5 Reasons to Make Malawi Your Next International Destination

Malawi is a small country in southern Africa that many people have never even heard of, but it has so much to offer! With a diversity of landscapes, and much fewer tourists than more popular African destinations, Malawi is an up and coming travel destination that you won't want to miss.
A man and girl hike Malosa mountain, and stop to admire the Zomba plateau in Zomba Malawi

1. Malawi Has Mountains

Malawi’s savannah highlands provide endless views of breathtaking, rocky-topped mountains reaching up to the sky. Mount Mulanje and the Zomba plateau are the two most famous mountains in Malawi, and draw a good number of both locals and tourists for hiking, mountain biking, swimming in mountain streams, and camping. If those aren’t your cup of tea, you can also enjoy more relaxed means of reconnecting with nature in one of the many quality lodges around them. But while those are the two most well-known, there are mountains everywhere, many of which have great hiking trails and nearby accommodations, including Dedza, Nyika, and several mountains around Blantyre.

An elephant crosses the savannah at Liwonde National Park in Malawi

2. Malawi Has Big 5 Game Parks

Malawi is now home to 9 national parks, at least 4 of which (it’s hard to find out exactly) are home to what safari enthusiasts refer to as the “big 5,” which are: African leopard, African lion, Cape buffalo, African elephant, and rhinoceros. These parks include Majete, Liwonde, Nyika, and Nkhotakota. But they don’t JUST have these big 5, the parks are FULL of amazing and beautiful animals that you can see up close and personal. See our guide to visiting Liwonde National Park here. The rejuvenation of the major parks in Malawi has been a huge accomplishment in recent years, and has really put Malawi on the map as a major safari destination in Africa.

A family kayaks in Lake Malawi at Cape Maclear

3. Malawi Has Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi is the fifth largest freshwater lake in the world by volume. At about 350 miles long north-to-south, and less than 50 miles wide east-to-west, it is almost as long and skinny as the country itself. It’s home to crocodiles, hippos, fish eagles, and more species of fish than any other lake in the world. The most famous fish in Lake Malawi is the cichlids (pronounced “sick-lids”), and they are small, colourful, diverse fish which make for an unforgettable snorkelling experience. There is an abundance of wonderful lodges up and down Lake Malawi’s coast, as well as on a few islands, such as Blue Zebra Island Lodge, Mango Drift, Mumbo Island, and Monkey Bay Beach Lodge. Most lodges offer an assortment of options for enjoying the lake, including snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, paddle boarding, beautiful beaches, and boat rides.

A woman sits on an outdoor couch in front of an old colonial house, Huntingdon House at Satemwa Tea Estates in Thyolo, Malawi

4. Malawi Has Amazing Places to Stay for Every Budget

No matter your budget, you really can’t go wrong in Malawi. All over the country, you can find a range of great lodges and hotels, from the very, very expensive and fancy to the cheapest possible accommodations. 

If you are looking for a luxury vacation, you can’t go wrong with places like Kaya Mawa on Likoma Island, Pumulani Lodge on the southern end of Lake Malawi, and Mkulumadzi Lodge at Majete National Park, to name a few (none of which we’ve been to, because they are out of our price range, but we hear they are very nice). 

The mid-budget range of places we’ve enjoyed (some of which are at about the top of our personal budget range) have included Zomba Forest Lodge in Zomba, Huntingdon House at Satemwa Tea Estates in Thyolo, Blue Zebra Island Lodge on Nankoma Island, Monkey Bay Beach Lodge in Monkey Bay, Mango Drift on Likoma Island, Mumbo Island off the shore of Cape Maclear, and Game Haven Lodge, just south of Blantyre.

We have stayed in a wide variety of mid-to-low budget places, and have enjoyed them all. Even the most low-budget places have been clean, comfortable, safe, and sufficient.

A street in downtown Zomba, Malawi

5. Malawi is Friendly and Safe

Malawi is known as “the warm heart of Africa,” and it very much lives up to its name. It reminds me a lot of the American south in that almost everyone is very friendly, eager to help, and enjoys getting to know new people. And while you always want to be aware of your surroundings, take steps to prevent pickpocketing, and not flash your money around, we’ve found Malawi to generally be a very safe place to live and visit. We try not to be out after dark as a general rule, but during the day I feel no danger being alone while taking public transportation, going to the market, or exercising in my neighbourhood.

Men stand in front of several empty fishing boats on the shore of Lake Chirwa in Malawi

There are many more reasons to visit Malawi, but hopefully our top 5 will be enough to lure you here so that you can discover all of the other reasons to love Malawi for yourself!

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