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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Blantyre & Limbe


The largest urban area in Malawi, the conurbation of Blantyre & Limbe, is the country’s commercial capital. Now with a population in excess of half a million, this settlement has its origins with the Scottish missionaries from the time of David Livingstone. (It is named after Livingstone’s birthplace in Scotland.) Today it is the centre of Malawi’s industry and commerce. Strictly two towns, Limbe and Blantyre form a continuous urban area yet retain their individualities and separate cores. Blantyre has the status and much of the administrative functions but Limbe is the more industrial.

Much of the city’s recent development has been between the traditional centres of Blantyre and Limbe. New shopping precincts have been built, with one even boasting a cinema. A smaller mall, but one offering high quality mementoes of Malawi, is the Ute Waleza Centre, off Kidney Cresent. During the day, shops which are a must include African Habitat, with its locally crafted ornaments and furnishings, and the Central Africana gallery: full of fascinating books and modern and historical maps and prints. Crafts & curios can also be bought from street-side stalls in the city centre.

Blantyre has a number of historical buildings of interest. Perhaps the most impressive is St Michael and All Angels church, built by men with no training in architecture, construction or even brick-making. Others include the original town hall (Old Boma) and Mandala House, built in 1882 as the headquarter of the African Lakes Company. It was Malawi’s first two-storey building and is believed now to be the country’s oldest house. Mandala House is home to the The Society of Malawi which protects and nourishes a true treasure trove of the country’s history. With thousands of books and resources safely stored away, it provides an opportunity to find out a bit more about Malawi that perhaps many tourists don’t ever discover.

Visits can also be made to the Museum of Malawi and Carlsberg Brewery, which lie between the two town centres, as well as the tobacco auction floors on the edge of Limbe. Both towns have a good range of shops, markets and services and there is even an old colonial golf club on the western edge of Blantyre. The airport out at Chileka now has international arrivals and departures through the week.

There is a variety of accommodation in Blantyre – hotels and lodges of all sizes. The newest is the seriously impressive Amaryllis Hotel which now dominates the city’s skyline, blending modern luxury with traditional hospitality.  The oldest hotel, which provides top-class accommodation and all expected facilities, including a gym and spa, is the The Protea Hotel by Marriott Blantyre Ryalls. Malawi hotel chain Serendib have 3 properties across Blantyre & Limbe: Heritage; Lotus and Serendib Suites & Conference Centre. Of the city’s small guest houses and B&Bs, two of the best are Villa 33 and Leslie Lodge. Alternative lodge accommodation outside the city is offered by Fisherman’s Rest, just a 20 minute drive to the south-west of Blantyre, overlooking the Lower Shire Valley. Leaving the city to the south quickly leads to Game Haven Lodge, set in the private Chimwenya Game Park, complete with golf course and fishing lake, and on to the Thyolo Tea Estates where you will find Chawani Bungalow and Huntingdon House, originally a family home built in 1928, now a luxury boutique lodge.

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Accommodation in or near Blantyre & Limbe

Zomba Forest Lodge

Zomba Forest Lodge is a cosy and intimate guest house nestled in 20 acres of mixed woodland. A perfect forest retreat where relaxation is guaranteed.

Thawale Lodge

Situated in Majete Wildlife Reserve, in the Lower Shire Valley, one hour drive from Blantyre, Thawale Lodge provides excellent accommodation for visitors wishing to enjoy game viewing in the newly re-stocked reserve.

Chawani Bungalow

Sited on the slopes of Thyolo Mountain, this historic tea planter’s bungalow is a relaxed, family friendly retreat surrounded by lush subtropical rainforest on Satemwa Estate.

Huntingdon House

Originally the family home built by Maclean Kay in 1928, Huntingdon House exudes a colonial charm and unique character that cannot be recreated, deep within the Satemwa Tea Estate.

Amaryllis Hotel

The all-new Amaryllis Hotel Blantyre is an artful blend of modern luxury and legendary Malawian hospitality.

Mkulumadzi by Robin Pope Safaris

Located on a private concession within Majete Wildlife Reserve, Mkulumadzi offers guests a chic and contemporary retreat set amidst rugged and untouched bush land.

Serendib Blantyre

Serendib Blantyre is made up of three hotels, the Serendib Suites & Conference Centre, the Lotus & the Heritage.

Game Haven Lodge

Game Haven Lodge lies within the beautiful 500 acre Chimwenya Game Park, part of the Shire Highlands and one of Malawi's last remaining indigenous rainforests.

AfricaWildTruck Camp & Lodge

AfricaWildTruck Camp and Lodge in Mulanje is an eco friendy lodge and camp located at the base of Mount Mulanje.

Villa 33

Villa 33 is the perfect location for business and independent travellers who need short to medium term accommodation in Blantyre. The lodge is set in 1.7 acres of beautiful tropical gardens.

Hill Springs Lodge

Hill Springs is located along the Zomba-Blantyre road surrounded by the beautiful hills of Zomba.

Pakachere Backpackers Lodge

Pakachere is a small lodge in Zomba Town on the golf course with a beautiful garden and basic accommodation.

Fisherman’s Rest

Fisherman's Rest is short 20 minute drive to the south-west of Blantyre with magnificent views over the Great Rift Valley and Shire river.

Majete Game Capture Camp

The Majete Game Capture Camp is a brand-new campsite located in the wilderness of the Majete Wildlife Reserve. Guests can participate in game viewing activities such as game drives, boat and walking safaris.

Protea Hotel by Marriott Blantyre Ryalls

The Protea Hotel by Marriott Blantyre Ryalls has recently undergone vast refurbishment and now offers 117 Elegantly furnished Deluxe En-suite rooms.


Other Places to Visit in South Malawi

Chimwenya Game Park

Chimwenya Game Park is a serene, beautiful and privately owned 500 acre game park, in one of the last remaining indigenous forests inteh Shire HIghlands.

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.

Lake Chilwa

Lake Chilwa is Malawi’s second biggest lake, home to unique fishing villages and a designated wetland of international importance because of the huge bird populations it supports.

Lake Malawi National Park

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

Lengwe National Park

Lengwe National Park is 350 sq miles of dense vegetation with good birdlife and a number of mammal species to be seen. It is only an hour or so from Blantyre.

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.

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.

Mangochi Lakeshore

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

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

Mount Mulanje

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

Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve is little neglected in terms of wildlife but the landscape includes scenic rocky outcrops and rivers cutting through impressive gorges.

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.

Zomba Plateau

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.

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.


Other Cultural Places to Visit

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.

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.


Where is Blantyre & Limbe?