Malawi lies like a long, thin sliver among the surrounding countries, completely dominated by huge Lake Malawi that glitters like a splinter of crystal along its length. The name ‘Malawi’ is believed to come from a native word meaning “flaming water” or “tongues of fire,” referring to the dazzling reflections of the sun on the waters of the lake. A fifth of the entire country is covered by water in the form of lakes and rivers.
The beautiful landscapes, fascinating wildlife, and rich culture of its people make this Malawi such a wonderful place to visit. It is generally a green, lush country, with plateaux, highlands, forests, mountains, plains, escarpments and dramatic river valleys.
The Malawian people 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. Malawi is known as ‘the warm heart of Africa’ and certainly lives up to its reputation.
Although totally landlocked, Malawi has beaches of golden sand on the shores of its inland ‘sea’ and offers water sports opportunities for those looking for something more than sun, sand and swimming. Malawi is still completely unspoilt by mass tourism. The standard of Malawi accommodation is excellent, with a choice of intimate lodges tucked away in remote locations.
Points of Interest
Lake Malawi National Park is the world’s first freshwater national park. A World Heritage Site, its calm waters make it an ideal venue for boating, snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, water-skiing, fishing and swimming.
Nyika National Park, situated in the north of the country, is the largest wildlife reserve and is home to antelope, zebra, warthog and a large diversity of flora.
Zomba Plateau is crisscrossed by streams, tumbling waterfalls and still lakes of the Lower Shire Valley, an extension of the Rift Valley and home to no less than three national parks/wildlife reserves.
Liwonde National Park is situated at the southern tip of the lake. Among the animals to be seen here are the elephant, hippo, Burchell’s zebra, black rhino, warthog, greater kudu, vervet monkey, baboon, impala, waterbuck, bushbuck, mongoose, crocodile and monitor lizard.
Blantyre is the country’s commercial capital, has a number of historical buildings of interest that include the Museum of Malawi and Mandela House.
The Nyika National Park is one of Malawi’s jewels and offers unique wildlife viewing on its rolling grassland plateau.
The large agricultural estates: sugar at Dwangwa and the Lower Shire Valley; and tea at Thyolo are interesting places to visit.
Malawi has a sub-tropical climate with wet and dry seasons. For most activities, the best time to visit Malawi is the dry season: early May to late October. Malawi’s best weather is in August, but as this is the month for school holidays, national parks and lodges on Lake Malawi become very crowded. July is the coolest month.