Africa has many gems – so why visit Malawi?
As the founder, owner and travel designer at our sister operation, The Grown-up Travel Company. I specialize in creating fully personalized trips to Africa for discerning travellers who want more than just a cookie-cutter vacation.
If you’re looking for a destination that offers stunning natural beauty, rich culture, friendly people, and plenty of adventure, then Malawi is the place for you. Malawi is one of Africa’s smallest yet most beautiful countries, and possibly the continent’s most underrated travel destination.
But don’t take my word for it. Let me show you why Malawi should be on your bucket list with these five compelling reasons:
1. Lake Malawi: A freshwater paradise
Lake Malawi is the star attraction of Malawi. It’s Africa’s third-largest lake and one of the world’s natural wonders. It covers about 20% of the country’s surface area and boasts over 1,000 species of fish, more than any other lake in the world.
Lake Malawi is not only a biodiversity hotspot, but also a haven for relaxation and recreation. You can enjoy a variety of activities on and around the lake, such as:
- Snorkeling and diving among colorful cichlids and other fish
- Kayaking, sailing, or cruising along the scenic shoreline
- Hiking or biking through the lush forests and hills
- Camping or glamping on one of the many islands
- Relaxing on the sandy beaches or at a luxury lodge
Lake Malawi is also home to some of the most charming and hospitable people you’ll ever meet. The local fishermen, villagers, and guides will welcome you with a smile and share their stories and traditions with you.
2. Wildlife safari: A hidden gem
Malawi may not be as famous as its neighbors for wildlife viewing, but it has some hidden gems that will surprise and delight you. Malawi has 11 national parks and wildlife reserves that offer diverse habitats and species.
You can see elephants, hippos, crocodiles, antelopes, zebras, lions, leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, and more in these parks. Some of the best places to go on safari in Malawi are:
- Liwonde National Park: The most popular park in Malawi, Liwonde offers excellent game viewing along the Shire River and in the mopane woodlands. You can also enjoy boat safaris, walking safaris, and night drives here.
- Majete Wildlife Reserve: A success story of conservation and community involvement, Majete has been restored from a poached-out area to a thriving wildlife sanctuary. You can see all of the Big Five here, as well as many other animals and birds.
- Nyika National Park: The largest park in Malawi, Nyika is a unique montane plateau with rolling grasslands, pine forests, waterfalls, and wildflowers. You can see zebra, eland, roan antelope, leopard, hyena, jackal, and over 400 bird species here. You can also explore Nyika on horseback or mountain bike.
3. Culture and history: A warm heart
Malawi is known as the Warm Heart of Africa for its friendly and hospitable people. Malawians are proud of their culture and history and eager to share it with visitors.
You can learn about Malawi’s culture and history by:
- Visiting museums such as the Lake Malawi Museum in Mangochi or the Cultural & Museum Centre Karonga
- Exploring historical sites such as Livingstonia Mission or Mua Mission
- Joining cultural tours or village visits to interact with local communities
- Participating in festivals or events such as Lake of Stars Music Festival or Mulanje Porters Race
- Sampling local cuisine such as nsima (maize porridge), chambo (tilapia fish), or kachumbari (tomato salad)
Malawi is also a melting pot of different ethnic groups and influences. You can see this diversity in the languages spoken (over 16), the religions practiced (Christianity, Islam, traditional beliefs), and the arts and crafts produced (wood carving, pottery, basketry).
4. Adventure sports: A thrill seeker’s dream
If you’re looking for some adrenaline-pumping activities in Malawi, you won’t be disappointed. Malawi offers a range of adventure sports that will challenge and excite you. Some of the best adventure sports in Malawi are:
- Paragliding: Fly over the stunning landscapes of Malawi and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the lake, mountains, and valleys. You can paraglide from Zomba Plateau, Dedza Mountain, or Mulanje Massif with experienced instructors.
- Rock climbing: Test your skills and stamina on the rugged rocks of Malawi. You can rock climb on the granite domes of Mulanje Massif, the basalt cliffs of Dedza Mountain, or the limestone crags of Nkhoma Mountain.
- Mountain biking: Pedal your way through the scenic trails and tracks of Malawi. You can mountain bike on the Nyika Plateau, the Viphya Highlands, or the Zomba Plateau. You can also join organized tours or races such as the Lake Malawi Cycle Challenge or the Orbis Challenge.
- White-water rafting: Experience the thrill of riding the rapids of Malawi’s rivers. You can white-water raft on the Shire River, the Ruo River, or the North Rukuru River. You can also enjoy kayaking, canoeing, or tubing on these rivers.
5. Tea plantations: A taste of elegance
Malawi is one of Africa’s largest tea producers and exporters. The country has over 40 tea estates that cover thousands of hectares of land. The tea plantations are located in the southern highlands of Malawi, where the climate and soil are ideal for growing tea.
The tea plantations are not only a source of income and employment for many Malawians, but also a destination for tourists who want to experience a taste of elegance and tranquility. You can visit the tea plantations and enjoy:
- Tea tasting: Sample different varieties and flavors of tea, from black to green to herbal. You can also learn about the history and process of tea production in Malawi.
- Tea tours: Explore the tea fields and factories and see how tea is grown, harvested, processed, and packed. You can also interact with the tea workers and learn about their lives and culture.
- Tea accommodation: Stay in a colonial-style lodge or cottage surrounded by lush greenery and serene views. You can also enjoy delicious meals, spa treatments, and other amenities at these lodges.
- Tea activities: Engage in some fun and relaxing activities on the tea estates, such as hiking, biking, golfing, fishing, or horse riding.
Some of the best tea estates to visit in Malawi are:
|Satemwa||Thyolo||One of the oldest and largest tea estates in Malawi; offers tea tasting, tours, accommodation, and activities|
|Huntingdon House||Thyolo||A historic mansion turned into a luxury lodge; offers tea tasting, tours, accommodation, and activities|
|Ngapani||Mulanje||A family-owned tea estate; offers tea tasting, tours, accommodation, and activities|
|Lujeri||Mulanje||A scenic tea estate at the foot of Mulanje Massif; offers tea tasting, tours, accommodation, and activities|
Hopefully by now I’ve answered the question, “Why visit Malawi?” The country is a destination that has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday, a wildlife safari adventure, a cultural immersion experience, or a tea plantation escape, you’ll find it in Malawi.
If you’re interested in visiting Malawi for your next holiday, contact me at The Grown-up Travel Company. I’ll design a fully personalized trip for you that suits your preferences, budget, and style.
Don’t miss this opportunity to discover one of Africa’s most beautiful and friendly countries. Book your trip to Malawi today!