Malawi is aptly called "The warm heart of Africa" due to its friendly people,
green rolling hills with thatched villages and a translucent lake inviting
newcomers to enjoy its tranquility. Although it is a small country one should
spend at least a week here to experience all the scenic attractions such as the
numerous lakes, rivers, mountain ranges and game reserves. The visitor will be
left with fond memories of a typical African country where time is irrelevant,
the pace relaxing and nature stunningly attractive. Malawi has much to offer at
affordable prices in spite of scant resources, poverty, droughts and
This tiny southern African country is squeezed in amongst Zambia
along its western border, Tanzania in the north and Mozambique in
the south and east. Almost one fifth of the country is taken up by
the 540 kilometer long Lake Malawi. From the shores of the lake a
steep rugged escarpment rises to a green plateau covered with
rounded hills and villages. The low-lying southern region is
tropical and includes the lush Zomba Plateau. The high Mulanje
Mountains are in the south eastern area. The variety of landscapes
and scenery is one of the major reasons that make this country an
attractive tourist destination.
Malawi offers a wealth of activities and attractions, although some
are difficult to reach with ordinary transport.
For some excellent freshwater fishing, head down to Lake Malawi and
many of the rivers. Note should be taken that Malawi's fish
population is decreasing dramatically due to over-utilization.
Contact the Angling Society at PO Box 744, Blantyre for more
The Mulanje Mountains are one of the highest in the Southern African
countries, rising to about 3000 meters. It is a mountaineering and
hiking paradise and has a huge range of plant and bird-life with
breathtaking scenery. There are huts available and the numerous
hiking tours last between two and six days.
Windsurfing, water skiing and diving are popular activities on Lake
Malawi, but take precautions against the potentially fatal disease
Bilharzia, currently infiltrating certain parts of the lake. There
are operators offering horse-riding through numerous landscape
Golf enthusiasts will be glad to know that there are some golf
courses around and the one at the foot of Zomba Plateau is one of
the prettiest around.
If you find yourself in Malawi during the "Republic Day"-festivities
in the first week of July, make a point of seeing the various
traditional dances, including the Gule Wamkulu dance where the
dancers wear wooden masks, skin paint and other body decorations.
It is said that one hasn't been to Malawi without a visit to the
tranquil shores of Lake Malawi. Imagine sitting on soft white
pristine sand during a quiet evening with the red sun setting over
the African horizon. Imagine fishermen slowly maneuvering their
canoes for another nights' fishing in the background. At Lake Malawi
it is this reality that brings peace to body and soul.
There are various coastal towns along the lake with Nkhota Bay,
Senga Bay, Cape Maclear and Monkey Bay being some of the more
popular. Join a voyage with the Ilala II liner and visit the various
ports along the lake. Watch the mountains drift by and visit some of
the exotic islands along the way. Likoma is known for its Anglican
cathedral and Chizimulu offers great snorkeling and diving.
Although it is not the capital, it is by far the biggest town in
Malawi with a population of nearly half a million people. It is
named after the famous explorer, Dr. Livingstone's birthplace in
Scotland and is a located in the beautiful southern part of the
country providing easy access to surrounding attractions like Zomba
Plateau, the Mulanje Mountains and Lengwe National Park. The
buildings worth visiting in the town include the National Museum,
the All Angels Church and St. Michael's Church.
The quiet beautiful beach resort can be reached via a rough road
from Monkey Bay. It is a good base for hiking, diving (be aware of
bilharzia) amongst many colourful fish, visiting nearby islands and
the Lake Malawi National Park. It is advised to bring one's own food
This pretty, tree-filled capital of Malawi, is often just a stopover
point for visitors to replenish food stock before heading into the
countryside. There is a market near the post-office with a variety
of exquisite woodcarvings and other curios.
For some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding
countryside and the lake, head up this steep escarpment to visit the
old Scottish missionary station. There is a small hotel, a museum
and the 60 meter high Manchewe Waterfalls with caves hidden behind
it. This village can only be reached with a sturdy vehicle that can
navigate the 22 hairpin bends and a stony dirt road. Senga Bay
Another popular village situated on the lake's shore and east of
Lilongwe, offers day trips to the nearby Lizard Island with its
population of monitors (huge lizards) and other water-sports.
Although Malawi cannot compete with the abundance of game found in
many neighboring countries, the reserves are less crowded, offer
wonderful scenic panoramas and often allow hiking.
Nyika National Park
Situated in the northern part of the country on top of the Nyika
Plateau, this 3200 km2 park provides the visitor with unforgettable
views and the opportunity to explore the grass-covered wilderness on
foot. Hikes lasting up to five days can be booked through the
Tourism Offices in Lilongwe. The animal life includes the rare roan
antelope, eland, zebra, hyena, leopard, porcupine, jackal, a rich
variety of birds and plenty fish in the rivers. 4x4 vehicles are
advisable in this park especially during the rainy season and
although there is accommodation, visitors should be self-sufficient
Kasungu National Park
This 2000km2 park is situated in the middle of the country, north of
Lilongwe. It has a magnificent variety of wildlife including
elephant, buffalo, lion, cheetah, leopard, sable, kudu, oribi, eland
and some 250 different bird species. The best time for animal
viewing is during the drier months of August through to November
when the foliage is thin. There are also some rock paintings and
archaeological sites. Accommodation is available at the Lifupa
Wildlife Lodge, which offers chalets, bedded tents, a restaurant and
Lengwe National Park
This small park which also allows hiking and watching game from
well-disguised hides, has some rare wildlife including the tiny Suni
antelope and Samango monkey. Other game includes nyala antelope,
impala, sable, buffalo, leopard, hyena, warthog and many others.
Birders will not be disappointed in this park that also offers
Lake Malawi National Park
This is the newest addition to the national parks of Malawi and
situated on the southern edge of the lake. Although there is
currently only camping facilities available, there are plans to
build a lodge in the near future. Visitors can view the variety of
tropical fish with the use of scuba equipment, but be aware of the
risk of Bilharzia. There are also hippos, monkeys, baboons and
plenty birds in this park that is open all year round. Nearby lodges
include Nkopola Lodge, Club Makokola and Palm Beach.
WHEN TO GO
The southern part of Malawi is tropical and there are 3 types of
seasons namely rainy, dry and cool.
The rainy season starts in
November and ends in April. From May to July it is winter in the
Southern Hemisphere and it is therefore cooler.
From August to
October it is relatively dry, and huge dust storms are common in
October. The area around the lake is generally warmer than the
higher plateau areas.
WHAT TO SEE
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