Long known as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, Malawi is a rising destination on the continent. With its genuinely hospitable people, conservation efforts to re-introduce wildlife into the parks and reserves, and the jewel that is Lake Malawi, this is your quintessential ‘off-the-beaten-path’ place to be. The curious will be rewarded with an active safari in unspoiled wilderness where Big 5 game viewing is virtually your own.GEt in touch
What to Expect
Tourism here is unpolished and simple…meaning there are few choices for luxury travelers, but the quality is on par with what you would find in neighboring countries and the costs quite reasonable.
Thoughtful touches in accommodation combined with friendly engaging staff will make your stay memorable. This is a country to truly explore—many of its wonders remain quietly hidden. Malawi is one of the most densely populated places in Africa, and despite the poverty there is a palpable happiness and pride in this safe and politically stable nation. There is an obvious direct connection between the people, the land, and wildlife.
Don't Miss Out
The Essence of Malawi — A visit to Malawi is not complete without some time on the sparkling Lake Malawi, known as the ‘Calendar Lake’ for its 52-mile width. This is your life-size aquarium, full of spectacular fish species of every color you can imagine.
There are over 700 species of cichlids alone! The visibility in the clear waters makes SCUBA diving and snorkeling the most popular activities, but all varieties of watersports are possible on the lake. Secluded coves and beaches line the shores and lovely accommodations can be found on the islands in the lake or along the shore.
Conservation success stories— Liwonde National Park is Malawi’s longest established and most popular wildlife viewing area. The park is undergoing a renaissance with the reintroduction of, lion, rhino, and cheetah in the past few years. Those species are thriving along with elephant, waterbuck, sable, and impala due to the stepping up of community involvement and anti-poaching efforts. Majete Wildlife Reserve has been undergoing a similar transformation, with Big 5 species now populating the wilderness and resources growing. There is an opportunity to visit the nearby Njobvu village, where guests may mingle with locals to learn about village life, participate in daily activities, and enjoy traditional dances and drumming.
Tea estates – Dominated by views of Mount Mulanje, the region’s highest peak, the verdant tea estates and fertile soils grow most of Malawi’s produce. Tea has been an industry here since 1908 and a few estates produce enough to export worldwide. It is worthwhile to visit one of the last remaining family-run organic fair-trade tea estates to hear the living history of the Thyolo region. Scenic walks, hikes, cycling, ‘crop to cup’ tours, and charming accommodation are available on the estate.
Hidden gem—The glorious Nyika Plateau in the North lies at 8,000 feet (2,500 m) above sea level at the heart of the Northern highlands of Malawi. The undulating hills are often compared to whalebacks and contrast the granite ridges of the plateau found in the Northeast where they form the edge of the Rift Valley. The Nyika National Park is visually stunning and often sits above the clouds. Leopard, hyena, jackal, roan, eland, and zebra are regularly spotted here. 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.
Need to know
Flights are typically routed through Johannesburg via European gateways like Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt, and Zurich. Flights directly into Lilongwe or Blantyre via Nairobi and Addis Ababa are also quite popular.
- We advise spending 3-4 days if you are just going to the Lake Malawi or 9-12 days for a full spectrum safari of Malawi. Malawi is easily combined with any destination in Southern Africa and a safari combines nicely with Zimbabwe, Zambia, or South Africa.
- We recommend Malawi to seasoned safari veterans, those seeking romance and birdwatchers. For the adventurous, it is quite family friendly. You will get excellent value out of your dollars in Malawi compared to other destinations.
- Visas are required for most visitors and are available upon arrival, but inoculations may be recommended. We suggest you see a travel medicine specialist for advice.
- Getting around Malawi is relatively easy with good roads and limited flight are available to the popular wildlife areas. Most touring is overland.
- English is an official language and you will find communication easy throughout your trip.
- Most guides are trained well and are local to the areas you will visit.
- Not known as a culinary destination, you can expect hearty and flavorful international choices on safari.
When to go
Like much of Southern Africa, Malawi experiences two seasons, dry and wet. The dry season is from May to October and the rainy season runs from November to April. Variations in weather are significant based on altitude.
Keep in mind that the lake shore areas are warmer all year round, while temperatures in the highlands are cooler than average, particularly in winter.
May – early October: This is the long dry season and best viewing conditions with short grass. Wildlife congregate around water sources. You can expect chilly mornings, bright sunny days, and cool evenings until September when temperatures start to rise. This is peak travel season for visitors.
Mid-October – April: This is typically the rainy or ‘green’ season, when temperatures remain warm and humid. Wildlife is a bit more dispersed and sightings might not be plentiful. Expect showers in the morning with clearing in the afternoon before clouds roll in again for heavier rains in the evening. Road conditions in the bush can be muddy. This season is best for landscape photographers and bird watchers.
As Malawi is a developing destination, we use a handful of properties that we know well. There are camps offering an intimate experience with very high standards.
Several island lodges offer ‘Robinson Crusoe’ type eco-luxury and are dripping with romance for honeymooners or those celebrating a special occasion. Many of the properties we work with are suitable for families or small groups traveling together. Every property booked on a Rothschild Safari is vetted by staff and offer the highest standards in each category.
What our travelers 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Mary & Rob Johannigman (and family)
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.