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15 Best Places to Visit in Malawi

Malawi is a land of lakes and plateaux, delineated by the great ridges of the East African Rift. The nation is long and thin, snaking its way like a rare Nyika lizard around the lands of Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. The most defining geographical feature has to be that long finger of blue: Lake Malawi. Dominating the north-eastern edge of the nation, this belt of cobalt mountain waters has long been the lifeblood for the locals here. A haven for fishing and commerce, it supports rustic bamboo villages and old colonial hubs bearing the names of folk like Livingstone.

Today, snorkelers and kayakers, wildlife lovers and others come too, hitting spots like the Lake Malawi National Park and its exclave islands to boot. Inland and the story is different. There are otherworldly vistas of cave-carved mountains to conquer, sweeping savannahs and lush tropical woods, all peppered with elephants and waterbuck and all the other quintessential African beasts you can imagine!

Lets explore the best places to visit in Malawi :

1. Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National Park

The most accomplished wildlife spotting and safari area in all of Malawi makes its home along the courses of the Shire River.

A vast reserve of flood plains and wetland swamps, of swaying grass fields and baobab groves, it’s a picture of the beautiful backcountry of East Africa.

A smattering of good holidaying lodges offers easy access to the park, where walking and motorized safaris showcase everything from bush elephants to side-striped jackals, hyena packs to impalas, waterbucks, baboons and more.

There’s also a great diversity of flora to witness, from huge and waxy orchids to pretty lily-spotted ponds.

2. Blantyre

School in Blantyre

A business-minded metropolis of nearly one million people, Blantyre is the only real rival to Lilongwe when it comes to competing for the crown for the economic kingpin of the nation.

However, history also runs deep here, and the town boasts more than 150 years since it was first established by missionaries working for the Church of Scotland – hence the moniker: a namesake of Blantyre on the edge of the highlands back in the UK. Visitors can come and spy out old structures like the Mandala House, or get a feel for the invigorated Malawian economy at the Malawi Stock Exchange and the various tobacco packing factories that have popped up in recent decades.

3. Kasungu National Park

Kasungu National Park

The Kasungu National Park is one of East Africa’s more off-the-beaten-track nature reserves.

Encompassing a whopping 2,100 square kilometers of land, where the rolling plateaus of western Malawi give way to the borderlands with Zambia, the area is a mosaic of swaying savannah and bush, sporadic miombo woodland and dusty plains.

Once known for its booming population of African elephants, Kasungu has been hit by hefty poaching problems in recent decades.

However, a clutch of lodges around the lake waters of Lifupa have helped raise the ecotourism profile, and safari going here is now all but back on track.

4. Lilongwe


Set to the distinct scents of recently-harvested tobacco and wafts of petrol fumes from the endless streams of traffic that pulse through the dusty streets, this nigh on one-million-strong capital represents the beating political and commercial heart of Malawi.

Linger a few days and you’re bound to unearth its wonders, which range from a particularly well-kempt nature reserve on the edge of the city (the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre) to a heady marketplace that throbs with haggling sellers touting everything from stacks of green mangoes to whittled wood figurines to multi-coloured pulses right throughout the week.

There are also oodles of lively local beer bars to kick-back in with a regionally brewed Carlsberg when you get thirsty!

5. Lake Malawi National Park

Lake Malawi National Park

Once trodden by the revered Scottish expeditionary and missionary, David Livingstone, the lands of the Lake Malawi National Park are a must for both nature lovers and history buffs.

Nestled between he verdant, sylvan hillsides that ring the shores of the country’s largest lake, they encompass both freshwater habitats (famed for their uniquely evolved fish species) and swathes of land to boot.

Baboons and antelopes can be spotted strolling the shore, while a clutch of great safari lodges can be found on the reserve’s various islands, from pretty Domwe to handsome Mumbo.

There are also the relics of old missionary settlements to see.

6. Nyika National Park

Nyika National Park

A world of montane landscapes that extends across great swathes of the central Malawian plateaux, the Nyika National Park is the largest of its kind in the entire country, and one of the most unique natural habitats in East Africa besides.

Known as the source of headwaters for many of the region’s river ways, it’s a place of verdant grass plains and colourful orchid beds, where elephants roam and water buffalo coalesce between the scrub.

Horse riding safaris are uber-popular with visitors, while hiking and bird spotting remain other major draws.


Shrouded by the dusty mountains of the Malawian north and clutching to the far-flung edge of great Lake Malawi just a short jaunt from the Tanzanian border, the welcoming little town of Karonga is a great place to spend a night or two in this less-visited corner of the nation.

Expect banks, good bus connections and a clutch of earthy little guesthouses: all you’ll need to stock up before moving on.

And then there are the fossils, which are perhaps Karonga’s single most impressive claim to fame.

These come in the form of huge Malawisaurus remains, now lurking in the exhibition rooms of the local Culture and Museum Centre.

8. Nkhotakota

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Nkhotakota sits nestled right in the heart of Malawi’s central backcountry.

Verdant and pretty, it’s dressed in green dashes of miombo woods, cut-through by several winding rivers (each on their way to join the waters of Lake Malawi itself) and backed by its eponymous Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.

It’s here that most travelers will head, to seek out the acclaimed safari lodges that clutch the edge of the waters, to wonder at tropical birds and see elephants, buffalo and maybe even leopards in the wild.

9. Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve

Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve

Rising like a great backbone of stone from the dusty plains of southern Malawi, just a stone’s throw from the border with Mozambique, the hulking mass of stone and rock that is the Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve has to be one of the country’s most breathtaking.

Hailed as the highest peak in the nation – and the region as a whole, in fact – its whopping height of 3,000 meters above sea level is enough to host a whole array of different habitats.

The most famous is perhaps the woodlands of the endangered widdringtonia African cypress tree, which pepper the ridges sporadically as they rise to meet the sky.


The gateway to its eponymous plateau, Zomba sits on the edge of the Shire Highlands.

Once the hub of British Central Africa, the town has a rich colonial past, with interesting little frontispieces belying the Anglo influence on corners throughout the place.

However, it’s the wildernesses that erupt around the city that draw most of the travelers.

These come peppered with rare cypress trees and juniper bushes, and roll out to meet verdant forests and highland lakes as they go.

Many opt to hike to the summit of the great escarpment, where sweeping views of Mulunguzi River and the Shire River can be enjoyed from the lookouts.

11. Likoma Island

Likoma Island

Enveloped by the waters of Lake Malawi, but nestled on the Mozambican side of the border, the picturesque reaches of Likoma Island are an exclave of Malawi proper.

Famed as the onetime headquarters of Livingstone, the spot is steeped in colonial history.

This is evident with the likes of the Gothic rises of the Likoma town cathedral, and in the steady stream of tourists that head this way.

However, many also come for the natural side of things.

Why? Well, Likoma is also famed for its crystal-clear shore waters and unspoilt coastline, where the occasional fishing skiff offers the only interruption to a day spent snorkelling in the company of cichlid fish.


The largest settlement in northern Malawi comes in the form of frenetic Mzuzu; a large and uncompact city that serves as the transport hub for the whole Mzimba District.

Popular with travelers stopping over on their way to the Tanzanian border, the city is also a great place to stock up and rest before trips to the northern banks of Lake Malawi, to the manmade Viphya Forest, or the acclaimed Nyika National Park.

The city itself has some interesting botanical gardens, and oodles of adventure tour providers that can organise treks in the surrounding mountains and hills.

13. Mangochi


Mangochi is the hub for perhaps Malawi’s most-visited section of lakeshore.

It runs south to north between the town and the aforementioned Lake Malawi National Park; a dash of palm-peppered Swahili fishing towns and accomplished resorts.

However, there’s also history here, and it’s still possible to see the great Hotchkiss gun that once downed the German naval ship Hermann von Wissmann in WWII, wonder at a colonial clock tower raised by Queen Victoria, and trace the old past of the Malawi-Zanzibar trade routes from centuries gone by.

14. Chitimba


Chitimba is one-part rustic Malawian lake village and one-part upcoming safari lodge.

Nestled along the sandy stretches of shoreline that fringe Lake Malawi south of Mzuzu city, it’s got pretty much unrivalled access to the dramatic Rift Valley landscapes that dominate the region here.

The hiking is top-notch, with tracks weaving in and out of the undulating hills and the dusty bushlands.

There’s excellent wildlife spotting too, along the tracks heading up to Manchewe Falls and Mount Chombe, not to mention a chance to have a cultural encounter with a traditional East African shaman!

15. Chongoni


Known primarily for its rich histories and pre-historic arrays of rock art, the UNESCO-attested spot of Chongoni is perfect for any culture vultures traveling through Malawi.

Reaching heights of nearly 2,000 meters above sea level with the peaks of the Dedza mountains, the area has revealed evidence of habitation since the early Stone Age.

This is found in the caverns at spots like Chentcherere and Namzeze, displaying animist religious elements and the old artworks of East Africa’s onetime hunter-gatherer nomad people.

The far-flung reaches of Mphunzi Mountain form the westernmost extend of the UNESCO area, and have some of the most impressive frescos to boot.

15 Best Places to Visit in Malawi:

  • Liwonde National Park
  • Kasungu National Park
  • Lake Malawi National Park
  • Nyika National Park
  • Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve
  • Likoma Island

Top Things to Do in Malawi

Places to visit in malawi, explore popular experiences, popular cities in malawi.

best tourist places in malawi

Top Attractions in Malawi

best tourist places in malawi

Multi-day Tours

best tourist places in malawi

Private Sightseeing Tours

best tourist places in malawi

Outdoor Activities

best tourist places in malawi

What travellers are saying

Lilian B

34 Best Places To Visit In Malawi


Posted on December 8, 2022 |

Malawi, known as the “Warm Heart of Africa”, offers a unique African adventure . It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in vibrant culture and traditions, climb high peaks like Mount Mulanje, and relax on beautiful beaches like Cape Maclear. The locals are friendly and welcoming, greeting strangers with “moni” (hello in Chichewa).

The country is full of national parks and nature reserves, especially in the Central Region. Despite its predominantly Muslim population, Malawi offers a variety of restaurants and eateries, though pork is rarely served.

The National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens of Malawi

Malawi is home to two significant botanic gardens, with a history dating back to 1895. The National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens, established in 1966, aim to conserve, educate, and research Malawi’s plant biodiversity.

The National Herbarium houses over 90,000 plant specimens, including a carpological collection, serving as a vital resource for scientific research and education. These institutions also offer visitors the chance to explore Malawi’s wildlife, birds, and plants.

Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi

La Caverna Art Gallery

Visit La Caverna Art Gallery in Mandala House, Blantyre, Malawi, to see beautiful local art and even buy some. If art isn’t your thing, check out the Blantyre Crafts Market for handmade crafts by local artists.

Enjoy a meal at La Caverna’s café, open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:15 pm, and visit the library. Blantyre, a hilly city founded by Scottish missionaries, is known for its friendly people and history of Ivory trading.

Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve

Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve

Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve, Malawi’s smallest national park, covers 135 km2 and features diverse habitats like Mopane woodland and riverine areas. Though once home to black rhinos, poaching has reduced their numbers.

Today, visitors can see buffalo, impala, and vervet monkeys. The best time to visit is from May to September, during the cool, dry season. The park is located 5 km from Zomba town and offers boat safaris on the Shire River.

Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National Park, near Lilongwe, Malawi, is home to diverse wildlife , including the critically endangered black rhino and rich birdlife like Pel’s fishing owls. Visit Njobvu Cultural Village for traditional mud-brick huts, food, and dances. The park features various ecosystems and habitats, including lions, leopards, elephants, and rare mammals.

Liwonde offers stunning landscapes, a heart-of-Africa wilderness feel, and abundant wildflowers during the wet season. It’s Malawi’s premier game-viewing destination, with lodges offering great wildlife views.

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve source wikipedia

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, near Lake Malawi, spans 700 square miles and is home to over 130 bird species and mammals like the endangered sable antelope. Best for birders, visit during the rainy season (May-October), though it’s busier and pricier.

Enjoy walks, hikes, and boat safaris along the Bua River. Nkhotakota is a 3-hour drive from Lilongwe and 30 km from Lake Malawi, accessible via the M5 and a 12-km dirt road to Bua Gate.

Lilongwe Wildlife Center

Lilongwe Wildlife Center

Visit Lilongwe Wildlife Center, established in 2007, in Malawi. It’s part of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance and houses diverse animals, including endangered species.

The center is 1.2 miles from downtown Lilongwe, near restaurants like KFC and Pizza Hut. It’s free, has a playground, and shows native Malawian animals like zebras, rescued by the Born Free Foundation. The center is an award-winning conservation and education hub, working with the Department of National Parks & Wildlife.


Visit Karonga, northern Malawi, for unique cultural and natural history. Explore institutions like the Cultural and Museum Centre Karonga and Radio Dinosaur. Enjoy Lake Malawi activities like kayaking and swimming.

Visit the town’s museum for prehistoric human and dinosaur exhibits. Fly to Lilongwe International Airport and take a coach to Mzuzu, the nearest town to Karonga. The best time to visit is from April to November, with warm temperatures and little rainfall.


Visit Zomba, a southern African city in Malawi, known for colonial architecture and the Zomba Plateau with forest trails, waterfalls, and wildlife like baboons. Explore the University of Malawi campus and enjoy nightlife at Havanna and Vibes.

The best time to visit is from April to November, with the highest temperatures in October and lowest in July. Travel is most expensive in August, with some deals in October.

Mzuzu source wikipedia

Mzuzu is a small, accessible city in northern Malawi, primarily inhabited by Tumbuka people. Enjoy local cuisine like botolo fish and shop at traditional stores like the Green Shop. Mzuzu University was founded in 1994.

The climate varies, with a rainy winter and hot summer. The wet season has over 30% chance of rain, while the dry season lasts from April to November with few rainy days.


Mulanje Mountain, or ‘island in the sky,’ in southern Malawi, has a highest peak of nearly 3000 meters, offering stunning views. It’s great for hiking, trekking, or climbing, with various trails, camping equipment, and guides.

The area has endemic plants and animals like the squeaker frog. However, growing population and land use patterns threaten the forest reserve. The mountain has huts for multi-day hikes or strenuous scrambles, and you can hire porters.

Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve

Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve

Visit Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve in Malawi, established in 1927, covering 56,317 acres. It’s a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with Mount Mulanje, central Africa’s highest peak, and a major water source.

Accessible from Blantyre, it offers various hiking trails, guided tours, and campsites. The Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust protects the forest, prevents resource exploitation, and preserves the water catchment.


Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, has the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre for injured and rescued wildlife, a 21st-century Chinese-built Parliament building, museums, and historic sites.

La Galleria Africa art center showcases local artists’ paintings, sculptures, and crafts. Get around using taxis or minibuses. Visit the Parliament Building, relocated from Zomba in 1994 and built by Chinese immigrants.


Visit Blantyre, a city in the Shire Highlands of Malawi, known for colonial architecture and nearby reserves and parks. Explore the Museum of Malawi and the Colonial Mandala House with the Society of Malawi Library.

Blantyre, the capital of Malawi’s southern region, has a temperate climate and a rainy season from December to March. Stay at hotels like Sunbird Hotel and Resorts or Kumbali Country Lodge, and enjoy breakfast at Farmer’s Daughter Cafe.

The city has good infrastructure, and it’s safe to walk or drive. Use minibuses or bicycles for transportation, but beware of overpriced tuk-tuks.

Lake Malawi National Park

Lake Malawi National Park

Lake Malawi National Park in southern Malawi features granite islands, sandy beaches, eco-lodges, and fishing villages. Enjoy kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and eco-tourism projects. The park’s management plan prioritizes community partnerships and co-management.

At Likoma, swim, paddleboard, or kayak around the islands. Hike to a viewing point or explore more challenging trails with a guide. The park is home to diverse wildlife, including fish, mammals, and birds.

Kasungu National Park

Kasungu National Park

Visit Kasungu National Park, 175 km north of Lilongwe, Malawi, along the Zambian border , to see wildlife like elephants, rhinos, lions, giraffes, and various antelope species.

Despite poaching threats, the park is home to the Big Five and diverse species in its open woodland, bush, and grasslands. Stay at a well-priced lodge near Lifupa Dam, where elephants gather in the dry season.

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) collaborates with partners to protect the park and implement livelihood projects to prevent wildlife exploitation.

Shire River

Shire River

The Shire River, Malawi’s largest river, flows 402 km from Lake Malawi into the Zambezi River in Mozambique . Its upper reaches include shallow Lake Malombe.

The Lower Shire Valley once had a thriving weaving industry, now revived by the Malawi Wildlife Trust. The region supports hydropower, agriculture, fisheries, transport, and tourism.

Visit Liwonde National Park, home to black rhinos and other wildlife, and take a boat ride on the “Mangunda” to explore the Shire River.

Nyika National Park

Nyika National Park

Visit Nyika National Park in northern Malawi for diverse flora, fauna, and over 400 bird species. The park’s montane forest patches and grasslands create an East African landscape, home to lions, elephants, zebras, and many antelope and leopard species. Explore the park on a mountain bike with a guide for around $45 per day.

Zomba Plateau

Zomba Plateau source wikipedia

Zomba Plateau, in southern Malawi’s Shire Highlands, spans 130 square kilometers and reaches 2,087 meters. It’s made of granitic syenite, formed after molten rock intrusion.

The cooler, higher-altitude plateau offers various hiking routes, including a 2-hour trek to Mulumbe Peak. The Department of Forestry manages most of the plateau, which has native flora like Mexican pines and Mulanje Cedar, and strawberry and blackberry crops.

Chongoni source wikipedia

Chongoni, Malawi, is a cultural hub with historical sites and monuments. Visit nearby Chentcherere and Namzeze Rock Art Sites, but hire a guide as they’re not well-marked.

Chongoni has Central Africa’s largest rock art concentration, created by Chewa agriculturalists and Batwa hunter-gatherers around 1,000 years ago.

The Chongoni Rock Art Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site , has 127 rock art sites, three of which are open to the public.

Lake Chilwa

Lake Chilwa

Lake Chilwa, Malawi’s second-largest lake, is near the Mozambique border and has an island called Chisi. The shallow, inland lake’s size varies with runoff and is cultivated with rice during the dry season.

It’s important for commercial fishing, producing 20% of Malawi’s fish needs. About 60,000 people live in 35 villages, with mobile stilted fishing villages during the dry season.

Lake Chilwa is 30 km from the main road and not often visited by tourists, but a boat trip to see local fishermen is recommended. The surrounding area has 1.5 million people and faces malnutrition and unpredictable weather.

Likoma Island

Likoma Island

Likoma Island, in Lake Malawi, covers 18 square kilometers and is home to diverse wildlife and amphibian species. Accessible by ferry, it’s near Mango Drift village and beach, and features St Peter Cathedral.

The island has historical significance, with Scottish missionaries leaving buildings and monuments. A weekly ferry service and private aircraft connect Likoma Island to mainland Malawi and other districts.



Livingstonia, a small town in Rumphi district, Northern Region, is 430 km north of Lilongwe and connected to Chitimba on Lake Malawi’s shore.

Founded in 1894 by Scottish missionaries to combat malaria, it’s named after David Livingstone. Malawi has a good road system, but driving can be dangerous. Livingstonia offers stunning views of Lake Malawi, Tanzania , and Manchewe Falls, a 400-foot waterfall nearby.

Majete Wildlife Reserve

Majete Wildlife Reserve

Majete Wildlife Reserve, established in 1955, protects diverse wildlife and plants from poaching. It has restored over 5,000 animals and is Malawi’s premier wildlife destination, with a thriving elephant population.

Enjoy game drives, boat trips, and hiking, including Majete Hill. The reserve spans over 70,000 hectares in the Lower Shire Valley, 70 km from Blantyre, and offers interaction with local communities.

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

Visit Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve in northern Malawi for diverse wildlife and nature. This national game reserve is home to rare antelope species, many mammals, and the largest elephant population in northern Malawi.

The reserve is a transboundary link with the Luangwa-Zambezi Valley and offers opportunities for research contributing to wildlife conservation.

The wetland habitat is perfect for various birds, fish, and plants. Enjoy safaris and observe abundant wildlife, including hippos in the large lake.

Nkhata Bay

Visit Nkhata Bay in northern Malawi for a relaxing nature vacation. The picturesque town is surrounded by steep forested hills and Lake Malawi’s deepest part.

Accessible by boat, minibus, or regular buses from Lilongwe and Blantyre, it offers affordable restaurants, lodges, a post office, bus station, grocery stores, a bank, internet cafes, and a tropical savanna climate with warm weather, dry and wet seasons, and 806 mm average annual rainfall.

Wildlife Sanctuary

The Wildlife Sanctuary in Malawi cares for orphaned and injured animals, promotes peaceful coexistence with wildlife, and conducts research for conservation.

Liwonde National Park, home to over 500 elephants and rare species, is a must-visit. Kuti Wilderness Reserve, the smallest nature reserve, offers biking and sightings of zebras and velvet monkeys.

Majete National Park protects nyala, a spiral-horned antelope, and provides self-drive or guided walking safaris with basic to comfortable accommodations.

King African Rifles Monument

King African Rifles Monument

Visit the King African Rifles Monument in Zomba, Malawi, a red-brick monument honoring Malawian soldiers who fought in World War I. Located on a small hill, it offers a tranquil atmosphere for reflection.

The monument is free to visit and has nearby parking. It commemorates the King’s African Rifles army, raised from Britain’s East African possessions during World Wars I and II, primarily from the local population.


Chitimba, Malawi, offers a large freshwater lake with golden beaches and colorful fish. Known as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa,’ it’s a friendly place with opportunities for safaris to see the Big Five . The wildlife-filled national park, managed by African Parks since 2015, protects lions, leopards, and rhinos in fenced enclosures.

Chitimba, located 75 miles from the Malawi/Tanzania border and 90 miles from Mzuzu, features a campsite with rooms, a restaurant, a bar, and local products for sale.


Mangochi, a district in Malawi’s Southern Region, spans 6,273 square kilometers and has a population of 610,239. It’s home to the capital city and attractions like the Lake Malawi Museum, supermarkets, grocery shops, and the Sun ‘n Sand Resort Restaurant.

The Lake Malawi Museum showcases historical, cultural, and environmental aspects, including a model of the Guendolin gunboat and a marine steam engine.

The southern lakeshore has hotels with adjoining camping grounds, offering various activities and amenities, including Lake Spas at Sunbird Nkopola Lodge and Makokola Retreat.

Mangochi Forest Reserve is an ecological extension of Liwonde National Park, supporting leopards, elephants, and rare bird and butterfly species.

Elephant Marsh

Visit Elephant Marsh in southern Malawi, a vital catchment area for humans and wildlife. Located on the lower Shire River floodplain, it supplies water to local communities and livestock.

This natural oasis is popular for birdwatching , with diverse birdlife, crocodiles, hippos, and otters. The Elephant Marsh Heritage Center features a children’s club and a museum.

The marsh spans 400 to 1200 square kilometers, with tall palm trees and baobabs, and its rich alluvial soils support crops like maize and rice, promoting conservation agriculture and benefiting the local economy.

Nkhoma Mountain

Hike Nkhoma Mountain, a 5814-foot peak with an 11-kilometer path offering scenic views . Join the Nkhoma Mountain conservation initiative to plant trees.

Access the mountain via M3 or S146 roads from Zomba, leading to Chiradzulu town at the eastern end. Enjoy boat rides along the Shire River during the dry season to see wildlife.

Visit the Katundu workshop to see local artisans upcycle wine bottles into glass chandeliers. Explore nearby Soche hill, south of Blantyre, with a marked trail to the summit and parking near the school.

Viphya Plateau

Viphya Plateau

Viphya Plateau, a nature reserve in northern Malawi, spans nearly 3,000 square kilometers and features diverse wildlife, birds, and rare Malawian plants and trees.

Hike the 3-day trail from Kawandama Mountain to Kande Beach resort. The plateau, at 2,600 meters, is surrounded by lush tropical forests and offers cool temperatures. During the wet season, spot numerous bird species, red duiker, yellow baboons, vervet monkeys, bushbucks, and bush pigs.

The region includes five national parks, with Mzuzu as the largest settlement and industrial center, offering limited accommodation near the Tanzanian border.

Kumbali Cultural Village

Visit Kumbali Cultural Village near Lilongwe, Malawi, for an authentic African experience . Stay in one of the 12 natural-material huts, sleeping up to four people.

Children under 12 get half-price tours. Packages include hotel pick-up and drop-off. Learn about traditional Malawian art, culture, and food, and participate in recreational activities.

Explore the Permaculture Centre for sustainable food production lessons. Enjoy local art in galleries with brick walls, glass windows, and rustic accents. Shop for handcrafted products like paintings, sculptures, and jewelry.

Visit the historic Kamuzu Mausoleum, Parliament Building, and Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, which cares for injured wildlife and educates about animal welfare.

Malawi is an underrated African destination with diverse attractions , including stunning landscapes like Viphya and Zomba plateaus, and Lake Malawi’s clear waters.

The best time to visit is April/May to October/November. Cultural and historical experiences are available at Kumbali Village and Lilongwe’s landmarks.

Safaris in Liwonde or Majete parks and adventure activities like hiking and water sports are also popular. Malawi’s welcoming people, tasty cuisine , and unique crafts make it a memorable trip, with 34 top places to explore.

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© AWAY AFRICA | Africa Inside Out | 2024

© AWAY AFRICA | 2024

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Top Things to Do in Malawi - Malawi Must-See Attractions

Things to do in malawi, explore popular experiences, popular cities in malawi.

best tourist places in malawi

Top Attractions in Malawi

best tourist places in malawi

Multi-day Tours

best tourist places in malawi

Private Sightseeing Tours

best tourist places in malawi

Outdoor Activities

best tourist places in malawi

What travellers are saying

Lilian B

THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Malawi

Things to do in malawi, explore popular experiences, popular cities in malawi.

best tourist places in malawi

Top Attractions in Malawi

best tourist places in malawi

Multi-day Tours

best tourist places in malawi

Private Sightseeing Tours

best tourist places in malawi

Outdoor Activities

best tourist places in malawi

What travellers are saying

Lilian B

best tourist places in malawi

21 Places to Visit in Malawi

  • Author david
  • Date July 16th, 2016

Malawi once formed part of the Maravi Empire — an African kingdom founded in the late 15 th century. The Maravis eventually became known as the Chewa — an ethnic group most Malawians belong to today. The 19 th century brought Scottish missionaries including the famous David Livingstone.

He was one of the first Europeans to make the grueling transcontinental journey across Africa. Livingstone eventually made it to Malawi in 1859, after which several Scottish Presbyterian churches were founded throughout the country.


In 1891, the British assumed control of Malawi, and in 1907 Malawi’s name was changed to Nyasaland , meaning “land of the lake.” On July 6, 1964, Malawi became a self-governed country, and in 1966 it became an official republic.


Malawi is bordered by Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia. It lies in Africa’s Great Rift Valley (a 6,000-mile crack in the earth’s crust), which gives the country a diverse terrain.

At 3,000 meters, Malawi’s Mount Mulanje is the highest mountain in Central Africa. In the south, the Zomba Plateau rises to a height of 2,000 meters. In the north, Nyika National Park is Central Africa’s highest plateau (2,500 meters).


Lake Malawi, which is roughly the size of Belgium, is arguably the country’s most captivating natural wonder. Home to colorful cichlid fish and a variety of aquatic bird species, Lake Malawi is a paradise for nature lovers and boating enthusiasts. It is a source of pride and sustenance for the people and animals of Malawi.


Malawi is a narrow, elongated country that is divided into northern, central and southern regions. North Malawi is the least populated part of the country, with Mzuzu serving as its regional capital. Though sparsely inhabited, Northern Malawi holds natural treasures such as the expansive Nyika National Park and striking Makuzi Beach.


Central Malawi has five national parks and wildlife reserves, including Lake Malawi National Park, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and Ntchisi Forest Reserve. Central Malawi is also home to the bustling capital city of Lilongwe. Southern Malawi is the most populated of the three regions. Here, the cities of Blantyre and Zomba serve as administrative centers. Farther south is Mount Mulanje, Malawi’s highest point. Here are 21 places you must visit in Malawi!

Northern Malawi


Off the Salime-Mzuzu Road, Chintheche sits pretty along Lake Malawi’s northern shore. Considered one of Malawi’s best beaches, Chintheche boasts fine white sand and lush, tropical surroundings that may fool you into believing that you’re on a Caribbean island. The Chintheche area is a popular weekend getaway for locals as well as tourists. A walk along Chintheche Beach will reveal crystal clear water and various clustered rock formations. The Chintheche area has fantastic accommodations for couples and families alike, as well as cultural and leisure activities. Farther south, Kande Beach is another beautiful stretch of lakeshore with lodging, camping and water sports.


Malawi has three main seasons: the cool-dry season (May through August), the dry season (September to mid-November) and the rainy season (late-November through April).

Bandawe Mission


Located just short drive south from Chintheche is the Bandawe Mission, one of the earliest Christian missions in Malawi. Bandawe Mission was the second attempt by Dr. Robert Laws, a follower of D Livingstone, to establish a Livingstonia Mission. As with his first location at Cape Maclear, malaria took its toll on the missionaries and forced the survivors to relocate farther north on the Khondowe Plateau. Remnants of the old Bandawe Mission include the church and missionary graves. Although free to visit the church, leaving a small donation to the congregation is customary.

Kande Horse Stables


For an unforgettable day riding horses and exploring Malawi’s countryside, make time to visit the stables at Kande Horse. Family owned and operated, Kande Horse provides guided horseback rides as well as luxurious lodging in the guesthouse. Kande Horse is a working farm amidst tranquil, verdant surroundings. Take a ride through the lush Brachystegia forest, take a dip in the lake while riding bareback and stay for dinner if you so choose. For a longer stay, beautifully furnished guestrooms are available. Whether you’re looking for a day trip adventure or a B&B experience, Kande Horse offers an array of packages to suit your needs. Prices range from $30 for a one-hour ride to $240 for an overnight stay that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner with five hours of riding time. Advance booking for overnight stays is required.


best tourist places in malawi

Livingstonia is a site of particular historic and cultural interest. Located on the Khondowe Plateau, near Nyika National Park, Livingstonia is an early Christian mission. Established in 1894, Livingstonia was Dr. Robert Laws’ third and final attempt to establish a Presbyterian settlement in Malawi. The Laws’ family home is now a lodge and museum. The area boasts panoramic vistas of Chitimba Bay and the Livingstone Mountains across the lake in Tanzania. For visitors who want to spend the night walking distance from Livingstonia, The Mushroom Farm Eco Lodge is a good choice. The lodge was carefully designed to blend in with the natural forest surroundings. Each guestroom features a private balcony and open-air shower (with hot water). Lodge amenities include picnic tables, barbecue grills, and free Wi-Fi and cell phone/computer charging station. The Mushroom Farm Eco Lodge is glorified camping at its best.


Karonga is the first major lakeside town along the main road running north from Tanzania. Although not known to be a resort town, Karonga does attract a considerable amount of visitors. In addition to being an infamous slave-trading hub during the 19 th century, Karonga has a museum that holds the skeleton of a prehistoric Malawisaurus dinosaur. Albeit basic, there are a few lodges and campsites here. Karonga is approximately 226 kilometers north of Mzuzu.


As the industrial capital of Northern Malawi, Mzuzu has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Mzuzu is famous for its light aromatic Arabica coffee, which is sold in supermarkets and served in restaurants throughout Malawi. Mzuzu offers very little in terms of accommodations and M alawi tourist attractions , and is more of a stopover for those traveling by car to Nyika National Park. If stopping in Mzuzu for a bite to eat, the A-1 Restaurant behind the main commercial strip of a grocery store and banks serves Indian and Chinese fare.


Nkhata Bay is a natural harbor and hub for the local fishing industry. Located about 40 kilometers southeast of Mzuzu, it is also home to a bustling crafts market. Here, the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of the local artisans is proudly on display. Browse the several tents along the roadside until something catches your eye. Decorative bowls, masks, nativity sets, personalized key chains and necklaces are just a few of the items available. Chief chairs, one of the country’s most iconic products, come in all shapes and sizes. Nature (Baobab trees, cichlid fish) and village scenes (farming, gathering wood) are common themes found throughout the artwork. Common woods used include pine, ebony and ironwood. The Nkhata Bay crafts market is simple and modest, but holds fascinating treasures, large and small.

Nyika National Park


Nyika National Park sits high on the Khondowe Plateau in the district of Rumphi. With an area of 3,200 square kilometers, it is the largest of Malawi’s national parks. Its distinct grassland terrain is home to hundreds of animals including leopards, zebra, roan antelope, eland and the spotted hyena. Nyika is also a sanctuary for 425 bird species. In recent years, there has been an increase in Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, elephant and lion sightings.

Check out Spotting Wildlife in Malawi

Nyika is a magical place where rolling hills, pine forest, rock clusters and dense patches of bush extend across a vast area. The low vegetation makes it easy to spot grazing herds during the day, while nightfall draws out those at the top of the food chain. Due to its elevation, Nyika experiences cool temperatures throughout the year. Rainy season brings carpets of blooming orchids and wildflowers. A Nyika safari is a must for anyone visiting Malawi.

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

large herds of elephants in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

About 70 kilometers northwest of Mzuzu, near the Zambian border, one will find Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. A regular stop for avid bird watchers, this 400-square kilometer area has a distinct terrain of both dense forest and sodden marshland. In the dry season large game like elephants, buffalo and hippos can be found gathered around Lake Kazuni. Nearly 300 species of bird also live here, including storks and herons. The Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve is not one of Malawi’s popular parks, but it may be well worth the trip for the fervent bird enthusiast.

Central Malawi


Dedza is a historical town about 84 kilometers southeast of Lilongwe. At 1,600 meters above sea level, it is the most elevated town in Malawi. Mature trees and views of Dedza Mountain form part of the beautiful landscape. Main attractions in Dedza include the Chongoni Rock Art Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rock paintings discovered here date back to the late Stone Age. Thousands of years later, artistic traditions are still being kept alive at the nearby Dedza Pottery Lodge. Craftsmen transform the local clay into an array of ceramic products including pots, vases, dinnerware, jars and tiles, all of which are for sale. Their bright and colorful works form part of Malawi’s long-standing artistic heritage. Dedza Pottery Lodge also has a convenient on-site restaurant for visitors.


A short drive east along a country road will take you to Mua Mission. Established in 1902 by Catholic missionaries, Mua Mission has few surviving original buildings except for the church and mission house, both of which were renovated in the 1990s. Within Mua Mission is the Kungoni Center dedicated to culture and art. Founded in 1976, the Kungoni Center has become a community of local carvers, painters and performers. In addition to its carving workshop, the Kungoni Center has a botanical garden and campsite. Its award-winning Chamare Museum teaches visitors about the local Chewa, Ngoni and Yao cultures. The museum holds a prized collection of Malawian masks that is unparalleled.

Kasungu National Park


This 2,100-square kilometer park is located in the western central region of the country near the Zambian border, about 160 kilometers from Lilongwe. Kasungu National Park attracts birdwatchers and nature lovers alike with its array of flora and fauna. Contrary to popular belief, there are thriving populations of elephants here. In the past, poaching was a problem, but many animals like the leopard, zebra and jackal have made a comeback here. Hippos are a dime a dozen at the park’s Lifupa Lake, and the dense bush is home to a variety of small mammals like the civet cat and genet. The best game viewing is at the end of the dry season from August to November, when the animals cluster around the watering holes. For overnight stays, there is the affordable and eco-friendly Lifupa Conservation Lodge.

Lake Malawi

boat ride in Lake Malawi and likoma island

Lake Malawi is the brightest jewel in Malawi’s crown. With an area of approximately 29,600 square kilometers and a depth of nearly 300 meters, it’s the third largest lake in Africa and one of the deepest lakes in the world. It was previously known as Lake Nyasa — a name given by missionary explorer David Livingstone during his expeditions, which also explored areas surrounding Likoma Island.

Lake Malawi and likoma island

The lake is home to more than 1,000 species of cichlid fish, of which there are several variations that exist in an array of colors and sizes. In fact, Lake Malawi has the largest number of fish species of any lake on earth!

A boat ride on the lake also offers opportunities to observe its diverse aquatic life, and it supports a large number of aquatic birds such as african fish eagles , ducks, herons, cormorants, and kingfishers.

Check out our article The Best Hotels Around Lake Malawi


Lake Malawi is also a life source for many Malawians. Lakeshore villages depend on the lake’s bounty for survival. Non-cichlid fish such as Chambo, Kampango and Usipa are caught and sold in markets throughout the country. Malawi’s fishermen risk their lives every day as they paddle out far from shore on their hand-carved wooden canoes.


They use paraffin lamps to attract the fish to the surface in order to make it easier to net them. All through the night, Lake Malawi’s horizon can be seen dotted with tiny orbs of light given off by the fishermen’s lamps. This is how it earned its nickname, “Lake of Stars.”

Within Lake Malawi is a protected area of about 94 square kilometers that became the world’s first freshwater marine reserve. Lake Malawi National Park, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, is composed of the Cape Maclear peninsula, 12 islands, sandy beaches, swamps and lagoons.


Activities in and around Lake Malawi are varied — swimming, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, kayaking, camping, hiking, bird watching, fishing and sailing, just to name a few. A visit to the lake, especially Lake Malawi National Park, is essential for anyone visiting Malawi.


Since 1975, Lilongwe has served as Malawi’s capital city. Like Blantyre in the south, Lilongwe is an economic center that has seen substantial growth in infrastructure in recent years. The city itself is not a major tourist attraction, but is a regular stopover for most travelers flying into Kamuzu International Airport. Lilongwe is divided into the Old Town (south) and New Town (north), which can make getting around challenging since the there is a considerable distance between the two. Taxis are available at almost every hotel.

Crafts Market


Vendors gather with their woodcarvings and trinkets at the Lilongwe crafts market. Although not as good as other markets throughout the country, you can still find souvenirs of all kinds, including personalized key chains and small figurines. The market is located outside the Old Town post office.

Lilongwe Wildlife Trust

wild animals

The Lilongwe Wildlife Trust (LWT) is Malawi’s only wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. The LWT provides refuge to orphaned and injured animals, as well as teaches the local community about conservation. Through their efforts, the LWT manages to save many, but not all, of Malawi’s victims of poaching, deforestation and illegal animal trading. In addition to operating a comprehensive primate release program, the LWT conducts wildlife tours during which visitors can get acquainted with some of the permanent residents including Bella the lion and Kambuku the leopard. Locals and tourists alike are welcome to experience the center for themselves, to learn about the plight of the animals, learn ways to help and come away with a better understanding of Malawi’s precious wild animals .

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

The Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve is 1,800 square kilometers of rugged woodland terrain cut by numerous rivers. Though rich in wildlife such as lion, elephant and buffalo, Nkhotakota’s dense vegetation makes sightings more difficult than in other places. Walking safaris, bird watching and canoe rides down the Bua River are the park’s main activities. What Nkhotakota lacks in visible animal herds, it more than makes up for in unadulterated peace and tranquility. The flow of the river and the symphony of nocturnal insects make Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve a retreat for mind and body.

Ntchisi Forest Reserve


This lush patch of forest covers about 75 square kilometers and is located in the Ntchisi Mountains — a remote area dotted with rural villages. Not amongst Malawi’s most prevalent tourist destinations, the Ntchisi Forest Reserve is quiet, and for the most part uneventful unless you are a bird watching or hiking enthusiast. Orchids, wild mushrooms, exotic fruit trees and strangling figs are just some of the specimens endemic to the reserve. Towering trees and villagers’ small coffee plantations thrive on the wet weather of the rainforest. The Ntchisi Forest Reserve is a two-hour drive from Lilongwe.

Salima and Senga Bay


Salima is Malawi’s eighth-largest town and serves as an important trading center for the central region. About five miles east of Salima, along the lakeshore, is Senga Bay. Well known as for its resorts, Senga Bay offers accommodations for all budgets. The area mainly attracts local weekenders and business people. Activities include fishing village tours, a fish farm tour and water sports. We recommend Sunbird Livingstonia Beach .

Southern Malawi


Serving as Malawi’s commercial hub is the pulsating city of Blantyre. With a population of more than 700,000, it is a bustling center of industry. With hotels, restaurants and a major airport, Blantyre feels more like a cohesive city than the capital Lilongwe. Blantyre first began as a missionary settlement in 1876, making it the oldest municipality in Malawi. It was named after the Scottish town where missionary David Livingstone was born.


Blantyre was a major trading center for ivory, but now has several factories and industrial sites, all of which contribute significantly to the city’s economic stability. There are Western-style shops, many of which are located in the Chichiri Shopping Center. Here, the Central Bookshop store is stocked with stationery, novels, travel guides and coffee table books of Malawi. For crafts, head to the downtown crafts market in downtown. Here, vendors display their works, which include figurines, masks, decorative bowls and furniture. Good roads, an influx of university students and a sizeable community of expats make Blantyre a popular stopover for travelers headed to other parts of Southern Malawi. Things to see include historical buildings such as the St. Michael and All Angels Church and the Mandala House. Tobacco is an important cash crop for the country. Experiencing a live tobacco auction is a fascinating cultural experience. Head to the public gallery overlooking the tobacco auction floors at the Auction Holdings warehouse in Limbe to catch the action.

Carlsberg Brewery

Carlsberg Brewery_Blantyre_Malawi_Africa_davidsbeenhere

Carlsberg, a Danish beer brand, began producing and distributing its popular brew in Malawi in 1968. It was the company’s first brewery outside of Denmark. Since then, it has become the national beer of the country. Carlsberg Malawi Brewery Limited plays a key role in the country’s economy by enforcing ethical treatment of employees and contributing significantly to the GDP. Available brews include Carlsberg Green, Carlsberg Light, Carlsberg Classic, Carlsberg Elephant, Carlsberg Special Brew, Carlsberg Stout and Kuche Kuche. Visitors are welcome to visit the brewery.

Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National Park Malawi tourist attractions

Regarded as Malawi’s premiere game park, Liwonde National Park has a varied terrain spread over 548 square kilometers. Marshland, woodland and grassland comprise its landscape, which allows several animal species to thrive here, mainly hippos, elephants and crocodiles. And with healthy populations of more than 300 avian species such as Fish Eagle Pel’s Fishing Owl and Lillian’s Lovebird, Liwonde has outstanding bird watching.


The central feature of the park is the imposing Shire River that flows along its western boarder. The river is Lake Malawi’s only outlet, flowing from north to south, emptying into the Zambezi River in Mozambique. Apart from supplying the park with sustenance, the Shire River is teeming with life. Colossal crocodiles, hippo pods and roaming herds of elephant rely on the mighty shire highlands for their survival. A mid-afternoon boat safari, when the sun is hottest and the animals come to the river to cool off, will reveal Liwonde’s diverse fauna.


Other residents include warthogs, baboons, leopards, sable and bushbuck. Thanks to local conservation efforts, the black rhino has been reintroduced. Nourished by the river and honored by Malawians, Liwonde National Park is a magical place that should not be missed!

Majete Wildlife Reserve

Majete Wildlife Reserve_Malawi_Africa_Davidsbeenhere3

Like Liwonde National Park, the Majete Wildlife Reserve has made significant strides toward conservation and sustainability. Since 2003, many species such as the elephant, black rhino and leopard have been reintroduced to help make Majete a “Big Five” reserve. Thus far, the park’s animal populations have thrived under the protection of the African Parks and the Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW.)

Majete Wildlife Reserve_Malawi_Africa_Davidsbeenhere2

The Majete Wildlife Reserve is located in the lower Shire Valley. It has an area of 700 square kilometers and a diverse landscape of miombo woodland, dry savannah and marshes. Game viewing is excellent almost all year round thanks to a network of new roads and constant vigilance by park officials. Visitors can drive through the park in their own cars, with or without the assistance of a scout.

Check out our article the Top 4 Luxury Bush Lodges in Malawi

Majete Wildlife Reserve_Malawi_Africa_Davidsbeenhere

The park also offers a variety of activities including guided game drives, river safaris, bird walks, bush camping and village tours. Majete Wildlife Reserve also has an on-site restaurant, restroom facilities, cultural center and a visitor’s center located at the main gate. Low-budget accommodations include the community campsite and Thawale Lodge. For more information on visiting the Majete Wildlife Reserve .

Mount Mulanje

Mount Mulanje_Malawi_Africa_Davidsbeenhere3

For hikers and climbers, Mount Mulanje is a must. At over 3,000 meters, Sapitwa Peak is the highest point in south-central Africa. The area surrounding Mount Mulanje is amongst Malawi’s most scenic. Sprawling tea estates, the Mulanje Golf Club, Likhubula Forest Reserve and Mulanje Town are just a few options for visitors. Most hikers first arrive in Mulanje Town, which is well equipped with hotels and restaurants. Hotel recommendation in Mulanje Town: Kara O’Mula Country Lodge .

Mount Mulanje_Malawi_Africa_Davidsbeenhere

Mount Mulanje forms part of a protected area known as the Mulanje Forest Reserve. The Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust manages hiking and climbing activities. Hiking routes are clearly marked. There are 10 camping huts spread over the mountain for overnight stays. Each hut has cooking facilities, restrooms, mattresses and basic camping equipment. Hikes from one hut to the next can range from three to five hours. Mount Mulanje is just 65 kilometers from Blantyre. For more information, visit the Mountain Club of Malawi .

Zomba Plateau

Zomba Plateau_Malawi_Africa_Davidsbeenhere

The lush Zomba Plateau has an area of 130 square kilometers. Just two hours away from Blantyre is this scenic stretch of rolling hills and dense forest. At the foot of the plateau is the city of Zomba, which was first established at the end of the 19 th century as the seat of the British Administration of Nyasaland. The area surrounding it is mainly agricultural, with Zomba serving as a trading center.

Zomba Plateau_Malawi_Africa_Davidsbeenhere2

The Zomba Plateau is a nature lover’s paradise where exotic birds, a verdant landscape and hidden natural wonders are abundant. Popular activities on the plateau include hiking, shopping at the Zomba crafts market and driving up to the two most popular viewing points, Emperor’s View and Queen’s View. Both reveal magnificent panoramic views of southern Malawi and Mount Mulanje with Mozambique in the distance. Zomba Plateau is also home to the Potato Trail, a historic path used by villagers taking their potatoes to sell in Zomba. It takes about one hour to take the path down to Zomba town.

Zomba Plateau_Malawi_Africa_Davidsbeenhere3

Other points of interest include Williams Waterfall, Chingwe’s Hole (legendary cavern), King’s African Rifles Memorial, Malawi’s Chancellor College Botanical Gardens and a few surviving colonial buildings.

Located just a couple of hours away from Monkey Bay, the lush Zomba Plateau offers not only breathtaking views but also a variety of outdoor activities such as mountain biking and horse riding through picturesque tea plantations.

Note from David


After traveling for years, it was nice to finally get the opportunity to visit sub-Saharan Africa. Malawi may be one of the poorest nations in Africa, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by the warm, genuine nature of its people. You would be surprised at the welcome you’ll get even in the country’s most remote villages.

Just when I thought the highlight of my trip was spotting a leopard in Nyika National Park, I arrived at the lakeshore. I’m not one to obsess over bodies of water, but Lake Malawi is a true wonder of nature and one of the most fascinating lakes I have ever seen. It is also one of the largest and deepest! The protected Lake Malawi National Park is home to fish eagles, cichlids, giant water monitors and a variety of other animals. From the beautiful lakeshore I moved on to the larger parks of Majete and Liwonde, both of which support thriving populations of elephants, hippos and crocodiles. River safaris are an excellent way to view and photograph these incredible animals.


As a growing nation, there have been considerable investments made in the tourism sphere, which means visitors can have their pick from a varied selection of luxury accommodations. Travel to Africa isn’t cheap and it is important to choose a destination that best delivers the experiences you’re looking for. Many tourists combine Malawi with a trip to nearby Zambia. A journey through both countries reveals incredible wildlife and stunning landscapes. But even if you choose to spend all your time relaxing along the shores of Lake Malawi, you’ll be in good company. As the “warm heart of Africa,” Malawi lives up to its name.

Additional Travel Information

Time zone: GMT +2

Capital city: Lilongwe

Government: Democratic Republic

Languages spoken: English, Chichewa

Currency: Kwacha (MWK)

Currency converter:  XE

Getting around: Finding your way around Malawi can prove challenging since many places are found only by recognition of “landmarks” such as buildings. Minibuses are a cheap method of transportation, but do not operate on a set schedule. Minibus accidents are common due to overcrowding of passengers and careless drivers, which is why we do not recommend them. Taxis are readily available in all cities. Taxi prices are negotiated prior to departure, as they are not equipped with meters. Most hotels, lodges and resorts will arrange pick-up and drop-off services for guests. There are a number of car rental companies to choose from. We recommend SS Rent A Car . They have offices in Lilongwe International Airport and in Blantyre.

Electricity: 220 – 230 volts. Most sockets take UK standard three-pin square plugs. Many hotels have their power supplied via gas generator or solar panels. To charge laptops, cell phones and camera batteries, always use a surge protector.

Shopping: Supermarkets can be found in towns and cities, with the largest ones located in Blantyre and Lilongwe. There are also many crafts markets where tourists can stop and purchase souvenirs. Here is an article we wrote about craft markets : Malawi’s crafts market and advice on how to bargain with the vendors. Most gas station shops sell snacks, sodas and bottled water. The Old Town Mall in Lilongwe and Chichiri Shopping Center in Blantyre are two of the Malawi’s premiere shopping venues.

Lake of Stars Festival: The Lake of Stars Festival is an annual three-day music and arts festival held on the shores of Lake Malawi. It showcases a diverse lineup of local and international musicians, artists, and performers across various genres, aiming to promote M alawi tourist attractions and support local communities.

Major airports:

Lilongwe International Airport AKA “Kamuzi International Airport” (LLW)

+265 (0)1 760 266

+265 (0)1 760 311

Chileka International Airport (BLZ)

+265 (0)1 694 322

Entry requirements: Travelers must have a passport with six months validity remaining. Tourist visas must be obtained prior to travel. Tourist visas are not required for most commonwealth countries, USA, Japan and most European Union countries. For more information, e-mail [email protected] or refer to your corresponding Malawi diplomatic mission.

Best time to go: May through August when the chance of rain is slim and temperatures are in the 20s (°C).

Health: Immunization for polio, tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A are recommended. For travelers entering from a yellow fever zone, certificate of yellow fever vaccine is required. The principle health risk for travelers is malaria, which is contracted through a bite of the anopheles mosquito. The condition is serious and often presents with flu-like symptoms. Malawi’s medical staff is familiar with malaria and the drugs to treat it are readily available at hospitals and medical clinics throughout the country. Some precautions to take to avoid malaria: wear insect repellent, sleep under a mosquito net, wear long sleeves and pants in the evenings and take prophylactic medication (which can be obtained with a prescription from your doctor or local travel clinic). Immediate medical attention is necessary! Self-medicating could be dangerous. Malawi has a high rate of HIV infection. Drinking bottled water is recommended.

Practical advice:

  • Photos: Is it natural to find certain elements of Malawian society, namely villages and markets, to be photo-worthy. Many Malawians prefer not to have their photos taken. Some may even demand money from a tourist taking their photo while others will beg for theirs to be taken. When it comes to taking pictures of people, it is always best to ask beforehand. Do not photograph police, army or airport facilities.
  • Dress code: There are no laws concerning dress; however, it is advisable for women to dress appropriately in public, especially in rural areas and where there are large Muslim communities. Beachwear should be limited to the lakeshore. Men should not walk around bare-chested.
  • To avoid unwanted attention, refrain from displays of wealth including wearing expensive jewelry and producing large amounts of cash
  • Bring sunscreen and a hat and wear insect repellent at all times
  • All national parks and game reserves require visitors to pay park fees
  • Money can be exchanged at the airport, commercial banks and at some hotels
  • For mailing large purchases like chief chairs, DHL has branches in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu and Zomba. Visit DHL for locations and hours of operation.

Have you been to Malawi? What did you think of the 21 places you must visit in Malawi? Leave a comment below!

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best tourist places in malawi

Lena Nyakanini says:

Great information there! Thanks much.

best tourist places in malawi

gabrielle powell says:

heading to Malawi in May-June – solo woman – volunteering for organisation there… booked to stay in cottage with ex pat.. might need to hire car and drive versus taxi and driver? what would you recommend.. best to have US $ for tips – shopping? hope to fit in some of these sites thanks for the info

best tourist places in malawi

David says:

Hi Gabrielle,

It’s best to get a driver over driving. Also go with the Malawian currency, it will give you the most bang for you buck!

thanks for your reply 🙂

best tourist places in malawi

This looks like an amazing country to visit! Given its relatively small size as a country, how much time would you recommend spending here to see all of these sites that you suggested?

Its actually fairly big. It took us 22 days to see everything on this list and we were rushing a bit with 2-3 night stays in each destination.

I would say 3-4 weeks to see all this.

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50 Best Things to Do in Malawi – 2023

best tourist places in malawi

50 Best Things to Do in Malawi

1. scuba diving, 2. snorkelling, 3. boat trips, 4. kayaking, 6. stand-up paddle boarding (sup), 7. windsurfing, 8. water skiing, 10. angling, 11. nyika national park (rumphi), 12. liwonde national park (machinga), 13. lengwe national park (chikwawa), 14. kasungu national park (kasungu), 15. majete wildlife reserve (chikwawa), 16. nkhotakota wildlife reserve (nkhotakota), 17. vwaza marsh wildlife reserve (rumphi), 18. kuti wildlife reserve (salima), 19. game haven (thyolo), 20. birdwatching in nyika national park, 21. birdwatching in lengwe national park, 22. birdwatching in liwonde national park, 23. birdwatching in lake malawi, 24. birdwatching in mount mulanje, 25. birdwatching in dzalanyama forest reserve, 26. birdwatching in zomba plateau, 27. birdwatching in lake chilwa, 28. birdwatching in ntchisi forest reserve, 29. hiking mount mulanje (mulanje), 30. hiking nyika plateau (rumphi), 31. hiking zomba plateau (zomba), 32. hiking viphya plateau (mzimba), 33. hiking ntchisi forest reserve (ntchisi), 34. hiking nkhoma mountain (lilongwe), 35. hiking michiru mountain (blantyre), 36. hiking satemwa tea estate (thyolo), 37. hiking chombe plateau (rumphi), 38. chongoni rock art area (dedza), 39. national war memorial tower (lilongwe), 40. kungoni centre and chamare museum (dedza).

  • 41. Cultural & Museum Centre Karonga - CMCK (Karonga)

42. Museum of Malawi (Chichiri Museum) (Blantyre)

  • 43. St. Peter's Cathedral (Likoma)

44. St. Michael and All Angels Church (Blantyre)

45. livingstonia mission church and stone house, 47. kondowole, 49. zitumbuwa.

Malawi is located in the south-east of Africa, bordering Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.

Described as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, Malawi offers a warm welcome to visitors.

Many tourists cite the interaction with the people they met in the markets and villages as a highlight of their trip.

Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa, is stunningly beautiful, huge and is said to be home to more species of fish than all European and American lakes combined.

Malawi’s National Parks and Wildlife Reserves have also attracted a lot of attention in recent years, as it is now possible to see the BIG 5 – Elephant, Leopard, Lion, Rhino and Buffalo.

Malawi is also geographically diverse, with National Parks, lush mountains, plateaus, plantations, beautiful lakes and rivers.

Its unique terrain also attracts hikers and birdwatchers.

Malawi is a great destination for first-time visitors to Africa, nature and outdoor adventure enthusiasts, and those who want to interact with African culture and people.

If you are wondering what to do in Malawi, Africa, this article will give you some recommendations for places to visit and activities to do.

Water Sports

Lake Malawi, with its golden sandy beaches and sparkling clear blue waters, was described in David Livingstone’s diary as ‘the Lake of Stars’.

Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and the ninth largest in the world, with a maximum depth of 700m in the northern part of the Lake, making it the third deepest lake in the world.

Lake Malawi National Park which is the world’s first freshwater national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to abundant and colourful cichlids.

The Lake is thought to have nearly 1,000 species of cichlids, making it the single largest lake in the world with the largest variety of fish species.

This exceeds the number of freshwater fish species in Europe and North America combined.

Not only is Lake Malawi a scenic wonder with rich variety of fish, it is also one of the best freshwater lakes in the world, offering a wide range of water sports.

Swimming, water skiing, sailing, kayaking, parasailing and boating are just a few of the water sports on offer all year round, and they are a magnet for visitors.

The crystal-clear waters of Lake Malawi are also ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling.

The water is remarkably clear during the dry season (especially from June to December), and visibility can even reach up to 30 metres.

With a snorkelling mask on, you can easily spot the vibrant fish that live in the Lake and feed from the rocks on the shore.

Rather than hiding, the fish will swim around you, approaching you and greeting you.

From the MV Ilala, which is also the Lake’s ferry, to sailing on an ocean-going yacht or exploring by kayak, Lake Malawi is the perfect location for water sports enthusiasts.

Cruises to the upper reaches of the mighty Shire River are also available.

With dramatic rock formations, caves and cliffs creating an attractive terrain for underwater diving, Lake Malawi is known as one of the world’s premier freshwater diving destinations.

It has more species of freshwater fish than any other lake on earth (over 1,000) and more freshwater fish than Europe and North America combined.

You can dive all year round, but the best time to dive is during the dry season from August to December, when the lake is at its calmest, the clarity is 20-30m, there is little wind and the water temperature is as high as 30°C.

This is the breeding season for cichlids and their mouth-breeding phenomenon is one of the most fascinating phenomena seen on Lake Malawi dives.

Mothers protect their eggs in their mouths until they are large enough to fend for themselves.

Also, night diving in Lake Malawi is considered one of the most unique diving experiences on earth, as schools of dolphinfish use torchlight to catch cichlids, their prey.

You can also see catfish as large as two metres in length coming up from their burrows in search of food.

Catfish are very curious and will approach divers who enter their territory, especially during the breeding season.

Malawi is said to be one of the most reasonably priced countries in Africa for PADI (Professional Association for Diving Instructors) certification.

Dive schools in Nkhata Bay and Cape Maclear offer basic courses including a half-day course for beginners and a four-day ‘PADI Open Water Course’, as well as for those already qualified, refresher courses, advanced courses and specialty diving are offered.

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Lake Malawi perfectly combines all the elements required for snorkelling, opening up a kaleidoscope of underwater worlds for an amazing experience.

Swimming with thousands of dazzlingly coloured fish, within arm’s reach, is one of the most popular activities in Lake Malawi and will become an unforgettable memory of your life.

Snorkelling involves adding a breathing pipe, called a snorkel, to your mouth, wearing goggles and fins and swimming in relatively shallow water.

Whether you’re not a good swimmer or a child, you can wear a life jacket and see many colourful fish just floating in the water.

Unlike scuba diving, snorkelling does not require a license.

Snorkelling can be enjoyed on any lakeshore and most lodges and hotels have equipment available for guests to use at affordable prices.

Lake Malawi has very little vegetation and organic matter, so the sandy and rocky tops of the lake bottom are exceptionally clear.

Snorkelling is possible all year round, but the best season is from August to December when the lake is particularly clear and the water temperature rises to nearly 30°C, making the lake very calm and perfect for snorkelling.

Float your body above the water, get lost in this crystal clear paradise and let all your worries go.

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Cruise Lake Malawi, with its golden sandy beaches and sparkling clear blue waters, described by Scottish missionary David Livingstone as ‘the Lake of Stars’.

Lake Malawi offers a variety of options for boat trips, from a few hours’ boat trip on a traditional wooden boat or modern speedboat, to a multi-day cruise on a large cruise ship sailing around Lake Malawi.

Take a few hours’ boat trip and visit several snorkelling spots, explore uninhabited islands, enjoy fishing, watch the African Fish Eagle stalk its underwater prey, test your mettle at cliff jumping, or sip wine while watching the sun set over Lake Malawi.

The purpose of the trip is varied.

For those wishing to sail around Lake Malawi by ship, the MV Ilala Ferry is a popular choice.

This ship has been used by locals as a cargo-passenger ship since 1951 and is the only cruise ship that sails on Lake Malawi.

It is 50 metres long, weighs 400 tonnes and travels between Monkey Bay in the south and Chilumba in the north, taking around three days to travel from one end of the lake to the other.

It has a capacity of about 400 passengers and offers passage and rooms for tourists, as well as a bar and restaurant.

Boat safaris are also offered in Liwonde National Park and on the Shire River, which flows through the Majete Wildlife Reserve.

These boat safaris are a beloved activity that allows visitors to view a variety of wildlife from the water, including hippos and crocodiles while elephants and giraffes take a leisurely stroll and birds rest at the water’s edge.

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The clear turquoise waters of Lake Malawi are ideal for kayaking, as the tides are slower than those of the sea.

Most lodges and hotels on Lake Malawi rent kayaks to their guests.

Watch the colourful cichlids and majestic Fish Eagle as you glide through the calm waters of Lake Malawi, or go on an adventurous island hopping trip.

Kayaking is becoming increasingly popular, especially in Lake Malawi National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The two uninhabited islands in the park, Mumbo and Domwe, are stunningly unique and have never been inhabited and remain unspoiled.

Paddling your own kayak through the 8km separating these two islands can be an exciting experience.

Soak up the sun and embark on a great adventure on the water.

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Go on a sailing safari on the magnificent Lake Malawi.

Sailing is a water sport that uses the wind, rather than an engine, to propel the boat forward.

It is popular both recreationally and competitively and has even been adopted as a summer Olympic sport.

Since the waters of Lake Malawi have no currents, this makes them suitable for sailing.

Although the wind is not very strong, there is always a breeze for sailboats.

Many lakeside lodges offer sailboats for hire, so you can experience the freedom of sailing with the wind in your face.

A sailing highlight in Malawi is the Lake Malawi Sailing Marathon (LMSM), held annually in July/August.

The event has been running since 1984 and started as an idea by some sailors to sail north on Lake Malawi with deckchairs on the hull for casual sailing.

This international event consists of a series of day stages, covering a distance of 560 km northwards over 8 days.

The LMSM is not just a race on the lake, but also a challenge, an adventure, an opportunity to experience the beautiful country of Malawi and to enjoy the fellowship that is shared on this sailing safari.

The large number of sailors who visit the shores of Lake Malawi each year to take part in this competition confirm its appeal.

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Stand-up paddle boarding, also known as SUP, is a water sport that originated in Hawaii where the rider stands on a board and uses a paddle to navigate through the water.

With the help of a specially designed, highly floatable stable board and a trusty paddle, balance is achieved and you don’t need to be a pro to make easy progress.

Many people take up this sport for the exercise benefits, since it also helps to develop core strength and balance.

Aside from cruising with a paddle, you can also enjoy yoga, fitness and fishing on the board, you can even take your pets along for the ride, or simply lie down for a nap on the calm surface of the lake.

Feel the cool breeze blowing over the sparkling blue waters of Lake Malawi, paddle along the horizon and enjoy the dazzling views of the golden beaches from above the water.

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Windsurfing is a water sport that uses a sail attached to a sailboard to catch the wind and glide on the surface of the water.

The main attraction of windsurfing is that it does not use any artificial power, but only the force of the wind, which allows you to feel the majestic nature of Lake Malawi directly.

As a recreational sport, it can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, from beginners to children and elderly people.

Windsurfing has been an official Olympic sport since 1984.

Although windsurfing is a fairly new water sport in Malawi, it is becoming increasingly popular.

Why not head out to Lake Malawi and try windsurfing on the magnificent lake?

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Feel the exhilarating breeze as you ski gracefully across the water on the sparkling Lake Malawi.

Water skiing is a water sport in which the skier holds a rope handle attached to the back of a boat and skis on the water.

Water skiing requires a strong sense of balance, so with the guidance of a trained instructor, you’ll be dashing across the water and using your legs and knees with ease in no time.

Water skiing is available on Lake Malawi at several lodges and hotels.

Apart from skiing, there are also a variety of rides available where guests can stand or sit while being pulled behind a boat.

You will be drawn to this fun water sport activity once you have experienced the speed.

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Rafting is a recreational outdoor activity involving the use of a boat or inflatable raft to travel down river rapids.

It can be done alone, but is a great experience to enjoy with friends and family.

One of the best places to experience rafting in Malawi is on the Bua River in the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.

Enjoy the tranquility and natural beauty of the Bua River while looking out for diverse bird activity, riverside waterfalls and thirsty wildlife.

With your adrenaline flowing, a rafting adventure will make your trip to Malawi even more thrilling.

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Angling is a type or technique of fishing using ‘angles’ (fish hooks) for sport or leisure.

Malawi has an amazing variety of rivers, lakes and reservoirs, as well as Lake Malawi which is the third largest lake in Africa and is known to have the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world, making the country a rewarding angling destination.

Fishing rods and some equipment can be hired from lakeside hotels and lodges, and boats can be arranged in advance.

It is also possible to obtain locally made flies, but it is advisable to bring your own equipment.

Angling is possible all year round, but is most suitable from November to April during the rainy season, when there is an increase in fish species in the various waters.

The lake is home to many species of game fish.

The central and northern areas are rich in ferocious tigerfish and lake salmon which offer the most exciting sport.

River fishing is best along banks with thick reeds and weeds; the Bua River through the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and the Shire River through the Majete Wildlife Reserve are excellent angling spots.

Trout fishing is also a popular sport in the streams and dams of the Zomba Plateau, Nyika Plateau and Mulanje Massif, where only fly fishing is permitted.

To protect Malawi’s beautiful ecosystem, please ‘catch and let go’ when you catch a fish and return it to the water.

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In recent years, Malawi has gained popularity among wildlife lovers as an upcoming destination.

With the excellent collaboration between the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and African Parks, some innovative ideas on wildlife management and a conservation program to stop poaching, the wildlife numbers have increased and Malawi has been transformed into an exciting safari destination where a wide variety of wildlife can now be observed, including the Big Five.

Malawi has five national parks and four wildlife reserves, each with unique features.

Away from the crowds and in unspoilt wilderness, you can explore by safari vehicle, walking, trekking or by boat for an unforgettable safari experience.

This is the result of nearly two decades of hard work by the DNPW and African Parks.

In 2003, the first project of the DNPW and African Parks was the Majete Wildlife Reserve in southern Malawi, where poaching was so rampant that elephants, rhinos, lions and buffaloes had all been hunted down and only a few antelope remained.

This empty state of Majete has since been transformed into a wildlife wonderland: rhinos were introduced in 2003, 70 elephants in 2006, 4 lions in 2012 and 13 giraffes in 2018, 5 cheetahs in 2019, and 14 African dogs and a variety of animals were reintroduced in 2021.

A total of nearly 5,000 animals have been reintroduced to date, making Majete Malawi’s greatest wildlife treasure trove and the only ‘Big Five’ reserve in Malawi.

Since the initial introduction of rhinos and elephants, not a single animal has been poached in the reserve. Majete Wildlife Reserve is a conservation success story in Malawi.

Following the success of Majete, African Parks took on the collaborative management of Liwonde National Park and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in 2015.

In Liwonde, 7 cheetahs were introduced in 2017, 10 lions in 2018 and a further 17 black rhinos in 2019. This translocation of 17 black rhinos was one of the largest international black rhino translocations.

Currently, the cheetahs introduced in 2017 have doubled in number with the birth of some cubs.

Exciting times are also ahead for Nkhotakota: from July 2016 to August 2017, a total of more than 520 elephants and 2000 other animals including sable, waterbuck, kudu and impala were welcomed from Liwonde and Majete.

This was the largest elephant translocation in the history of nature conservation.

Poaching is now a thing of the past, thanks to well-trained and equipped ranger teams and strong community engagement.

It is also Malawi’s oldest national park, having been established in 1965.

Almost the entire Nyika Plateau, which rises over 2,500m above sea level, is designated as a national park, and the landscape of rolling hills, grasslands and flowers is breathtakingly stunning, leaving visitors speechless.

The name Nyika means “Where the water comes from”, since the plateau is Malawi’s most important catchment area.

It is also home to the richest orchid population in south-central Africa, with more than 200 species in bloom during the rainy season.

Eleven of these species are endemic to Nyika, and a further 27 are found nowhere else in Malawi.

Nearly 100 species of mammal have been recorded in Nyika National Park, including large herds of antelope and the largest population of leopard in Central Africa.

You can also see eland, roan, zebra, buffalo and elephant. Moreover, night drives also offer the possibility of encountering hyenas and other small nocturnal predators.

Nyika is also one of Malawi’s leading birding destinations, with over 400 bird species and four species found in Nyika that have not been recorded elsewhere in Malawi (Yellow Mountain Warbler, Chirring Cisticola, Ayres Cisticola and Mountain Marsh Widow).

The best way to appreciate the majestic scenery of Nyika is by taking a three-day hike to Livingstonia.

Mountain bikes can also be hired at the lodge.

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The combination of the Shire River which is the only outlet of Lake Malawi, and the rich mopane and grassland habitats provide a suitable environment for wildlife and birds, probably making Liwonde the most popular national park in Malawi.

Liwonde National Park has been managed by African Parks since 2015 which continues to transform Liwonde into a first-class safari destination.

Between July 2016 and August 2017, Liwonde contributed to the largest elephant translocation in history.

Out of a population of approximately 800 elephants, 336 elephants were relocated to the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, contributing to the recovery of wildlife in the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.

In 2017, seven cheetahs were reintroduced to Liwonde National Park for the first time in nearly 100 years.

Since then, the birth of eight cheetah cubs has been confirmed, more than doubling the number of cheetahs already in the park.

In 2018, 10 lions were also reintroduced from South Africa and Majete Wildlife Reserve.

In 2019, one of the largest ever international black rhino relocations took place, with 17 black rhinos relocated from South Africa to Liwonde.

Furthermore, in 2021, 14 African Wild Dogs were successfully relocated from South Africa and Mozambique to Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve.

This reintroduction is an international effort to protect the endangered African Wild Dog.

In addition, Liwonde National Park is home to an estimated 12,000 large mammals, including hippos, crocodiles, African buffalo, waterbuck, impala, common eland, sable antelope, bushbuck, kudu, hyena and warthog.

It is also one of Malawi’s leading birding spots and is home to around 400 bird species, including Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Skimmer, Brown-breasted Barbet, Lilian’s Lovebird and Bohm’s Bee-eater.

In addition to walking and driving safaris, Liwonde offers one of the best boat safari experiences in Africa.

It is also possible to hire a community guide at the main gate to show you around the park.

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It was subsequently designated a national park in 1970 and expanded to its current size of 887 km² in 1975.

The park is managed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW).

Lengwe National Park may seem a bit underwhelming after spending a day or two in Majete Wildlife Reserve.

This is because the wildlife found in the park has not been boosted by reintroduction schemes and is all in its natural habitat.

Lengwe National Park was originally Malawi’s most northerly nyala habitat.

Annual game counts conducted by the Wildlife and Environment Society of Malawi have shown a steady increase in the population of the main antelope species in the park, especially the rare nyala.

The park is also home to between 2,000 and 3,000 beautiful antelope and kudu.

On game drives, it is easy to spot Livingstone suni, bushbuck, impala, aardvark, yellow baboon, blue monkey, warthog, bush pig, velvet monkey and buffalo.

Lengwe is fairly dry outside the rainy season and the only stable source of water is rain.

This means that animals take advantage of the few puddles that are constantly supplied with water, and the dry season is ideal for game watching as many animals come to the water holes.

The Park is also home to a variety of bird species, with over 350 species recorded, including the colourful endemic Bohm’s Bee-eater, Crested Guineafowl, Vanga Flycatcher and Yellow-billed Hornbill.

Lengwe National Park is an ideal day trip from Blantyre.

The park’s restaurant offers a great place to eat while taking in the wildlife and scenery.

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With an area of 2,316 km², it is Malawi’s second largest national park after Nyika National Park. The park was once a favourite destination of the first President of Malawi, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

Kasungu National Park consists of miombo woodlands, grasslands and rolling hills, with a small lake and a wide marshy river.

The Dwanga and Lingadzi rivers are the main sources of water for the ecosystem, especially during the hot dry season from September to November, when water levels drop and animals are forced to move closer to the remaining water bodies in the park.

Kasungu National Park also contains several prehistoric sites, including iron-smelling kiln, rock paintings and the remains of a fortified village.

Climb the hill known as Black Rock for breathtaking views of the entire park with endless vistas.

Although the animal density is not as high as in Nyika, but elephants, various antelopes and small herds of buffalo and zebra can be seen.

Predators such as leopards, hyenas, servals and jackals are also present, but are not seen often.

There is also a significant number of hippos in the Lifupa Dam.

Just like in other parts of Malawi, bird watching is also prevalent at Kasungu National Park, with the ideal time to go being from June to September.

Kasungu National Park has a lodge and game drives and guided walks are also available, but you may easily drive about without a guide if you have a decent map.

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Majete Wildlife Reserve which was established in 1955 is located in southern Malawi, just south of Blantyre.

The reserve is the only park in Malawi where the ‘Big Five’ can be seen, and game drives and guided tours are available.

The story of Majete Wildlife Reserve is perhaps the most intriguing of all the parks in Malawi.

Until 2003, when the Malawi Government’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and African Parks initiated a project to rehabilitate the Majete Wildlife Reserve, the law was not adequate enough to deal with poaching so elephant, rhino, lion and buffalo had all been hunted out, leaving less wildlife and only a few remaining antelopes.

This empty Majete was transformed into a wildlife wonderland: a mass translocation of wildlife began in 2003 and by March 2012, 2,559 animals of 14 species had been reintroduced, including the Big Five: leopard, elephant, buffalo, black rhino and lion.

By 2017, elephants had bred to more than 430, and during the historic translocation of 520 elephants to the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, 200 elephants were also translocated from Majete, contributing to the repopulation of the reserve.

In 2018, 4 new lions, 2 males and 2 females, were reintroduced from South Africa to increase the genetic diversity of the population, and 5 cheetahs were introduced in 2019.

In July 2021, 14 African wild dogs were relocated from South Africa and Mozambique to Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve.

This was a historic project to protect the African Wild Dog, of which it is estimated that only 6,600 animals and 700 breeding pairs remain on the continent.

A total of nearly 5,000 wildlife have been reintroduced since then, but not a single animal has been poached in the reserve since 2003.

Majete Wildlife Reserve is a conservation success story in Malawi.

Located 1.5 hours’ drive from Blantyre, the reserve is ideal for a day visit.

Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and go exploring at Majete Wildlife Reserve, the only place in Malawi where the Big Five are all in one place.

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Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve has been managed by African Parks in collaboration with Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) since 2015 and its exciting future is very much in the spotlight.

The rugged terrain ranges from an altitude of 500m in the east to 1,63 m at the summit of Chipata Mountain, and the plateau is dotted with streams and waterfalls, making it a great spot for fishing, canoeing and river rafting.

Due to years of poaching and lawlessness, the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve was home to more than 1,500 elephants in the 1990s, but by 2015 the population had dwindled to less than 100.

However, between July 2016 and August 2017, African Parks successfully relocated a total of 520 elephants and 2000 animals, including sable, waterbuck, kudu and impala, from Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.

This was one of the largest relocations of elephants ever recorded in the history of the world.

The elephants’ return to the park has established it as an important ecotourism attraction.

The park also offers a wide range of activities, including fishing, canoeing and rafting.

The Bua River, which flows through the reserve, is home to lake salmon and offers exciting catch-and-release fishing.

On boat trips, you may see countless elephants bathing on the riverbanks.

Or on walking safaris, explore the pristine African wilderness with an armed guide, pursuing animal tracks and observing the many species of plants.

Alternatively, climb Chipata Mountain, the highest peak, and you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Nkhotakota across the horizon.

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In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Vwaza Marsh was one of the most famous places of ivory collection.

Today, it is one of the best places in Malawi to see elephants and buffaloes.

If you visit Nyika National Park by car, be sure to stop off at Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve at the foot of Nyika Plateau.

Both Nyika and Vwaza offer the ultimate safari experience in Malawi.

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve comprises of forests, grasslands and marshy plains, with several streams flowing into Lake Kazuni near the main entrance to the reserve.

Lake Kazuni is a small lake by Malawian standards, but very attractive for wildlife: it is home to more than 500 hippos and on most days hippos can be seen poking their heads out of the water.

Crocodiles can often be seen basking on the lake’s sandy beaches.

It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 buffalo in the vicinity, but their roaming habits mean that sightings are not easy to predict.

Hundreds of elephants inhabit the area and it is not uncommon to see herds of 30-40.

There are few predators, but lions, leopards and wild dogs have been spotted in the past.

A variety of other antelopes are also present, including the roan, greater kudu, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, eland and impala.

With around 300 bird species, bird watching is also popular in the park.

It is one of the best places in Malawi to view waders such as stork, heron and white-faced tree duck.

Wildlife viewing is best done on foot around Lake Kazuni or on wilderness trails.

You can either drive around the reserve in your own vehicle or arrange for a guide at the entrance to the reserve.

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Kuti Wildlife Reserve is a community-owned wildlife reserve situated in Salima.

The reserve covers 2,000 hectares, and less than 1.5 hours from Lilongwe and 30 minutes from Senga Bay.

The revenue raised is used for projects such as tree planting, rehabilitation of boreholes, and clinics and seedling production to help the surrounding villages.

The reserve is also the primary destination for rehabilitated animals from the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre that are ready for release into the wild.

Kuti was established in the 1990s after having been decommissioned as a government cattle ranch, and set as a wildlife reserve in 2005.

It has a diverse habitat ranging from brachystegia and miombo woodland through to grasslands, wetlands, and marshes.

Kuti Wildlife Reserve is home to a huge variety of free-roaming wildlife.

There are about 10 Reedbuck, 13 Eland, 15 Oribi, 15 Wildebeest, 20 Bush pig, 20 Warthog, 20 Kudu, 20 Nyala, 35 Duiker, 40 Impala, 50 waterbuck, 60 Baboons, 80 Vervet monkeys, 80 Bushbuck, 90 Zebra, over 120 Sable antelopes and one rescued Giraffe at Kuti.

There are no large predators and elephants in Kuti, so you can explore and take in your surroundings at your own pace on foot or by bike, without the need for a vehicle or scout.

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Located in southern Malawi, 25km from Blantyre, Game Haven Lodge is a unique retreat that combines tourism and wildlife conservation in the private Chimwenya Game Park.

The Game Park covers a total area of 520 acres and is home to 10 animal species including giraffe, eland, zebra, waterbuck, duiker, blue wildebeest sable, nyala, impala and jackal.

Experience playing golf on a beautifully manicured nine-hole course where wildlife roam freely.

A range of exciting activities are offered free of charge to guests, including game drives, guided game walks, mountain biking, bird watching, children’s playground, fishing and an 18-metre pool.

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Bird Watching

Malawi is home to over 650 species of birds, 10% of which cannot be found anywhere else in southern Africa.

Malawi is an invaluable birding destination for ornithologists and bird lovers, but even if you’ve never been birding before, the colourful variety of birds will fascinate you and give you the experience of a lifetime.

Malawi has a wide range of bird species, from the truly endemic Yellow-throated Apalis, to the endangered Cholo Alethe and the very large Marabou Stork, which reaches over 150 cm.

The reason for this is easily seen in Malawi’s geographical location and the diversity of its environmental range.

Malawi is a unique country, being long and narrow in shape, with one third of its land area occupied by the huge and beautiful Lake Malawi.

The Nyika plateau in the north, the rainforests in the mountains of Mulanje in the south, and the wetlands on the shores of Lake Malawi and along the Shire River – plateaus, mountains, lakes and wetlands all coexist in a relatively small area of land, providing for all kinds of bird habitat requirements.

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Located in Northern Malawi, Nyika National Park is home to over 400 species of birds and is a true birdwatching hotspot in Malawi.

The park is widely regarded as one of the most scenic parks in Africa, with rolling montane grasslands, interspersed with montane forests in the valleys, but with vast expanses of miombo forest at the bottom of the slopes.

10 Birds to See in Nyika National Park

1. Blue Swallow 2. Churring Cisticola 3. Wattled Crane 4. Sharpe’s Akalat 5. Short-winged Cisticola 6. Augur Buzzard 7. Stanley’s Bustard 8. Red-winged Francolin 9. Mountain Marsh Widow 10. Yellow Mountain Warbler

Located in the Lower Shire Valley, Lengwe National Park is home to over 330 species of birds, most of which are endemic, but some migratory birds can be seen.

Birdwatching is possible throughout the year, but the best time to see a combination of both local and migratory birds is during the rainy season from November to April.

10 Birds to See in Lengwe National Park

1. Crested Guinea Fowl 2. Yellow-billed Hornbill 3. Brown Snake Eagle 4. Little Spotted Woodpecker 5. African Paradise Flycatcher 6. Bohm’s Bee-eater 7. Long-crested Eagle 8. Woolly-necked Stork 9. Rudd’s Apalis 10. Vanga Flycatcher

Situated along the Shire side, Liwonde National Park is probably the most popular birding destination in Southern Malawi.

The park is home to around 300 species of birds as well as large mammals such as lions, elephants and hippos.

The park offers walking and driving safari, but if you like waterbirds, you can also take a boat ride and watch them relax by the water.

10 Birds to See in Liwonde National Park

1. African Pitta 2. Speckle-throated Woodpecker 3. African Skimmer 4. White-backed Night Heron 5. Lilian’s Lovebird 6. Pel’s Fishing Owl 7. Bat Hawk 8. Bohm’s Bee-eater 9. African Broadbill 10. Brown-breasted Barbet

Lake Malawi which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an excellent habitat for many birds that enjoy the special vegetation in the water, on the islands and on the lakeshores.

Malawi’s national bird, the majestic African Fish Eagle swoops down from the tops of the trees to target underwater fish.

The giant Marabou Stork is one of the most impressive birds to be seen near the lake due to its size.

10 Birds to See in Lake Malawi

1. African Fish Eagle 2. Marabou Stork 3. Trumpeter Hornbill 4. Southern Masked Weaver 5. Common Sandpiper 6. Brown Headed Parrot 7. Collared Palm Thrush 8. Mourning Dove 9. Pel’s Fishing Own 10. African Pal Swift

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Mount Mulanje is Malawi’s highest mountain at 3,002m in southern Malawi.

It rises abruptly from the plains at an altitude of 600-700m to a plateau at an altitude of 1,800-1,900m, on top of which rises a rocky peak with a maximum height of 3,002m.

These highlands provide a unique habitat and around 180 bird species have been recorded.

The endangered Cholo Alethe has also been found here.

10 Birds to See in Mount Mulanje

1. Cholo Alethe 2. White-winged Apalis 3. Little Greenbul 4. Martial Eagle 5. Crowned Eagle 6. Green-headed Oriole 7. Black Eagle 8. Lanner Falcon 9. Peregrine Falcon 10. Lazy Cisticola

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Located 60km south-west of Lilongwe, the Dzalanyama Forest Reserve is one of Malawi’s leading birdwatching destinations.

Almost the entire reserve is covered by miombo forest, which is an important habitat for the Miombo bird species.

Around 300 bird species have been identified and Dzalanyama often hosts international birdwatchers.

10 Birds to See in Dzalanyama Forest Reserve

1. Miombo Pied Barbet 2. Miombo Tit 3. Pale-billed Hornbill 4. Schalow’s Turaco 5. Streaky-headed Seedeater 6. Bohm’s Flycatcher 7. Boulder Chat 8. Striped Breasted Seedeater 9. Olive-headed Weaver 10. Souza’s Shrike

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The Zomba Plateau is one of Malawi’s highlands, along with the Nyika Plateau.

However, in contrast to the moorlands and grasslands of Nyika, the Zomba Plateau is home to vast cedar, pine and cypress forests interspersed with a variety of endemic wildflowers, forming a paradise for birds.

Although there are not as many mammal species as compared to Nyika, it is home to many colourful and vibrant bird species.

10 Birds to See in Zomba Plateau

1. Bar-throated Apalis 2. Garden Warbler 3. Cape Batis 4. Little Greenbul 5. White-eared Barbet 6. Magpie 7. Forest Waver 8. Yellow-throated Apalis 9. White-winged Apalis 10. Blue-spotted Dove

best tourist places in malawi

Located near Zomba, Lake Chilwa is Malawi’s second largest tropical lake with no outlet.

The lake is home to about 160 species, some of which come from Siberia along the Asia-East Africa Flyway to hibernate during winter.

To see all the waterbirds, it is best to take a boat with the help of a tour guide.

10 Birds to See in Lake Chilwa

1. Lesser Jacana 2. Egyptian Goose 3. Little Bittern 4. Lesser Flamingo 5. Egyptian Goose 6. Knob-billed Duck 7. Spur-winged Goose 8. White Pelican 9. Mottled Spinetail 10. Giant Kingfisher

Ntchisi Forest Reserve which lies about 90km north-east of Lilongwe, at an altitude of 1500-1700 m and covers an area of about 75 km², is one of Malawi’s remaining intact tropical rainforests.

The richness of the vegetation in this forest – pines towering 30m overhead, brachystegia, heliconia, giant figs, vines and ferns – ensures that birdwatchers see a wide range of bird species.

10 Birds to See in Ntchisi Forest Reserve

1. Ashy Flycatcher 2. Schalow’s Turaco 3. Namaqua Dove 4. African Emerald Cuckoo 5. Mourning Dove 6. Blue-spotted Wood Dove 7. Cape Turtle Dove 8. Diederick Cuckoo 9. Laughing Dove 10. Red-eyed Dove

best tourist places in malawi

Malawi is an idyllic country for hiking and trekking and has one of the most exceptional landscapes in Africa.

Lake Malawi occupies a quarter of the country and its lowest point is almost at sea level, while Malawi’s highest peak, Mount Mulanje, reaches 3,002 metres.

This variety of elevation in a small country means that there is a breathtaking variety of lush trails throughout Malawi, including plateaus, highlands, forests, mountains, plains, sheer cliffs and dramatic river valleys.

Mount Mulanje is made up of hard metamorphic rocks such as granite and diorite and has the longest rock-climbing trails in Africa.

It may look like a precipitous, rugged mountain, but once you step onto the mountain, you will find lush grasslands and forested plateaus.

Many hikers refer to it as ‘Island in the Sky’ because of its majestic appearance as it looms surrounded by clouds soaring towards the sky.

Other prominent hiking and trekking destinations are also included in this booklet such as Nyika in the North, Dedza and Dzalanyama in the Central region and Zomba in the South.

This article also contains some hidden hiking and trekking destinations known only to locals that can be appreciated on a day trip.

– Highest Mountain in Malawi –

Hiking Difficulty Scale:

Estimated Hiking Time: 3 Hours to 3 Days (depending on route)

Height: 3,002m

Mount Mulanje which is Malawi’s highest mountain (3,002 m) is located 65 km east of Blantyre and is locally known as “chilumba mu mlengalenga” (‘Island in the sky’).

This is because on misty days the mountain is shrouded in a smoky haze and the peak of the mountain breaks through the clouds.

The Mulanje massif is composed of hard metamorphic rocks such as granite and greenstone, which were formed by magma eruptions about 130 million years ago, eroding the surrounding soft rocks and gradually exposing them.

To the west of the mountain lies Chambe Peak, Africa’s longest rock-climbing spot, and although the climb may seem precipitous and rugged, once you step onto the mountain you are surrounded by valleys and ridges with grasslands, wooded plateaus and forested valleys that offer remarkable green vistas.

Mount Mulanje has 6 major trailheads and 10 mountain lodges, with more than 20 peaks above 2,500 m scattered throughout the area.

Hiking routes can be set up in a variety of ways, but it is best to decide according to your interests and the number of days you can spend in the mountains.

You can take a walk through the green tea plantations at the foot of the mountain or embark on a day hike to the spectacular Likhubula falls or attempt to climb Malawi’s highest peak, Sapitwa, while staying in a clean and simple mountain lodge.

This is guaranteed to be an unforgettable adventure.

Guides and porters can be arranged on the day of the hike at the various trailheads at the foot of the mountain.

Although guides and porters are not mandatory, it is recommended that you hike with a guide because it can be difficult to find your way in unfamiliar terrain and the weather can change abruptly.

best tourist places in malawi

– Walk amongst Wildlife – 

Estimated Hiking Time: 1 to 5 Days (depending on route)

Height: 2,605m

Located in northern Malawi, Nyika National Park covers an area of 3,200km 2 and is the largest national park in Malawi.

It is also home to the richest orchid population in south-central Africa, with more than 200 species in bloom during the rainy season. Eleven of these species are endemic to Nyika, and a further 27 are found nowhere else in Malawi.

You can also see eland, roan, zebra, buffalo and elephant.

Moreover, night drives also offer the possibility of encountering hyenas and other small nocturnal predators.

– Experience the Most Spectacular Spots –

Estimated Hiking Time: 1 to 8 Hours (depending on route)

Height: 2,087m

The Zomba Plateau extends behind Zomba Town, which was also Malawi’s first capital until 1974, when the first president moved the capital to Lilongwe.

The plateau is a huge mountain of about 130 km², with its highest point, Malombe Peak, reaching 2,087 meters above sea level.

It is perfect for hiking, and the view of Zomba from the top of the mountain is so remarkable that it came to be known as “the best in the British Empire” during the colonial period.

Giant butterflies and baboons can also be seen on the plateau.

Many hikers use the Sunbird Ku Chawe Hotel as a starting point for their hikes, and the Zomba Plateau offers a wide range of beautiful scenery, including Malombe Peak, Chingwe’s Hole, William’s Falls and many more.

There are various locations where you may take in the beautiful and breathtaking vistas.

The Zomba Plateau is located approximately 80 km north of Blantyre and offers a variety of hiking trails ranging from 1- 8 hours in duration, making it possible to have a day trip from Blantyre.

Additionally, Zomba also offers excellent accommodation, restaurants, and British colonial architecture such as the Governor General’s residence and the Old Parliament buildings.

We strongly encourage you to spend the night in the area because there are so many historical sites to explore.

best tourist places in malawi

– Discover the Largest Man-made Forest in Africa –

Height: 2,050m

Located at an altitude of 1,700 m in northern Malawi, the Viphya Plateau is home to the Viphya Forest, which covers an area of 560 km² and is considered the largest planted forest in Africa.

It is an exciting highland wilderness with several beautiful rivers flowing into Lake Malawi, mixed with montane grasslands, evergreen forests and exotic pine species, and a spectacular scenic landscape.

There are many excellent hiking trails, especially around the Luwawa Forest Lodge, with marked paths and safe walks through the forest.

Walking through the plantations of sweet-smelling pine trees, you can feel a sense of peace and tranquillity.

The area is also ideal for birdwatching, with more than 280 wonderful bird species to observe.

The most popular walk is the three-day walk, which begins at Kawandama Hills, passes through the Viphya Forest wilderness, descends the steep slopes of the Rift Valley and finishes near the Kande Beach Resort on the shores of Lake Malawi.

For all hikers who love outdoor activities, this is a dream come true in Malawi.

It is also perhaps the best area for mountain biking in the country.

The Luwawa International Mountain Bike Marathon has been held every June since the first edition in 2004.

The race starts at Kasito Lodge and finishes at Luwawa Forest Lodge, 53 km away.

– Malawi’s Last Remaining Tropical Rainforest –

Estimated Hiking Time: 3 Hours

Height: 1,702m

Located at an altitude of 1500-1700m, and covering an area of approximately 75 km2, Ntchisi Forest Reserve is one of Malawi’s last remaining intact rainforests, located about 90 km north-east of Lilongwe.

The climate at Ntchisi Forest Reserve is cooler than in the surrounding lowlands, making it suitable for sheltering from the summer heat.

In the mountain lowlands, visitors can walk through a variety of vegetation, including pines, Brachystegia and Heliconia towering 30 metres overhead, and giant figs, vines and ferns in the rainforest.

The flora of this rainforest is of outstanding natural beauty and a true highlight of the area.

There are several walking options within the reserve.

Three colour-coded trails – red, blue and yellow – are available, and are all well marked, with trees and rocks regularly painted in their respective colours.

Ntchisi Forest Lodge which is located within the reserve, has been developed in recent years to cater for international visitors and is rapidly gaining a reputation for itself.

The hiking trails can be enjoyed as a day trip from Lilongwe, but after hiking, a late lunch at the lodge or an overnight stay for a delicious course dinner is also a superb option.

– Most Rewarding Mountain to Climb around Lilongwe –

Estimated Hiking Time: 4 Hours

Height: 1,800m

Nkhoma Mountain rises behind Nkhoma Mission Hospital, about 60 km south of Lilongwe on the M1 road, and can be seen from the centre of Lilongwe.

Nkhoma Synod was founded in 1889 by Scottish missionaries from South Africa, and Nkhoma subsequently became the Mission’s headquarters.

The area around Nkhoma Mission is a lovely, green, tranquil place with historic buildings.

Nkhoma mountain has two peaks, Nkhoma and Mbalambala, locally known as ‘the-two-headed mountain’.

It is very popular with local hikers as the most challenging and rewarding of the mountains around Lilongwe.

From the top of the mountain, you can see Lilongwe, Lake Malawi and other distant landscapes.

The spectacular views will leave you awestruck.

The first part of the hike is not signposted, so ask a local to guide you.

After the first 4 km, a gentle gradient with colourful wildflowers, a hut is erected.

The next 2 km to the summit are more rocky and more challenging, but even beginners can make it to the top.

best tourist places in malawi

– Explore the Closest Nature Reserve from Blantyre –

Height: 1,470m

At 1,460 m above sea level, Michiru Mountain is the closest nature reserve to Blantyre, located 8 km north-west of Blantyre Township, and is the only mountain around Blantyre that still contains primary forest and some wildlife.

Michiru Mountain is an ideal day hike or picnic from the Blantyre area and is popular with families and local young people, as well as international tourists.

There are several hiking routes, the most popular being the ‘Way of the Cross/ Njira ya Mtanda ‘.

There are 15 points leading up to the main cross at the top, depicting the events of Jesus’ journey to Golgotha.

You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy the well-maintained path and atmosphere.

You can also take in the view of Blantyre while having a snack at a picnic table near the cross.

If you have time and energy to spare, try to reach the summit of Michiru Mountain.

The hike to the top takes about three hours, but the panoramic view from there is spectacular.

best tourist places in malawi

– Walk through Tea and Coffee Estates –

Height: 1,462m

Located in Malawi’s southern Thyolo district, Satemwa Tea Estate was established in 1923 and is one of Malawi’s oldest tea and coffee estates.

It has been producing excellent tea and coffee for almost 100 years and exports it all over the world.

With more than 170km of dirt roads and hundreds of paths and tracks, Satemwa is the perfect place for those seeking an unusual and special hike.

Take a leisurely stroll along the banks of the creek while enjoying a guided walk through the coffee fields or you can climb the rocky slopes of Thyolo Mountain for magnificent views of Mount Mulanje and the Lower Shire Valley.

In the evening, Thyolo’s magnificent tea plantations are coloured golden by the sunset.

This spectacular view is a must-see for sunset lovers.

The site also provides an ideal habitat for Malawi’s many species of birds, including the endangered Thyolo Alethe (Alethe choloensis).

After a hike at Satemwa Tea Estate, relax with a cup of tea or coffee and soak up the calm and tranquility.

best tourist places in malawi

– Malawi’s Most Spectacular View from the Summit –

Estimated Hiking Time: 6 Hours

Located in Livingstonia, Rumphi District, the Chombe Plateau is still not well known, but from the top of the plateau, the view of Lake Malawi and the surrounding mountains of Tanzania and Mozambique is spectacular and will make you forget the long way up.

best tourist places in malawi

Cultural and Historical Sites

Malawi has much more to offer culturally and historically than just Lake Malawi and safaris.

Here are some of the places you should visit when you are in Malawi.

The Rock Art is one of Malawi’s most neglected national treasures, containing 127 rock art sites that feature the most concentrated cluster of rock art found in Central Africa.

Of all the 127 sites, only three are open to public – Chentcherere, Namzeze and Mphunzi.

All the sites are being maintained by the Antiquities Section of the Malawi Department of Culture.

best tourist places in malawi

The monument was constructed in honour of all soldiers and civilians who died during the First and Second World Wars and other military operations both within and outside Malawi.

The view from the top is the one of the best viewing points of the city in Lilongwe.

best tourist places in malawi

Visitors can watch the talented artists go to work on blocks of wood, carving them into exquisite sculptures.

Chamare Museum was established on the ground of the Kungoni Centre in 2012 and is beautifully decorated with vibrant murals depicting scenes from Malawian history.

Its three rooms are located in the three main tribal groups (Chewa, Ngoni and Yao) which meet in the Mua area, with over 400 Gule Wamkulu masks.

best tourist places in malawi

41. Cultural & Museum Centre Karonga – CMCK (Karonga)

It is Karonga’s newest and most worthwhile attraction, this thoroughly modern and commendably informative installation deserves an hour or two of your time.

The central exhibition entitled ‘Malawi from Dinosaurs to Democracy’ focuses on 240 million years of Karonga via milestones such as prehistoric landscapes, animals and early humans and their way of life, archaeological records, history of slave trade and colonial era, Malawi under Dr. Banda, culture and traditions of Karonga people.

The main exhibit is a life-size replica skeleton of the Malawisaurus (Malawi Lizards), whose virtually intact 120-million-year-old fossil skeleton was discovered in 1924 in Karonga District.

There is also a superb sequence of displays on human evolution, including replica of the 2.5-million-year-old Hominid’s jawbone discovered near Chilumba in 1991.

best tourist places in malawi

The museum has interesting exhibits mainly on the history and culture of Malawi and the wildlife of Malawi’s national parks.

The exhibits range from Stone Age tools to old banknotes, traditional musical instruments and artefacts, and documents relating to the slave trade and Malawi’s independence.

Outside the building you will find an old locomotive from 1902, Malawi’s first fire engine, a bus from Nyasaland and a small house where you can learn about the traditional way of life.

best tourist places in malawi

43. St. Peter’s Cathedral (Likoma)

After the foundation stone of the Cathedral was laid by Bishop Gerald Trower in 1903, the cathedral was dedicated in 1905 and completed by Bishop Thomas Cathrew Fisher in 1911.

Native granite was used in the cathedral’s construction, while other materials were carried over from mainland and other countries, including bricks, timber, lime and cement.

Soil from Jerusalem was placed under the high altar.

It is said to be the third largest cathedral in Central Africa and the same size as Winchester Cathedral in the UK.

Its beautiful stained-glass windows, elaborate stone work and sheer scale convey the seal of the missionary creator’s religions conviction.

best tourist places in malawi

This magnificent red-brick church has been designated a national monument by the Malawian Department of Antiquities and is one of the biggest landmarks of Blantyre.

It has been described by Rev. Alexander Hetherwick as the first permanent Christian Church erected between the Zambezi and the Nile rivers.

The architect, Rev. David Clement Scott previously had no prior experience in architecture or building.

The local laborers also had no experience in this type of construction.

There were no drawings, nor sketches before construction, so everything was first tested with bricks before the final assembly.

You’ll see that the two towers on both sides are quite different and not designed to be identical, another distinctive feature of the church’s architecture.

best tourist places in malawi

Visitors are welcome to join in the Sunday morning service.

The Old Stone House, built in 1903, was once the home of Dr. Robert Laws for 25 years, and it is now a small museum with fascinating exhibits on the history of Livingstonia.

best tourist places in malawi

Local Food and Drink

Nsima is Malawi’s national dish, made from maize flour mixed with hot water and kneaded until thickened.

Nsima is most popular in Malawi, although other types of carbohydrates such as rice, cassava and potatoes are also eaten.

Nsima is usually eaten with bare hands with stewed vegetables, fish, beans or meat.

Kondowole is a staple food eaten mainly in northern Malawi, similar to Nsima, but whereas Nsima is made from maize flour, Kondowole is made from cassava flour.

Kondowole is usually eaten with fish, but can be eaten with any type of side dish.

It is sticky and filling, and some people say that if they eat Kondowole for lunch, they are not hungry at night, even if they have not eaten anything else.

Try this delicious dish when travelling in northern Malawi.

One of Malawi’s most famous dishes is chambo.

Chambo is endemic to Lake Malawi and is a type of freshwater fish in the tilapia family.

It is dried in the sun, grilled, boiled or fried and eaten with soup.

In Malawi, it can be found in many restaurants and hotels, especially on the shores of Lake Malawi.

A trip to Malawi is not complete without a taste of chambo.

Zitumbuwa is a popular snack in Malawi, similar to banana fritters.

They are usually fried after mixing maize flour, bananas and sugar together and come in different variations.

Desserts are eaten on special occasions in Malawi, and zitumbuwa is one of the cheapest and tastiest desserts available on Malawi’s roadsides and markets.

If you get hungry while sightseeing or shopping in Malawi, try zitumbuwa.

Thobwa is a traditional fermented drink popular throughout Malawi, made from maize and millet or sorghum, with a milky appearance, grain flavour and grainy texture.

Because Thobwa is made from maize, it is very filling and many Malawians take it as their energy drink for the day, and it is sold everywhere in recycled plastic bottles in towns and in clay pots in villages.

The name, Thobwa means ‘sweet beer’ and is non-alcoholic but becomes a local beer when left to ferment for five days.

  • Lake Malawi
  • Cultural & Historical Sites
  • Lilongwe & Central
  • Blantyre & South
  • Mzuzu & North
  • Things to Do
  • Setting up a Business
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Facility Tour
  • Special Feature
  • Before You Go
  • Chichewa Lesson

best tourist places in malawi

Malawi Creations in Lilongwe

best tourist places in malawi

Queen Tenge in Lilongwe

best tourist places in malawi

Anna’s Car Rental (Lilongwe, Blantyre)

best tourist places in malawi

Kapani Kanengo Shopping Mall in Lilongwe

best tourist places in malawi

Sanitary Pads from Banana Stems in Malawi

Top Malawi Attractions

Things to do in malawi, explore popular experiences, popular cities in malawi.

best tourist places in malawi

Top Attractions in Malawi

best tourist places in malawi

Multi-day Tours

best tourist places in malawi

Private Sightseeing Tours

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Outdoor Activities

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What travellers are saying

Lilian B

Intentional Travelers

6 Places You Must Visit in Malawi

We are proud members of the U.S. Peace Corps community and love to partner with our fellow Peace Corps Volunteers, who often have some of the best insights into the culture and authentic travel experiences available in their host country. We asked Madisen Hughes, a former Volunteer and current resident in Malawi, to share her expertise on the best places to visit in Malawi.

Malawi is a small, landlocked country situated between Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania, and houses Africa’s third largest and most biodiverse lake, Lake Malawi. While the lake accounts for most of Malawi’s small area (about one-fifth of the country’s entire square footage is water), the “Warm Heart of Africa” boasts some of the most under-appreciated landscapes in the world. In the north you can hike through dense forests and rolling mountains; in the south you’ll find plateaus and expansive valleys filled with wildlife.

When to visit Malawi: The best time to visit Malawi is between March–June and October–November, otherwise you risk a wet, rainy trip.

How to get to Malawi: You can fly into either major airport, Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe or Chileka International Airport in Blantyre. Flying into Lilongwe will grant you better access to spots in the Northern region of Malawi, as Blantyre is the southernmost city in the country.

How long to stay in Malawi: Regardless of which city you arrive in, Malawi is a tiny country that can be traversed fully within a week or two.

Best places to visit in Malawi

The map above shows the location of the must see Malawi travel destinations mentioned in this post.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

6. Zomba, Malawi

Zomba - best places to visit in Malawi

Fresh fruit, plateau viewpoints, and rich, vibrant flora lining the streets.

Arriving in Zomba you’ll be struck by the colors before anything else- wild flowers lining the streets and ancient, massive trees providing natural canopy at every stop. Zomba is a small city with a population of a little over 100,000 and used to be Malawi’s capital city before it was moved to Lilongwe.

If you’re active and like to explore on foot, you’ll never be bored in Zomba. Take a stroll around the city and you’ll see bits of pieces of the town’s British colonial past in the architecture and monuments. The city is small and you’re never too far from the city’s marketplace, a bustling trading center where you can purchase fresh fruit, spices, and souvenirs.

The main attraction, however, is Zomba Plateau – a lush oasis whose highest peak reaches 2,087 meters above sea level. Towering over the city, Zomba Plateau is both impossible to ignore, ridiculously easy to access, and stunningly beautiful. From grand waterfalls to views of the Shire River Valley below, there’s no shortage of sites to see or places to explore.

You can hike from the city (just ask the locals to point the way), or take a taxi up to a lookout point near the peak – Williams Falls . I prefer to pitch a tent on the plateau – there is a beautiful campsite called Trout Farm – but hotel accommodation is available if you forgot your camping gear! There are also opportunities to horseback ride and swim atop the plateau; most of these experiences can be sought out at any of the lodges in town.

Where to stay in Zomba, Malawi: My favorite place in Zomba is Pakachere Backpacker’s Lodge . They offer dorm beds as well as private rooms.

5. Mount Mulanje, Malawi

Mount Mulanje - best places to visit in Malawi

Water falling into clear springs, tea estates, and an island in the sky.

A personal favorite of mine, I couldn’t leave Mount Mulanje off the list of the best things to do in Malawi. Located an hour southeast of Blantyre, Mulanje is a district in the Southern region that contains the tallest mountain in the country, Mount Mulanje. Rising up over 3,000 meters, Mulanje is known as the “island in the sky” because it towers majestically and unexpectedly from the flat plains below.

There’s a network of paths, trails, and roads that go up and around the mountain, which offer a range of experiences from light hiking to serious rock scramble. I suggest taking a few days to explore all that this location has to offer. There are tall waterfalls, stunning views of the land below, and deep, natural water holes to discover here! If hiking isn’t for you, spend some time at one of the various tea estates in and around town. I recommend Thyolo Tea Estates.

Keep in mind that if you plan on reaching Mount Mulanje’s summit, you’ll need at least three days and a guide with you. Camping and hiking equipment is available to rent in town! Go with a group if possible. Guides charge $25 per day which can be split amongst a larger group.

Where to stay near Mount Mulanje, Malawi: I’d suggest Nalipiri Tourist Lodge , which has a pool and breakfast included.

Other Peace Corps Volunteers recommend a village homestay on Airbnb that’s not currently available.

4. Cape Maclear, Malawi

Cape Maclear - where to go in Malawi

Live music on the beach, funky cichlids, and baboons roaming free.

Cape Maclear is situated on the Nankumba Peninsula in Malawi’s southern region, located within Lake Malawi National Park . It’s a tiny, relaxed coastal town with funky lodges, great hiking spots, and opportunities to dive and enjoy the water. If you’re a backpacker and sans hefty luggage, opt for the motorbike ride into Cape Maclear. It’s a scenic ride through the National Park, with baboons running wild and incredible views of the lake.

Cape Maclear is vibrant and lively with cozy beachside restaurants and bars. If you scuba dive (or want to become certified), Cape Maclear is one of the best and cheapest places to get out and into the water. You can become scuba certified for around $250 here. The lake itself is the biodiverse in the world, boasting at least 700 species of cichlid- a perfect experience for novice and experienced divers alike.

Whether you stay for a night or a week, Cape Maclear is fun and social, with live music on the weekends and the ability to bar hop along the beach.

Where to stay in Cape Maclear, Malawi: The lodge, Funky Cichlid on the beach, is great. 

Browse Cape Maclear accommodations here >

3. Dedza, Malawi

Landscape around Dedza I (15061259755)

Ancient art, jagged rock, and African coffee atop the mountain.

Dedza is a district of Malawi that divides the Southern and Central regions, and is a great location to stop by if you’re traveling the length of the country. Just 80 kilometers south of Lilongwe, this town sits high up in the Dedza Mountains and is the highest city in Malawi at 1,600 meters. If you’re a rock-climber, this is the spot to do some bouldering and climbing .

This town is rich with culture- ancient historic traditions can still be seen even now in the art, music, and traditions of the town. Up in the dense forests and granite hills of Dedza is Chongoni Rock Art , a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcasing ancient rock art and paintings done by BaTwa hunter-gatherers and Chewa agriculturists in the Stone Age and Iron Age.

While you’re in town, stop by Dedza Pottery to grab some souvenirs and watch craftsmen create beautifully molded pieces in the workshop, all while enjoying a cup of coffee and a bit of cake!

Where to stay in Dedza, Malawi:  The main accommodation is Dedza Pottery Lodge which has a nice cafe as well.

2. Nkhata Bay, Malawi

A small jetty into Lake Malawi at Nkhata Bay, northern Malawi

Clear, azure water, dense forest, and wooden canoes dotting the shoreline.

If you find yourself in Malawi’s northern region, Nkhata Bay is a must see. A port town and center of the lake’s fishing industry, this network of villages and marketplaces is now a hub of tourism. Nestled into the side of rocky, rolling mountains, Nkhata Bay boasts scenic hiking trails and beautiful swimming spots, as well as great diving opportunities.

Mayoka Village Lodge is easily accessible from the town’s center and is an ideal place to kick back and relax lakeside. They offer kayaking, paddle-boarding, and snorkeling to guests free of charge. Don’t miss out on the boat cruises, which include a full afternoon touring the beaches and nearby islands of Nkhata Bay, offering cliff-jumping and a chance to see African Fish Eagles in action.

If you are looking for something more private and secluded, head up to Usisya Eco-Lodge- a hidden gem surrounded by lush forest and tons of wildlife. It’s a quiet oasis for those who want to kick back on the beach with a good book and forget about the world.

Where to stay in Nkhata Bay, Malawi:  As mentioned above, I recommend Mayoka Village Lodge on the lake, or the more secluded Usisya Eco Lodge .

Browse vacation rentals at Nkhata Bay on here >

1. Liwonde National Park, Malawi

Wide open plains, rolling hills, and curious elephants at your balcony.

When in East Africa, see the Big Five in action! Fortunately, Malawi offers several opportunities for you to grab your camera and catch some of the world’s most lucrative animals. From Nyika National Park in the north to Majete National Park in the southernmost tip of the country, Malawi has 5 national parks and just as many game and wildlife reserves.

Liwonde National Park is a great option for those traveling around Malawi, as it’s accessible and on the way to many other major destinations. After decades of wildlife poaching, Liwonde has spent the past few years prioritizing wildlife conservation and rehabilitation. For the first time in years, you can find the Big Five (as well as dozens of other species) in Liwonde National Park.

Where to stay in Liwonde National Park, Malawi: I recommend staying at Kuchire Lodge , where elephants have been known to wander into the hotel premises and greet guests at night. You may be in for a surprise!

Browse accommodations near Liwonde National Park >

✈️ Protect your Malawi trip with Travel Insurance – We’ve started using Nomad Insurance by Safety Wing for affordable evacuation, international medical, and trip coverage.

As the home of rich, vibrant culture, stunning landscapes and the Big Five to boot, it’s no surprise that East Africa is gaining popularity amongst travelers worldwide. It is gorgeous, it is affordable, and there is so much to explore.

As an expatriate in my second year of living in Eastern Africa, I have ventured off the beaten path and seen a fair amount of what this incredible region of the world has to offer. But even after traveling all around this pocket of the globe, I still keep coming back to the natural wonders located in my current home country, Malawi.

About the Author: Madisen Hughes has been a History teacher, barista, Peace Corps Volunteer, and law student. When she is not writing or working, you can find her stuck on a minibus or perfecting her game of chess. She and her cat, Rosie, share a home in Lilongwe, Malawi and enjoy traveling around southern Africa. More information and her blog can be found at . 

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6 places you must visit in Malawi - what to see and do, where to stay in Malawi | Intentional Travelers

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I was in Malawi this past January, but didn’t get much opportunity to travel as I was there to teach. I did make it over to Lake Malawi for a short visit. I hope to return next year so I appreciated reading your thoughts on what to see.

Thanks for stopping by and taking time to leave a comment, Stephen. We hope this article will be helpful when you return to Malawi!

Wonderful! Malawi is truly a gem with some of the warmest and calmest people. For me, trekking Mulanje Mountain was my favorite part of Malawi and probably one of the best experiences in my 8 years of travel!

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best tourist places in malawi

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best tourist places in malawi

Welcome to Malawi!

African’s Warm Heart, Malawi, is beating faster now and the legendary welcome is there for all who wish to experience the unrivalled combination of Lake , Landscape , Wildlife & Culture in one of Africa's most beautiful and compact countries. Recently crowned as one of Lonely Planet's Best in Travel Top Countries for 2022 (a remarkable second appearance on that prestigious list in recent years) Malawi’s tourism is set to return to the upward trajectory it was on pre-pandemic.

Described as the ‘Warm Heart Of Africa’, this relatively little known gem of this diverse continent has so much to offer; wildlife, culture, adventure, scenery, and of course the third largest lake in Africa. A year-round destination, some even go as far to describe Malawi as the most attractive and complete destination in Africa!

This may seem to be an extravagant claim for such a relatively small country but the truth lies in the unique combination of attractions that Malawi has to offer. Where else will you find such rich cultural interaction and such a genuinely warm welcome in a country at peace with itself? Where else can you experience such a diverse scenic kaleidoscope in such a small area? Here you have central Africa’s highest mountain, vast high plateaux with seemingly limitless views, forests and unspoilt game parks and, the jewel in the crown, Africa’s third largest and most beautiful lake – truly an inland sea. With thrilling safaris now rivalling its neighbours thanks to the sustainable wildlife revolution brought about by Africa Parks, it’s easy to see why Malawi is now proving so popular.

Malawi’s tourist industry is vital to the overall economy of the country and supports huge numbers of local Malawians through employment and community projects, as well as helping conserve the country’s natural riches. As it attempts to recover from the damage caused by COVID-19, and continue in its important role, the industry is doing all it can to ensure the well-being of its visitors. A set of national COVID-19 Health & Safety protocols for tourism has been established, that have resulted in the award of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Safe Travels Stamp . WTTC’s Stamp was established to show travellers which destinations have adopted globally standardised health and hygiene protocols in order that they can experience ‘Safe Travels’.

This site is brought to you by members of Malawi's travel and tourism industry - accommodation providers , tours & safari companies , and transport companies . Everything you might need for your holiday in Malawi.

Malawi Regions   Malawi Experiences   Holiday Planner Special Offers

Welcome to Malawi

Lake Malawi is the jewel in Malawi's crown. With tropical beaches and an array of watersports, the lake is also home to some of the rarest and most beautiful fish in the world.

Discover the Big 5 in Malawi's national parks. With a historic elephants translocation undertaken, newly introduced lions, cheetahs and giraffe, Malawi has it all.

Welcome to Malawi

Stunning scenery encompasses the country from North to South, with several wilderness areas and highlands offering awe-inspriring views and photographic backdrops.

Malawians are the friendliest people you will come across, and truly earn the title 'the Warm Heart of Africa'. Discover ancient traditions, a modern festival subculture and more.

Welcome to Malawi

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Welcome to Malawi

News & Blogs

best tourist places in malawi

Fisherman’s Rest share excellent progress with community projects

Fisherman's Rest, an organisation in Malawi that do excellent work in local communities, whilst also running a lodge and a range of cultural activities for guests, have released a report looking back on 2022.

best tourist places in malawi

Finding Paradise at Blue Zebra Island Lodge

In this third blog from Sukruti Gandham aka Just A Desi Chori, discover the delights of Blue Zebra Island Lodge on the serene and untouched beauty of the Marelli Islands.

best tourist places in malawi

Swimming with Cichlids in Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi, an important element to any holiday to the country, is renowned for its clear waters & vibrant collection of colourful cichlid fish. Dive into this article to explore the thrill of swimming alongside them.

best tourist places in malawi

Cycling, Birding, Teaching & Training with Land & Lake Safaris

Land and Lake Safaris, one of Malawi's longstanding tour operators offering some of the best experiences in the country, have released their latest newsletter with updated on everything they've been up to so far this year!

best tourist places in malawi

BLOG: Majete at its best for Mkulumadzi guests, by Robin Pope Safaris

In this latest blog from Robin Pope Safaris, we hear from Kascha at Pumulani with a look back on recent visits from guests now the lake's surprisingly high water level is beginning to drop, all written in her own words.

best tourist places in malawi

Connecting with nature at Zomba Forest lodge, by Sukruti Gandham

In this second blog post from Sukruti Gandham aka Just A Desi Chori, she embarked on an adventure around the Zomba Plateau from the comforts of Zomba Forest Lodge.

best tourist places in malawi

Time for Tea! Discovering the birthplace of Malawi’s delicious variety of tea

Discover Malawi tea and how it can be part of your holiday, in the lush tea gardens of southern Malawi. Where each leaf tells a story of tradition, innovation, and community.

best tourist places in malawi

Orbis DMC Newsletter: Discover Malawi Homestays, Excellent Sightings & Empowered Women’s Workshops

Orbis DMC, a tour operator and activity provider in Malawi with strong connections to local community projects in which their guests can be fully involved, have released their latest newsletter.

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For the latest Malawi inspiration, check out of Facebook and Instagram feeds here.

The Bradt Guide to Malawi

8th Edition Available Visitors to our website get 25% OFF. Enter code MALA25 at checkout Click the image below to order

Welcome to Malawi

best tourist places in malawi

Malawi Popular Places to Visit

Best of north malawi, best of central malawi, livingstonia, kande horse stables, chimwenya game park, kuti wildlife reserve, mwabvi wildlife reserve, lengwe national park, kasungu national park.


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best tourist places in malawi

10 Best Places To Visit In Malawi, Africa

Wondering what are the best Malawi tourist attraction or best places to visit in Malawi? After spending three months in one of the most incredible countries we’ve ever been to, find out all of the best things to do in Malawi right here.

Malawi is known as Africa for beginners because of it’s ease to travel around, tourist charm and local friendliness. A lot of people volunteer in Malawi from the American Peace Corps to NGO’s and doctors. It might well be one of the poorest countries in Africa but Malawi packs a punch for it’s incredible landscape filled with mountains, beaches and turquoise waters.

And let’s not forget about the Malawian people. It’s true what they say, Malawian people are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!

Table of Contents

1. Start At Malawi’s Capital City, Lilongwe

Mabuya Camp

If you are flying into Lilongwe, it’s the biggest city in Malawi and the place to stay as a traveller would be Mabuya Camp run by a British family.

We stayed at Longonots because it was cheaper for a double room and a bit nicer but Mabuya has a swimming pool and is more of a sociable place.

There’s not a huge amount to do in Lilongwe but you’ll find yourself heading back there often. The best thing are supermarkets where you can stock up on Western foods. Shoprite and Game are the big supermarkets, we even found a healthy cafe around the corner from Game which was so exciting! You’ll see that this is a total luxury!!

2. Visit Mzuzu In Malawi

Muzoozoo markets

A good place to go to after Lilongwe would be to jump on a bus north to Mzuzu which will take about 6 hours. Buses can be a bit dramatic as you’ll often see about 20-30 people crammed into a 9 seater. Try to jump on one of the bigger buses if possible.

If you want to stay the night in Mzuzu then I recommend Muzoozoozoo for great food and friendly little place.

Mzuzu is brilliant for its brand new Shoprite and cracking clothes markets. I’ve found so many gems at these markets, from H&M to Levi’s, the list goes on. This is generally clothes donated from around the world which you’ll get for next to nothing. You’ll also find a lot of expats living here who are volunteering one way or another.

3. Relax In The Beautiful Nkhata Bay


Nkhata Bay in Malawi is a huge place for travellers and volunteers. A lot of volunteers flock here from all over Malawi for a good break from their work for the weekend or a week.

From Muzoozoo, jump on a mini bus for 1 hour’s drive to Nkhata Bay which is a small town right on Lake Malawi. The two top places to stay are next door to each other called Myoka and Butterfly Space which are both right on the beach. I’ve stayed at both places and ended up coming back to Butterfly Space to live for two months to I volunteered for them.


What It Was Like Volunteering In Malawi At Butterfly Space In Nkhata Bay

Mayoka Village is run by a British woman and her South African husband. It’s a gem of a place to stay and they hold amazing parties as well. It’s probably the best standard of accommodation I’ve seen in Malawi. We stayed in a bungalow right on the cliff, it was amazing and it’s a very sociable place to meet other travellers.


Butterfly Space is run by two British women who are so passionate about Malawi. They met as backpackers and have been living in the country for years and run Butterfly as a Nkhata Bay backpackers accommodation but also have many community projects for volunteers to get involved in.

We ended up staying at Butterfly Space for two months to teach primary school kids for their on site school. We also built them a brand new website to help them long term.

best tourist places in malawi

We had the BEST time at Butterfly Space and absolutely loved working for Alice & Josie. We also held a weekly pub quiz where most of the guests at Mayoka Village came over.

I would without a doubt recommend volunteering with Butterfly Space. It’s an experience we won’t ever forget!

view from room

Other top things to do in Nkhata Bay is to go cliff jumping. You can get a boat from either Mayoka Village or Butterfly Space to take you over to the cliffs for a fun day of jumping. You’ll see the local kids will pop out from nowhere and will join in!

On a Sunday there’s a beach party day in the town drawing in locals from Muzoozoo for a day of boozing on Chickale Beach. It’s definitely worth popping over to see how the locals party!

You’ll also notice that the lake has the clearest waters you’ll probably ever come across. It’s the biggest fresh water lake in the world and you’ll often forget that it’s not the ocean.

cliff jumping malawi

Other things I recommend doing in Nkhata Bay is visiting local diving school Aqua Africa to learn to dive in Malawi!

4. Go Horse Riding On Kande Beach In Malawi

Kande Beach

A favourite with the overland tour buses, Kande Beach literally looks like it’s been taken from Australia and put into Malawi. The beach is so beautiful we went there for the backpacker’s 20th Anniversary and had a great time. Horse riding in the lake is a very popular option there too.

horse riding kande beach

 5. Stay At Zulunkhuni River Lodge In Ruarwe

Zulunkhini Travel lodge

This is one of my big regrets is that we didn’t go to Zulunkhuni River Lodge , a hidden gem only accessible by boat. We were told by many expat locals that this is as close to paradise as it gets. Expect amazing waterfalls to discover as well as the lodge nestled into a stunningly beautiful cove.

6. Mushroom Farm Eco Lodge, Livingstonia


This is another regret that everyone talked about how amazing The Mushroom Farm Eco Lodge is. I met the owners, a brother and sister from the US who also have a passion for Malawi. The views I’ve been told are spectacular which doesn’t surprise me from the pictures I’ve seen online!

7. Chizimooloo Island And Likoma Island In Malawi


If you are wondering whether it’s worth jumping on the over night Illala ferry to the islands in the middle of Lake Malawi then yes, it’s definitely worth going to.


We stopped off at Chizimooloo Island first (took about 3 hours on the boat) and stayed at Nick’s lodge. Nick himself is worth staying with as he’s a British guy who’s been there for 20 years and is a right character. He has an amazing bar with the clearest waters I saw in the whole of Malawi.

It’s worth spending a few hours walking around the island as the locals are so friendly so I’d recommend 2 days is enough time to stay there.


We then spent about five days on Likoma Island at Mango Drift . This place is without a doubt paradise. It’s just an amazing spot right on the beach with nothing to do but relax.

All of the Likoma Island accommodation is also on the beach but spread out enough that you’ll have enough privacy. We absolutely loved it here. If you have time, definitely visit this place!


8. Visit Cape Maclear In Malawi


If you head to the Malawian islands then the last stop on the boat is to Cape Maclear which will take a good 24 hours. I absolutely loved Cape Maclear. We stayed at Fat Monkeys  and one of our highlights was hiring out a boat for the day between about 8 of us. It was so much fun and cost us $20 each including snorkel gear as well. We hired it from the diving shop on the beach.


9. Mount Mulange


Don’t forget to add one of the best places to visit in Malawi, the highest mountain in Central Africa – Mount Mulanje!

If you need to get away from the heat then head to the Mountains in Southern Malawi. We spent a few days trekking around Mount Mulanje which is just beautiful. You can hire a guide which is probably the better option but we just did our own hikes around the tea plantations.


Trekking in the mountains, Mount Mulanje

10. Lake of Stars Festival In Malawi


Although it’s not technically one of the places to visit in Malawi, it would be so wrong not to mention the Lake Of Stars festival! It’s basically a music festival for expats at $30 a ticket. We had such a good time, you’ll be even surprised to hear previous musicians have included; Foals, The Noisettes and MisterJam which has been going for years. Find out more information about the amazing Lake of Stars Festival here.


Circus Performers at City of Stars Festival


City of Stars Festival, Lilongwe 2013

There are so many places to visit in Malawi let alone loads of Malawi tourist attractions too. We hope this post has inspired you to visit such a magical country!

Best places to visit in Lake Malawi


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best tourist places in malawi

13 things to know before traveling to Malawi

Helena Smith

Apr 21, 2023 • 5 min read

best tourist places in malawi

Get prepared for your visit to Malawi with these essential tips © Tukio / Shutterstock

Travelers to  Malawi  will probably find themselves forming friendships and connections quickly, as Malawians are generally keen to greet and engage with visitors.

This is a developing country, so you may be solicited for money, especially in the towns. A good way to contribute is to find local social enterprises that are working for change and provide either financial support or do some volunteering. Some of the best lodges run projects themselves or can connect you with good programs nearby. If you would like to make a donation for nature, consider the excellent Lilongwe Wildlife Trust .

Here are more things that you should know before visiting Malawi.

1. The rainy season is best avoided

Pick your time to visit Malawi carefully. The rains come from November through to April and can make some roads dangerous or even impassable. After the rains, the country is at its most lush and beautiful, though wildlife spotting is easier in the hotter months of September and October, when vegetation is sparser.

A Young African woman carrying a bundle of firewood on her head next to a tea plantation

2. Learn the lingo

Learning a few Chichewa phrases before you go will help smooth your travels and delight your hosts in Malawi. A few good phrases to know are moni  (hello), muli bwanji  (how are you?), zikomo  (thank you) and dzina langa ndi (my name is).

3. Get immunized

Make sure your immunizations are up to date, including Hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhoid and yellow fever. Take your yellow fever document with you, as you may need to show it upon arrival in Malawi. Consult your doctor about malaria drugs, and ensure you leave enough time because you will need to start taking the drugs several days before your arrival in Africa. You may want to bring a mosquito net with you to hang over your bed. You can donate it when you leave the country, perhaps to a worker at your accommodations or to a local school.

4. Take time for greetings

The culture in Malawi is to greet and ask about each other’s health and sometimes also the health of immediate and even extended family. If you can do this in Chichewa, so much the better. People love to talk politics, and often it is the good conversations, full of humor and warmth, that are the abiding experience of Malawian travel.

African women sit together wearing traditional clothes with bold colorful patterns

5. Pack modest clothes and buy a chitenge

During the President Hastings Banda years (1966–94), all sorts of sartorial laws were in place, with a ban on flared trousers and women instructed only to wear long skirts, and never pants or shorts. Those days are long gone, and many urban Malawians have a fabulous fashion sense, combining Western street style with Afro-chic. Fabric is affordable and beautiful in Malawi, and local tailors can quickly copy your existing garments or create clothes to your designs.

Malawian culture is different and more conservative in remote villages, where women usually wear a blouse, headscarf and a length of chitenge cloth wrapped around their bodies. You will get a warmer welcome if you dress modestly, covering your chest and legs, particularly so in predominately Muslim settlements. Women travelers can carry chitenge cloth to wrap around their waist or chest for village visits. The cloth is available in any market and makes a great souvenir to take home.

6. Don't haggle

Malawi does not really have a bargaining culture; many prices are fixed. You may be charged slightly more than a local in the markets, but it’s unlikely that you will be badly ripped off because honesty is a key value in the country, even among people who are scraping only a tiny profit from their goods.

7. The LGBTIQ+ community is not supported

Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi, though this is unlikely to be an issue for foreign travelers. Still, because of the legal situation, open discussion of homosexuality may make Malawians uncomfortable.

8. Get a room

Flamboyant physical displays of affection between couples are not the norm in Malawi and may cause offense.

9. Don’t be tempted by Malawi Gold

Malawi’s cannabis may be a temptation for travelers, but drug taking and possession are illegal and carry punitive sentences.

An aerial shot of crowds on the beach and in the water at Lake Malawi

10. Avoid driving at night

The greatest danger in Malawi is likely to be on the roads , where speeding and wildly passing cars are common. Driving at night on the unlit roads should be avoided altogether. When planning your trip, consider using Malawi’s coach system and the lake ferry rather than driving yourself. Hiring the services of a driver/guide also takes the stress out of Malawi travel. 

11. Bring a water filter

Malawi does not have recycling facilities, so bring a portable water-filter bottle rather than buying plastic water bottles and contributing to the country’s waste problem. You’ll need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated in the heat.

12. Use a condom 

Rates of HIV in Malawi are high, and the illness has had devastating effects. If you have sex with a new partner, whether they're Malawian or a fellow traveler, use a condom.

13. Test for bilharzia when you return home

Bilharzia is a parasitic illness carried by freshwater snails, and it’s wise to get a test for this disease six weeks after you return from Malawi. The disease can be picked up if you swim in Lake Malawi, especially in a reedy area. Bilharzia is easily treated, but if left undiagnosed, it can cause fever, rashes, stomach pain and extreme fatigue. Don’t let this put you off swimming in the lake, which is one of the great pleasures of a visit – just be sure to test on your return.

This article was first published Mar 20, 2022 and updated Apr 21, 2023.

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Best gaming PCs in 2024: these are the builds and brands I recommend

Everything you need to know about buying the best gaming PC today.

  • 1. Best overall
  • 2. Best budget
  • 3. Best high-end
  • 4. Best ultra-enthusiast
  • 5. Best Alienware
  • GPU hierarchy
  • How we test

Gaming PC reviews

Gaming PC group shot

🕹️ The list in brief 1 . Best overall 2. Best budget 3. Best high-end 4. Best ultra-enthusiast 5. Best Alienware 6. GPU hierarchy 7. How we test 8. Gaming PC reviews 9. FAQ

The best gaming PC is about finding the right system that matches your needs and your budget. It's entirely possible to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a gaming rig if you want; there's almost no upper limit. But spending your money wisely is a tougher task when you're working to a tight budget, as most of us are these days. In my near twenty-year tenure as a tech journalist, I've reviewed countless gaming PCs. I've gained insights into where you should be investing the bulk of your budget and where compromises can be made. This knowledge is crucial, especially for systems where every penny counts. Yet, even when considering a $3,000 PC, you should still want to ensure your investment in the hardware is sound. Below, I cover the specs you should expect at any given price point and also, given my experience testing PCs built by many different companies over the years, which gaming PCs I believe are the best for your budget. 

Testing every system at every configuration in the rich tapestry of gaming PCs is impossible. But we've had experience with all the main system builders' work and have extensively tested the core parts in each. We are well-versed in identifying which is the best graphics card at each price point and the processor you'll need to make the most of it. So whether you've got a tight $1,000 budget or are willing to spend up to $5,000 on your dream machine, we've got a great recommendation for the best gaming PC for you.

Ever since building my first gaming PC as a teen I've been fascinated by their guts and have turned poking, prodding, and testing systems into a profession. Over the last 20 years or so I've been testing gaming PCs and have always been more interested in how a manufacturer squeezes the best parts and the best performance out of their budget. But I can't lie, I do love an over-the-top big rig, too.

The quick list

ABS Stratos Aqua

The best overall

Advanced Battlestations (ABS) is Newegg's gaming subsidiary and actually produces some damned fine—and damned good value—gaming PCs. It's systems we've personally tested have been well-specced and well packed for delivery, too. This particular machine comes with an outstanding spec for the money.

Read more below

Yeyian Yumi gaming PC

The best budget

This is a good price for a mid-tier gaming PC, especially when many rigs around this price are only delivering you an RTX 3060. The 12th Gen Core i5 is still a really solid CPU today, and the RTX 4060 is a good budget graphics card... just with the wrong name.

iBuyPower gaming PC

The best high-end

iBuyPower is one of the most established names in PC building, and its RDY line of gaming PCs and laptops means you can get a new rig in just a few days. This all-AMD system combines both the outstanding Ryzen 9 7950X3D and the RX 7900 XTX for a real high-end machine.

Corsair Vengeance gaming PC


Corsair makes almost every part of a modern gaming PC and knows how to put them together. With the best graphics cards at their hearts, and the finest CPUs, the Vengeance machines pull all that together with a surfeit of Corsair RAM and storage, and arguably the best chip coolers on the market. 

Alienware gaming PC

Don't buy without a discount

Alienware is one of the most popular gaming PC manufacturers around, but the shine has slowly worn off for us as Dell's corporate grip tightens. The Aurora machines still look beautiful, but the build quality has been lacking in recent years, and the value proposition all but non-existent. The bespoke components aren't premium, and yet carry a premium cost. 

Recent updates

Updated February 20th to change the recommendations of the best gaming PC and best high-end machines.

The best gaming PC $1,000 - $2,000

ABS Stratos Aqua gaming PC

1. Best gaming PC: ABS Stratos Aqua

PC Gamer's got your back Our experienced team dedicates many hours to every review, to really get to the heart of what matters most to you. Find out more about how we evaluate games and hardware.

ABS Stratos Aqua | Intel Core i5 14400F | RTX 4060 Ti | 32GB DDR5-6000 | 1TB SSD | $1,599.99 $1,099.99 at Newegg (save $300) ABS often puts together great prebuilt bundles, but this one in particular stands out as ticking all the right boxes. You've got a very swift Core i5 14400F, an RTX 4060 Ti with all the DLSS goodies that brings, a 1TB NVMe drive for storage and even 32GB of very fast DDR5-6000. Most prebuilts in this price range stick you with 16GB, but the full-fat 32GB here in combination with some other great components makes this a chunky little gaming machine with serious credentials.

ABS is Newegg's gaming PC subsidiary and as such comes with a wealth of history and expertise behind it. And that's shone through in the machines we've tested ourselves, which have offered both great specs and great value. And there are almost always offers available on ABS systems, too, which makes them a great shout when you're looking for a bargain buy. Like a lot of the other builders, though, I'd prefer better than a one year warranty as standard, but that's my only real issue.

✅ You want to hit 1440p frame rates: The RTX 4060 Ti is able to nail excellent 1080p numbers, but you will also be able to power a 1440p gaming monitor to an impressive extent, especially with DLSS 3.0 and Frame Generation. ✅ You want a ton of RAM: There's nothing in this system that screams 'upgrade me!' and the 32GB of fast DDR5 will see you right for the lifetime of your rig. ✅ You want seriously secure shipping: The ABS rigs we've tested have come so well packaged that it's almost overkill. But a safe PC is a worthy investment in recycled packaging.

❌ You need high-end productivity: The Core i5 14400F is a gaming chip first and foremost. It does have six full performance cores, but it's not a productivity beast. It's certainly no slouch, and has decent multithreaded performance, but it is primarily a gaming chip.

The $1,000 to $2,000 price point is arguably the most important one for PC gaming; this is where the majority of PC gamers will be aiming to spend their budget and for us that's where the best gaming PC really lives. It's a crowded market, but the positive part of that is there are a lot of options to choose from. But this is where it's no longer okay to be going with a last-gen graphics card, because the RTX 4070 and RTX 4070 Ti have now launched and are the best GPUs around this price point.

With RTX 3080 performance from the RTX 4070, and systems on sale for under the $1,500 mark with the Nvidia GPU inside it, there's no longer a case to be made for RTX 3080 or RX 6800 XT machines that cost more. And they generally do. The RTX 4070 Ti itself, which you'll find just below the top end of the $2,000 budget, offers RTX 3090-level gaming performance, and considering that was a $1,500 graphics card of the last generation which you'd never find close to this price.

I don't think you need to worry so much about last-gen CPUs, as 12th Gen Intel and AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPUs will still carry an RTX 4070 Ti in gaming terms, but that will limit you in terms of memory. The latest generations from both chip makers come with DDR5 memory, which is much quicker for actual memory intensive productivity tasks. You should also not consider less than 1TB of SSD storage, and ideally 2TB at today's prices.

The specs to expect in a gaming PC between $1,000 and $2,000:

  • Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 4070 | RTX 4070 Super | RTX 4070 Ti  | RTX 4070 Ti Super
  • CPU: Intel Gen Core i7 12th Gen | 13th Gen | 14th Gen | AMD Ryzen 7 5000-series | 7000-series 
  • Memory: 16GB or 32GB DDR5
  • SSD: 1TB PCIe  
  • PSU: 700W+ 

The best alternatives:

Skytech Siege | Core i5 12600k | RTX 4070 Ti | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 1TB NVMe SSD | $1,599.99 at Newegg

Skytech Siege | Core i5 12600k | RTX 4070 Ti | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 1TB NVMe SSD | $1,599.99 at Newegg Another banger for Skytech, with a decent Alder Lake CPU paired up with Nvidia's RTX 4070 Ti. The back-up spec of 16GB DDR4 and a 1TB SSD is about minimum for a build these days, but at $1,600 this is a good setup for the money.

The best gaming PC around $1,000 or less

Yeyian Yumi gaming PC

2. Best budget gaming PC: Yeyian Yumi

Intel Core i5 12400F | Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 1TB SSD | $1,199.99 $799.99 at Newegg (save $400) This Yeyian machine will make for a great entry level 1080p gaming PC, that will really deliver for the money. It might be classed budget, but it will easily get you quality frame rates even at the highest 1080p settings. Yeyian has been around in the US for many years now, consistently making good-value gaming PCs, and it always pops up with well-specced budget rigs.

Yeyian is a California-based gaming PC builder that's been around for the last five years. But, I'll be honest, when I first came across its rigs on US retailers I foolishly presumed it was a brand shipping units in from outside North America. We've seen it providing both well-specced budget gaming PCs at heavy discounts around sales events, as well as high-end machines coming out with the latest and greatest hardware, too. More importantly it has a pretty good basic warranty, offering three years labor, two years parts, and one year's shipping, as well as lifetime tech support. 

✅ You're just after a pure gaming PC: That RTX 4060 will deliver excellent 1080p frame rates and good 1440p numbers, too.  ✅ $1,000 is your limit: At well under $1,000 the Yeyian gives you a bit of breathing room when it comes to your budget.

❌ You need raw CPU power: The Core i5 12400F is a decent gaming CPU, but its six cores won't deliver much in the way of processing power for streaming or content creation. ❌ You really want to push that budget: There are RTX 4060 Ti gaming rigs just under the $1,000 mark if you're happy going to the very top of your budget.

When you're looking for a gaming PC under $1,000 then it's all about the spec and the price, regardless of who or where it's from. Well, within reason. So long as the company you're purchasing from has actually successfully sold gaming PCs before, and doesn't have a host of poor reviews, you just want to make sure you're getting the parts you would hope for at this price point.

At the moment that would ideally be an RTX 3060 Ti , which was one of the best graphics cards of the last generation. It's a powerful GPU, not that far off an RTX 3070 , and still has no equivalent from within the new generation of AMD and Nvidia cards. But given the RTX 4070 has now dropped, we are expecting an RTX 4060 Ti soon. But that should mean prices on the RTX 30-series should keep dropping with abundant stock. There are still a lot of RTX 3060 GPUs out there, however, so if you can bag a PC with one of those for $700 or less you're doing well.

Alongside that you'll want either a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 processor, but anything from the Intel 11th Gen or AMD 5000-series will be more than enough, and 16GB of RAM. You'll probably only find a ~500GB SSD in these builds, but that's the most affordable upgrade down the line.

The specs to expect in a gaming PC under $1,000:

  • Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 4060 | RTX 4060 Ti | Radeon RX 7600
  • CPU: Intel Gen Core i5 12th Gen | AMD Ryzen 5000-series 
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4-3200 
  • SSD: 1TB PCIe 

Ipason gaming desktop | AMD Ryzen 5 5600G | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 1TB NVMe SSD | $849.99 $499 at Newegg (save $350.99)

Ipason gaming desktop | AMD Ryzen 5 5600G | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 1TB NVMe SSD | $849.99 $499 at Newegg (save $350.99) You can game on this machine to a certain extent—the integrated Vega GPU on the Ryzen chip will certainly support 720p gaming at lower settings. But we're listing it here as a good base from which to add your own graphics card for a quick, powerful new gaming PC. The AMD CPU is a good six-core, 12-thread job, and the 16GB RAM will run everything you need.

Ipason gaming desktop | Ryzen 5 5600 | Radeon RX 7600 | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 1TB SSD | $1,399 $849 at Newegg (save $550)

Ipason gaming desktop | Ryzen 5 5600 | Radeon RX 7600 | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 1TB SSD | $1,399 $849 at Newegg (save $550) If you don't want to get busy with a screwdriver, Ipason has another budget offering, this time with an RX 7600 GPU at its heart. That offers sometimes better than RTX 4060 gaming performance, and the full system comes with a solid back-up spec, too.

The best gaming PC $2,000 - $3,000

iBuyPower gaming PC

3. Best high-end gaming PC: iBuyPower Creator RDY

iBuyPower Creator RDY LCMRG210 | Ryzen 9 7950X3D | RX 7900 XTX | 32GB RAM | 2TB SSD | $2,999 $2,649 at iBuyPower (save $350) This all-powerful, all-AMD machine is monster build for under the $3,000 limit. That 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen chip is a serious productivity chip, and one of the fastest gaming CPUs thanks to its 3D V-Cache tech. Oh, and the RX 7900 XTX is the first chiplet GPU, and a genuine rival for the RTX 4080 outside of ray tracing. Though it will be worth checking with iBuyPower if/when you're buying to ensure you're not getting the AMD-built version of the RX 7900 XTX. They look good, but we've had bad experiences with hot spots.

iBuyPower is a classic name in PC building, and has a whole lot of history when it comes to making machines. We've checked out a number of them ourselves, and while they're not always the most exciting-looking rigs (though the one above actuallly is), they're always well built and well put together. And, if you're after a new gaming PC quickly, these RDY PCs don't have the extra customizations of its more bespoke builds, but will ship in a couple of days.

✅ You want a smart, clean PC: iBuyPower isn't always the most exciting of builders, but the chassis it's used here makes the PC look great. ✅ You want it fast: Speedy delivery on iBuyPower machines means you should get your new PC in around three days. ✅ You want to go AMD: This all-AMD rig delivers the best the red team has to offer all in one impressively affordable package.

❌ You're super into ray tracing: The Radeon RX 7900 XTX is a great straight raster gaming GPU, but it's not the finest graphics card when it comes to running the latest ray traced gaming pretties.

When you're getting to the rarified heights of the $2,000 - $3,000 price point you're really getting into the elite of gaming PC systems. This is where you can start to pull in some really high spec components. Given that you can get RTX 4070 Ti gaming PCs for less than two grand, you really ought to be targeting either the RTX 4080 or the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX at this level.

You can also start to think about high-end CPUs here, too, with Core i7 and Ryzen 7, even Ryzen 9 chips all available within this price range. And that means you're looking at PCs that won't just be fantastic gaming systems, but with effectively workstation-level computational power, too. In this market you should be looking at systems that will make excellent creator machines.

You will arguably see PCs with very similar specs lists at this price point, which means your choice of machine often comes down to secondary considerations, such as shipping time, which brand of components are being used, and such things as warranties and returns. We like iBuyPower RDY machines because of their rapid turnaround from sales which could see you ordering a new rig on Monday and be gaming by Wednesday evening. I also like Corsair's Vengeance machines, because it makes excellent, reliable chassis, SSDs, memory, and cooling itself. Which means it can put high-end supporting parts in your new PC.

This is also where you want to be able to trust the system builders more than just taking a punt on saving $100 on a similar spec, but from a brand you maybe don't know so well. 

The specs to expect in a gaming PC between $2,000 and $3,000:

  •   Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 4080 | AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT/XTX
  •   CPU: Intel Gen Core i7 12th Gen | 13th Gen | AMD Ryzen 7 5000-series | 7000-series  
  •   Memory: 32GB DDR5-5600  
  •   SSD: 2TB PCIe 
  •   PSU: 850W+ 

Corsair Vengeance a7300 | Ryzen 7 7700X | RTX 4080 | 32GB RAM | 2TB SSD | $3,299.99 at Corsair

Corsair Vengeance a7300 | Ryzen 7 7700X | RTX 4080 | 32GB RAM | 2TB SSD | $3,299.99 at Corsair Not as good value as the cheaper Lenovo with the Core i7 inside it, but with the Corsair machine you are paying for the reassuring knowledge that you're getting genuine Corsair memory, SSDs, cooling, and chassis with its machines. With other brands you might not know what manufacturers' parts you're getting until it arrives. 

iBuyPower Creator RDY LCMRG210 | Ryzen 9 7950X3D | RX 7900 XTX | 32GB RAM | 2TB SSD | $2,999

The best gaming PC $3,000 - $5,000

Corsair Vengeance gaming PC

4. Best ultra-enthusiast gaming PC: Corsair Vengeance i7400

Intel Core i9 13900K | Nvidia RTX 4090 | 64GB RAM | 2TB SSD | $3,949.99 at Corsair   The Vengeance gaming PCs combine rock-solid build quality with high-end component choice, and ultimately a decent price for an RTX 4090 system. That's obviously the star of this system, sporting more video memory than you can shake a pair of RTX 3080s at, and a monstrous slice of GPU silicon at its heart that can tear through games at 4K and render scenes like a pro graphics card. It's also arguably the only RTX 40-series GPU that actually feels like a proper generational upgrade over the previous generation. Where Corsair's Vengeance machines stand out is in the fact it can build around the core components with its own supporting cast of kit. From memory to SSD to cooling and chassis, Corsair make some of the best kit around, and putting it all together in one quiet, cool, and stylish package is where its systems shine. 

Corsair has been quietly—and sometimes not so quietly—making some of the best PC parts for years, with only the core componentry of GPUs, CPUs, and motherboards a place it hasn't touched. So, with the best PC cases around, it stands to reason they would make some great full systems. Again, the use of standard components makes upgrading down the line easier, and as it's Corsair you're getting some of the best memory and power supplies around, too. They do generally come in a lot more expensive than the competition, but at this level you really do pay for what you get.

✅ You want the best CPU/GPU combo around: The Corsair machine comes with the best Intel processor and Nvidia graphics card, but doesn't surround it with unnecessary extras simply to hike up the price. ✅ You want a cool and quiet rig: The chassis and cooler combo means you're getting an setup that's able to keep those high-end components running at top speed without getting too shouty. We love the black monolith of a chassis, and Corsair's AIO coolers are some of the best.

❌ You want a statement piece: This isn't some fully water-cooled setup, with hard tubing and multiple radiators, and RGB'd to within an inch of its life. Those can be gorgeous machines, great for a tradeshow floor, but you're paying for a tubed setup that locks you out of system upgrades down the road. 

Although $5,000 is a lot of money to spend on a gaming PC, this isn't money-no-object territory and you still want to make sure you're getting the performance you're paying for. That means making sure you're not spending over the odds on useless extras thrown into a build just to hike up the price to make it seem more 'premium' than it really is.

What this budget does mean, though, is you getting your hands on the finest gaming graphics card ever made by humankind. The RTX 4090 is the top of the stack, and the only GPU from Nvidia's RTX 40-series that really does feel like a whole new generation of graphics silicon. It's expensive, but it's genuinely delivering gaming performance you can't get anywhere else. 

What you then need to decide is whether you want to go AMD or Intel for the supporting cast. The Intel 13th Gen Core i9 chips are excellent gaming processors, and deliver a huge amount of multi-threaded performance for any kind of productivity workload you'd care to throw its way. But, on the flip side, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D delivers the highest potential gaming performance you can get from a CPU thanks to its 3D V-cache chiplet.

That extra cache will mean your high-end GPU has the best chance to shine, and the 16 full cores of Zen 4 processing means you still get workstation-level productivity chops, too. All that said, there are really only a few frame per second in it between the Intel and AMD options when you're talking about the sorts of high resolutions you're going to be pushing the RTX 4090 through.

When you're spending this much you could consider going all out on a full closed-loop liquid cooling array. Such systems look spectacular, and genuinely give off that dream machine vibe. Though how effective such arrays are is more debatable. If you're spending big on a system because you want someone else to build you a top-end rig and don't ever want to touch it, such a rig would be great. But if you ever want to get involved with upgrading your core components a closed loop is a real pain in the butt to maintain. Given the diminishing returns of overclocking modern components, such extreme cooling is also not entirely necessary, either.

The specs to expect in a gaming PC  between $3,000 and $5,000:

  • Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 4090
  • CPU: Intel Core i9 13900K/F | AMD Ryzen 9 7950X/3D
  • Memory: 32GB DDR5-5600 minimum
  • SSD: 2TB SSD

iBuyPower Element Hybrid Max II | Core i9 13900KF | RTX 4090 | 32GB DDR5-6000 | 2TB SSD | $4,899 $4,499 at iBuyPower (save $400)

iBuyPower Element Hybrid Max II | Core i9 13900KF | RTX 4090 | 32GB DDR5-6000 | 2TB SSD | $4,899 $4,499 at iBuyPower (save $400) I called the Hyte Y60 a techie terrarium, and I stand by that. But that's not to denigrate the look of the three-sided tempered glass chassis at all—when it's all built it looks rather stunning. And with an RTX 4090 inside it this powerful machine will really stand out. I'd have preferred to have the full 64GB of RAM, but you are at least getting a 6000MHz kit here.

DigitalStorm Aventum X | Core i9 13900K | RTX 4090 | 64GB DDR5-5200 | 1TB SSD | $5,596 $5,346 at DigitalStorm (save $250)

DigitalStorm Aventum X | Core i9 13900K | RTX 4090 | 64GB DDR5-5200 | 1TB SSD | $5,596 $5,346 at DigitalStorm (save $250) Okay, yes, we are topping the $5K mark here, but if you want a stunning liquid cooling setup then the Aventum X will deliver. Though you are paying a hefty premium for that loop, and it's only for the CPU. And it does mean if you want more storage or faster memory the price will creep up.

Alienware Aurora R16

5. Best Alienware gaming PC: Alienware Aurora R16

Alienware Aurora R16 | Intel Core i7 13700F | Nvidia RTX 4080 | 1TB SSD | 16GB DDR5-5600 | $2,499.99 $1,949.99 at Dell (save $550) It's not often that an Alienware gaming rig will pop up that actually has a hell of a lot of tech inside it for a surprisingly competitive price, but here we are. This Aurora R16 comes with the second-tier Ada GPU, the RTX 4080. It's an RTX 3090-beating card with 16GB VRAM, and with the latent power of DLSS and Frame Generation. The 24-thread Raptor Lake CPU is great if you're talking about productivity, and you do get 16GB of relatively speedy DDR5. The 1TB SSD is a bit weak in terms of storage—I'd much rather have a full 2TB SSD at this price. Our major issue with recommending Alienware PCs now, however, is the bespoke hardware inside either locking you out of future upgrades, or locking you into an unnecessarily expensive upgrade path.

When I was a whelp I used to hanker after Alienware PCs and laptops, but as I've gotten older, so Alienware has changed. It's become more and more like its corporate Dell overlord, and far less tantalising a prospect. My biggest issue is the use of proprietary components, which would be fine if they were the finest, and beyond reproach, but you will find other equivalently priced builds with superior motherboards and power supplies that you can also upgrade in the future. And price is definitely an issue, too, with the Alienware premium not really buying you anything tangible for the extra. I will reiterate my mantra, never buy a full price Alienware, because they only become worthwhile with a hefty discount.

✅ You just want plug and play: Alienware machines will just work out of the box and with the might of Dell behind it you can be relatively confident that you'll be looked after if something goes awry. ✅ You're into the aesthetic: Alienware rigs look good, and unlike any other machine on this list. The curvy chassis are a world away from the boxy towers otherwise used. But they certainly are big...

❌ You want peak performance: We've not had great experiences with recent Alienware machines delivering the performance their parts ought to. That's often down to the bespoke nature of the components and sometimes ineffective cooling. ❌ You want to upgrade your PC in the future: No PC is truly future proof, no matter how much you spend, so either you upgrade your rig, or you buy a new one. With Alienware, you're largely locked into the latter by its use of bespoke motherboards, chassis, and PSUs. ❌ You want value for money: The deal above is a rarity for Alienware PCs. More often than not you'll be paying well over the odds for a machine that performs notably worse than an equivalently priced system from pretty much anyone else.

Alienware is one of the biggest names in gaming PCs, with a heritage stretching back to the dawn of time. Well, 1996 anyway. With a penchant for stylish designs and high-performance hardware it cemented its place in the burgeoning sphere of gaming-focused PCs. In 2006 it was bought wholesale by corporate PC giant, Dell, and that helped bring an economy of scale to the brand that previously it didn't have access to.

But that hasn't necessarily meant those economies of scale have been passed on to the consumer, as Alienware has always kept itself as a premium tier brand within the Dell portfolio. Which was fine when it was offering a premium experience to the people who bought its PCs.

For years we have had Alienware on the top of our best gaming PC lists, because historically its systems could be relied upon to deliver a top-tier experience and premium performance. In recent times, however, we've reviewed different Alienware gaming PCs and have found they fall short of our expectations. Given some performance issues, cooling problems, and concerns around bespoke components, we would categorically say you shouldn't buy a full price Alienware PC and only look to pick one up when they are heavily discounted. 

The bespoke components used inside them sometimes fall short of the sort of performance you'll get out of motherboards, coolers, and power supplies you can buy from other named brands, such as Corsair, Asus, or MSI. They are also generally designed specifically for use exclusively inside Alienware's own chassis, which means those cases don't allow for third-party upgrades down the line. At least not without some serious modifications. At best that locks you into the Alienware/Dell ecosystem of high-priced hardware, and at worst locks you out of upgrading your expensive rig at all in the future.

GPU hierarchy: How do the GPUs stack up?

The most important component for any gaming PC build will always be the graphics card. That will give you the best idea about how one machine matches up with another just in terms of raw gaming performance.

Below, we've listed the slew of GPUs we've had over the past couple of years listed in terms of their Time Spy Extreme index score as a way to put them in some consistent hierarchy. This doesn't cover the performance difference between graphics card in every instance, as differences in how they handle ray tracing other graphical effects can play a part. But this is a handy one-shot method of getting a rough idea of how the various cards from these various generations of GPU stack up against each other.

Click the button in the top right to enhance !

Graphics card performance in the Time Spy Extreme benchmark

How we test gaming PCs

The NZXT prebuild gaming PC side on.

We spend a lot of time testing gaming PCs to ensure that we know what sort of experience you would get should you spend your hard earned cash on one. Experience is an important factor—you want to know that pulling your new rig from its box that it's going to work as soon as you plug it in, and let you get up and gaming as soon as you can download your favourite games.

But the general feel of using a PC is one part of it, it's also important to get the relative performance numbers to be able to see how a given machine performs in games compared with other systems. We run a selection of benchmarks to gauge CPU performance, storage performance, and of course gaming performance.

We are now using Cinebench R23 and X264 to test the processor—which will tell you both how good the CPU is, as well as how good its cooling is—and Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers and 3DMark to test the storage inside a PC. For the gaming side, we use 3DMark Time Spy, Hitman 3, Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, F1 22, Far Cry 6 and Warhammer III to give us 1440p frame rate metrics.

We will get inside the machine to see how well built it is, and how well the builder has tidied up the mass of cabling that always lurks inside a gaming PC. It's also important to know how much of an upgrade path a system might have, whether there is space inside for a extra storage, or more memory, etc.

Value is also a key concern for us. A gaming PC represents a large outlay, and no matter whether it's a $900 or a $5,000 machine, it still needs to be able to justify its cost by the quality of the build and the components inside it.

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55

The Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 delivers monster gaming performance for a massive amount of money. It's hardly a value proposition. But if you're totally price insensitive and you favour engineering depth over snazzy styling, this could be your kind of machine.

PC Gamer score: 75%

MSI MEG Trident X2

MSI MEG Trident X2

I just can't get over its ludicrous price. In fairness to MSI, pricing is variable. We're still early in the RTX 40-series and 13th Gen product cycles. That means the Trident X2 is sure to have a long shelf life. If MSI were to drop pricing to more palatable levels, my conclusion would be different, but at this price there's simply no way I can recommend the Trident X2. Shop around. You'll find something just as good and have enough money left over for a game or ten, a decent monitor or… you get the picture.

PC Gamer score: 52%

Lenovo Legion Tower 5

Lenovo Legion Tower 5

The Legion Tower 5 is a well-made system, with clean cable management, quiet operation, and space to upgrade. But the uninspiring component choice and relatively high price make it a difficult system to recommend against the competition.

PC Gamer score: 69%

Acer Nitro 50

Acer Nitro 50

When you can get an RTX 3060 Ti-powered machine with double the SSD space for just $100 more, it's really hard to recommend a machine like this. 238GB of NVMe storage just isn't enough, and the HDD won't save you—however large it is.

PC Gamer score: 65%

Build Redux 'Good'

Build Redux 'Good'

The name may be basic, but this is a quality build that focuses on gaming first and foremost. Shame a bit more attention didn't go into the storage though.

PC Gamer score: 85%

HP Omen 45L

HP Omen 45L

HP's Omen 45L is superb for 4K gaming with its i9 12900K, RTX 3090, and 64GB of memory, but all that comes at a steep price.

PC Gamer score: 79%

iBuyPower RDY SLMBG218

iBuyPower RDY SLMBG218

Focusing on the processor makes for an interesting build, but there are simply better gaming machines out there for the same cash. If you like to marry serious productivity with a little gaming though, there's plenty to like here.

PC Gamer score: 80%

ABS Master

Despite some minor pain points with the RAM speeds and storage space, ABS is still charging a fair price. There's more than enough potential to upgrade and it still aces both productivity and gaming performance at 1440p.

PC Gamer score: 86%

Origin Millennium

Origin Millennium

The Origin Millennium is a beast of a machine that showcases the size and power of the RTX 3080.

HP Omen 45L

This RTX 3070 Ti spec of HP Omen 45L strikes a good balance of high performance, cooling ability and good looks. About the only thing really missing from the equation is the price. If you can get it for well under its current price, it goes from being good to excellent.

PC Gamer score: 81%

Alienware Aurora R14

Alienware Aurora R14

If you care about gaming and not the minutiae of the PC it runs on, Alienware systems are worth a look. This Ryzen Edition with its 5900X and RTX 3080 is powerful, but do not pay full price. You're sure to find it at a steep discount as the launches of next gen products draws near.

PC Gamer score: 73%


The Set's a good-looking compact entry-level PC that suffers from disappointing CPU performance and distractingly loud fans.

PC Gamer score: 68%

NZXT Streaming PC

NZXT Streaming PC

As a mid-range streaming PC, NZXT's system ticks all the necessary boxes, and its N7 B550 upgrade ensures you get all the connectivity and sockets you need for all those peripherals. You are paying a premium, however, so if you're just looking for a pure gaming machine those extras might seem an unnecessary luxury.

PC Gamer score: 83%

Alienware Aurora R13

Alienware Aurora R13

The Alienware Aurora R13 isn't for everyone, and this 64GB spec probably isn't for anyone. If you're a dedicated PC tweaker looking for a new base system to upgrade down the line, you'd want to look elsewhere anyways. But if you just want a simple, good-looking PC that will tear through gaming frame rates out of the box, the Aurora R13 comes with far better-value specs lists than this.

Corsair One A200

Corsair One A200

Corsair delivers a welcome burst of gaming performance to its compact gaming PCs with the a200, bringing the best of AMD Ryzen and Nvidia GeForce into a single, compact machine.

PC Gamer score: 87%

Gaming PC FAQ

Why buy a prebuilt gaming pc.

One of the most significant advantages of building your PC is the ability to hand-pick every single component in the system. This enables you to take your time shopping around for deals and finding the best combination of parts to fit your budget and performance needs. The downside for most inexperienced builders is that this process can take some time and cause quite a headache if something goes wrong. You only get warranties on the individual components, not your finished build, and this is where the best prebuilt gaming PCs shine.

What do you get for your money in a prebuilt PC?

When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a prebuilt PC, you pay for more than just the parts. You pay for warranty service, support, and peace of mind that professionals put your system together. These are some of the things we value highly when considering what the best gaming PC is. We also look at other selling points, like design, upgradability, and anything you wouldn't be able to do when building it yourself. 

What sets a prebuilt machine apart from a DIY build?

One of the most significant factors that make PCs stand apart from the competition is the design. Prebuilt systems like the Alienware Aurora R10 or Corsair One use unique in-house chassis designs you wouldn't be able to purchase when building it yourself. You can take some comfort in knowing that these systems were designed and built specially to house your configuration, though that can make upgrading more awkward later on down the line.

When we set out to choose our top choices of prebuilt gaming PCs, we look at almost every major manufacturer and system integrator to find the best combination of value, reliability, customer feedback, design, and performance for various budgets and needs.

The biggest gaming news, reviews and hardware deals

Keep up to date with the most important stories and the best deals, as picked by the PC Gamer team.

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.

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    6. Nyika National Park. Source: flickr. Nyika National Park. A world of montane landscapes that extends across great swathes of the central Malawian plateaux, the Nyika National Park is the largest of its kind in the entire country, and one of the most unique natural habitats in East Africa besides.

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    6. Blantyre. Best city for food and nightlife. Blantyre is Malawi's second-largest city, a commercial hub and the gateway to attractions in the southern part of the country. Travelers driving to Majete, Thyolo, Mt. Mulanje, Michiru Mountain and Zomba Plateau stop in this spirited town filled with bars and restaurants.

  3. THE 30 BEST Places to Visit in Malawi (UPDATED 2024)

    5. Kuti Wildlife Reserve. 66. Nature & Wildlife Areas. Kuti Wildlife Reserve is located in central Malawi. This nation is known as 'The Warm Heart of Africa', both for its stunning beauty and friendly people. Kuti is home to a variety of animals native…. 6. Lilongwe Wildlife Centre.

  4. 12 Most Beautiful Places in Malawi to Visit

    Dive into the turquoise depths of Lake Malawi, one of the most beautiful places in Malawi. 2. Chintheche. Journey to the delightful Chintheche, a gem on the northern shores of Lake Malawi. This destination is one of the pretty places in Malawi, where the lush green landscapes merge with the pristine waters.

  5. The 10 best things to do in Malawi

    2. Watch the sunset at Lake Malawi with chambo and chips. You simply haven't seen Malawi until you've seen the lake. This long, languorous body of water offers amazing opportunities for lounging, swimming, and snorkeling to view the bright, biodiverse, and astonishingly colorful cichlid fish below the surface.

  6. 34 Best Places To Visit In Malawi

    Viphya Plateau. 34 Best Places To Visit In Malawi 57. Viphya Plateau, a nature reserve in northern Malawi, spans nearly 3,000 square kilometers and features diverse wildlife, birds, and rare Malawian plants and trees. Hike the 3-day trail from Kawandama Mountain to Kande Beach resort.

  7. Top Things to Do in Malawi

    Things to Do in Malawi, Africa: See Tripadvisor's 21,094 traveller reviews and photos of Malawi tourist attractions. Find what to do today, this weekend or in June. We have reviews of the best places to see in Malawi. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions.

  8. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Malawi

    Things to Do in Malawi, Africa: See Tripadvisor's 20,070 traveller reviews and photos of Malawi tourist attractions. Find what to do today, this weekend or in September. We have reviews of the best places to see in Malawi. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions.

  9. 21 Places to Visit in Malawi

    Malawi is bordered by Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia. It lies in Africa's Great Rift Valley (a 6,000-mile crack in the earth's crust), which gives the country a diverse terrain. Pilanesberg Nature Reserve Game Safari. Duration: 12 hours. 4.5 (621) Soweto, Apartheid Museum & City Tour.

  10. Must-see attractions Malawi, Zambia, Malawi & Mozambique

    Discover the best attractions in Malawi including Liwonde National Park, Majete Wildlife Reserve, and Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. ... This marble and granite mausoleum is the final resting place of Malawi's 'president for life', Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Between four pillars bearing the…

  11. Top 10 Must-Visit Destinations in Malawi

    10. Blantyre. Blantyre is Malawi's second-largest city, a commercial hub and the gateway to the attractions in the southern part of the country. Travelers driving to Majete, Thyolo, Mt. Mulanje, Michiru Mountain and Zomba Plateau will all pass through Blantyre en route to their destinations. History runs deep here.

  12. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Malawi

    Churches & Cathedrals. By RSA1968. This church is very well maintained and for the historians it is really worth visiting in Blantyre.... 11. Kungoni Centre of Culture & Art. 19. Art Museums. By occhiolist. This is a "5* for Malawi" rating - don't arrive expecting a big, shiny western-style museum.

  13. 50 Best Things to Do in Malawi

    14. Kasungu National Park (Kasungu) Located west of Kasungu town, along the border with Zambia, Kasungu National Park is the closest national park to Lilongwe and was declared a national park in 1970. With an area of 2,316 km², it is Malawi's second largest national park after Nyika National Park.

  14. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Malawi (Updated 2024)

    5. Kuti Wildlife Reserve. 66. Nature & Wildlife Areas. Kuti Wildlife Reserve is located in central Malawi. This nation is known as 'The Warm Heart of Africa', both for its stunning beauty and friendly people. Kuti is home to a variety of animals native…. 6. Lilongwe Wildlife Centre.

  15. 9 Best Places To Visit In Malawi

    7. Majete Wildlife Reserve. Majete Wildlife Reserve is located in the Lower Shire Valley of southwest Malawi, around 70 km (43.5 miles) from Blantyre. The reserve gives testimony to a real success story of animal conservation after it was almost depleted of its wildlife.

  16. Where to Go in Malawi

    4. Mount Mulanje: Malawi's Hiking Region. At just over 3 000m, Mount Mulanje is Central Africa's highest peak. This granite mountain range is where to go in Malawi for a fantastic hiking experience and sensational views of the surroundings. Situated just 65 km east of Blantyre, Mount Mulanje is host to a network of trails winding through tea ...

  17. 6 Places You Must Visit in Malawi

    2. Nkhata Bay, Malawi. JackyR / CC. Clear, azure water, dense forest, and wooden canoes dotting the shoreline. If you find yourself in Malawi's northern region, Nkhata Bay is a must see. A port town and center of the lake's fishing industry, this network of villages and marketplaces is now a hub of tourism.

  18. Malawi travel

    What captures visitors most about Malawi is its geographical diversity: the vast shimmering lakes, dramatic mountain peaks, and the roaming lions of Majete Wildlife Reserve. Best Time to Visit. Best Places to Visit. 01 / Attractions.

  19. Malawi Tourism

    African's Warm Heart, Malawi, is beating faster now and the legendary welcome is there for all who wish to experience the unrivalled combination of Lake, Landscape, Wildlife & Culture in one of Africa's most beautiful and compact countries. Recently crowned as one of Lonely Planet's Best in Travel Top Countries for 2022 (a remarkable second appearance on that prestigious list in recent years ...

  20. Places to Visit in Malawi

    In the west of Central Malawi, and bordering Zambia, is Kasungu National Park, an 800 sq mile (2100 sq km) area of natural woodland and bush with occasional stretches of more open grass. At one time, Kasungu was Malawi's main game park, closest to Lilongwe and favoured by the country's first President, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

  21. 10 Best Places To Visit In Malawi, Africa

    Mushroom Farm Eco Lodge, Livingstonia. 7. Chizimooloo Island And Likoma Island In Malawi. 8. Visit Cape Maclear In Malawi. 10. Lake of Stars Festival In Malawi. Best places to visit in Lake Malawi. 1.

  22. 13 things to know before traveling to Malawi

    10. Avoid driving at night. The greatest danger in Malawi is likely to be on the roads, where speeding and wildly passing cars are common. Driving at night on the unlit roads should be avoided altogether. When planning your trip, consider using Malawi's coach system and the lake ferry rather than driving yourself.

  23. Best gaming PCs in 2024: these are the builds and brands I recommend

    2. Best budget gaming PC: Yeyian Yumi. Intel Core i5 12400F | Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 1TB SSD | $1,199.99 $799.99 at Newegg (save $400) This Yeyian machine will make for a great ...