Malawi has been rightfully dubbed the “Warm Heart of Africa”, for several reasons. It’s not just about the hot climate, but also the warm and welcoming people and the many attractions the country has to offer its visitors. Whether its sun, sand and glistening water at Lake Malawi, magnificent mountain scenery or safaris through wildlife reserves, Malawi is one of the best African countries to visit.
Malawi offers a selection of national parks where all kinds of wildlife can be seen, as well as the opportunity for hiking, mountain biking and mountain climbing. The lakes and rivers of the country offer the opportunity for many types of water sports and fishing, as well as perfect picnic spots.
The following are nine must-visit destinations in this landlocked, southeastern African country, all within reasonably easy reach of the major cities.
1. Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi is considered to be the “jewel in the crown” of Malawi’s attractions. While the country may be landlocked, this beautiful 365-mile (587-kilometer) long and 52-mile (84-mile) wide lake is almost an inland sea, fringed with golden sandy beaches. The lake offers much in the way of water sports, with sailing and kayaking, on offer. With the many colourful freshwater fish to be seen in the lake, it is also the perfect place for snorkeling and scuba diving. Fishing and swimming are also popular sports, or you can just lounge on the beach getting the perfect tan. Visitors can also enjoy a cruise on the yacht “Ilala”, to see the lake at its best. Several hotels and lodges are available in various areas around the lake.
Website: Lake Malawi
2. Chongoni Rock Art
Located in the Dedza District of central Malawi, fascinating Chongoni Rock Art is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the location includes 127 sites, found among forested granite hills. Chongoni is considered the richest concentration of art from the Stone Age in Central Africa and is believed to be associated with various ceremonies and rituals from Malawi’s past.
Chongoni Rock Art
Address: Dedza District, Central, Malawi
Website: Chongoni Rock Art
3. Dzalanyama Forest Reserve
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Dzalanyama Forest Reserve is located around 40 km (25 miles) from Lilongwe, among a steep range of hills. The forest offers trekking, hiking and mountain biking. It is also a great place for bird watchers, who can spot rare species like the Miombo Pied Barbet and the White Tailed Flycatcher, among others. There are natural streams and pools in the area for visitors to cool off, after a day of exploring the reserve.
Dzalanyama Forest Reserve
Website: Dzalanyama Forest Reserve
4. Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
Nkhotakota is nestled close to the shores of Lake Malawi, with several large rivers that cross the reserve. It is one of two large game reserves in the Central Region. Elephants can regularly be seen in the reserve, as well as several antelope species, leopards, zebra and buffalo.
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
Website: Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
5. Zomba Plateau
The Zomba Massif is a mountain in the Shire Highlands and rises above the town of Zomba, in southern Malawi. Zomba Plateau, on its summit, is a wonderfully leafy and attractive place to visit. Its forests of pine, cypress and cedar provide welcome shade, while the many streams, lakes and waterfalls give an opportunity for a refreshing dip. Some wildlife can be seen, including the occasional leopard, baboons and giant butterflies. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic.
Website: Zomba Plateau
6. Mount Mulanje
The Mulanje Massif, or Mount Mulanje, is located in southern Malawi, 65 km (40 miles) east of Blantyre. It rises 10,000 ft (3,048 meters) from the surrounding Chiradzulu plains and the Mulanje tea-growing district. The mountain provides great hiking and serious mountain climbing activities. A variety of wildlife can be spotted here, including the klipspringer antelope and many species of birds. Trout fishing is available, close by, in the River Lichenya.
Website: Mount Mulanje
7. Majete Wildlife Reserve
Majete Wildlife Reserve is located in the Lower Shire Valley of southwest Malawi, around 70 km (43.5 miles) from Blantyre. The reserve gives testimony to a real success story of animal conservation after it was almost depleted of its wildlife. Since African Parks took over, Majete has become one of the more popular reserves in the country and these days it is the only Malawi location where the “Big Five” can be seen, along with various buck species, zebras and warthogs.
Majete Wildlife Reserve
Website: Majete Wildlife Reserve
8. Nyika National Park
Located in northern Malawi, on the Zambian border, Nyika National Park lies on the Nyika Plateau, among wooded valleys and grassland. Wildlife, including elephants, antelope, zebras, leopards and bushbucks can be viewed from mountain biking tracks and footpaths, through the park. 4x4 wildlife excursions can also be enjoyed and there is a range of birdlife to be seen, including red-winged francolins and wattled cranes. In season, wildflowers and orchids can be seen adorning the landscape. There are also waterfalls and trout pools to visit, as well as a neolithic rock shelter.
Nyika National Park
Website: Nyika National Park
9. Liwonde National Park
Liwonde National Park is located in the south of Malawi, 160 km (99.4 miles) from Blantyre. The park runs along the banks of the Shire River and a portion of Lake Malombe. This allows for boat safaris, as well as the traditional 4x4 excursions or hiking safaris. The wildlife on offer includes elephants, black rhinos, sable, kudu and bushbuck, with the occasional hyena, lion or leopard to be seen, while the water attracts many crocodiles and hippos. Birdlife in the park is varied, with weaver birds to be seen in the woodland areas and fish eagles, at the river.
Liwonde National Park
Website: Liwonde National Park
Visit the "Warm Heart of Africa"
Make a point of visiting Malawi, with its gorgeous scenery, fascinating wildlife and friendly, welcoming people. It is truly the experience of a lifetime.
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