Malawi: Main Sights
The warm heart of Africa
Nyika National Park – Explore the sweeping and magnificent wilderness filled with antelope and zebra on foot, by bike or on horseback. Malawi’s biggest national park is located on the 1800m high Nyika Plateau
Mzuzu – In the far north, Mzuzu is the biggest regional centre in northern Malawi and is mainly visited on the way to Tanzania or the northern parts of Lake Malawi. The town has an airport, a few shops, a good hotel, several restaurants and local guesthouses, and a good hospital. It’s really the capital of the northern region. There are also two game areas in the region: the beautiful and unique plateau of the already mentioned Nyika National Park, and the Vwasa Marsh Wildlife Reserve. The famous Livingstonia Mission, with its interesting museum, is also nearby.
Likoma and Chizumulu Islands – secluded island paradise, great sea life and a backdoor to Mozambique. Visit the Anglican Cathedral, built by missionaries over 100 years ago, on Likoma Island. Located on the east side of the lake, near the Mozambique shore, the island also offers excellent swimming, snorkelling and other water sports.
Ilala ferry - Enjoy Malawi’s lakeshore via the ancient Ilala ferry and sleep out on deck under the stars.
Lake Malawi - Lake Malawi occupies one fifth of the country’s total area. It is the third largest lake in Africa. Its approximate dimensions are 365 miles (590 km) north to south and 52 miles (85 km) broad, hence the sobriquet: "the calendar lake". The Lake drains an area larger than Malawi itself yet, surprisingly, only one river, the Shire (pronounced "shiray" – the old spelling) flows from it. Eventually, the water spills into the Indian Ocean via the River Zambezi. Nicknamed ‘The Lake of Stars’, because of it’s 500km of shimmering crystal clear waters, it is home to 500 species of fish, and excellent for swimming, snorkling, scuba diving, or just relaxing on its shores. Discover untouched islands by kayak, commune with the underwater world or kick back on a near deserted beach. See the 24,000 sq km (15,000 sq miles) lake that lies in the deep, trough-like rift valley, running the length of the country. Lake Malawi contains more fish than any other lake in the world and some of the rarest tropical fish are unique to it.
Lilongwe – The official and political capital of malawi. Alongside the traditional Old Town, with its interesting markets, is the modern city and seat of government with its imaginative architecture in a garden setting.
Mua - Mua Mission is found just off the main lakeshore road, the M5. The mission is famous for the quality of the wood carvings produced (and sold) there. This is the site of the KuNgoni Centre of Culture & Art, established in 1976 by a Canadian missionary. The Centre has grown from an art co-operative to a vibrant cultural centre. It provides insights into the history and culture of Malawi through the Chamare Museum, the Carving Centre and the new Research Centre/Library. The museum describes the Chewa, Ngoni amd Yao cultures, their rites of passage, their interaction with one another and their encounter with Islam and Christianity. It also holds a unique display of Gule Wamkulu masks, texts and images and dances can be arranged.
Nkhotakota - Nkhotakota is the largest traditional African town in Malawi. It’s one of Africa’s oldest market towns and was once a centre of the slave trade. Further north is Nkata Bay, a busy port and market and a favourite stopping place for visitors.
Mount Mulanje – Hike the majestic peaks and take in the dramatic views. Behold the magnificent Mulanje Massif. The highest point of this huge block of mountains, which cover more than 640 sq km (250 sq miles) and rise to over 3,000m (10,000ft), can be see at Sapitwa.
Liwonde National Park – 550 km² of unspoiled jungle, over 800 African elephants roam freely as do wild boar, hippo and crocodiles. Cruise past hippos and crocs on the Shire River or take a walking safari and get up close and personal with the elephants.
Zomba and Zomba Plateau – Zomba is the former capital of Malawi, and still boasts a presidential palace. It is the home of the University of Malawi, the oldest educational institution of it’s kind. The real draw in Zomba is the Plateau. A great slab of a mountain rising to 6000ft (1800m), it has vast tracts of cedar, pine and cypress but elsewhere the vegetation is wild and mixed. At the base there are botanical gardens surrounded by old colonial houses. The plateau top is criss-crossed by streams and there are tumbling waterfalls and still lakes. There are driveable tracks right round the top from which are views of such splendour that they were described in colonial times as "the best in the British Empire". Whether walking or driving, there is always something to see. Wildlife includes leopards, although sightings are rare. More in evidence are giant butterflies and, on the lower slopes, baboons. Birdlife includes the long-crested eagle and the augur buzzard. Accommodation on the plateau includes the beautiful Sunbird Ku Chawe Inn, a luxury hotel set at the very edge of the mountain; and a large camping site. Fly-fishing for trout is possible in season and horse riding can be arranged.
Blantyre – The economic and commercial capital of Malawi, and its largest town, established at the end of the 19th century. It is really two towns: Blantyre and Limbe, joined by a development corridor. Sights include the National Museum, St Michael and All Angels Church (associated with Dr David Livingstone) and Mandala House (the oldest European building in Malawi).