the capital city under the rule of Dr. Hastings Banda and some 20 years later all the offices of government had finally moved there. The city’s twin focal points are Old Town where commercial activities (banks, bus station, markets and malls etc.) are mainly located and the new area of Capital City where government buildings, embassies and upmarket hotels can be found.

  Parliament building.

  Walking in Wildlife Centre, visit Malawi Cultural Village at Kumbali. Take in a tobacco auction.

  Kiboko Town Hotel   Sheila's Lodge  Wamkulu Palace   Korea Garden Lodge  St Peter's Guesthouse

  Country Lodge   Bombay Palace   Kiboko Town Hotel Restaurant

The Living Room

  Go There!

Lunyangwa Dam, Mzuzu


  Mzuzu is the capital of the Northern Region and Malawi's 3rd largest city. Its temperate climate and compact centre mean it's easy to get around on foot. The city has numerous supermarkets and a thriving market. Together with many banks & ATM's in town this positions Mzuzu as the ideal base for touring the North. The green hilly country to the east and north-east of the city provides opportunities for scenic walks (particularly around the dam area) .

  Mzuzu museum. Vervet monkeys.

  Walk in the Nature Reserve (off Nkhata Bay Rd).

Joy's Place and Pine Tree, Chatonda Lodge, Moni Lodge Flame Tree Guesthouse

  A-1 Restaurant   Pine Tree   Joy's Place, Nonhla's, Green Vee and Mark.

Jacaranda Bar at Mimosa Court Hotel, Obrigado, Mzoozoozoo, and for knowledgeable football discussion Red Chilli.

  Go There!

Other Towns & Cities
Zomba,the former capital of the country nestles beneath the plateau which bears its name. It is known for its wide streets and colonial architecture and is a useful base for exploring the plateau and surrounding countryside.
Touring Malawi
If travelling on your own intinerary is not for you then The Responsible Safari Company and Kiboko Safaris would be good starting points for organized tours.
Where is your favourite Malawian destination?