Malawi

Nestled between Tanzania, Zambia & Mozambique, Malawi is sometimes overlooked in the shadow of its more renowned neighbours. Hugging the shores of Lake Malawi, the country offers distinctly unique experiences.

                                                         

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activities & experiences

Much of Malawi’s activity revolves around its aquatic elements, the lake comprising over 25 percent of its landmass. A vast, 52-mile wide aquarium, Lake Malawi is as abundant in life as the landscapes that surround it. On a larger itinerary spanning several countries, the shoreline is certainly Malawi’s biggest and most contrasting drawcard, but there is much more to see of this wonderful little nation.

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Also known as Lake Nyasa, Lake Malawi offers everything you could imagine of an expansive body of water; sailing adventures, fishing, exclusive island retreats and simple relaxation on its white-sand beaches. Though suffering from poaching, in recent years the country has embraced sustainability, conservation and the well-accepted tourism that come with them.

  • See the Big 5 on a game drive through smaller yet no less abundant national parks
  • Snorkel or SCUBA in Nyasa’s pristine waters
  • Enjoy elephant bath time as the herds gather on the shoreline of the Shire River
  • Lose yourself on your very own private island, where you can kayak and sail in complete solitude
  • Visit a cultural village, discover more about the Chewa people and learn the traditional game of bao
  • Explore the country by foot, on walking safaris and more challenging hikes
  • Visit the Stone Age rock art of Chongoni.
Chobe National Park Elephant
Abend Am Malawisee

destinations

Malawi is wonderfully changeable, the lake feeding lush vegetation on all sides, giving way to tan grasslands and towering mountains. You can travel from summit to shore within a day, gathering a gamut of experiences on your way, from panoramic views and incredible game viewing to ancient artworks and relaxing sundowners on the beach.

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  • Liwonde National Park. Though not one of Malawi’s larget national parks, Liwonde is also wonderfully abundant. Elephant roam throughout the park, with lion, rhino and cheetah also more recently reintroduced. The park has allowed once non-existent species to be reintroduced and flourish and Liwonde is now a renowned conservation success story with a vast array of Africa’s most iconic creatures to be found there. Liwonde is an ideal excursion for those wishing to fulfil their wildlife quota.
  • Majete National Park. Larger than Liwonde, the game is a touch more dispersed, but it is also more diverse. Majete suffered greatly up until very recently from extensive poaching and illegal deforestation for charcoal production. However, it has bounced back in recent years, with conservation efforts repopulating the park and helping restore vegetation. It is now home to the Big 5 and rapidly becoming one of Malawi’s favourite parks, though still wonderfully under-attended.
  • Likoma Island. The larger of two main islands in Lake Malawi, Likoma feels like another country of its own. Despite being across the border in Mozambique, Likoma remains part of Malawi, as does its sister island of Chizumulu. In the late 19th century, missionaries established themselves on Likoma, erecting several churches and, in 1911, the magnificent St Peter’s Cathedral.
    The shoreline remains wonderfully remote, with small venues, camps and hotels finding seclusion in numerous bays, allowing you to feel as though you are the only person in the world.
  • Mount Mulanje. Standing at almost 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) above sea level , Mount Mulanje is somewhat of a challenging hike, though certainly not beyond the average traveler. Scattered with smaller mammals, reptiles and birdlife, including skinks, frogs, butterflies and the tiny klipspringer antelope.
    Offering panoramic views of the expansive landscapes and tea plantations below, Mulanje is well worth the effort of a day’s gentle hike.

  • Mumbo Island. For an experience straight out of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Mumbo Island is a breathtaking escape. Though very rustic and not for the more pampered traveler, what it lacks in luxury it more than compensates for in charm and natural beauty. Timber cabins present lakeside accommodation and the ever-inviting pristine water of the lake provide plenty of entertainment and spectacular views. The verdant interior is interwoven with walking trails and, with no dangerous animals on the island, you can wander freely.

  • Nyika Plateau. The glorious Nyika Plateau in the North lies at the heart of the Northern highlands of Malawi. Nyika National Park is visually stunning and often sits above the clouds. Leopard, hyena, jackal, roan, eland and zebra are regularly spotted within the park and bird watching is prolific, with over 400 species recorded in the area. Nyika has wonderful opportunities for trekking and mountain biking as well as waterfalls, a Neolithic rock shelter, trout pools and even a magic lake to investigate.

Liwonde National Park


Though not one of Malawi’s larget national parks, Liwonde is also wonderfully abundant. Elephant roam throughout the park, with lion, rhino and cheetah also more recently reintroduced. The park has allowed once non-existent species to be reintroduced and flourish and Liwonde is now a renowned conservation success story with a vast array of Africa’s most iconic creatures to be found there. Liwonde is an ideal excursion for those wishing to fulfil their wildlife quota.

Majete National Park


Larger than Liwonde, the game is a touch more dispersed, but it is also more diverse. Majete suffered greatly up until very recently from extensive poaching and illegal deforestation for charcoal production. However, it has bounced back in recent years, with conservation efforts repopulating the park and helping restore vegetation. It is now home to the Big 5 and rapidly becoming one of Malawi’s favourite parks, though still wonderfully under-attended.

Likoma Island


The larger of two main islands in Lake Malawi, Likoma feels like another country of its own. Despite being across the border in Mozambique, Likoma remains part of Malawi, as does its sister island of Chizumulu. In the late 19th century, missionaries established themselves on Likoma, erecting several churches and, in 1911, the magnificent St Peter’s Cathedral.
The shoreline remains wonderfully remote, with small venues, camps and hotels finding seclusion in numerous bays, allowing you to feel as though you are the only person in the world.

Mount Mulanje


Standing at almost 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) above sea level , Mount Mulanje is somewhat of a challenging hike, though certainly not beyond the average traveler. Scattered with smaller mammals, reptiles and birdlife, including skinks, frogs, butterflies and the tiny klipspringer antelope.
Offering panoramic views of the expansive landscapes and tea plantations below, Mulanje is well worth the effort of a day’s gentle hike.

Mumbo Island


For an experience straight out of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Mumbo Island is a breathtaking escape. Though very rustic and not for the more pampered traveler, what it lacks in luxury it more than compensates for in charm and natural beauty. Timber cabins present lakeside accommodation and the ever-inviting pristine water of the lake provide plenty of entertainment and spectacular views. The verdant interior is interwoven with walking trails and, with no dangerous animals on the island, you can wander freely.

Nyika Plateau


The glorious Nyika Plateau in the North lies at the heart of the Northern highlands of Malawi. Nyika National Park is visually stunning and often sits above the clouds. Leopard, hyena, jackal, roan, eland and zebra are regularly spotted within the park and bird watching is prolific, with over 400 species recorded in the area. Nyika has wonderful opportunities for trekking and mountain biking as well as waterfalls, a Neolithic rock shelter, trout pools and even a magic lake to investigate.

accommodations

Malawi’s tourism is still developing, but it is doing so rapidly. Various islands, including Mumbo as mentioned above, provide visually spectacular accommodations, though often of a rustic and simple nature. These are adequate, though one mustn’t expect the spoils of a more luxurious venue.

There are, however, plenty more properties and camps on the mainland that provide the same waterfront accommodation but to a more opulent standard.

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You are unlikely to find five-star luxury in Malawi, but you will find some incredibly well-appointed camp-style venues. The majority are scattered along the shores of Lake Malawi and provide wonderful tranquility and intimacy. Traditionally constructed, they reflect the waterside properties of Zambia and Botswana.

The interiors are exquisite and balance romance with tropical nuances to make you question whether you are, indeed, in Malawi or upon a secluded luxury island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

There is little contemporary modernity to Malawian accommodation, but what you receive instead is a sense of escapism and exclusivity. Furnishings are of the highest quality, contrasting unhewn timber balcony rails and internal beams, and bare rock walls expertly handcrafted to give you a wonderful connection to your natural surroundings without relinquishing modern comforts.

Tongole Lodge Malawi

MALAWI ESSENTIALS

001 Calendar 01

BEST TIME: May – Aug

003 Thermometer 01

CLIMATE: LOW: 43-73ºF (6-23ºC) Jun – Jul / HIGH: 63-86ºF (17-30ºC) Nov – Feb

002 Blood 01

SEASONS: DRY: May – Oct / WET: Nov – April

004 Group 01

BEST FOR: Romantics, families and water lovers. An ideal lakeside respite from more conventional safari destinations, and many properties happily accommodate children of all ages.

Malawi is developing rapidly for tourists. Filled with rustic charm and unique scenery, Malawi is a wonderful destination in its own right, but even better when coupled with South Africa’s Kruger National Park or the more dynamic destinations of Zambia and Botswana.

Though beautiful in its own right, its redeeming qualities resonate when complemented by other destinations. Though Malawi possesses ten or so national parks and game is abundant, this is paralleled by the seclusion and tranquility of life upon the lake, whether reclining on the shoreline or diving into its pristine waters amongst its wealth of fish life.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

HOW LONG SHOULD I SPEND IN MALAWI?

Zambia’s diversity often gets a little overshadowed by its most iconic drawcard – Victoria Falls. If this is your sole or primary reason for visiting Zambia, then one to three days should suffice. However, we strongly encourage you to explore all the wonderful offerings of Zambia and, in doing so, spend at least a week discovering its many delights.

From quiet, relaxing camps to abundant game drives, tranquil waterways and the excitement of the Falls and its numerous activities, Zambia will keep everyone entertained for many days.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?

Malawi’s hottest months coincide with its wettest months, as is frequently the case. October to March can be stifling, with peak rains also occurring between December and February. The more temperate months of May to September offer the very best of Malawi, but opting for late April through to early June will provide the benefit of lush, green landscapes and an abundance of wildlife.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM ACCOMMODATION IN MALAWI?

Though often contrasting terms, Malawi’s accommodation could best be described as luxuriously rustic. Though many venues have been built in recent years, they are very much of a traditional nature, with plenty of raw materials in evidence.

That said, and though you may not experience the colonial-inspired camp decadence of Kenya, with copper, claw-footed baths and baroque furniture, you will find a pleasantly agreeable high standard of furnishings and services.

Some accommodations within Malawi have also been recognised for their cuisine and, though not pervasive, you can find some exquisite examples of African fusion dishes and exceptional gastronomy.

OTHER DETAILS:

Visas are required for most visitors and should be organized prior to arrival from your home country. Inoculations may be recommended and we suggest you contact your travel designer or a travel medicine specialist for advice.

International flights to Malawi are via Nairobi or Johannesburg, where a transfer is required to Malawi’s capital of Lilongwe. Private transfers are then available to specific destinations.

Chichewa is the primary traditional language of Malawi, though numerous other languages are spoken. However, English is the nation’s official language and you will find you will rarely meet any linguistic challenges.

Poverty is very real in parts of Malawi. We encourage cultural excursions and experiences as a way to support communities, and artisanal markets are often fascinating, rewarding and another way to support and give back to the Malawian people. National parks depend on tourist dollars to sustain the incredible achievements that have been made over recent years, so any visit and small additional donation you may be able to offer is essential for the parks’ sustainability.

Malawi is unique. While some activities may reflect those in other countries, there are also many aspects of a Malawian sojourn that you will find nowhere else. Still growing as a tourist destination and improving annually, it is a wonderfully charming country and, coupled with its beautiful, kind and welcoming people, it truly earns the moniker of ‘the warm heart of Africa’.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Wow, wow, wow!! We are back in LA now, recovering from jet lag and still in shock and awe regarding our experience. From the moment we landed in South Africa to the moment we touched down in LA, our experience was seamless and amazing. 

- Amy Lundberg

We were thrilled with the trip. It was as good as or better than described at every turn. The prep, attention to detail, willingness to make changes and ensure we were ready and prepared was outstanding. Our Travel Designer was awesome! 

- Betsy Robertson

Choosing a safari expert is never easy given the choice and lists upon lists of "top suppliers"....but we made the BEST choice for us....why....because above all, Rothschild listened ....really listened to what we wanted to experience.

- Dawn Jacobs

It was a well organized trip. It was easy to get around since we were guided through all of our itinerary. Everyone was pleasant and very helpful. This is an excellent way to travel. Rothschild Safari did very well and brought a fantastic African experience to us.

- George Kowalski

My trip was beyond AMAZING! I truly enjoyed every moment. The itinerary allowed me to experience a variety of different activities all of which I enjoyed! When I originally thought of going to Africa I was just thinking of safaris. This trip opened my eyes (and my family/friend's) to so much more Africa has to offer.

- Jackie Smith

Trip was PERFECT!! Every single detail was planned out and the accommodations and people were wonderful. This trip exceeded all of our wildest expectations. Every place we stayed was just lovely and each each camp had a different vibe, which was really neat. Everyone we worked with was outstanding. 

Jamie Scarlett

On behalf of the Moravec’s and the Stone’s……thank you for arranging a trip of a lifetime. Every detail was accounted for and all the recommendations were perfect. It honestly could not have gone any better.

Joe Moravec

Meggan Woody and Kim Killick were extraordinary at crafting THE PERFECT safari for our family of 8. They both listened (actually 'read' my email) to EXACTLY what we wanted, within the budget that we needed, and miraculously pulled off miracles in obtaining the properties that we wanted! 

Kim Mather

Every aspect of my trip went according to plan and the plan Rothschild's help me to orchestrate was magnificent! I loved every lodge that I was blessed to be in! They were all very different yet all high end and very accommodating.

Lisa Anderson

It was the most exciting, scenic, inspiring trip we've ever taken. To say it was a trip of a lifetime doesn't begin to capture our experience. Pam Langhoff and the Rothschild team did an outstanding job of helping us plan this trip.

Mary & Rob Johannigman (& family)