Malawi Travel Guide

A country with a warm glow, a friendliness, charm and welcome like non-other, it’s one of Africa’s most secret and yet perfectly well-defined destinations. This is my Malawi travel guide!

With Good investment in infrastructure and a well-developed presence of high-end hospitality and travel options, the country stands out from the rest for its low international tourist numbers, yet highly capable tourism industry. Perhaps mostly down to a lack of knowledge Malawi has in many areas has remained untouched and unspoilt; most reserves all though big in land coverage only offer a maximum of 2 lodge concessions – a totally unique and personal safari experience.

The main pull, and perhaps the Crown Jewels of this Britain sized African darling, is Lake Malawi. 365 miles long, and up to 900 metres deep its Africa’s third largest lake; third place not ever the most wanted winning position however renowned for its wildlife, clarity, and stunning beauty the trip to Malawi is complete without a visit / sail / dive / lake sundowner!

An area of some 118,000 square kilometres (46,000 square miles) (one fifth is Lake Malawi) makes Malawi one of the smallest countries in the region. Its neighbour, Zambia, occupies over six times the area. Malawi is similar in size to Cuba; less than half that of the United Kingdom. At approximately 900 kilometres (560 miles) long and varying widths never more than one third of its length, the country is clearly elongated north-south along the line of the Rift Valley in which Lake Malawi sits.

This elongated shape of Malawi lends itself to a 3-way regional division: North, Central and South. The diversity for which Malawi is famed is reflected both between these regions and within each one. A Malawi tour that combines elements of landscape, wildlife, lake and culture can be undertaken in each of the regions; yet such a combination will give a different experience in each region.

Top things to do in Malawi

Malawi Culture and People

Malawi Culture / People
Every Malawi Guide will tell you Malawians are, without doubt, its greatest asset: friendly and welcoming to a fault. Every visitor is met with a smile and the warmth of the welcome is genuine and long-lasting. Alongside a number of places of particular cultural and historical interest, all travel will include some element of cultural experience as interaction with local people is very much part of any stay. There a many traditions, ceremonies and festivals throughout the year – all giving a great insight into Malawian culture and well worth attending.

Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi
The jewel in the crown of the country’s tourist attractions is Lake Malawi, “discovered” by the missionary-explorer Dr David Livingstone just over 150 years ago. Although totally landlocked, Malawi is not denied its “inland sea”. This vast body of freshwater fringed by beaches of golden sand is not only a scenic wonderland but it provides water sport opportunities for those looking for something beyond sun, sand and swimming.

Malawi’s Landscape


Malawi has a massive diversity of beautiful landscapes. The highest peaks in Malawi touch 10 000ft (3 000m) while the lowest point is barely above sea level. This range of altitudes in a small area help to make the landscape of Malawi one of the moist varied in all Africa. It is generally a green, lush country, with plateaux, highlands, forests, mountains, plains, escarpments and dramatic river valleys. The variety of scenery is a major attraction to visitors and many of the highland areas and forest reserves have good accommodation options.

Wildlife in Malawi

Malawi is blessed with a rich diversity of flora and fauna and has no less than nine national parks and wildlife reserves. Whilst it may not have quite the sheer numbers of large mammals (particularly predators) as some of its better-known neighbours, it makes up for this in other ways. Malawi provides intensive and exclusive wildlife viewing in unspoilt areas of genuine wilderness. A cap of 2 lodges per reserve is in place to enforce low visitor numbers.

Activities in Malawi

For a small country, Malawi has a quite remarkable array of activities to offer its visitors. The magnificent Lake Malawi is a haven for boat activities and watersports, as well as having some of the best freshwater diving sites in the world. Eight land-based national parks and wildlife reserves offer all type of safaris in a wide variety of natural wilderness environments. The mixed terrain and varied landscapes also provide for excellent outdoor activities, including trekking and mountain biking, particularly in the highland areas. Those seeking cultural experiences are also well served by sites of historical interest and simple village visits to meet the ever-smiling Malawians in their daily life.

Malawi’s Regions

South Malawi Travel Guide

South Malawi is the most populated and developed region, with a wide variety of landscapes, including as it does the highest and lowest points in the country. Blantyre, the commercial capital, and Zomba, the old colonial capital, are in the south. This region has 5 National Parks and Wildlife Reserves, including the Lake Malawi National Park, and a number of forested highland areas.

Central Malawi Travel Guide

Central Malawi is home to the country’s capital, and most common point of entry, Lilongwe. Most of the region lies on the Central African Plateau and so the scenic highlights come from the hills sitting atop the plateau, and the escarpments that descend into the Rift Valley and down to Lake Malawi. It has one National Park and one Wildlife Reserve.

North Malawi Travel Guide

North Malawi is the least populated of Malawi’s regions, with the regional capital, Mzuzu less than one-fifth the size of Lilongwe or Blantyre. It is, on average, the highest of the regions, characterised by unique highland areas and dramatic lake shorelines. It has one National Park and one Wildlife Reserve.

Map: Malawi Travel Guide