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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Nkhata Bay


Nkhata Bay is at the most northerly point on Lake Malawi reached by David Livingstone during his expeditions through Africa over 150 years ago. Its small sheltered harbour is a focus for the Lake’s fishing industry but it is also becoming increasingly important as a tourist centre. As a vibrant port town in the north of Malawi, it is often referred to as the gateway to the islands. It has a wonderful craft market and a bustling (almost Caribbean) feel to the town. With plenty of small shops and a bank / ATM as well as internet cafes, restaurants and bars, and a highly reputed and long established dive school, Nkhata Bay, despite its size, has a lot on offer. Just a 3 minutes drive away from the town centre is a beautiful sand beach, Chikale, where there is a choice of simple lodges.

There is a variety of accommodation on offer at Nkhata Bay, most in the form of camping sites and small lodges. Safari Cottage offers self catering accommodation comprising 3 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room and a verandah overlooking Lake Malawi.

The famous Ilala Lake ferry stops in Nkhata Bay as part of its weekly schedule up and down Lake Malawi. The Ilala can be used to access Likoma Island and there are also now an increasing number of smaller boats offering access to Likoma.

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Accommodation in or near Nkhata Bay

The Beach House

The Beach House, on North Beach, Chintheche, overlooks silver sands facing down Lake Malawi. It is perched on the very edge of the dunes and is shaded all around.

Safari Cottage

Safari Cottage is a self-catering cottage in Nkhata Bay in northern Malawi, just a couple of metres from infamous Lake Malawi. 

Kande Horse

Kande Horse and The Stables Guest House are nestled in amongst the forest close to Chintheche. Kande Horse is the perfect hotspot for horse riding in Malawi.

Kachere Kastle

An Englishman's home is his castle! The unique Kachere Kastle, situated on the unspoiled sandy shores of Northern Lake Malawi is a calm haven; a place to escape to and relax.

Makuzi Beach

Makuzi Beach Lodge is located along the northern shores of Lake Malawi. Delightfully sited in its own private bay, the lodge is ideal for that perfect “Retreat to Paradise”.

Butterfly Space

Butterfly Space is a non-profit community based lodge located on the shores of Nkhata bay in Northern Malawi.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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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