Destinations > Malawi

The Warm Heart of Africa

’The fool wanders, a wise man travels.’
Thomas Fuller

You’ll find ‘charm’ in Malawi – staying in the old colonial forest lodges and enjoying the peaceful nature this country exudes. As you enjoy the solitude and abundance of wildlife in this unique eden; you’ll appreciate flora and fauna, such as the Roan Antelope of the Nyika National Park, and the Mulanje Cedar of the Mulanje Biosphere Reserve, which are rarely found elsewhere. Nyika plateau has a bloom of orchids, second to none, during January and February each year. Lake Malawi is a haven of warmth, color and life – from the fishing villages to the colorful cichlid fish found in this lake. There is something for everyone to enjoy in Malawi.  Those wanting a big game safari, are best to combine Malawi with Zambia, ending in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia.  Malawi holds unique and interesting species, rather than reserves holding the traditional big 5, you will find hippo and elephant in good number in Liwonde National Park, and leopard in Nyika.  The people of Malawi are one of the greatest assets of this country, indeed the reason behind why Malawi became the warm heart of Africa.

Highlights

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    Satemwa Tea Estates

    Set in the Shire Highlands of Southern Malawi, a half hours drive south of Blantyre, Satemwa Tea Esate is a first class destination to be refreshed and renewed after a long journey from overseas.  Huntingdon House and Chawani Bungalow offer clients a diversity of luxury and more simple accommodation that we help you choose based on your needs.  Built in the early 1930′s, these estate homes of the founder of Satemwa, Maclean Kay, are set in beautiful sprawling gardens that exude the charm and atmosphere of a by-gone era.  Chawani is a tea manager’s bungalow overlooking tea gardens with Mount Mulanje in the distance. Located on the slopes of Thyolo Mountain the air is refreshing in the summer months and cool enough for a log fire in the winter. 

    Tea has been grown in this region since around 1909, the time that Malawi used to be colonized by the British. Upon arriving in Malawi the colonial rulers thought that the weather and climate of Thyolo was ideal for tea growing; therefore they acquired land and over the coming years, many still famous today tea estates were created, including Satemwa.  Tea estates are of great importance to Malawi as a whole and a stay at Setemwa is a great start or end to any safari.

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    Lake Malawi

    Lake Malawi formally known as Lake Nyasa or Lago Niassa in Mozambique, is one of the great lakes in the Great Rift Valley system of East Africa. This lake, the third largest in Africa and the eighth largest lake in the world, is located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It is the second deepest lake in Africa.  Lake Malawi is said to have more species of fish than any other body of freshwater on Earth, including many species of cichlids.  Lake Malawi was officially declared a reserve by the Government of Mozambique on June 10th 2011 in an effort to protect one of the largest and bio-diverse freshwater lakes in the world.  Lake Malawi has the nickname ’The Lake of Stars’ which came about due to the lights from lanterns of fishermen in their boats, that appear like stars twinkling.  There is also an annual music festival that draws international attention, under the same name.

    Portuguese trader Candido José da Costa Cardosa was the first European to visit the lake in 1846.  Dr. David Livingstone arrived in 1859 and named it Lake Nyasa.  This area was soon acquired by the British Empire and formed into the colony of Nyasaland. The Portuguese took control of the eastern shore, though Likoma Island on the Eastern shore remained part of Malawi with its mission history and unique cathedral drawing many guests each year.  Many options exist for accommodation on both sides of the lake.  Any trip to Malawi or Mozambique should certainly include a stay on Lake Malawi.  Anyone interested in a sailing trip to different destinations around the lake, attractive options exist.

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    Liwonde National Park

    Liwonde National Park is located on the upper Shire River plain at the southern end of Lake Malawi. The Shire River drains lake Malawi. The Mvuu Lodge and Camp (which means “hippo” in Chichewa) provide accommodation.  We encourage our guests to take a walking safaris along with our favorite activity here, the boating safari on the Shire River.  Game drives are possible, though we don’t highlight these as a reason to visit this park.  The park is home to several species; impala, kudu, waterbuck, elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, hippopotamus, and in theory some Black Rhino exist, we have seen their tracks while on safari with guests, but no sightings to date.  Birding is first class along the river banks.  For people looking for a ‘big game’ experience this is not the place to go.  However, those looking for some tranquility and the pleasure of boating down a very picturesque river surrounded by Fever Trees and Palms with hundreds of roosting White Fronted Cormorants this is certainly the place to find some magic.

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    Zomba Mountain

    Zomba Plateau’s superb mountain views, known as some of the best in Africa, can be experienced when we explore the gardens and forests.  Ku Chawe Inn at the top sits in a lovely position, even if your not staying there, we take the time to visit their gardens and enjoy the views while perhaps enjoying some of this mountains locally grown fruit with fresh cream.  Local boys sell fruit on the road side, a great selection is available and some of the best tasting fruit we have tasted anywhere.  The higher altitude, moist conditions and fairly stable tempretures make this moutain a perfect location for growing fruit, as it is not possible down in the valley bottom.  Zomba Forest Lodge and the Trout Farm also offer accommodation and we will help advise what the best choice is for your travel plans.  Large pine plantations cover the mountain, and are harvested locally for construction as well as fuel for cooking.  Zomba has a busy and active market worth visiting.  Zomba is the old Colonial Capital, and many old colonial buildings can be seen.  The Botanical gardens are worth a visit and we encourage everyone to explore the many trails througout the mountain with our local guides ranging from one hour to a full days hike.  During the warmer seasons, Zomba is a great retreat to find some relief from the heat of the valley below.

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    Mount Mulanje Massif Global Biosphere Reserve

    Mount Mulanje Massif (a spectacle set amongst tea plantations and rising up from the surrounding countryside) is a Global Biosphere Reserve, the region contains unique flora and fauna such as the Mulanje Cedar tree, a source of wood for the wonderful ‘chip carved’ furniture made by local artisans and other unique flora & fauna drawing global interest in the areas protection.  The Massif consists is made up of rolling grassland at higer elevations and has forested ravines.  Several peaks reaching heights of over 2500m, such as Chambe Peak are hiked on a regular basis.  Porters and guides are easy to arrange.  A series of huts are placed on the mountain to cater for multiple day hikes.  The Malawi Mountain Club and the Malawi Forestry Department maintain and service the huts and trails.  Several accommodation choices exist from basic camping to comfortable chalets.  For those not wishing to walk so far, a short one hour hike brings you to a nice falls, where you can enjoy an afternoon, or enjoy the falls right near the chalets of the CCAP camp.

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    Dedza Mountain & Pottery

    Dedza Mountain (with its great sunsets) and a chance to stay at the world famous Dedza Pottery, whom serve good food and provide comfortable accommodation, just over an hour south of Lilongwe, certainly make for the best place to stay out of the city and works well for safaris heading back north or heading south.

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    Nyika National Park

    Nyika National Park is Africa’s Scotland. At 7,500 ft you will experience in this unique plateau sightings of Roan Antelope, good oppportunites to view leopard, vast rolling & undulating grasslands, famous for the orchids flowering during December – March. The protea family of flowers is also in abundance here. Larger herds and small groups of Eland, Southern Reedbuck and single individuals of Duiker, Klipspringer and Bushbuck can also be frquently seen. One of Timothy Jackson’s favorites.

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    Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve

    Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve is located in the north of Malawi, guests often visit en-route to Nyika National Park.  In contrast to the Nyika National Park on the Nyika Plateau much of Vwaza is located on low lying flat ground although the eastern side of the park is hilly. This reserve is characterised by Mopane and Miombo woodland and marshy wetlands which attracts a significant number of birds to the reserve. Vwaza Marsh is rarely visited by many.  One of our most memorable elephant encounters took place in this reserve.  The variation in animal numbers and types of species vary from season to season as they cross the border with the North Luangwa National Park in Zambia. Large herds of buffalo and elephants, and a large variety of antelope including roan, greater kudu, Liechtenstein’s hartebeest, eland and impala are generally to be found.  Birdlife include Goliath Herons, Openbill Storks and the rare White-winged Starling. Lake Kazuni supports a notable hippo population.  We enjoy the solitude to be found here.

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    Lake Malawi National Park

    Lake Malawi National Park is located at the southern end of Lake Malawi. It is the only national park in Malawi that was created to protect fish and aquatic habitats. Lake Malawi National Park does include a fair amount of land, including several small islands of which two are seen in this image here, and is home to other animals such as baboons. A baobab tree over 800 years old, said to be a favourite of Dr. David Livingstone as a place where he could give sermons and speak with other missionaries can be found. The graves of five early missionaries are also found in the park. The many endemic cichlid fish species make it a prime destination for those interested in evolution.  There are good resources here for those wishing to go snorkling, diving and simply exploring this corner of Malawi.  Not far away near Salima, you can find the David Stuart fish farm, that exports cichlids around the world for the home aquarium fish keeping enthuiasts.  The sailing craft seen in this image is the Mufusa owned and operated by Darnforth Yaughting – Expeditions to many parts of the lake can be organized, such as the better know Likoma Island.

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    Livingstonia

    Livingstonia was founded in 1894 by missionaries from the Church of Scotland. The missionaries first established a mission in 1875 at Cape Maclear, which they named Livingstonia after David Livingstone, whose death in 1873 had rekindled British support for missions in Eastern Africa. This location proved extremely malarial and the mission moved north to Bandawe. This site also proved unhealthy and the Livingstonia Mission moved once again to the higher grounds between Lake Malawi and the Nyika Plateau. This new site proved highly successful because Livingstonia is located in the mountains and therefore not prone to mosquitoes carrying malaria. The mission station gradually developed into the small town that it is today.  The leading missionary for 52 years was Dr Robert Laws. He established in Livingstonia the best school in his time for the whole region, and Livingstonia graduates became influential in several neighbouring countries, right down to South Africa. Dr Laws wanted Livingstonia to develop into a University, but his successors did not pursue the dream. In 2003 the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian (CCAP) renewed the vision and started Livingstonia University.  The houses in Livingstonia are characteristic in that they are mostly constructed with red bricks.