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


A particularly interesting place to visit is the Livingstonia Mission. Sited high above Lake Malawi at 3000ft (900m) and in the shadow of the Nyika Plateau, there are views of incredible beauty across the lake to Tanzania. But Livingstonia is also a fascinating and pretty town with a remarkable history.

Livingstonia is an outstanding example of the work of the Scottish missionaries in Malawi, following in the tradition established in the 1870s. The site of the mission is a case of third time lucky. The original Livingstonia site chosen by Dr Robert Laws, a disciple of David Livingstone, was on the lakeshore at Cape Maclear. However, the mosquito and malaria drove Laws to move northwards up Lake Malawi to Bandawe, near Chintheche. Again, this proved an unhealthy place and so he moved again, in 1894, to this place of incredible beauty on a plateau high above Lake Malawi. Its original name was Khondowe but was renamed Livingstonia in honour of Law’s mentor.

The new home for the mission was decidedly healthier and it provided opportunities for farming and a ready supply of timber. Laws designed the road link to the Lake to include 20 hairpin bends, a quite astonishing piece of engineering for one trained in medicine. The mission established a school, a technical training centre, hospital, church and university. Livinstonia has made an immeasurable contribution to education in Malawi and was one of the first places in the country to have electricity, as early as 1905.

Much of what Laws achieved at Livingstonia still survives today, including many of its distinctive red-brick buildings. The church has a beautiful stained glass window over the main entrance, which shows David Livingstone at Lake Malawi meeting the Chiefs. The Old Stone House was once the home of Dr Laws and now houses a small museum with some fascinating exhibits including glass photographic slides, old photographic prints, wall displays, furniture and equipment dating from the earliest times of the establishment of the mission.

The sprawling, sleepy town is fascinating to walk around but the great beauty of Livingstonia is not only the buildings and their crumbling fabric but the site itself. Just in front of the Old Stone House is the very edge of the Great Rift Valley. The views across Lake Malawi into Tanzania rival those from the Zomba Plateau in south Malawi. To see the sun rise across the lake is a sight never to be forgotten, and comes with an unavoidable feeling of being on top-of-the-world. Unsurprisingly for a highland area in Malawi, as well as the views out from the plateau, there is some beautiful natural scenery to be discovered, including the Manchewe falls. Some 4km from the town these magnificent falls have a single 125m sheer drop.

There is no upmarket accommodation at Livingstonia but a couple of charming budget lodges established on sustainable and eco-friendly principals. The Mushroom Farm has a fast-growing reputation as a beacon of responsible tourism shining from its lofty setting.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Karonga

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

Likoma Island

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.

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.

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.

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Manda Wilderness (Mozambique)

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Other Scenic Places to Visit

Chimwenya Game Park

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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

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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.

Elephant Marsh

Elephant Marsh is part of the flood plain of the River Shire. Though now devoid of elephants it is still home to a fantastic array of birdlife.

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.

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.

Mount Mulanje

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Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve

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Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

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Ntchisi Forest Reserve

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

Nyika National Park

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

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 Plateau

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