Walking & Trekking
Malawi has such beautiful and varied scenery throughout the country, that outdoor walks are popular at pretty much any location, even along the shores and across the islands of Lake Malawi. Walking through the national parks and wildlife reserves is also popular for game viewing but more strenuous hiking and trekking is generally through the cooler, shady forests on the hills and plateaux.
Mulanje Massif offers the greatest choice and has a network of huts for intrepid explorers to stay in. Marked paths offer a variety of routes and guides and/or porters can be hired cheaply. The tea estates between Blantyre and Mulanje are also beautiful environments that can be explored on foot.
Nyika Plateau is less rugged but walking is undoubtedly one of the best ways to explore this unique and wildlife-rich wilderness. There are trails for those prepared to hike and camp for a few days. They cover the varied peaks and valleys whilst offering chances to encounter the animals in the park close at hand.
Also in the north are the Viphya Highlands which are covered in forests and provide fascinating trails, including those off the highlands and down the Rift Valley escarpment to the shores of Lake Malawi.
Another which offers an exploration of the Rift Valley escarpment is Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. This is an area of rugged wilderness where rivers crash through thick forest. Fast developing as a safari destination, its wilderness scenery is reason enough to explore on foot.
The serene forests, hills and streams of Zomba Plateau, and, particularly the views from it, offer another attraction for walkers. And, south of Lilongwe, another set of highlands at Dedza has the added bonus of the Chongoni Rock Art site (a UNESCO World Heritage site) to explore.
A few more forestry reserves around the country provide pleasant walks through shady environments. Ntchisi Forest is easily accessed from Lilongwe and a wonderful tranquil retreat. Dzalanyama Forest Reserve is even closer to Lilongwe (in the opposite direction). As well as the wonderful scenery, its hills and forests are home to fantastic birdlife. The hills surrounding Blantyre are also popular for walks.
Places offering Walking & Trekking
Chintheche offers some of the best beaches on Lake Malawi, with a collection of luxury lodges right by the shore.
In the forested granite hills around Dedza is the Chongoni Rock Art Area, a UNESCO World Heritage SIte. this is the densest cluster of ancient rock art found in central Africa.
Dedza is a town of interest for a variety of reasons. At 1600m (5300ft) it is the highest town in the country and sits in a beautiful landscape of forests and highlands.
Dzalanyama is approximately 40 km from Lilongwe and covers the steep range of hills which bear the same name. It's a beautiful natural environment to explore and enjoy.
Lake Malawi National Park is the world's first freshwater national park and world heritage site, situated at Cape Maclear.
Likoma Island sits on the far side of the Lake Malawi in Mozambican waters. The island is home to stunning beaches and lodges, with access by boat or aircraft.
Livingstonia is a mission station established in 1894 by Robert Laws, a disciple of David Livingstone. Sited at 3000ft above Lake Malawi, there are stunning views across the Lake.
Liwonde is perhaps the most popular of all of Malawi's game parks. The River Shire flows along its western border, allowing boat safaris to discover the Big 5 and an array of birdlife.
Majete Wildlife Reserve is a unique conservation and tourist destination for all visitors. An amazing success story of recovery and restoration, and now home to the Big 5.
A massive 100,000 ha area of Mozambique land which runs to the eastern shore of Lake Malawi forms the Manda Wilderness Community Reserve.
The Marelli Islands group, consist of three uninhabited islands that are protected as part of the Lake Malawi National Park. They are 3 km from the Senga Bay shore.
Mount Mulanje is Malawi's highest peak. At 10000ft (3000m), Mulanje dwarfs all that surrounds it. It lies to the east of Blantyre and is easily accessible.
Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve is little neglected in terms of wildlife but the landscape includes scenic rocky outcrops and rivers cutting through impressive gorges.
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve is one of the two large wildlife areas in Central Malawi. A true wilderness, it has a promising future after recent mass restocking.
Ntchisi Forest Reserve contains some of the last remaining indigenous rainforest in Malawi. Some trees tower thirty metres overhead.
Nyika is Malawi’s largest park. Superb wildlife and landscapes in one, it offers breathtaking, unique, scenery combined with wonderful safaris.
Tea has been grown at Thyolo, south-east of Blantyre, since 1908 and the primly trimmed bushes (strictly, trees) give the whole area the appearance of a neatly kept but vast garden.
The forested Viphya is a wonderful area for those seeking a combination of stunning scenery and solitude, with opportunities for trekking, mountain biking and various other activities.
Known for its views, Zomba Plateau is a great slab of a mountain with vast tracts of cedar, pine and cypress and criss-crossed by streams with tumbling waterfalls and still lakes.
There are a few places around Malawi where horse riding can be enjoyed – scenic locations that can be leisurely explored on horseback.
As well as Lake Malawi, rivers and smaller lakes and reservoirs provide varied fishing opportunities. Light tackle will cover most situations.
The change in scene over relatively short distances, and the varied terrain, make Malawi a great country for cycling.
With its variety of mountains and highlands, it's no surprise that Malawi has a few places that can offer some great climbing experiences.