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.
Search
Generic filters
Exact matches only
Filter by Custom Post Type

Lower Shire Valley


South west of Blantyre, the Shire river enters its final phase before leaving Malawi and joining the great Zambezi in Mozambique. This is the Lower Shire Valley, an extension of the Rift Valley and home to no less than three national parks/wildlife reserves. The river descends to the lower valley via a series of rapids and waterfalls before broadening out to meander along a wide floodplain utilised by vast sugar plantations. These are Malawi’s lowest areas, with altitudes below 50 metres above sea level. Access down to the Lower Shire Valley is along the M1 south of Blantyre and down the steep Thyolo Escarpment, which affords glorious views into the valley. Once in the valley, game viewing is offered in Majete Wildlife Reserve, Lengwe National Park and Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve with the most southerly Elephant Marsh also providing some excellent bird-watching. Accommodation on the Thyolo Escarpment at the beginning of the descent into the Lower Shire Valley is provided by Fisherman’s Rest – offering magnificent views, a small nature sanctuary and the opportunity to  get involved with some excellent community projects.

Another important element of the Lower Shire Valley is its cultural heritage. The Lower Shire Heritage Trust was formed to preserve and promote the culture of the Lower Shire Valley and the traditional ways of life of the people of the area. At the gate of Lengwe National Park the Lower Shire Heritage Centre, Tisunge! (chichewa for ‘Let us preserve!’), boasts a small museum, an arts & craft shop, a library, an open plan meeting area and an ablution block. Many ethnographic objects, from traditional and modern culture, have been collected in the villages, to be exhibited together with archaeological findings.

Before Livingstone’s arrival the Lower Shire Valley had a thriving weaving industry using locally grown cotton. In colonial times the raw cotton was shipped to England where the cloth was made and hence the weaving industry in Malawi completely disappeared. The cotton is still locally grown and the Trust reintroduced the traditional weaving, spinning and dying in the villages surrounding Lengwe National Park.

Alongside the wildlife reserves, the Lower Shire Valley is home to a vast sugar estate at Nchalo. For a long stretch of the M1, sugar cane fields extend on either side as far as the eye can see on the flat. The estate has its own small game sanctuary, Nyala Park and a sports club that includes a golf course.

Share this page:

Accommodation in or near Lower Shire Valley

Serendib Blantyre

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Amaryllis Hotel

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

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.

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.


Other Places to Visit in South Malawi

Blantyre & Limbe

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

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.

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 Places to See Wildlife

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.

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.

Kasungu National Park

Kasungu National Park is an 800 sq mile area of natural woodland and bush with stretches of open grass. Poaching has reduced numbers but there is still wildlife to be seen.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Nyika National Park

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

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 Scenic Places to Visit

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.


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.

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 Lower Shire Valley?