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


In south Malawi, between Blantyre and Mount Mulanje are the Thyolo (pronounced “Cho’lo”) tea estates. Tea has been grown here since 1908 and the primly trimmed bushes (strictly, trees) give the whole area the appearance of a neatly kept but vast garden. Scenically beautiful, the estates are overlooked by the impressive Mount Mulanje to the east and itself overlooks the Lower Shire Valley, which descends to the west.

The Satemwa Tea Estate is probably the most popular to visit, with an intriguing history dating back a century. Run by the Cathcart-Kay family, the land was first purchased in the 1920’s by Scot Maclean Kay from a tobacco farmer. Scot’s son Robert, who is known as ‘Chip’ soon took over the estate and developed into what it is today. Now in his 90’s, Chip is still around and a very entertaining storyteller. The estate has now developed an industrial output of Fair Trade tea on an international scale, providing tea across the world.

As well as plenty of opportunities for walks and hikes around the scenic estate, Satemwa offer tea tasting sessions where guests can visit the factory to learn how the tea is grown, dried and prepared ready to sip, followed by a wonderful display of a variety teas and pleasing aromas.

The Thyolo Tea Estates don’t stop at Satemwa. There are a number of other estates that produce tea for all over the world. The Thyolo Forest Reserve also offers a haven for walkers and birdwatchers and offers a fantastic terrain for those wishing to pedal around on bicycles.

Accommodation is available within the Satemwa Tea Estate at Huntingdon House, originally the colonial family home of the Maclean Kay family, built in 1928. Alternatively, their self-catering option of Chawani Bungalow is also on site. Also close by, between the tea estates and Blantyre, is the Chimwenya Game Park, a private wildlife reserve teeming with wildlife and also home to a beautiful golf course and the impressive Game Haven Lodge.

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Accommodation in or near Thyolo Tea Estates

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.

Amaryllis Hotel

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

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.

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.

AfricaWildTruck Camp & Lodge

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

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.

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.

Hill Springs Lodge

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

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.

Serendib Blantyre

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

Pakachere Backpackers Lodge

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

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.


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.

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

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.

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.


Where is Thyolo Tea Estates?