Malawi is a relatively unknown African country, landlocked between Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania, with a third of the land mass covered in water! Known locally as the warm heart of Africa, Malawi boasts its friendly locals, beautiful Lake Malawi, and stunning landscapes. The real charm of Malawi is despite its small size, there is an abundance of activities to do.
From the famous shores of the Lake of Stars to the ever-increasing wildlife reserves where you can head out on safari, to the brilliant hiking routes and tasty tea trails, there’s something to excite anyone looking to enjoy an epic excursion across this little gem of a nation.
So whenever next you are looking for an adventure away from the more renowned African countries, check out below, just a few of what Malawi has on offer in what we consider our top 10!
1. Take a boat safari on the Shire River
Liwonde National Park is one of the most up-and-coming parks in Africa. Having had huge conservational success with African Park’s custodianship, Malawi is one of the few African countries to say they are having an increase in their number of rhinos and a decrease in poaching. With 2 of the reserves now with the big 5 and the numbers of animals ever increasing, it is the perfect place for the avid safari-goer.
The real draw of Liwonde is the diverse ways in which one can get close to the animals. There is nothing quite as relaxing as gently floating up to a large herd of elephants as they bathe in the river, cooling off for the day, or watching as the rapidly multiplying cheetah come down for a drink. The bird life is also unparalleled by the water and it’s the best way to see the animals in peace and quiet of their environment as they go about their day.
2. Snorkel in Lake Malawi
The crystal clear waters of Lake Malawi offer a huge range of colourful endemic cichlid fish. Often considered a beach destination, thanks to the white sandy shores and blue waters of the lake, Lake Malawi is a great place to explore underwater. Either with a mask or you can scuba dive, the lake has a huge amount of marine life from the fish to the otters, crabs, and sea birds. Come on out to Lake Malawi to channel your inner mermaid and get to exploring!
3. Climb Mount Mulanje
Malawi’s answer to Kilimanjaro without the crowds, Mulanje is 3,002 meters high and a fraction of the price to access of Mount Kili! Take 3 nights to summit the peak and enjoy the breathtaking landscapes of Malawi sprawled out beneath you. With several mountain huts along the way you can take a helpful guide along with you to show you all the best spots and of course, a few porters to help carry your things. A climb up the scenic Mount Mulanje is a beautiful and challenging way to see Malawi’s most famous mountain.
4. Tea tasting
Did you know that one of Malawi’s biggest exports is tea? The southern regions are incredibly fertile and so tea leaves are grown across the mountains here. Take a trip down and taste the huge variety of teas made here, watch tea pickers as they pick the precious leaves and then participate in an educational tour of the factories where they are dried and transformed. You can also taste some of the local coffee if tea isn’t your thing or even a tea-inspired cocktail!
5. Meet the Cheetah at Majete Wildlife Reserve
African Parks are offering the unique opportunity to track these majestic creatures on foot, using telemetry. Once you find them you will observe and note their behavior before having a beautiful bush breakfast to go over your experience and what you have seen.
6. Traditional dhow cruise at Cape Maclear
The sunsets on the lake are truly breathtaking and they never get old. One way to enjoy it is a sunset dhow cruise at Pumulani, Cape Maclear. Enjoy the traditional dhow cruise around the pristine waters, watch as the sun heads down over the lake, and the lights on the water come alive, your signal that the fishermen are heading out for their evening catch. Known as the ‘Lake of Stars’ the lake is lit up by the lights on the fisherman’s dug-out canoes. Seeing these lights is truly magical and makes for a memorable experience.
7. Visit the Cathedral on Likoma Island
Once thought to be the hub of the missionaries, St Peter’s Cathedral is the same size as St Paul’s in London. This incredible piece of architecture also acts as the host of national choir competitions. If there is one way to feel Africa in your bones, it’s to have it vibrate through your ears as a church choir sings!
8. Visit the Chongoni Rock Art
Whilst you are near Dedza you might as well head to the Chongoni Rock Art as the sites are near the mountainous region of Dedza. Reported to be the densest cluster of rock art in Central Africa, there are 127 sites identified on the plateau. The rock art and paintings depict the farming community of the late stone age. It is celebrated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the artwork symbolizes rituals and ceremonies of the Chewa community.
9. Take a cooking class at Kumbali Country Lodge
Malawi cuisine is undoubtedly tasty, wholesome, and unique. From the special chambo fish fresh from the lake to the staple Nsima, there are many exciting, organic flavors to try your hand at. Internationally trained Chef Jess will take you through the recipes before you enjoy your spoils for dinner.
10. Fly over Liwonde in a helicopter
You can now take to the skies over Liwonde National Park, whilst your pilot tells you a little about the history of the park while showing you the animals dotted across the landscape. Exciting and educational it’s a great way to describe the experience, culture, and conservation of the park whilst hopefully getting some great sightings. Look out for the park’s numerous elephant herds and crashes of black rhino!
About the Contributor
Chloe McCormack has lived and worked in Malawi as a ground operator for the last 3 years. Having worked in the safari industry for almost 10 years and initially trained as a safari guide, her love of nature led her to Malawi to explore the area for clients. Falling in love with the up-and-coming destination, she packed her bags and moved across in order to sell Malawi to the rest of the world. The huge range of activities suited her endless enthusiasm and she now happily calls Lilongwe home.