Being sandwiched between Tanzania and Mozambique, the tiny country of Malawi in southeastern Africa welcomes those looking for a relaxing holiday in a beautiful unspoiled part of the world.
Malawi is well-known for its smiling, friendly people. Most importantly, it is known for its extraordinary freshwater lake, Lake Malawi, which dominates this landlocked country. The clear waters and tranquil islands provide the perfect, laid-back beach holiday; whilst Malawi’s 11 national parks and wildlife reserves offer activities like hiking, mountain biking, and bird-watching.
There are not many online resources about Traveling guide to Malawi, but in this post, you’ll find everything you’re looking for an amazing vacation in Malawi. From the recent history of Malawi to the warm people and top things to do in Malawi. Don’t miss this post about the ultimate travel guide to Malawi.
Recent History of Malawi
In 1889, a British protectorate was proclaimed over the Shire Highlands (a plateau in southern Malawi), which was extended in 1891 to include the whole of present-day Malawi as the British Central Africa Protectorate. In 1907, the protectorate was renamed Nyasaland, a name it retained for the remainder of its time under British rule. In a prime example of what is sometimes called the “Thin White Line” of colonial authority in Africa, the colonial government of Nyasaland was formed in 1891.
, Nyasaland became independent from British rule and renamed itself Malawi on 6 July 1964 (the date that is commemorated as the nation’s Independence Day, a public holiday).
People in Malawi
Malawi is known as the “warm heart of Africa”, and rightly so. Malawi’s people are friendly and peaceful, making you feel completely welcome and at ease in their beautiful country. Their hospitality makes visitors feel at home as soon as they step off the plane. It’s easy to make them smile with a “moni” (pronounced mo-nee, not money), which means hello in Chichewa, the local language, and “Zikomo” (thank you). There’s hardly any hawking or selling of tacky souvenirs in Malawi and Malawi has never had a civil war.
William Kamkwamba, a young Malawian boy wanted to find a way to bring electricity to his village, so he went to the nearest library and educated himself enough to invent a windmill to make electricity which worked and his story made him an example of not giving up. He gave a speech at the Ted conference, wrote a book, and even a movie that has been made based on his story which is so inspiring!
Languages Spoken in Malawi
Malawi is a multilingual country and English is the official language. Other major languages spoken in Malawi include Chewa, Yao, Tonga, Sena, and Elomwe.
Most adults can handle a normal conversation in English but since unfortunately Malawi is not one of the most educated countries in Africa, only about 30% of the people are fluent in English since going to school is not a granted right in Malawi.
Top Things to do in Malawi
Unlike its size, Malawi is a paradise for nature lovers. You can have the safari of your dream whether on a river or by car, you can hike some magical mountains, or relax at one of the countless beaches available around Lake Malawi that is comparable to some of the best beaches in the world. Infinite Tours offers a valuable 8 days tour in Malawi, showcasing the best thing the country has to offer to the visitors, a mixture of the culture, the wildlife, and the wilderness.
Lake Malawi (AKA as Lake Nyasa) is one of the most impressive and beautiful lakes in the Southern Hemisphere. Lake Malawi ranks as the fourth-largest freshwater lake by volume in the world. When visiting this gorgeous lake, it’s easy to think you’re on a sub-tropical island with its sandy beaches and palm trees, backed by towering mountains covered in rainforest. Lake Malawi’s waters are also home to hundreds of species of fish, giving life to rural fishing villages along its shores.
Yachting on Lake Malawi
Yachting on the crystal clear waters of Lake Malawi is a wonderful activity for a few days. The waters of Lake Malawi are free of tides or currents and excellent for sailing. Winds are rarely very high but there’s always a breeze for sailboats. The advantage of yachting is that many of the small fishing villages and coves on Lake Malawi would be very tricky to access by road. Start at the southern tip of Lake Malawi and then gently cruise up for 3-4 nights visiting hidden coves and islands.
Snorkeling in Lake Malawi
When searching for the perfect destination to snorkel in Africa, Lake Malawi has it all. Clear and calm waters that allow up to 30 meters of visibility at the best times of the year (August to December) to discover the underwater world of Malawi’s famous Cichlid fish.
Likoma Island on Lake Malawi
Off the eastern shore of the Lake is Likoma Island, a small piece of Malawian territory in Mozambican waters. The island has a few bustling local communities and some lovely beaches. Given its small size, it is easy to explore on foot. Nearby is another tiny island, Chizumulu, also Malawian territory. The island has a few bustling local communities and some lovely beaches. Given its small size, it is easy to explore on foot. Nearby is another tiny island, Chizumulu, also Malawian territory.
There are not a lot of choices when it comes to booking a hotel in Likoma Island, but there is this unbelievable hotel called ‘Kaya Mawa‘ which is often referred to as one of the top 10 most romantic lodges in the world. They offer snorkeling, yachting, and fishing activities. The level of service in this hotel is incredible and being surrounded by crystal clear water and lovely beaches would trick your mind of being somewhere in the Caribbeans
St. Peter’s Cathedral in Likoma Island
Likoma’s primary claim to fame is its magnificent cathedral. St Peter’s matches the size of Winchester Cathedral in the UK, yet is here on an island in the middle of a lake in the middle of Africa! It is still going strong well over 100 years later and is a sight and sound to behold during any service when the passionate congregation will be in full voice. Seeming almost out of place, the cathedral is made of sturdy blocks of rock and materials shipped from far away. See the stained glass windows and European architectural influences reflecting in the features of the building.
Admire a church in the middle of an island, surrounded by baobabs and mango trees, and tropical houses. It is recommended to take a stroll or a boat trip over to the “town” and visiting the huge St. Peter’s Cathedral. If you happen to be there on a Sunday, attending a service at the cathedral and hearing the choir’s beautiful singing is an unforgettable experience.
Mumbo Island on Lake Malawi
Mumbo Island is a private island in the middle of Lake Malawi, perfect for the luxury traveler looking for an untouched paradise. The island has never been inhabited by a permanent population. If you like to have a few quality days with your partner, friends, or family, Mumbo has no cell service or electricity so you can truly get that digital detox you need. At Mumbo Island hotel, the wooden stilted cabins overlooking the turquoise water of Lake Malawi are the definition of rustic luxury. You should leave the doors to the balcony open to wake up to the incredible sunrise and the birdsong of the island.” During your stay on Mumbo Island, you can do activities like kayaking, yoga, hiking, sunset boat rides, and evening campfires.
Liwonde National Park
Malawi is one of the easiest countries in which to combine ‘bush and beach’. Liwonde National Park is located southeast of the capital, Lilongwe, near the Mozambique border. It is only about 3 hours from the southern part of Lake Malawi. The Shire River runs alongside the park and serves as a watering hole for elephants, hippos, black rhinos, crocodiles, leopards, antelopes, and more. Doing a river safari is just surreal, imagine watching all the animals living their normal lives, and you sitting there in your comfortable boat watching the real Lion King.
Mvuu Lodge overlooks a secret, tranquil lagoon just off the Shire River, with the main lounge, dining, and bar area set high above the water. Its extensive wildlife library and telescope make the most of the exceptional bird and other life that moves around the river, and the pool is perfect for cooling off at siesta time. If you like to experience Liwonde national park and especially the Shire River, this lodge is a great place to stay.
You can be on safari in South Luangwa in the morning and on the beach at Lake Malawi in the afternoon – a perfect combo!
Most African countries claim to be the paradise for birdwatchers’ but if they were to choose the best country for birdwatching in the world, Malawi would probably be the winner!
From wetlands to lakes, to forests, to Afro-montane highlands, Malawi has an amazing variety of birds throughout the country. With more than 650 bird species, some bird species in Malawi are hard (if not impossible) to find elsewhere in the world. Lilian’s Lovebird, Brown-breasted Barbet, White-backed Night Heron, Rufous-bellied Heron, Long-toed Lapwing, Bat Hawk, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Palm-nut Vulture, Osprey, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Fiery-necked and Gabon Nightjars, and African Barred Owlets are only a few rare birds species that can be found in Malawi.
Biking in Nyika National Park
The Nyika national park (aka Nyika Plateau) is the largest and oldest National Park in Malawi and boasts a stunning afro-montane plateau with plenty of plains game to view. There are 400 species of birds and over 200 orchid species including zebra, Roan antelope, eland, and bushpig. If you are a mountain biking enthusiast, the Nyika national park in Malawi is a superb environment for mountain biking in the bush.
Stargazing in Malawi
With only 15.7% of the population live in urban areas, Malawi is still largely rural without the traffic jams and hassles of city life. For that reason, some experts believe that Malawi is the best country in the world for stargazing. Clear skies and bright stars make it thrilling for stargazers. For instance, Lake Malawi has been referred to as ‘The Lake of Stars’ by explorer David Livingstone.
Pumulani Lodge, perched on the lake’s edge, offers its guests the chance to admire the night sky through a high-powered telescope which will show you the planets, comets, and constellations in incredible detail.
Having Cedar trees, some of which to be over 200 years old, Mount Mulanje has an indefinable attraction for climbers and non-climbers. It Mulanje ranks among the most majestic sights to behold in Africa for good reasons like the view of Zomba Mountain and Lake Chilwa from the top of Sapitwa and stunning scenery, easy access, clear paths, and well-maintained huts make Mount Mulanje a fine hiking and trekking area. It’s always fairly easy to hike the trails, followed by the valleys and basins with views of the thundering waterfalls along the way. You can easily (almost!!) reach most of the peaks without resorting to technical climbing.
If you’re ok with chilled freshwaters, you can swim in the exhilarating cold mountain water. Fishing is also a possibility, in idyllic surroundings such as these or high on the plateau. And with clear nights that it feels like you could clutch stars from the sky, stargazing is also a God-given right in Mount Mulanje.