From starlit picnics at magical Lake Malawi to brushing up on your History lessons on Likoma Island, any trip to Malawi is bound to be memorable.
Visiting on a shoestring budget? We have you covered. The warm heart of Africa has more than enough free activities to offer.
Here are our top picks:
Experience Lake Malawi
Pack a picnic, grab your swimsuit and head for the Lake of Stars. This famous freshwater lake is surrounded by picturesque beaches by day, and mirrors the starry night sky for those with more nocturnal tendencies. Frolic to your heart’s content, or just lounge around and soak up the African sun. Either way, Lake Malawi will leave your batteries recharged and your raison détre reaffirmed.
Walk the streets of Lilongwe
Make your way to the country capital, Lilongwe, and visit the curio market to be blown away by beautifully crafted keepsakes. Feast your eyes on African art while you wait for your Chitenje garments to be tailored, or sample the local cuisine and take part in Nsima eating competitions for some serious bragging rights! Lilongwe market is a melting pot of colours, aromas and gorgeous textiles. It’s the best way to take a piece of Malawi home with you.
Visit the Mawira Hot Springs
The Mawira hot springs are situated in the middle of Nkhotakota, the largest traditional African town in Malawi. The springs provide a beautifully exciting day trip. Locals endow water from the springs with healing properties and good fortune and are more than happy to show happy travellers around. Feel free to bottle some of the exfoliating mud, take in the landscape and treat yourself to sundowners on a boat as you bask in an exquisite Lake Malawi sunset.
Climb the highest mountain in Central Africa
Feeling brave? Assuage your adventurous spirit by climbing Mount Mulanje. More affectionately known as the “’island in the sky’’, Mount Mulanje boasts some of the world’s best mountaineering experiences. Choose from a range of activities such as hiking some of the more forgiving trails, to summiting the Sapitwa peak and taking a well-deserved dip in a cool mountain pool. These extraordinary rock formations have something to offer all fitness levels. Burn calories while you satisfy your geographic curiosity!
Soak up some History on Likoma Island
Likoma Island is the only part of Malawi located in Mozambican waters and offers travellers a rich and diverse peak into the country’s history. The island is famous for having been the headquarters of the David Livingstone’s mission to Africa and is home to the 100-year-old Likoma Anglican cathedral. The vast building was built in 1903 and is a rare work of art boasting stained glass windows and meticulously chiselled colonial style architecture.
Visit the Chilema Tree
Before leaving Zomba, head to a little trading centre called Malosa. This is where you’ll find an area called Chilema. Chilema, meaning “disabled” or deformed” in Chichewa, is home to two unusual natural phenomena. The first being a stream that flows from the top of Malosa Mountain, which becomes smaller and smaller as it descends toward Chilema. The stream disappears before reaching its destination and has had locals confounded for years. Secondly, the Chilema tree is a tree so large that it looks like an entire forest. Locals are unable to pinpoint precisely where the trunk is or where the vast canopy begins and ends. This is definitely something working taking a peek at!
Master the Bao Board
Playing Bao is one of Malawi’s favourite pastimes. More than just a game of logic, Bao is a social occasion and consummate friend-making mechanism. It’s also a great way to learn a few local phrases. Whether playing for fun or taking part in one of the many Malawian Bao tournaments, learning to play will definitely place you in high regard with the locals! Bao masters are affectionately known as “Fundis” and are given honorary Malawian status.
Hike to the top of the Zomba Plateau
Nestled in the rolling hills of the Shire Highlands, Zomba is home to an impressive 1800m high plateau filled with hiking trails and peppered with still lakes and picturesque waterfalls. The 6-hour uphill path is perfect for appreciating the lush, green landscape, and for spotting wildlife. Look out for leopards, giant butterflies, as well as fascinating birdlife. As you make your way to the top, stop at the Chingwe’s hole. Historically, people who had leprosy were thrown into this hole and left for dead. Yikes!
Always see a museum
No holiday is complete without a visit to a museum. Make your way to Blantyre to check out the Museum of Malawi. With artefacts from as far back as the 16th century, visiting the museum makes for an exciting cultural experience. You can also check out relics of the bygone Malawian transport age, including a Nyasaland bus, and an exhibition on the Gule Wamkulu dances.
While we can’t guarantee you wanting to ever come home, we can guarantee an unforgettable experience in the warm heart of Africa. Be sure to see as much as possible, or as the locals would say, see for mahala!
Have you visited Malawi recently? Tell us some of your favourite spots in the comments section below!