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Wildlife

Malawi's Wildlife

Wildlife in Malawi

Malawi may be small in comparison to its neighbours, but it has an intriguing range of natural habitats, from forests to an extensive inland lake, and wildlife sanctuaries such as Majete, Liwonde, Nkhotakota and Nyika Plateau.


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Malawi may not spring immediately to mind for a safari, but since the early millennium, the wildlife has steadily been improving.

Dominated by the slow-moving, palm-fringed Shire River, Liwonde National Park features elephant, hippo and crocodile in great numbers. Many antelope, including the rarer sable antelope, are found in the denser wooded areas, and Liwonde is one of the top places in Malawi for birdwatching, with over 400 species recorded.

In the far south, the Majete Wildlife Reserve – home to “the big 5” – offers what we think is probably the best game-viewing experience in Malawi. Along with a good number of lion and large herds of buffalo, it is notable for many species of antelope, including sable, nyala and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest.

To the north, the Nkhotakota Reserve – once severely poached – has seen a dramatic turnaround since 2014, with the reintroduction of elephant and other wildlife.

And then of course, there is Lake Malawi, whose clear waters boast more than 850 species of colourful freshwater fish and cichlids.

Great wildlife safaris to Malawi

Here are some of our ideas for great holidays focussed on wildlife in Malawi.


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Utaka Cichlid Safari

10 days • 3 locations
BLANTYRE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

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$3,730 - US$4,240 per person

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Red Zebra Cichlid Safari

7 days • 2 locations
BLANTYRE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

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$3,350 - US$4,200 per person

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Orange Cap Cichlid Safari

7 days • 2 locations
LILONGWE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

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$3,860 - US$4,360 per person

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Hyena Safari

11 days • 4 locations
LIVINGSTONE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

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$6,580 - US$8,420 per person

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Peacock Cichlid Safari

4 days • 1 locations
LILONGWE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

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

US$1,650 - US$2,180 per person

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Blue Neon Cichlid Safari

4 days • 1 locations
LILONGWE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

Four nights at a charming eco-camp on Mumbo Island in Lake Malawi National Park surrounded by some of the world’s best freshwater snorkelling. A great value end to your safari.

US$2,010 - US$2,150 per person

View all holidays in Malawi

Malawi's top camps for wildlife safaris

The map shows wildlife sightings made from our lodges & camps. It's based on 77 reports by 17 groups of our our travellers since Jul 2018.


Best chances to see

Good chances to see

Some sightings

No sightings yet

Wildlife species in Malawi

Average % sighting of success

Wildlife species in Malawi

Average % sighting of success

Quick facts about Elephant

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Scientific name:

Loxodonta africana

Habitat:

Woodland and savanna

IUCN status:

Vulnerable

Adult weight:

2,500–6,500kg

Elephant

Quick facts about Leopard

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Scientific name:

Panthera pardus

Habitat:

Savanna, woodland, forest, mountains

IUCN status:

Vulnerable

Adult weight:

30–90kg

Leopard

Quick facts about Lion

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Scientific name:

Panthera leo

Habitat:

Savanna & woodland

IUCN status:

Vulnerable

Adult weight:

120–225kg

Lion

Quick facts about Cheetah

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Scientific name:

Acinonyx jubatus

Habitat:

Grassland & woodland

IUCN status:

Vulnerable

Adult weight:

50–70kg

Cheetah

Quick facts about Spotted Hyena

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Scientific name:

Crocuta crocuta

Habitat:

Semi-desert, forest, savannah

IUCN status:

Least Concern

Adult weight:

40–80kg

Spotted Hyena

Quick facts about Black Rhino

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Scientific name:

Diceros bicornis

Habitat:

Scrub & open woodland

IUCN status:

Critically Endangered

Adult weight:

800–1,400kg

Black Rhino

Quick facts about Giraffe

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Scientific name:

Giraffa camelopardalis

Habitat:

Woodland savanna

IUCN status:

Vulnerable

Adult weight:

800–1,200kg

Giraffe

Quick facts about Buffalo

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Scientific name:

Syncerus caffer

Habitat:

Floodplains, mixed bush & moist grasslands

IUCN status:

Near-threatened

Adult weight:

500–950kg

Buffalo

Quick facts about Hippo

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Scientific name:

Hippopotamus amphibius

Habitat:

Freshwater rivers & wetlands

IUCN status:

Vulnerable

Adult weight:

1,300–2,600kg

Hippo

Quick facts about Sable antelope

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Scientific name:

Hippotragus niger

Habitat:

Savannah woodland

IUCN status:

Least Concern

Adult weight:

220–235kg

Sable antelope

Quick facts about Eland

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Scientific name:

Taurotragus oryx

Habitat:

Open savanna & grasslands

IUCN status:

Least concern

Adult weight:

340–940kg

Eland

Quick facts about Roan antelope

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Scientific name:

Hippotragus equinus

Habitat:

Savannah woodland

IUCN status:

Least Concern

Adult weight:

180–300kg

Roan antelope

Quick facts about Zebra

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Scientific name:

Equus quagga

Habitat:

Woodland and savannah

IUCN status:

Near Threatened

Adult weight:

155–322kg

Zebra

Quick facts about Pangolin

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Scientific name:

Smutsia temminkii

Habitat:

Savannah woodland

IUCN status:

Vulnerable

Adult weight:

5–27kg

Pangolin

Some of Malawi wildlife highlights

Lake Malawi adds another dimension to a wildlife safari.


Wildlife makes a comeback in Malawi

Since 2006, Malawi’s national parks have seen a major transformation in wildlife numbers, with rhino and elephant being reintroduced into the Majete Wildlife Reserve, followed by leopard and lion in 2011-12, and giraffe and cheetah in 2018.

Then in 2016, Malawi saw one of the largest elephant translocations in history, when around 500 elephant and more than 2,000 other large mammals were moved from Liwonde National Park and the Majete Reserve to the resurgent Nkhotakota Reserve. Once suffering from serious poaching and mismanagement, this reserve is now flourishing and tourism here is steadily on the increase.

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Wildlife

Other top destinations for wildlife

To understand more about the the wildlife in our other key destinations in Africa, click on the countries below.


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