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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Likoma Island


Off the eastern shore of the Lake is Likoma Island, a small piece of Malawian territory in Mozambican waters. The University Mission to Central Africa (David Livingstone’s mission) set up their headquarters on Likoma in the 1880s in part to try to fight the slave trade that used routes across Lake Malawi. Because of this history, Likoma was retained by Malawi when the Lake was divided politically after World War II and the waters around it became Mozambican.

Likoma’s primary claim to fame is its magnificent cathedral. St Peter’s matches the size of Winchester Cathedral in the UK, yet is here on an island in the middle of a lake in the middle of Africa! Work began on this extraordinarily ambitious construction project in 1903 when the mission was fortunate to have a trained architect on its staff. Using local labour and materials, the vast granite building gradually took shape and the first service was held in 1905. It is still going strong well over 100 years later and is a sight and sound to behold during any service, when the passionate congregation will be in full voice.  This vast building has some most interesting features including stained glass and carved soapstone.

The island has a few bustling local communities and some lovely beaches. Given its small size it is easy to explore on foot. Nearby is another tiny island, Chizumulu, also Malawian territory.

Access to Likoma is currently by boat or aircraft. The airstrip has been upgraded in recent years though most visitors still arrive courtesy of the venerable Ilala ferry. There are also now a number of boats that offer straight transfers between Nkhata Bay and Likoma. For the latest access details click here.

Accommodation on Likoma is limited but includes one of Malawi’s top luxury lodges, Kaya Mawa. Named by Conde Nast Traveller as one of the top 10 most romantic lodges in the world, Kaya Mawa is a stunning, multi award winning, responsibly and sustainably run property and one of the best beach lodges in Africa. All manner of lake activities are on offer (including scuba diving) and, for most people, Kaya Mawa is reason enough in itself to visit Likoma.  There are a handful other properties on the island, including the charming mid-market property of Ulisa Bay Lodge , which also offers pottery as an activity for its guests! A wonderful barefoot luxury lodge is just across the water on the Mozambique shore of the lake – Nkwichi Lodge at Manda Wilderness

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Accommodation in or near Likoma Island

Ulisa Bay Lodge

Situated on the West Side of Likoma Island, with spectacular sunsets, Ulisa Bay Lodge offers affordable island luxury.

Kaya Mawa Lodge by Green Safaris

Hidden away on Likoma Island in Lake Malawi, at Kaya Mawa you will be transported into a world of simple pleasures. Embraced by the warmth and hospitality of the enchanting Malawian staff you will enjoy timeless luxury and only the best of modern conveniences.

Nkwichi Lodge

Nkwichi Lodge is a halcyon barefoot paradise. It lies on the eastern side of Lake Malawi, and although part of Mozambique, is very easily accessible.


Other Places to Visit in North Malawi

Chintheche

Chintheche offers some of the best beaches on Lake Malawi, with a collection of luxury lodges right by the shore.

Karonga

Karonga is one of Lake Malawi's most northern towns. It is home to a wonderful new museum of cultural history and archeology.

Livingstonia Mission

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.

Manda Wilderness (Mozambique)

A massive 100,000 ha area of Mozambique land which runs to the eastern shore of Lake Malawi forms the Manda Wilderness Community Reserve.

Mzuzu

The capital of the north is Mzuzu, with an interesting bustling market and is growing rapidly, with a selection of lodges close by.

Nkhata Bay

Nkhata Bay is a small sheltered harbour on Lake Malawi's northern shore. It is a focus for the fishing industry but becoming increasingly important as a tourist centre. 

Northern Lakeshore / Chitimba

The lakeshore in the far north between Nkhata Bay and Karonga is dramatic, with steep rift valley escarpments at times forming the shoreline.

Nyika National Park

Nyika is Malawi’s largest park. Superb wildlife and landscapes in one, it offers breathtaking, unique, scenery combined with wonderful safaris.

Viphya Plateau

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.

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

Vwasa Wildlife Reserve, an area of marsh and plain, with a few rocky outcrops, is all of 400 sq miles (1000 sq km) and lies along the Zambian border north-west of Mzuzu.


Other Places to Visit on Lake Malawi

Chintheche

Chintheche offers some of the best beaches on Lake Malawi, with a collection of luxury lodges right by the shore.

Dwangwa

Thirty miles north of Nkhotakota is the settlement of Dwangwa, a useful place to stock up and refuel when travelling up and down the lakeshore.

Karonga

Karonga is one of Lake Malawi's most northern towns. It is home to a wonderful new museum of cultural history and archeology.

Lake Malawi National Park

Lake Malawi National Park is the world's first freshwater national park and world heritage site, situated at Cape Maclear.

Manda Wilderness (Mozambique)

A massive 100,000 ha area of Mozambique land which runs to the eastern shore of Lake Malawi forms the Manda Wilderness Community Reserve.

Mangochi Lakeshore

The Mangochi Lakeshore is a strip of southern Lake Malawi where many popular hotels and resorts offer beachside accommodation.

Marelli Islands

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.

Monkey Bay

Monkey Bay is considered to be one of Malawi's main lake ports, and is where the famous Ilala ferry docks and begins its weekly sojourn up and down the Lake

Nkhata Bay

Nkhata Bay is a small sheltered harbour on Lake Malawi's northern shore. It is a focus for the fishing industry but becoming increasingly important as a tourist centre. 

Nkhotakota

Often, but confusingly, described as the largest traditional village in Africa, Nkhotakota is rich in history. Visited by Dr Livingstone in 1863, it was then a major centre for the slave trade.

Northern Lakeshore / Chitimba

The lakeshore in the far north between Nkhata Bay and Karonga is dramatic, with steep rift valley escarpments at times forming the shoreline.

Salima & Senga Bay

Salima is an important service and trading centre set back from Lake Malawi whilst Senga Bay has a stretch of sandy beach with a range of hotels, lodges and campsites.


Other Cultural Places to Visit

Blantyre & Limbe

The largest urban area in Malawi, the conurbation of Blantyre & Limbe, is the country’s commercial capital.

Chintheche

Chintheche offers some of the best beaches on Lake Malawi, with a collection of luxury lodges right by the shore.

Chongoni Rock Art

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

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.

Dwangwa

Thirty miles north of Nkhotakota is the settlement of Dwangwa, a useful place to stock up and refuel when travelling up and down the lakeshore.

Dzalanyama Forest Reserve

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.

Karonga

Karonga is one of Lake Malawi's most northern towns. It is home to a wonderful new museum of cultural history and archeology.

Lilongwe

Lilongwe is Malawi’s capital. The Old Town is distinct and has the appearance of a traditional African settlement, whilst the City has much in common with other twentieth century urban developments around the world.

Livingstonia Mission

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 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.

Manda Wilderness (Mozambique)

A massive 100,000 ha area of Mozambique land which runs to the eastern shore of Lake Malawi forms the Manda Wilderness Community Reserve.

Mangochi

Mangochi is sited between Lakes Malawi and Malombe and has a number of historical monuments dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century.

Monkey Bay

Monkey Bay is considered to be one of Malawi's main lake ports, and is where the famous Ilala ferry docks and begins its weekly sojourn up and down the Lake

Mua Mission

Mua Mission is famous for the quality of the wood carvings produced and sold there. The standards are superb and the prices very reasonable.

Mzuzu

The capital of the north is Mzuzu, with an interesting bustling market and is growing rapidly, with a selection of lodges close by.

Nkhata Bay

Nkhata Bay is a small sheltered harbour on Lake Malawi's northern shore. It is a focus for the fishing industry but becoming increasingly important as a tourist centre. 

Nkhotakota

Often, but confusingly, described as the largest traditional village in Africa, Nkhotakota is rich in history. Visited by Dr Livingstone in 1863, it was then a major centre for the slave trade.

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.

Ntchisi Forest Reserve

Ntchisi Forest Reserve contains some of the last remaining indigenous rainforest in Malawi. Some trees tower thirty metres overhead.

Thyolo Tea Estates

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.

Viphya Plateau

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.

Zomba Town

Zomba Town is in a beautiful setting below the plateau of the same name. This was the original capital of Malawi and the first settlement of the colonial administration.


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