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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!


Malawi: In depth

A guide to visiting Malawi

Malawi is a small country at the southern end of Africa's Great Rift Valley, and holidays to Malawi are very relaxed affairs. Malawi is a densely populated nation, with green productive land, lots of small traditional farms and famously friendly people. Malawi has few safari areas, and none are very famous. There is relatively little tourism in Malawi. Watching local children play around the lake, you'll quickly understand why Malawi is promoted as the 'Warm Heart of Africa'.

The physical and spiritual backbone of the country is Lake Malawi, stretching for over 300 miles and covering more than 20% of the country in water. These clear, mineral-rich waters teem with countless, brightly coloured cichlid fish, most of which are endemic. Away from the lake, three high plateaux, Nyika, Zomba and Mulanje, tower above rolling farmlands; ideal for gentle hiking holidays amidst moorlands and forests – and some opportunities for some unique wildlife safaris.

Likoma Island

Nearer to Mozambique than Malawi, Likoma Island is a small island in Lake Malawi. Visit for its history, its people, its unexpected cathedral, and a gem of a small holiday hideaway called Kaya Mawa. Likoma is also the gateway to reach Manda Wilderness, an exciting new reserve in Mozambique, which can be is easily included in a Malawi holiday. (Read more about Likoma Island… )

The Lakeshore of Lake Malawi

There are a variety of places to stay around Lake Malawi, including a scattering of lovely beachside retreats, in different areas of the lake. 'Kayak Africa' offers the opportunity to see the lake from your own kayak, whilst staying in lovely safari tents on small islands within Lake Malawi National Park. Come here for a laid-back holiday after a safari, or for a stand-alone beach trip with a strong African flavour? (Read more about the shores of Lake Malawi… )

Liwonde National Park

Liwonde is a must for any Malawi safari; it's the country's most famous safari reserve. Come for 3-4 nights and you'll find a lush, totally tropical park that lines the Shire River. Beside this languid waterway, two small safari lodges, Mvuu Wilderness Lodge and Mvuu Camp, make perfect spots from which to explore, or at which to relax. (Read more about Liwonde… )

Malawi Interior

Apart from the lake, Malawi's interior offers many places which are definitely worth a visit. Liliongwe, Malawi's capital, is a vibrant African city with a bustling old town market; the Zomba Plateau, which overlooks Liwondo and the Shire River Valley, is a great destination for gentle hiking; and Blantyre, the main city in the south of the country, is of great historical interest, and has a lovely old colonial feel. Many of these areas are the preserve of Africa aficionados only. (Read more about Malawi Interior… )

Nkhotakoma Wildlife Reserve

The scenic Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve covers 1,802km² and is the largest protected area in Malawi. Some of the country’s main rivers flow through it on their way to the lake and numerous streams and waterfalls cascade into the reserve from the edge of the escarpment. The landscape includes woodlands, rugged terrains and the occasional rainforests and is ideal for walking, fishing and canoeing. (Read more about Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve... )

We'd feel completely negligent if we didn't at least mention here two lovely areas which were, until very recently, prime attractions for most visitors coming to Malawi on holiday:

Nyika Plateau

In the far north of Malawi, at an altitude of around 2,500m, Nyika is a rolling plateau dotted with stunning mountain outcrops – perfect for walkers and keen riders. Sadly, a very unfortunate series of government actions at the end of 2007 led to the only safari lodges in this area closing; however in July 2010 these reopened under new ownership. (Read more about Nyika… )

Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve

At the foot of Nyika Plateau, Vwaza Marsh is a delightful safari reserve, a real gem, which combines particularly well with Nyika Plateau. It only has one simple safari camp: Kazuni Safari Camp. sadly, Kazuni is effectively 'closed' for safaris. We'll bring you news if/when this changes. Read more about Vwaza… )

Combined trips to Zambia and Malawi

Meanwhile, remember that Malawi is particularly easy to combine with Zambia's South Luangwa National Park; relaxing beside Lake Malawi makes a great end to a safari. Flying from the Luangwa's Mfuwe Airport to Lilongwe takes around an hour, call us for more ideas of how best to combine a beach holiday in Malawi with a safari to Zambia.

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings in Malawi

This is their success in sighting key species on our trips in Malawi. Click on a species for more detail. How we work this out.


100% success

Sable antelope

94% success


81% success


76% success


75% success


56% success


47% success


30% success

Roan antelope

29% success


22% success

Spotted Hyena

19% success


17% success

Black Rhino

13% success

Wild dog

0% success


0% success


0% success


0% success

Malawi holiday styles & special interests

From family adventures to romantic breaks, find ideas here for your perfect Malawi trip

Beach holidays

Beach holidays

Discover Africa's coast and tropical islands.



Diverse habitats, discreet hides and superb guiding.

Cultural experiences

Cultural experiences

Get an insight into Africa's cultures and history.

Diving & snorkelling

Diving & snorkelling

Find captivating marine life beneath the waves



First-class service, scenic vistas and unparalleled comfort await you during these carefully selected luxury holidays. 

Private villas & houses

Private villas & houses

Enjoy Africa with just your friends & family

Riding holidays

Riding holidays

Explore Africa's wilderness on horseback.



Explore Africa's most scenic trails on foot.

Wildlife safaris

Wildlife safaris

These trips include hard-hitting game and fascinatingly elusive species alike, as well as superb guiding and a variety of diverse ecosystems.

Inspire me

Need inspiration?

Let our trip chooser narrow down the options for you

Inspire me

Our top trips in Malawi

Here are 5 great Malawi trips to inspire you.

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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$4,610 - US$6,250 per person

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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$3,440 - US$4,730 per person

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Orange Cap Cichlid Safari

7 days • 2 locations

Combine a safari in the lush and resurgent Liwonde National Park with down time at an island eco-retreat in the middle of Lake Malawi. A great way to explore Malawi.

US$4,280 - US$5,310 per person

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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$7,680 - US$10,320 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$2,520 - US$3,650 per person

View all holidays in Malawi

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