Malawi lies in sub-Saharan Africa, nestled between Zambia and Mozambique. It's one of the poorest countries in the world. But! It is safe. And with safari parks, mountain treks, tea estates and a lake of fresh water which covers one-third of the country, Malawi has plenty to offer when you want to venture off the beaten track.
Lake Chilwa gives you a peak into rural life but it’s is not for the lighthearted. 30 km off the main road, a dirt track will bring you to this little visited lake.
Although it is the second largest lake of Malawi, the villagers and fishermen do not see a lot of tourists. It makes you feel very uncomfortable taking pictures and the villagers desperately want you to support them, buy stuff or take a (leaking!) boat onto the lake.
On a horse for the first time and what a treat! I got to take lovely horse Pavarotti swimming in Lake Malawi. So cool, Pavarotti was treading water and I had to hold his manes to prevent myself from falling off. Kande Horse offer these rides for first-timers like me, and more experienced riders too.
Stay overnight at Kande Horse and take your horse out twice!See detail page
Rolling hills of tea, beautifully restored colonial houses, pristine foothill forests, the tea plantations of Malawi’s Southern Highlands will make you enjoy some of the greenest and most breathtaking views of Africa. Follow M2 south from Mulanje.
Make a (unannounced!) visit to one of the largest estates to buy some tea. Lujeri Tea Estate sells their tea to customers all over the world, starting from 50.000 USD. They make an exception for tourists though, but the smallest amount you can buy is 1 kilo 😉See detail page
Malawi’s most neglected national treasure is actually the richest rock art site in Central Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Little visited Chongoni Rock Art area contains beautiful rock faces and shelters that represent an ancient painting tradition dating back at least 2,000 years (according to the local guide it’s 10,000!). It’s a pain getting there, the dirt road uphill is REALLY bad but the views are more than rewarding.
Ask around for Lemiton Misindi when you need a knowledgeable guide.See detail page
This chronically laid-back lakeside town offers everything a traveller could hope for, with swimming, kayaking and diving by day and free-flowing alcohol by night. If it's beaches you are after, then you might be better off at Kande.
Don't you just love these views of the lake? I stayed at at Mayoka Village, a great place to be away from the hustle and bustle.See detail page
The reserve is an upcoming wildlife-spotters paradise. But don't have high expectations yet. I found that in comparison to other African national parks not a lot of animals showed themselves. Could be the high vegetation (March), but the lack of animals could be the reason too. Who knows? The guide thought our sightings during the the safari were quite normal though.
If you have time you should visit South Luangwa National Park, just a few hours from the Malawi-Zambia border. Best kept secret 🤫See detail page
At over 2,000 metres above sea level, the Zomba Plateau is a refreshingly cool place in every way. The area is a must for those in search of adventure, you can hike to beautiful waterfalls and lakes, mountain-bike through the forest or visit one of the many lookout points that provide a spectacular vista of southern Malawi and the landscape all the way to Mozambique.
Indulge in great Italian dishes at lovely Casa Rossa. The restaurant is half way up the Zomba plateau.See detail page
Cape Maclear is said to be Malawi’s best beach destination. It has the honey-coloured sand, turquois water and beachside bars, but I did not appeal to me.
Why? The local fishermen village is seperated from the beach by a line of guesthouses run by foreigners. Feels like us and them. The beach is still much of a local fair. At the tideline you find women washing clothes, men in soaps, while fisherfolk spread out vermilion nets. The tourist are watching from their sun beds. It felt to me like tourists are intruding, and probably will take over in the future. Don’t expect an Algarve of Koh Samui just yet.See detail page
Just across the border lies Africa's best kept secret: South Luangwa. I saw leopards, lions, hyanas, African wild dogs. Don't miss it!
1. The great tree signs. Plumber anyone?
2. Try the road side food!
3. Ride the heavy-packed busses.