Undisputably the friendliest people in Africa. Ages old culture, tradition and crafts, high mountain peaks, white water rivers and broad blue lakes. Africa’s newest Big Five destination with magnificent natural settings. Malawihas it all, and more…
Here are the ten things we recommend you do while in Malawi.
Visit Lake Malawi
This is a must do when you are in the warm heart of Africa. Arguably the country’s most captivating natural wonder, Lake Malawi is home to various beautiful fish species like the unique chambo, a tilapia breed that isn’t found anywhere else but in Lake Malawi. The lake also attracts a range of bird species such as the famous Thyolo Alethe, which are endemic to Malawi. Covering almost 30% of the country, this gorgeous everblue sight is heaven for nature lovers, and a pillar of pride and sustenance for the people near Lake Malawi. While there, make sure to experience various islands such as Mumbo, Likoma, and Bird Island.
During large feasts, such as weddings, Couscous is widely served as a symbol of happiness and festivity. In fact, it is culturally known that when someone is invited to a Couscous meal, this invitation mustn’t be turned down.
Hike the Mulanje Mountain
If you consider yourself a hiker or climber, then please make sure you find yourself on top of Mount Mulanje. At over 3,000 meters, Sapitwa Peak is the highest point in South Central Africa. Mulanje Mountain is also home to the Mulanje Cypress, a 45-meter-tall evergreen tree with dense leaves and cones, which is unique to this massif. If you are interested in gorgeous green views, please use Thyolo Road to treat yourself to the beauty of the sprawling tea estates.
Check Out The Wildlife
Boasting about nine national parks and wildlife reserves, Malawi provides intensive and exclusive wildlife viewing in unspoilt areas of genuine wilderness. Founded in 1973, Liwonde National Park is the largest park and is filled with up-close views of different animals such as buffalos, hippos, and many others. Nkhotakota Game Reserve in the Central Region is also a great destination and offers several antelope species, buffaloes, and leopards. Other key parks in Malawi are Nyika, Nkhotakota, Vwaza Marsh, and Lengwe, which has the world’s largest population of the spiral-horned antelope, also known as the nyala.
Do Some Tea Tasting
The road to Mulanje Mountain is painted with amazing sights from the tea estates. Instead of just seeing the tea from a distance, add to your Malawi experience by awakening the Tea Sommelier in you. Estates like Satemwa, Lauderdale, Esperanza, and many more offer free tea tasting trips for tourists. For a full British Tea hangout, the 1874 Huntingdon House located in the middle of Satemwa Tea Estates will surely provide you with historical charm and a unique experience that cannot be recreated.
With a population of about 180,000, Zomba is is a college city with exquisite British colonial architecture and a diverse ethnic mix. Zomba offers a good break from the hassle of urban life while providing access to main shops and hotels. Zomba also harbors the famous Zomba Plateau, a 2,087 metres high Massif, hosts several accommodations for tourists, such as the Sunbird KuChawe Inn which offers different activities to include hiking, horse riding, rock climbing, fishing, and mountain biking.
Partake in the local cuisines
Food is every part of the thriving culture of Malawi. To have an authentic Malawi experience, it is recommended that you try some of the local delicacies. Nsima, Malawi’s staple food made out of processed corn, is a must have. Make sure it is served with meat or fish and some greens, and if you can go all the way, a local chilli called kambuzi is a good side. Make sure you also try out Malawi’s biggest food export, the chambo, a tasty tilapia fish, which is arguably the best fish your palate ever come across. We recommend having chambo with a local rice called kilombero, an aromatic rice only grown in this part of the world.
If your stomach can handle it, be sure to try out the street food as well. Some of the popular street foods are deep-fried sweet fritters, or mandasi in the local language, and Kanyenya (Barbecued meat or fish). In almost every neighbourhood in Malawi, you will also find chiwaya, a mobile metal stove usually serving Malawi’s favorite alternative, chips and chicken. It is also common to find greasy fried pork and beef on a chiwaya. If you are in the deep southern districts, you can try out snacks like the notorious mice on a stick or ngumbi, a low-fat/low-sodium and high in lean protein African termite, which is superbly tasty.
Use Local Methods of Transport
You can’t say you’ve experienced Malawi if you’ve only been on a tourist shuttle bus or in a taxi. The local transport methods provide one of the most authentic Malawi experiences that cannot be replicated elsewhere. The most popular way to travel for most Malawians is the local public taxi, the minibus. The minibus offers a great way to interact with locals and other travellers. Another transport experience is the bicycle taxis, or the Kabaza, which serves most of the towns and cities. If you are travelling as a group, you may also try to support the different bicycle tour services such as Uwawuke Bike Tours, which are springing up in the major cities.
Dance and Sing with the People
One of the best ways to really explore a country is to experience its music and dance. With a rich musical history and over 100 traditional dances, it is highly recommended that one experiences Malawi’s rich musical culture. Some of the key events to attend when in Malawi are the Blantyre Arts Festival, The Ufulu Festival, and the Lake of Stars, which is named one of the biggest music festivals on the African continent. You can also check out key event venues like Blantyre Cultural Centre, Great Hall, Chez Ntemba, Living Room Lounge, Chameleons, and Bingu Conference Centre.
Buy from the Markets
Whether you are a big fan of thrifting and arts and crafts, or you simply love farmers markets, Malawi offers you unlimited market options. The main cities of Blantyre, Mzuzu, Zomba, and Lilongwe have farmers markets where fresh fruits, legumes, and vegetables are sold. In addition to these markets, Kampepuza, Lizulu, Mbayani, and Limbe Markets also offer amazing second-hand clothes shopping, known as “Bendova” in local pidgin. The main cities also have arts and crafts markets that offer a lot of curios and African clothes. Whatever you are buying, be sure to negotiate the price down to avoid overpaying.
One of the biggest ways to immerse one’s self in the Malawi experience is by volunteering at local schools, community projects, children houses, and wildlife centres. With all Her beauty and charm, Malawi still struggles with issues like HIV/AIDS and poverty, among many others. By volunteering skills and time, you are helping to grow this amazing country, making your visit not only adventurous but impactful. Some of the popular volunteer places are the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Tilinanu Orphanage, Kondanani Children’s Home, St John’s Hospital, Mulanje Orphan Care, Thyolo Recycling, and Crisis Nursery, as well as many others.