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11 must-do things in Malawi

Originally from Malawi, Gabi grew up around the world as the daughter of a diplomat, but The Warm Heart of Africa soon called her home. She now lives in Lilongwe with her husband, three dogs, a cat, a tortoise, and six guinea fowl. She spends as much time in the bush or on Lake Malawi as she possibly can, enjoying life on the water or photographing the Big 5.

11 things to do in Malawi

We have put together a list of what we think are the top 11 things to do when planning your trip to Malawi. Whether you enjoy the outdoors and exert yourself on a hike, wish to enjoy some downtime on the gorgeous Lake Malawi or want to learn about the culture or head out to one of our fantastic National Parks…there is something for everyone. Malawi has it all and continues to surprise its visitors.

nyika plateau wildlife

1. Hike from Nyika to Livingstonia

Wild, untouched and remote, Nyika National Park is set in high-altitude grassland and has one of the most gorgeous sceneries that Malawi has to offer. Rolling hills, incredible birdlife and a number of antelope, you will be amazed at what this northern park has to offer. Head out on a 3-day hike with a knowledgeable guide who will take you on a challenging yet exciting adventure. Camp out and explore the hills, valleys and countryside, finally ending at Livingstonia on the lake.

2. City tour of Lilongwe

Head out into the capital city and visit the most popular attractions it has to offer. We would recommend doing this at the start of your trip, get a feel for the county and culture and learn a little about sights and local lifestyle. You can visit a number of locations including a local settlement, shop for curios and souvenirs or get to the Wildlife Centre which is home to orphaned animals. Learn about the history of Malawi and soak in the vibe of Lilongwe before heading out to the numerous other locations the country has to offer.

kayak mumbo island

3. Kayak around Mumbo Island

This is such a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery around Malawi’s favourite spot on the lake… Mumbo Island. If you are staying on the island and enjoy an adventure then hop into a kayak with a friend or loved one and take a trip around the island, it is only 1km in diameter so you can enjoy a full morning or afternoon on the lake. Crystal clear waters mean you can see the infamous Cichlid fish, native to our very own Lake Malawi.

boat safari, liwonde

4. Take to the Shire River

Enjoy a safari on the water at Liwonde National Park! You may have been on a number of safaris, but nothing comes close to the river safari offered in Liwonde. The birdlife is abundant, the hippos come in their hundreds… maybe even thousands, and you can even catch a glimpse of the African Elephant enjoying a bath or drink down on the banks. It is voted one of the most glorious spots to enjoy a river safari and we couldn’t agree more!

5. Meet the Big 5 at Majete Wildlife Reserve

As it is the only park (for now) in Malawi with the Big 5, we think Majete should be included in every itinerary. The reserve has transformed from an empty forest to a thriving haven for some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife. When African Parks took over in 2003, they began a series of reintroductions, including rhino, buffalo, elephant, leopard and lion. Tourism is on the rise and is becoming increasingly popular, a place we are all very proud of and look forward to seeing it continue to flourish.

cape maclear dhow

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… it’s the fisherman heading out for their evening catch. Known as the ‘Lake of Stars’ the lake is lit up from the lights on the fisherman dug-out canoes, it is a truly magical and memorable experience.

7. Day visit to Dedza Pottery

Malawi really does have so much to offer and one of the oldest and most famous spots to head to during your trip is Dedza Pottery. Stop here for lunch and arrange a tour of the workshop and enjoy watching the teamwork on their masterpieces. The shop offers a wide range of handcrafted pottery and most illustrates Malawian life. Head home with a brand-new tea set or an intricate minibus, the talented artists capture every detail in their work and don’t forget to try their famous cheesecake!

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. 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 symbolises rituals and ceremonies of the Chewa community.

9. Day trip to Mua Mission

If you have time between locations, then we would highly recommend fitting Mua Mission into your trip. It is famous for its wood carvings that are produced and sold here, and they also have a wonderful cultural museum you can visit. The carvings are incredible, and every detail is captured in the work. Their prices are reasonable too and you will be sure to need an extra suitcase for the amount you would like to take home.

satemwa tea estate picking tea

10. Visit the Tea Estates

Possibly one of the most beautiful spots in Malawi, the Satemwa tea estates in Thyolo are hugely popular with visitors and it’s a great way to see something a little different. Walk around the grounds and learn a little about the history of this gorgeous area. Enjoy a tea tasting at the end of it and if you stay at the gorgeous Huntingdon House, you can indulge in the delicious tea cocktails before a three-course dinner.

Mulanje Mountain rocks

11. Climb Mount Mulanje

Malawi’s answer to Kilimanjaro…sitting at 3,002 metres high and at a fraction of the price to Kili and without those crowds. Climbing Mt. Mulanje should be on everyone’s bucket list when heading to Malawi. Spend 3-days hiking to the summit with the nights spent in the mountain huts. The guides are fantastic, reliable and helpful and will add to this incredible experience. Once at the top the views over Malawi are breathtaking – it is totally worth it!

If you would like to do any of these activities or visit any of these destinations, please contact us!

About the author

Originally from Malawi, Gabi grew up around the world as the daughter of a diplomat, but The Warm Heart of Africa soon called her home. She now lives in Lilongwe with her husband, three dogs, a cat, a tortoise, and six guinea fowl. She spends as much time in the bush or on Lake Malawi as she possibly can, enjoying life on the water or photographing the Big 5.

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