Top 13 Best Travel Destinations In Malawi

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Malawi is a land of lakes and plateaux, bounded by the East African Rift's great ridges. Today, snorkelers and kayakers, wildlife enthusiasts, and others ... read more...

  1. Along the Shire River's course, Malawi's most accomplished wildlife spotting and safari area can be found. It's a vast reserve of flood plains and wetland swamps, swaying grass fields and baobab groves, and it's a picture of East Africa's beautiful backcountry.

    Despite being only 220 square miles (580 square kilometers), Liwonde National Park is one of Malawi's most popular game parks, with its beautiful riverine setting and teeming wildlife providing thrilling safaris. It is approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Blantyre and only slightly more than half that distance from the hotels on the Mangochi Lakeshore. The River Shire runs along its western border, allowing for boat safaris in addition to the usual ones on foot or in 4x4s.

    The wildlife includes a large number of elephants, and the river attracts a large number of hippos and crocodiles. Lion, cheetah, and wild dog have recently been reintroduced into Liwonde with the assistance of African Parks, which took over management of the Park in 2015 and is continuing to transform Liwonde into a first-rate safari destination. Kudu, sable, and bushbuck are examples of antelope. Leopards, hyaenas, and black rhinos are also seen on occasion. The birdlife is extremely diverse. The river attracts fish eagles, and weaver birds nest in the sparse woodland. Pel's fishing owl is frequently seen along the river's edge at dusk.

    • Entrance fees:
      • Malawi Citizens:
        Adults: US$4
        Children: US$2
      • Malawian Residents:
        Adults: US$15
        Children: US$7.5
      • International Visitors
        Adults: US$30
        Children: US$15
      • Children under 6 are free
    • Offers: Fees per vehicle: US$4/day
    • Opening time: 6am - 6pm
    • Best time to visit: April to October
    • Location: Southern Region of Malawi

  2. When it comes to competing for the title of the nation's economic kingpin, Blantyre, a business-minded metropolis of nearly one million people, is the only real rival to Lilongwe.

    However, history runs deep here, and the town dates back more than 150 years, when it was founded by missionaries working for the Church of Scotland – hence the moniker: a namesake of Blantyre on the outskirts of the highlands in the United Kingdom. Visitors can explore historic structures such as the Mandala House or get a sense of the revitalized Malawian economy by visiting the Malawi Stock Exchange and the various tobacco packing factories that have sprouted up in recent decades.

    • Best place to visit: La Caverna Art Gallery, The Society of Malawi Library, St Michael and All Angels Church, The Way of the Cross/ Njira ya Mtanda, Chichiri Shopping Centre, Malawi Stock Exchange, Chichiri Museum, The Responsible Safari Company, Al Pacino's Bar, etc.
    • Location: Southern Region of Malawi
  3. Kasungu National Park, located west of Central Malawi and bordering Zambia, is one of East Africa's more off-the-beaten-path nature reserves. The area is a mosaic of swaying savannah and bush, sporadic miombo woodland, and dusty plains, encompassing a whopping 2,100 square kilometers of land where the rolling plateaus of western Malawi give way to the borderlands with Zambia.

    Kasungu was once known for its thriving population of African elephants, but in recent decades it has been plagued by severe poaching problems. However, a slew of lodges around Lifupa's lake waters have helped raise the ecotourism profile, and safari travel here is nearly back on track.

    This is a park that is relatively easy to navigate. Lifupa has a lodge as well as good camping nearby. Kasungui is only about 100 miles/160 kilometers away from Lilongwe.

    • Entrance fees:
      • International Visitors: USD $10
      • International Residents: USD $7
      • Malawians: USD $1
      • Accompanied Children under 12: Free
    • Offers: Private Vehicles: USD $3 to USD $15
    • Opening time: early - 18.00 daily
    • Best Time to Visit: July to October
    • Location: Kasungu, Malawi
  4. Set to the distinct scents of freshly harvested tobacco and wafts of petrol fumes from the endless streams of traffic that pulse through the dusty streets, Malawi's capital is the beating political and commercial heart of the country.

    Stay a few days and you'll discover its wonders, which range from a particularly well-kept nature reserve on the outskirts of the city (the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre) to a heady market that throbs with haggling sellers touting everything from stacks of green mangoes to whittled wood figurines to multi-colored pulses all week.

    There are also a plethora of lively local beer bars where you can unwind with a locally brewed Carlsberg when you get thirsty!

    • Best places to visit: Lilongwe Wildlife Centre Lilongwe, Nature Sanctuary Lilongwe Kumbali Cultural Village Lilongwe Gems and Jewellery Lanka Lilongwe, Nkhoma Mountain Lilongwe National Herbarium And Botanic Gardens Of Malawi Lilongwe, Old Town Mall Lilongwe, Lizulu Market Lilongwe, Maula Cathedral, Parliament Building, World War I Memorial, etc.
    • Location: on a plateau in Central Malawi
  5. Lake Malawi National Park is a World Heritage Site and the world's first fresh water national parkit's a world cultural heritage so it's no wonder it's in the top travel destinations in Malawi . Lake Malawi National Park's lands, once traversed by the revered Scottish expeditionary and missionary David Livingstone, are a must-see for both nature and history buffs.

    Here's a veritable aquarium of tropical fish swimming in crystal clear water, displaying a colorful kaleidoscopic display. The mbuna (thousands of freshwater fish) are more abundant and diverse here than anywhere else on the planet. Boats can be rented, and the fish will feed directly from your hand. Away from the lake, the park is home to baboons, antelope, and hyrax, as well as a wide variety of birdlife such as fish eagles, cormorants, and hamerkops.

    From the lovely Domwe to the dashing Mumbo, there are a plethora of excellent safari lodges to choose from. Water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and kayaking are available at the various lodges, as are nature walks and occasional yoga retreats.

    • Opening time: All day
    • Entrance fees:
      • Non-resident foreigner: USD10/person/day
      • Resident foreigner: USD7/person/day
      • Malawi citizen: MWK450/person/day
      • All below age of 12 years: Free of charge
    • Best things to do: Scuba diving, Water sports, Hiking, Snorkelling, Kayaking
    • Location: the southern end of Lake Malawi in Malawi
  6. Nyika National Park, Malawi's first certified park, was established in 1965. The park is a world of montane landscapes that stretches across vast swaths of the central Malawian plateaux, the largest of the country's national parks with over 3200km2 of beautiful, rolling scenery and one of the most unique natural habitats in East Africa. The Nyika Plateau, located in northern Malawi, is unique in Africa. The Plateau is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to its cultural and natural beauty.

    It's a place of verdant grass plains and colorful orchid beds, where elephants roam and water buffalo congregate among the scrub, and it's known as the headwaters for many of the region's riverways. The Nyika Plateau's montane vegetation attracts a large number of antelope, and zebra are common. Smaller mammals like warthogs and bush pigs can also be found in the park. Furthermore, Nyika has the highest leopard population in Malawi! There have been several sightings of nomadic males, as well as a female lion! However, due to the size of the park, they are difficult to spot, so keep your eyes peeled!

    Horseback riding safaris are extremely popular among visitors, as are hiking and bird watching. Nyika is a birder's paradise, with over 400 species making the park their home!

    • Entrance fees:
      • International Visitors: USD $10
      • International Residents: USD $7
      • Malawians: USD $1
      • Accompanied Children under 12: Free
    • Offers: Private Vehicles: USD $3 to USD $15
    • Opening time: early-18.00 daily
    • Best Time to Visit: November to May
    • Location: northern Malawi
  7. Nkhotakota is located in the center of Malawi's central backcountry. It's verdant and pretty, with green dashes of miombo woods, cut through by several winding rivers (all on their way to Lake Malawi's waters), and backed by the eponymous Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.

    Most visitors will come here to seek out the acclaimed safari lodges that cling to the edge of the waters, to marvel at tropical birds and possibly see elephants, buffalo, and even leopards in the wild. Nkhotakota has a few beachside lodges. The best beaches, lodges, and pottery can be found a few kilometers south of town, off the M5.

    Nkhotakota is one of the ports visited by the famous mv Ilala ferry on its weekly journey up and down Lake Malawi, and it is also the home of the Nkhotakota Pottery, which has established a completely new range of pottery products unique to Malawi in recent years, using special pottery porcelain, colors, and glazes of extremely high international standards. It is possible to take a pottery course as well as observe their potters at work and purchase items from their shop.

    The fast-growing Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve is accessible from the M5 to the north of town.

    • Location: Central Malawi
  8. The Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve, rising like a great backbone of stone from the dusty plains of southern Malawi, just a stone's throw from the border with Mozambique, has to be one of the country's most breathtaking.

    Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve is a nature reserve in Malawi that was established in 1927. The reserve is 56,317 hectares in size. The Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust manages it. UNESCO designated the reserve as a biosphere reserve in 2000. Thus it is considered one of the ideal travel destinations in Malawi. The highest peak in the country – and the region as a whole – its whopping height of 3,000 meters above sea level is enough to host a diverse range of habitats.

    The woodlands of the endangered widdringtonia African cypress tree, which pepper the ridges sporadically as they rise to meet the sky, are perhaps the most famous.

    • Locations: Southern Malawi
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    Zomba, the gateway to its eponymous plateau, is located on the outskirts of the Shire Highlands. The town, which was once the hub of British Central Africa, has a rich colonial history, with interesting little frontispieces belying the Anglo influence on corners all over the place.

    The majority of visitors, however, are drawn to the wildernesses that erupt around the city. These are dotted with rare cypress trees and juniper bushes, and they wind their way through verdant forests and highland lakes. Many people choose to hike to the top of the great escarpment, where lookouts provide sweeping views of the Mulunguzi and Shire rivers.

    Visitors come to Zomba for its colonial buildings and history, as well as its bustling market, but primarily to gain access to the Zomba Plateau, which overlooks the town and is only a few minutes drive away. There are a few hotels and guest houses in Zomba town, including the character-filled Pakachere Backpackers Lodge on the edge of the golf course, and the modern Hill Springs Lodge a little further out of town, back on the Zomba-Blantyre road. Alternatively, the charming Zomba Forest Lodge, known for its excellent food, is not far up the Plateau slopes.

    • Location: southern Malawi
  10. The picturesque reaches of Likoma Island are an exclave of Malawi proper, surrounded by Lake Malawi waters but nestled on the Mozambican side of the border. The location is steeped in colonial history, having served as Livingstone's former headquarters.

    This is evident in the Gothic rises of the Likoma town cathedral, as well as the steady stream of tourists who visit this area.

    Many visitors, however, come for the natural side of things. Why? Likoma is also known for its crystal-clear shore waters and unspoiled coastline, where the only interruption to a day spent snorkeling with cichlid fish is the occasional fishing skiff.

    With its picturesque scenery, this is one of the must-see travel destinations in Malawi for visitors to visit.

    Best things to do: Religious experience at st. Peter's cathedral, Diving in Likoma island, Exploring nkhaji nature park, Taking a walk in ulisa gardens, Immersed in shrubs art craft, cultural art gallery.

    Location: East Africa
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    Northern Malawi's largest settlement is frenetic Mzuzu, a large and sprawling city that serves as the transport hub for the entire Mzimba District.

    , which is popular with travelers passing through on their way to Tanzania, serves well as a service center for the more remote areas in Malawi's north, and has all necessary facilities such as banks, petrol stations, supermarkets, post offices, and so on. There is a good, bustling market that is worth a look. The city is an excellent place to refuel and rest before heading to the northern shores of Lake Malawi, the man-made Viphya Forest, or the acclaimed Nyika National Park.

    The city itself has some interesting botanical gardens, as well as a plethora of adventure tour providers who can organize treks in the nearby mountains and hills.

    Mzuzu has a few simple hotels and lodges, as well as an airport on the outskirts of town. Malawi Airlines currently does not fly there, but Ulendo Airlink began using Mzuzu in 2019.

    • Location: Northern region, Malawi
  12. Mangochi is the starting point for what is likely Malawi's most popular section of lakeshore. Located near the southern end of Lake Malawi, Fort Johnston was established in colonial times to limit slave traffic moving northwards towards the Lake and on to Zanzibar. It runs from town to the aforementioned Lake Malawi National Park, past palm-peppered Swahili fishing villages and accomplished resorts.

    Mangochi now has several historical monuments dating back to the early twentieth century. These include a clock tower erected in Queen Victoria's honor and a Hotchkiss gun recovered from the Gwendolen, a gunboat that patrolled Lake Malawi from 1889 to 1940. A simple stone memorial to the 145 lives lost when the mv Viphya sank in 1946 stands alongside the clocktower. The town also has a museum and a modern Catholic Cathedral. Despite being just off the main M3 road, Mangochi is worth a visit and also serves as a very useful service center for those traveling from the south to the lakeshore. The most hotels and lodges on Lake Malawi can be found just to the north, between Mangochi and Monkey Bay – on what is known as the Mangochi Lakeshore.

    • Location: Southern Region of Malawi
  13. Chongoni, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of many visitors' top travel destinations in Malawi. It is known primarily for its rich history and pre-historic arrays of rock art. The area has revealed evidence of habitation since the early Stone Age and is located within a cluster of forested granite hills covering an area of 126.4 km2. Reaching heights of nearly 2,000 meters above sea level with the peaks of the Dedza mountains, the area has revealed evidence of habitation since the early Stone Age. This can be found in the caverns of places like Chentcherere and Namzeze, where it displays animist religious elements as well as old artworks from East Africa's once hunter-gatherer nomad people.

    The far-flung reaches of Mphunzi Mountain form the westernmost extent of the UNESCO area, and they also contain some of the most impressive frescoes. The 127 sites of this area, located high up the plateau of central Malawi, have the richest concentration of rock art in Central Africa. They represent a comparatively rare tradition of farmer rock art, as well as paintings by BaTwa hunter-gatherers who lived in the area since the late Stone Age. Chewa agriculturalists, whose ancestors lived there since the late Iron Age, painted on rocks until well into the twentieth century. The rock art symbols, which are strongly associated with women, retain cultural significance among the Chewa, and the sites are actively associated with ceremonies and rituals.

    • Locations: Central Region of Malawi

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