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Lake Malawi, the most southerly Rift Valley's great lakes, perfect for a myriad water activities

A wildlife success story, the revival of Liwonde National Park

Lake Malawi's Marelli Archipelago - perfect for water activities

Liwonde National Park, the sluggish Shire River offers great game viewing options

Lake Malombe, one of Africa's breathtaking Great Rift Valley freshwater lakes

Lake Malawi National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site - forget the Caribbean!


Maps of Malawi: two styles

A quick glance at a map makes it clear that Malawi’s shape is defined by Lake Malawi. Fringing the eastern side of the country it occupies the valley floor of the Great Rift Valley, its steep sides creating a dramatic yet fertile landscape.

This natural diversity is thrown into relief with our different styles of mapping. Switch on “terrain” imagery and the country’s highlands stand out; zoom into the areas and you’ll gain a vivid indication of the country’s topography – with its wildlife reserves and safari lodges.

Click onto any of the markers, and follow the links in the bubbles until you find maps of these areas, with precise locations for the various safari camps and lodges.

Our map of Malawi

This a sketch map of Malawi – showing its key road arteries, national parks, towns, and areas of interest for visitors.

Reference map

Google map of Malawi

This map splits areas for holidays and safaris in Malawi into seven areas, each marked by a large blue marker. Read about them by clicking on these large markers.

To see the more detailed maps of these areas, follow links in the bubbles – or at the bottom of the page. These more detailed area maps mark the precise locations of various different hotels, guest houses and safari lodges and camps.

Our top trips in Malawi

Here are 4 great Malawi trips to inspire you.

Itinerary image

Utaka Cichlid Safari

10 days • 3 locations

Explore two of Malawi's safari parks - Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park - before finishing your trip with some beach time: relaxing, snorkelling and sailing in Lake Malawi National Park.

US$4,340 - US$5,700 per person

Itinerary image

Red Zebra Cichlid Safari

7 days • 2 locations

Explore two of Malawi's highlights, with a safari in rugged, remote Majete Wildlife Reserve before some beach time: relaxing, snorkelling and sailing in Lake Malawi National Park.

US$3,400 - US$4,500 per person

Itinerary image

Hyena Safari

11 days • 4 locations

Mix relaxation and adventure on a safari combining the South Luangwa with Victoria Falls and the beaches of Lake Malawi. These three locations are among the most iconic in southern Africa.

US$8,630 - US$11,910 per person

Itinerary image

Peacock Cichlid Safari

4 days • 1 locations

Snorkel in Lake Malawi’s famously clear fresh water, relax on the beach and explore Likoma Island from the award-winning Kaya Mawa. A chilled luxury add-on to end your safari.

US$3,430 - US$4,480 per person

When to go to Malawi

Our month-by-month guide to the best time for visiting Malawi













Malawi in January

January is the middle of the rainy season in Malawi. You can expect heavy rain for a few hours most days with some occasional flooding. It is generally hot and wet, with temperatures reaching over 30ºC.

The landscape is green and lush and the air crystal clear. In the game reserves the thick bush can restrict animal sightings, making game viewing more challenging. With the abundance of water available the wildlife disperses and is no longer concentrated around water sources. However, many species give birth at this time of the year and it is a great time for birding.

Although the majority of the safari camps are open at this time, most of the beach lodges along the lakeshore close in mid January.

  • Peak of the rainy season with thundershowers most days
  • Many animals are with young & birdlife is at its most spectacular
  • Bush lush & green; animals dispersed so game viewing more difficult
  • Air is clear & dust-free, which is great for photography
  • Majority of lakeside beach lodges are closed second half of January

Our view

This is not a great time to visit

Weather in January

Malawi in February

February is generally the wettest month and still the heart of the rainy season, with dramatic thunderstorms interspersed with sunny spells.

Expect some flooding and the ground to be waterlogged. The thick bush still affects game viewing on land, and walking safaris are limited, but game viewing by boat on the swollen Shire River, in both Liwonde National Park and Majete Game Reserve, is a highlight. Birdlife is also at its most spectacular at this time of year.

Visitor numbers and costs at the few open camps are low. Most of the beach lodges remain closed, with only one or two open all year.

  • Peak of the rainy season with thundershowers most days
  • The bush feels alive; birdlife is at its most spectacular
  • Good for photography but poor game viewing
  • Few tourists, so rates usually at their lowest
  • Majority of lakeside beach lodges are still closed

Our view

This is not a great time to visit

Weather in February

Malawi in March

The rainy season is nearing the end in Malawi. The thunderstorms become fewer with sunnier days, but you can still expect some rain most days. March is one of the last of the summer months with temperatures still around 25–30ºC most days.

On safari the thick bush still restricts game viewing and walking safaris are limited too, with the larger animal species being quite elusive. On the plus side, migrant birds make the most of the abundant insect life. This time of the year is also great for keen photographers with the vivid green landscape and clear, dust-free air.

The beach lodges are also starting to open again around mid-March, following the rainy season.

  • Expect to experience some rain most days
  • The bush feels alive, with birdlife still a highlight
  • Good for photography but game viewing remains poor
  • With few tourists, rates generally at their lowest
  • Beach lodges now open from mid-March

Our view

This is not a great time to visit

Weather in March

Malawi in April

April is a month of change in Malawi. The days start to cool down, rainfall decreases, and summer turns into autumn as the dry season approaches. Temperatures drop to around 25 ºC during the day with the evenings becoming cooler.

This is the tail-end of the green season and, after five months of rain, the landscape remains green and lush, with game viewing still a challenge. However, the birdlife is still great, and the improving weather attracts more visitors to both the bush and the beaches along the Malawi lakeshore.

  • The temperatures are cooling down but still expect the odd rain shower
  • Start of the dry season with mostly clear and sunny days
  • Bush still green & lush: good for photography but not for game viewing
  • Very few visitors, and still one of the cheapest times to visit
  • The lakeshore beach lodges are now all open

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in April

Malawi in May

May is the end of summer and the first month of the dry season. There may still be the occasional shower, but clear sunny skies are becoming the norm. As winter approaches, daytime temperatures drop to a comfortable 20–25 ºC, but at night they’re down to around 10ºC, so warm clothing is advisable for early- morning game drives.

As the rain disappears the landscape starts to dry out. Although the vegetation is still thick, the game viewing starts to improve and walking safaris becoming more reliable. Birding is still excellent, too. Around the lakeshore, temperatures can be significantly warmer, making beach holidays popular at this time of the year. Yet visitor numbers remain low, making May one of the most cost-effective times to visit.

  • Start of the dry season with mostly clear & sunny days
  • Temperatures are mild along the lakeshore so good for a beach stay
  • Bush still green & lush but game viewing improving
  • Good for photography & great birdlife
  • Very few visitors, & still one of the cheapest times to visit

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in May

Malawi in June

June is entirely in the dry season, and – along with May – can also be one of the coldest months. With no rain, clear skies and temperatures dropping to around 20–25ºC during the day, the nights can be cold, reaching around 10ºC. Warm clothing is advisable for early-morning and late-afternoon game drives.

The landscape remains lush, but the bush starts to die back significantly, bringing a marked improvement in wildlife viewing. This, along with cooler temperatures, makes June ideal for walking safaris. Temperatures around the lakeshore tend to be significantly warmer, so June is another popular month for beach holidays with higher visitor numbers.

  • Well into the dry season with sunny days & cool temperatures
  • Thick bush is dying back, & game viewing improves
  • Increased visibility & cool weather perfect for walking safaris
  • Mild temperatures along the lakeshore: good for a beach stay
  • June is still low season : a popular time before high season starts

Our view

A very good time to visit

Weather in June

Malawi in July

July is the middle of the dry season in Malawi, with temperatures starting to pick up towards the end of the month. This makes July a good time for both safaris and beach holidays. Expect it to be pleasant during the day but still cold at night, especially at high altitude such as Nyika Plateau; blankets and hot water bottles are often provided on safari.

As the vegetation dies back, animals start to congregate around perennial water sources, making this one of the best times of year for game viewing.

July is also the start of high season and all the camps increase their rates to make the most of the improving game and the start of the international holiday period.

  • Warm dry days with crisp cold nights
  • Significantly improved game viewing
  • No limit on walking safaris, with pleasant temperatures a plus
  • Temperatures along the lakeshore ideal for beach and watersports
  • Approaching peak season, so significant increase in costs

Our view

A very good time to visit

Weather in July

Malawi in August

August is well into the dry season with game concentrated around water sources and the safari season approaching its best. The landscape is changing from green to brown and the air is becoming drier and dustier. There is also a lot of smoke in the air as burning of trees and vegetation is prevalent in Malawi, so this isn’t the best time for photography.

Later in August the temperatures start to pick up, but early mornings and late evenings are still cooler – particularly out on open game drives where warm jackets, gloves and scarves are recommended. August is one of the most popular months. Pleasant weather and good game viewing attracts lots of visitors, and costs are correspondingly high.

  • Warm dry days with crisp cold nights still the norm
  • Game viewing at its best
  • No limits on walking safaris, with pleasant temperatures a bonus
  • Lakeshore temperatures remain good for beach and water sports
  • Still peak season, with attendant high costs

Our view

Fantastic: the very best time to visit

Weather in August

Malawi in September

This is the most popular time of the year for a safari. There has been no rain for months and temperatures are starting to increase, making morning and evening game drives more comfortable. Daytime temperatures are now above 30ºC and evening temperatures relatively mild.

Game viewing is at its best with the animals concentrating around the reducing water sources, making wildlife interactions more common. With the increasing heat the air becomes more hazy, reducing photographic opportunities and distant views.

This is a good time to finish a safari with some relaxing time along the Malawi lakeshore. Costs, though, are high, and camps can be booked up months in advance.

  • Dry & hot during the day with clear skies & warm nights
  • One of the best months for wildlife viewing
  • Dust & smoke creates a haze; not great for photography
  • Temperatures along the lakeshore perfect for beach and watersports
  • Peak season; camps are expensive & often full well in advance

Our view

Fantastic: the very best time to visit

Weather in September

Malawi in October

This is the last month of the dry season: the start of summer with temperatures peaking over 40ºC during the day and hardly less than 20ºC at night. This makes early-morning and late-evening game drives more comfortable but can be terribly hot during the day and makes walking safaris very challenging.

The landscape is very dry and brown, so not ideal for photography, but game viewing remains at its best. With the lack of water the animals are all vying for the best spot to drink without being preyed upon.

October is the perfect time to finish a safari with some relaxing time along the Malawi lakeshore. It is still peak season, though, and costs remain high.

  • Dry, hot days with clear skies; warm nights
  • One of the best months for wildlife viewing
  • The haze from dust & smoke is not great for photography
  • Warm lakeshore temperatures still good for beach & watersports
  • Peak season; camps are expensive & often full well in advance

Our view

A very good time to visit

Weather in October

Malawi in November

November marks the end of the dry season and the start of the rainy season. Temperatures continue to increase with humidity building as the rains approach, which can be any time during the month. Be prepared for spectacular thunderstorms and short sharp showers.

After the first rains the bush springs back to life and wildlife disperses, making game viewing harder. Birding, though, is on the up – and with the air washed clean, photographic opportunities improve.

The first week or two are a good time to travel as the camps have reduced their rates and rains may not have started in earnest. However, while all the camps and beach lodges remain open some of the airstrips may become waterlogged, making road transfers more practical.

  • Typically the start of the wet season; very hot & humid
  • Increased chance of heavy rain as the month progresses
  • Greatly diminished game viewing once the rains arrive
  • A good time for photographers & keen birders
  • Lower rates at camps and beach lodges, with fewer visitors

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in November

Malawi in December

December is the first full month of the rainy season, with daily thundershowers expected, interspersed with sunny spells. Temperatures are around 30ºC with high humidity.

After a few weeks of rain, the abundance of standing water causes animals to disperse and the bush becomes thicker and greener, reducing visibility for game viewing. Conversely, this is when many animals produce their young, and is a great time for birdwatching. The rain also clears the air of dust and smoke, making it much more favourable for keen photographers.

December is still a good month to be along the lakeshore provided you don’t mind the afternoon rain showers.

  • Very hot & humid
  • Increased chance of heavy rain as the month progresses
  • Opportunities for game viewing decrease with the arrival of the rains
  • A great time for photographers & keen birders
  • Rates at camps & beach lodges fall, as do visitor numbers

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in December

Where to find the key wildlife species in Malawi

Understand the detail of where our travellers have most frequently seen the main big game species in Malawi.



Loxodonta africana

By far the biggest of the so-called Big Five – indeed, the largest land animal on the planet – the elephant shapes the very landscape it inhabits and is a defining presence on any safari.


3,737 sightings from 4,116 observations

Where to see elephant in Malawi



Panthera pardus

The most numerous of Africa’s big cats, leopard occur across many habitats, from wild tracts to populated areas. Their grace and their elusive nature make them a unique safari drawcard.


1,999 sightings from 4,269 observations

Where to see leopard in Malawi



Panthera leo

Lions are at the top of the food chain and also most safari wish-lists, but with their numbers falling fast, any encounter with these majestic apex predators always feels like a privilege.


3,115 sightings from 3,844 observations

Where to see lion in Malawi



Acinonyx jubatus

The cheetah is the fastest land animal and the only cat that hunts by pure speed. Found largely in open grasslands, its slim, elegant form is today an increasingly rare sight.


1,070 sightings from 3,271 observations

Where to see cheetah in Malawi

Wild dog

Wild dog

Lycaon pictus

African wild dogs are among the continent’s most compelling animals. Much misunderstood, these rare, tie-dyed canids are amazingly efficient hunters with a fascinating social life.


903 sightings from 2,854 observations

Where to see wild dog in Malawi

Spotted Hyena

Spotted Hyena

Crocuta crocuta

The spotted hyena may be thought of as ‘ugly’ and ‘cowardly’. In fact, this versatile and intelligent carnivore is one of Africa’s most fascinating and warrants attention on any safari.


2,225 sightings from 4,061 observations

Where to see spotted hyena in Malawi

Black Rhino

Black Rhino

Diceros bicornis

The black rhino is the smaller and rarer of Africa’s two rhino species but has the more fearsome reputation. Shy and heavily persecuted, it tends to stick to cover.


634 sightings from 2,101 observations

Where to see black rhino in Malawi



Giraffa camelopardalis

The world’s tallest land mammal, giraffes are herbivores which have evolved many unique adaptations. Their iconic outlines tower above the bush in many of Africa’s wildlife areas.


3,603 sightings from 4,193 observations

Where to see giraffe in Malawi



Syncerus caffer

One of the ‘Big Five’, buffalo earned a fearsome reputation in hunters’ tales. By contrast, big herds of these sociable bovids are placid, but mount formidable defences against predators.


2,638 sightings from 3,185 observations

Where to see buffalo in Malawi



Hippopotamus amphibius

The territorial calls of the hippo create a signature soundtrack to Africa’s rivers & wetlands. Despite an endearing smile, this aquatic herbivore has a notoriously aggressive disposition.


2,733 sightings from 3,061 observations

Where to see hippo in Malawi

Sable antelope

Sable antelope

Hippotragus niger

Perhaps Africa’s most beautiful antelope, sable are renowned for their combative nature, even holding off lions. Shy and restricted in range, sightings of sable are always special.


473 sightings from 2,100 observations

Where to see sable antelope in Malawi



Taurotragus oryx

Africa’s largest antelope, eland are culturally important from prehistoric rock art to modern game farms. Though widespread, they are also shy so sightings are uncommon and often fleeting.


1,492 sightings from 3,056 observations

Where to see eland in Malawi

Roan antelope

Roan antelope

Hippotragus equinus

Africa’s second largest antelope and one of its most handsome, with a powerful build and distinctive markings, roan are wary of people, but renowned for their bravery against predators.


495 sightings from 2,101 observations

Where to see roan antelope in Malawi



Connochaetes sp.

Superficially bovine in appearance, wildebeests are known for their spectacular migrations sometimes in huge numbers. These resilient animals are some of Africa’s most successful herbivores.


2,551 sightings from 3,773 observations

Where to see wildebeest in Malawi



Equus sp.

The zebra is a quintessential African animal: the horse in stripy pyjamas at the end of every child’s A–Z. There are three species, of which the plains zebra is much the most common.


3,938 sightings from 4,685 observations

Where to see zebra in Malawi



Smutsia sp.

Pangolins appear to be more pine cone than animal in their unique armoury of scales. These nocturnal, ant-eating oddities are not only highly elusive but also increasingly rare.


57 sightings from 3,428 observations

Where to see pangolin in Malawi



Orycteropus afer

The aardvark is one of Africa’s most bizarre and enigmatic animals. A shy, nocturnal termite-eater, signs of its presence may be scattered about the bush whilst sightings remain elusive.


73 sightings from 3,417 observations

Where to see aardvark in Malawi

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