Apart from the famed Malawian hospitality, the first thing that strikes you about this vibrant nation is its geographical variety. Lake Malawi, Africa’s third-largest lake, cuts across the countryside in a trough produced by the Great Rift Valley, a dazzling expanse of clean water teeming with colourful cichlid fish. A trip to the lake is a necessity for everyone interested in diving, snorkelling, kayaking, or simply relaxing on beaches and desert islands.
The spectacular summits of Mt Mulanje and the enigmatic Zomba Plateau lie suspended in the clouds in Malawi’s deep south, both a hiker’s dream with mist-cowled woods and unique animals. The Nyika Plateau, with its rolling meadows reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands, is located further north.
Malawi was once overlooked as a safari destination, but that has changed thanks to a lion reintroduction programme at Majete Wildlife Reserve, which is now one of the few worthwhile wildlife-watching destinations in the country.
Liwonde National Park
Liwonde is Malawi’s closest thing to a typical wildlife park, including chalets and safari activities. The Shire River, which dominates the west, is teeming with hippos and crocodiles and is a favourite haunt for the 500-plus elephants. Waterbucks are also prevalent near the river, and the floodplains are home to sable and roan antelopes, zebras, and elands.
Spotted genets, bushbabies, scrub hares, side-striped jackals, and even spotted hyenas can be seen during night drives. A rhino-breeding programme protects many black rhinos in a separate area, and there is a diverse and colourful array of birds. Birdwatching is especially pleasant from October to January, when migratory species, like Böhm’s bee-eater, put up summer camp.
Boating down the river, adorned with purple lilies and statuesque palms framing the hills behind, is one of the true delights of a visit to Liwonde. Morning or evening, you’re very certain to witness hippos, as well as crocodiles, fish eagles, and a variety of other waterbirds.
If you just come here for one thing, make it the Chamare Museum, which is magnificently painted with paintings representing episodes from Malawian history. The first chamber dives into the history of Mua and the Roman Catholic Church in Malawi; the second explores Chewa, Yao, and Ngoni culture, including a portrayal of a typical Ngoni dance; and the third is a total knockout…
The ‘tree of the spirits’, strung with 280 Gule Wamkulu masks, greets you in the third chamber, with interpretative panels explaining the Chewa masks’ significance.
Majete Wildlife Reserve
Things have been looking good since African Parks took over administration of this mountainous wilderness on the western bank of the Shire River in 2003.
The reserve today has about 3000 animals, the most of which were relocated from other parks in Malawi and elsewhere in Southern Africa.
These species include lions, hyenas, sable antelope, nyalas, black rhinos, buffaloes, elephants, hippos, and leopards.
Mkulumadzi Rd, which runs parallel to the Shire River, and Namitsempha Rd, which heads west from the entrance, are the reserve’s two main roads. The magnificent Kapichira Falls are located along Mkulumadzi Rd, right outside the reserve entrance; farther on is Mvuu Hide, from where you may view hippos. A map of the reserve is accessible at the gate.
Nyika National Park
Malawi’s oldest reserve is without a doubt one of the most magnificent experiences available on any vacation to the nation. The Nyika Plateau, which rises over 2000m above sea level, is enigmatic; one moment its rolling grasslands remind you of the Yorkshire Dales, but then an antelope leaps across your bonnet, you notice the nearby mound of steaming elephant dung, and you remember you’re in Africa (and Nyika is home to a large population of leopards!).
Elephants, hyenas, bushbucks, reedbucks, roan antelopes, elands, warthogs, klipspringers, jackals, and duikers are among probable sights in this lovely terrain. Twitchers should be aware that over 400 bird species have been identified, including such rarities as the wattled crane and the moustached green tinkerbird.
After the rainy season, the countryside comes alive with a blaze of wildflowers. The plateau alone is home to around 200 orchid species.
The park has two lodges and a campsite. Wildlife drives, nature hikes, mountain biking, and fishing are among the activities available. You can visit some of the park on your own, but it’s not worth the terribly rough journey if you’re not staying overnight.
Lake Malawi National Park
Lake Malawi National Park, one of Africa’s few freshwater aquatic parks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, encompasses much of the area around Cape Maclear, including many outlying islands. When planning lake activities, be sure the rates include the park admission charge.
Malawi is a country worth taking the time to experience. The people are friendly, the wildlife fauna and flora are stunning, and the overall experience is a memorable one. As always, we encourage travellers to do their own research and learn more about this country before booking any flights.
Don’t forget to book your trips and vacations with us at Ehis Travels, we would love you to join us on our trip to Malawi.