Malawi named one of Lonely Planet's Best in Travel Top Countries for 2022! Find out more.
Malawi named one of Lonely Planet's Best in Travel Top Countries for 2022! Find out more.
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Boat Safaris

One of the great advantages of a number of Malawi’s National Parks and Wildlife Reserves, is that, as well as the usual safaris taken riding in a vehicle, and the thrill of getting out on foot for a walking safari, there are stretches of river which allow for boat safaris. Game viewing from a boat can be extremely successful as many animals are less concerned about what’s close to them on the water than what’s close to them on the land. They will happily go about their business whilst largely ignoring any safari boats that drift by. As well as being able to get close to the large crocodiles and pods of hippos that spend their days in or close to the water, and the riverine birdlife, boat safaris will also give great sightings of the animals on the riverbanks. Much of the wildlife will come down to the river to drink , or graze on the fertile plains not far from the water’s edge. And the elephants, particularly the young male bulls, enjoy playing in the shallow waters near the banks and will put on a great display for anyone on a boat safari along the River Shire.

The wide stretch of the River Shire as it passes through the Liwonde National Park is probably the best place for a boat safari, and it’s now also possible to get more great wildlife sightings by boat further down that same river in Majete Wildife Reserve. In central Malawi, a slightly different experience is on offer, with canoes used in Nkohtakota Wildlife Reserve to paddle along the Bua River as it cuts through the rugged wilderness.

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Places offering Boat Safaris

Liwonde National Park

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.

Lower Shire Valley

The Lower Shire Valley is an extension of the Rift Valley and home to no less than three national parks/wildlife reserves.

Majete Wildlife Reserve

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.

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

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.

Similar Activities


Safaris in Malawi offer thrilling wildlife viewing by a choice of methods and in an amazing variety of environments, but without the crowds of mass tourism.

Conservation Volunteer Projects

Volunteering with wildlife is a becoming more common as Malawi continues to be at the forefront of wildlife conservation in Africa.


Malawi's varied terrains and environments create a birdwatcher's paradise. Around 650 different species have been identified and birds can be seen in the reserves and all across the country.