Malawi is a wonderful, warm, friendly and welcoming country - a little known gem in the heart of central Africa .
A land-locked country, Malawi is dominated by a vast inland sea - Lake Malawi; home to over 600 colourful cichlidae (freshwater aquarium fish), white sandy beaches and warm waters - a haven of peace and tranquility. Its other attractions include the Nyika plateau (fabulous horse riding) and the prime wildlife destination of Liwonde National Park .A visit to Malawi combines well with South Luangwa in Zambia with direct flights available from Mfuwe to Lake Malawi where you can spend some pre or post safari leisure time looking out at the lovely sunsets or walking along the long sandy beaches.
Malawi does not rival its neighbors as a big game destination - but its people are amongst the most friendly you will encounter, it has a remarkable variety of birdlife and the beaches and Lake Malawi are fabulous. The parks and game reserves may not be as well known as in other parts of Africa but are unique in many ways...
Lake Malawi NP
Once described by David Livingstone as 'the Lake of stars', Lake Malawi is the third largest in Africa and covers one fifth of the country. Nearly 600 kms (365 miles) long and 80 kms wide, the Lake dominates the countryside. Fringed with white sandy beaches and bounded by stunning mountain scenery Lake Malawi is a must for any visitor to the country. It also boasts the world's first marine reserve - established to protect these colourful fresh water tropical fish.
- Freshwater aquarium fish, over 600 colourful cichlidae are to be found only in the waters of Lake Malawi.
- White sandy beaches and warm waters
- Cape Maclear & Monkey Bay
- Kayaking between the islands off Cape Maclear
- Lake Malawi beach resorts
Cruise the Lake on M.V. Ilala
Based out of Monkey Bay, MV Ilala takes passengers, vehicles and just about everything imaginable backwards and forwards - up and down the Lake. The ship calls at villages all along the Lake, with disembarking passengers climbing down the side of the boat onto waiting dugouts before being ferried ashore!! The schedule is definitely flexible and subject to delays! Be warned, this is most definitely not luxury cruising but an experience from another era - Africa style! There are basic (but adequate) single and double cabins on the upper deck which are well serviced by friendly and helpful staff.
MV SUNBIRD , Lake Malawi
For the first time the M.V. Sunbird is offering schedule transfers from Club Makokola to Mvuu Camp & Lodge in the Liwonde National Park. This is a unique opportunity for the visitors to sail in a large boat out on one of Africa's great lakes into the Shire River past the historical town of Mangochi, into Lake Malombe before entering the Shire River again and sailing into the scenic Liwonde National Park. M.V. Sunbird is a 22m cruiser equipped with toilets, lounge, bar, kitchen and can sleep in comfort at least 10 people. It has an elevated sundeck which offer excellent game viewing.
The 580 sq km Liwonde NP is Malawi's prime wildlife destination. The reserve encompasses the wide and scenic Shire river, as well as quite backwaters and lagoons, marshes, open savanna and floodplain, Mopane woodland and hills. This wide variety of habitats supports an incredibly diversity of plant, animal and birdlife.
Mvuu Wilderness Lodge is situated in the heart of Liwonde National Park on the banks of a quiet lagoon flowing off the Shire River. The lodge offers comfortable tented accommodation in spacious 'Hemingway'-styled safari tents, with own en suite facilities for a maximum of 10 guests. Each tent has its own private viewing platform and is discreetly hidden between the thick undergrowth bordering the lagoon. Guests can simply relax on their private deck or soak up the magnificent view of the river from the central dinning / bar area. Sumptuous meals are served under a blanket of stars after a day of exploring the abundance of wildlife with high concentrations of elephant, sable antelope, hippo and a varity of other mammals and bird life. A highlight of staying at Mvuu is undoubtedly the river safaris allowing visitors to explore the waterways of the Shire. Game drives in open 4x4 vehicles and walking safaris with experienced guides ensure guests have a memorable safari experience. The adjacent Mvuu Camp offers a flexible approach to safaris in Liwonde & also welcomes children in a slightly less exclusive environment.
In the north of the country, the high montane grasslands of the Nyika Plateau rise above the bushveld and wetlands of the Vwaza Marsh. Rolling hills, wild flowers and orchids (over 200 species), unusual birds, stunning vistas and cool climate make for a pleasant stay.
Flora and Fauna:
Being unlike anywhere else in Africa the biodiversity of flora and fauna to be found in the Nyika is fascinating and of great scientific importance.
This vast, untouched, beautiful wilderness area is home to eland, (herds of up to 300 in the summer), roan antelope (the highest concentration in Africa), zebra, reedbuck, bushbuck, klipspringer, 3 species of duiker (red, grey and blue), warthog, bushpig and blue monkey.
In the remote areas of the park(only accessible by foot or on horseback) there are elephant, buffalo, kudu, sharpe's grysbok, baboon and vervet monkey. Predators include serval and side striped jackal and very healthy populations of spotted hyaena and leopard.
In the summer months (October - April) the open hills burst into flower - irises, gladioli and protea. Of particular interest are the 200 species of orchid found in the park.
Majete Wildlife Reserve is a vast region of mature woodland and granite hills, picturesque river valleys and dense forest. It is home to the elusive black rhino, along with elephant, buffalo, nyala, sable, eland and hartebeest. There are plans to reintroduce lion, leopard and cheetah as part of a pioneering conservation project.
Undiscovered by tourists, Majete is a true wilderness where every trip into the bush with our team of experienced guides will feel like an adventure.
The low-lying area of Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve is an interesting contrast to the high Nyika Plateau and a haven for game and birdlife. Most of the reserve is flat and covered with Mopane and Miombo woodland, but the eastern side is hilly and the reserve is rich in wetlands with the Vwaza Marsh itself in the North and Lake Kazuni in the South. These wetlands provide a haven for animals and birdlife.
Flora & Fauna:
There are those who say that it is not necessary to leave the camp as the game moves nearby and the birdlife is prolific, providing some of the best viewing in Malawi. However, gamedrives and guided walks are available from both camps.
The common animals of the reserve are elephant, hippo, buffalo, kudu, impala, bushbuck, warthog, baboon, grey duiker, puku and Lichtensteins hartebeest. One can also see roan antelope, eland, zebra, reedbuck, sable antelope and klipspringer. The predators are not in high numbers, but lion, leopard, spotted hyaena and wild dog occur.
The Nyika is a must for any birdwatchers visiting Malawi with 435 species recorded due to the diversity of habitat. Grassland species include wattled crane, Denhams bustard and redwinged francolin. Forest species include such rarities as cinnamon dove, bartailed trogon, white chested alethe and olive flanked robin. And lower down in the Miombo woodland large feeding parties of birds can be found moving through the canopy (sometimes up to 15 species together) including black backed barbet, red and blue sunbird and whitetailed blue flycatcher.
In Vwaza Marsh, as well as the numerous waterbirds, the birdlife is excellent in the riparian woodland around camp. Birds to look out for include, white winged babbling starling and chestnut mantled sparrow weaver as well as numerous birds of prey, including crowned eagle and martial eagle. The owls are a specialty of the camp with the possibility of giant eagle owl, barred owl, pearl spotted owl and scops owl being sighted in one evening.
Fabulous horse riding is available on the wide open spaces of the Nyika Plateau in Malawi's north. Read more..
While many lodges do offer walking as an activity it is best done as a 2 or 3 day walking trail, staying in overnight fly-camps or suitably rustic seasonal camps. Read more..
A range of mountain biking safaris are available around Malawi. Ask for details..
Some camping tours around the country are available but these are not strictly what we term traditional mobile tented safaris - more along the lines of 'overland' camping tours. Ask for details..
Some points to note when planning your itinerary:
Malawi is a poor country, even by African standards. Education is limited due to lack of funding, a shortage of schools and books. But Malawian music, dance and traditional oral literature live on with Malawians considered one of the friendliest peoples anywhere in Africa. Tea, coffee, sugar and tobacco are the main exports. Outside of these commercial farming regions subsistence farming dominates the landscape.
Malawi combines well with the big game destinations of Zambia.
Malaria is extremely prevalent in Malawi - be prepared.
Malawi is well known for its excellent (and inexpensive) wood carvings - some of the finest in the region. The 'chiefs' chair is synonymous with Malawi - being carved from a single tree trunk.
For all your safari planning enquiries (or for more information on any of our safaris or destinations) please complete the Enquiry Form below. Please give as much information as you can on what you have in mind, where you would like to go, what you are interested in, and if possible, an idea of your budget. Thank you.
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