Malawi is known as the “warm heart of Africa” due to its friendly smiling people – any visitor cannot fail to be overwhelmed by the colour, vibrancy and generosity of its residents.
The first and overriding impression of Malawi is its Lake. At approximately 365 miles long and in places up to 53 miles wide, Lake Malawi is the third largest fresh water body in Africa and is home to a greater array of freshwater fish species than any other lake on Earth – over 1,000 at the last count. Lake Malawi constitutes almost 20% of the surface area of this small landlocked country. It dominates the countryside in the east and is a source of cultural reference as well as a natural resource for the country’s population. At its southern extremity the Shire (pronounced “Sherri”) River drains Lake Malawi and flows through the country’s lowlands en route to the Zambezi River.
Beyond the immediate orbit of the Lake, the floor of the Great Rift Valley rises steeply, the trough climbing to hills and gorges and their plunging rivers and precipitous valleys. The mountains and plateaux of Malawi form a dramatic and scenic contrast to the level surface of the Lake and its floodplains. The most extensive is the Nyika Plateau in the thinly populated north-east, whilst perhaps the most spectacular is the Mulanje Massif, rising 2000 metres out of the surrounding tea estates in the south. These high areas are cooler and wetter than the plains, and are covered in montane grassland and patches of evergreen forest with characteristic species such as roan and eland.
Between these two main high altitude areas are the main national parks of Liwonde and Lengwe and the Majete Game Reserve, This is where the bulk of the country’s elephant population occurs and it is only here that the secretive nyala penetrates into Malawi. The Shire River that drains Lake Malawi to the south is home to a population of almost 1,000 hippos as well as large numbers of crocodiles.
For those keen on experiencing African culture in all its complexity and beauty, Malawi is definitely the best country to visit.
Malawi can be combined with Zambia or Zanzibar
We would advise all travellers, prior to booking, to consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice for the country(s) they are thinking of visiting, both in respect of the safety of travel and also passport and visa requirements. Please click here.
All Signature Safari itineraries can be adapted to suit your requirements. Below is a selection of our most popular Malawi tours to whet your appetite. Please contact us to discuss your bespoke safari.
Additional Malawi Information
Malawi has its rainy season from December through to March, with days becoming more humid leading up to the rains. April to July is glorious with warm days and cool evenings – as rainfall is limited the wildlife concentrate around available water sources. With the arrival of August, the days become hotter but the nights remain cool. The best time for game is October and November although it can get very hot the further south you travel.The best months to visit Malawi are during the dry months from April through to October. November is on the cusp of the rains.
Malawi’s highlights can be combined on an overland guided safari or by utilising inter-camp flight transfers. Both produce a wonderfully varied experience. Liwonde National Park is superb for relaxed sightings of elephants and hippos. The excellent beaches of Lake Malawi and its islands combine well with a safari in Zambia or Tanzania.
Kick back and relax in your safari lodges in Malawi and enjoy being at one with nature
Malawi is a superb destination for a family safari with a range of activities to suit all age ranges.
Articles on Malawi
We regularly update our news section with articles designed to inspire your safari planning. Here’s a selection of articles featuring Malawi.
Where To Go In Malawi
Landlocked between Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania, Malawi is affectionately known as the warm heart of Africa. One of Africa’s smallest countries, it’s also one of the most discreet and remains largely unspoilt by tourism. However the curious visitor will be well rewarded by the variety of landscapes including mountaintops, grasslands, forests, and Africa’s third largest but most beautiful lake, Lake Malawi. Not to mention the smiles and hospitality of the friendly Malawians.
Occupying 20% of the country, Lake Malawi is its physical and spiritual heart. Its clear, mineral-rich waters are home to the largest number of fish species of any lake in the world, including many species of brightly coloured cichlid fish. The central lake area is famed for its white sandy beaches, and bird lovers are drawn here by the numerous bird species, including many waterbirds.
Liwonde National Park is also renowned for its exceptional birdlife with almost 300 species, plus it’s home to dense populations of elephants, hippos and crocodiles, while the Majete is the only reserve in Malawi where you can see the big five.
For a change of scenery visit the magnificent Zomba Plateau, a giant mountaintop that’s home to baboons, large birds of prey, giant butterflies, and, if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a leopard.
Where To Stay In Malawi
Signature Safaris boosts an exceptional array of camps and resorts to suit all your safari needs. For further information on any of our accommodation options, please contact us.
When To Go To Malawi
To ensure you plan your Malawi safari at the right time for you, we’ve compiled some climate details.
Malawi enjoys a sub-tropical climate that’s strongly seasonal, with a hot wet season from December to April, a cool dry season May to August, and September to November being largely hot and dry.
These are the average lows and highs for Malawi:
Average rainfall but will vary according to where you are in Malawi:
What To Do In Malawi
Malawi may not be as popular or as well established as many other safari destinations in Africa, but visitors will be rewarded with a unique, diverse experience. Lake Malawi has a scattering of beachside resorts where visitors can go snorkelling and scuba-diving to see the brightly coloured fish, go kayaking or sailing, or simply kick back and enjoy the numerous bird species.
Liwonde is Malawi’s premier wildlife park, where you can view pods of hippos and large herds of elephants, and watch the varied birdlife including the rare Pel’s fishing owl, fish eagles and weaver birds.
Hikers love the challenge of climbing the Mulanje Massif where they’ll be rewarded by breathtaking views from the top, and can treat themselves to a cup of tea afterwards at one of many tea estates in the region.
For a different Malawi experience head to the Nyika Plateau, magnificent grasslands teeming with wildlife, most notably the Burchell’s zebra, and over 400 species of birds.
Whether you’re visiting Malawi for the first time or planning a return trip, here’s a quick reminder of some essential information.
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