With sights ranging from an inland sea 1000 metres in depth to mountain plateaus over 2600 metres in altitude, the small country of Malawi provides an incredible experience in contrasts.
In our view, the highlights of Malawi are an excellent addition to any itinerary covering southern Zambia and southern Tanzania.
Home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world, Lake Malawi is an inland sea formed with the faulting of the Great Rift Valley. With more than 700 species of cichlids endemic to the lake’s crystal-clear waters, Lake Malawi is a charming beach destination unlike any other. With sunlight sparkling off its surface during the day and the lights of fishing boats glowing over its waves at night, David Livingstone labelled it the ‘lake of stars’ when he encountered it 150 years ago. With long stretches of golden sand beaches stretching between charming fishing villages, the lake is a place to relax, swim, snorkel or kayak while watching traditional dugout fishing canoes cross the inland sea in front of you.
In the north of the country along its border with Zambia, the high altitude Nyika Plateau National Park is Malawi’s oldest and largest park. At more than 2000 metres in altitude, roan antelope, Cape eland and zebra dot the magical landscape of rolling grasslands. Elephants, a sizeable population of leopard and more than 400 species of birds including the endemic red-winged francolin and rare Denham’s bustard and wattled crane complement the plateau’s significant flora. When the rains come, the burnt orange landscape is covered by a carpet of wildflowers and the blooms of more than 200 types of orchids.