The jewel in the crown of the country’s tourist attractions is Lake Malawi, “discovered” by the missionary-explorer Dr David Livingstone just over 150 years ago. With sandy beaches and tropical fish all around, Monkey Bay provides a good place to go diving, experiencing the marine life of Lake Malawi. Connected by bus to Lilongwe and Blantyre, Monkey Bay is often traveled through on the road to Cape Mclear and if wanting to experience a place not overwhelmed by tourism, Monkey Bay make a good stop.
Lake Malawi National Park
This, the world’s first freshwater national park and a World Heritage Site, is at Cape Maclear. The park includes a land area around the cape and bay as well as the Lake and islands up to 100 metres (330ft) off shore.
The countless thousands of freshwater fish, the mbuna, are more abundant and varied here than anywhere else in the world. Boats are available for hire and the fish will feed directly from the hand. Away from the Lake, the park has baboons, antelope and hyrax, and, of course, there is a great variety of birdlife including fish eagles, cormorants and hamerkops.
Liwonde National Park
Tourism in Malawi is still low key and that is reflected in the number of visitors to Liwonde National Park. That said, it is Malawi’s premier wildlife-viewing destination. As there are so few dangerous predators, it is one of the few wildlife national parks that offers game walks, an alternative to the more common game drives. There are also canoe and boat safaris.
Wildlife includes quite large numbers of elephants and the river attracts countless hippos and crocodiles. Antelope include kudu, sable and bushbuck. There are leopards and hyenas and the occasional visiting lion. Black rhino has been re-introduced. Birdlife is exceptionally varied. The river attracts fish eagles and weaver birds build their nests in the thin woodland. Pel’s fishing owl is often seen at dusk along the river’s edge.
The name Elephant Marsh was given to these swamplands by David Livingstone who reported 800 elephant in a single sighting. Half a century later most of the great herds had been hunted to destruction and today the largest surviving mammals are crocodiles and hippos.
Navigating the marsh’s network of channels, this wilderness is reminiscent of Lake Chilwa. Anyone interested in birdlife will be in for a treat. Fish eagles, storks, kingfishers, herons and countless other species will be seen even on a short visit. The best time for viewing is the early morning as at this time of day one will avoid the worst of the heat and humidity.
Offering relaxed hikes through lush forested areas, incredible panoramic views and great bird-watching opportunities, the Zomba Plateau is a fantastic destination for outdoor and nature enthusiasts.
The plateau is covered in a dense forest of Cedar, Pine and Cypress trees and is dotted with waterfalls and streams that criss-cross over the top of it providing ample water for the lush vegetation. A hike to the top of the plateau is a popular tourist activity for visitors to the city of Zomba, located at the base of the plateau.
Nyika National Park
Nyika National Park is Malawi’s biggest reserve and offers a unique landscape of high rolling grasslands and forested valleys.
Day and night game drives give visitors the chance to see herds of roan antelope, eland and zebra as well as nocturnal creatures such as hyena, jackal and serval. The park also offers hiking and mountain biking as a great way to take in the magnificent views and appreciate the solitude and space.
Chongoni Rock Art Area
Chongoni Rock Art Area is located in the Central Region of Malawi consisting of 127 sites in the forested hills of the Malawi plateau with depictions of rock art and paintings of the farmer community of the Late Stone Age and the Iron Age period.
In the forested granite hills around Dedza is the Chongoni Rock Art Area. Numerous natural shelters house ancient rock paintings which constitute the densest cluster of rock art found in central Africa.