Visitors to Africa are more or less inclined to spend time at safari destinations when on a vacation, little knowing that apart from wildlife there are a plethora of other things to do in this diverse continent.
Malawi, for example, is one such underrated destination which may be small in size but still has a wide range of activities, especially for adventure junkies.
Keeping this in mind, here are our top picks of things to do in Malawi for an action-packed holiday.
Talk about Africa and the first thing one associates with this continent is a safari. While there are many iconic destinations all over Africa for spotting wildlife, the Liwonde National Park in Malawi offers equally good sightings, if not better, than its illustrious counterparts. The wilderness area is a mix of woodlands and marshy floodplains which boasts rich and colorful birdlife. While the big cats are a bit elusive, one animal which can be found in large numbers here are hippos.
The Shire River acts as a magnet for animals best viewed by a boat safari, while night drives offer sightings of servals and other nocturnal animals.
During a visit to Liwonde, make sure you stay in any of the excellent lodges located in the park from where you can experience the wildlife either on foot or on an open vehicle game drive. If you book with a reputed adventure tour provider such as KE Adventure, then you can be assured of an excellent trip throughout. Don’t be surprised if you spot a wild visitor, now and then, from the comfort of your secluded deck too.
The Mulanje mountains are considered to be Malawi's very own range of peaks spread over an area of nearly 250 square miles with multiple high summits, the highest touching granite massive touching nearly 10,000' at Sapitwa Peak. This region is exceptional for mountain climbing and hiking. It is marked by a network of 18 different, well-marked routes for intrepid hikers to explore and is considered to be the best granite climbing in the world.
Basic accommodation in rustic huts is available on the way, porters can be hired easily on the cheap and there is always a chance that you will come across the diverse fauna in the area and observe them at close quarters. The two popular spots for adventure enthusiasts are Nyika plateau and Viphya plateau, both with shady environments and great birdlife. The Lichenya Valley is particularly beautiful and has its own alpine style huts for stopovers.
The Zomba Plateau in the Mulanje mountains has a large campsite which is easily accessible by car. Carry your supplies and tent equipment and spend a night under the stars in this African paradise. Apart from stunning views, wild animals are commonly seen in the area with even an occasional leopard making an appearance.
The unique plateau is at a height of 6000' set among vast forests of cedar, cypress and pines. Visitors can go fly-fishing for trout in the summers and there is a good stable nearby which offers horse riding for all ages and capabilities. Birdlife on the plateau includes rarities like the augur buzzard and the long-crested eagle.
Kayaking on the waters of Lake Malawi not only provides a good workout but a healthy dose of adventure as well. There is something exhilarating about paddling on a vast stretch of water for a day, or even a number of days, amidst spectacular scenery. Incidentally, Lake Malawi lies within the Lake Malawi National Park, the first fresh-water marine reserve proclaimed on earth in 1980.
Adventure seekers can opt from a range of kayaking itineraries on Mumbo Island or Domwe Island, both known for their untouched natural beauty. The vast body of water is generally calm, but there are winds large enough to propel all sizes of boats and kayaks. The only mammals spotted here are the spotted-necked otters that are extremely playful and can be seen swimming and playing with the guests. There are paddling opportunities also in the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve where one can quietly guide the kayak on the Bua River through thick wilderness.
Once you land in Malawi you will find that it is one of the best countries in the world to head out on the road for a self-driving trip. You can cruise from one lodge to another in a saloon or a 4x4 wheel drive and with Lake Malawi taking up a third of the country's area, no region in the country can be considered to be too remote.
The roads are good and easy to navigate and the lake will always be at your side throughout the trip. You will come across plenty of pot holes and narrow sections, but don't let that act as a deterrent. A ten-day road trip in the heart of Africa will take you to the highlands of the Zomba Plateau, Liwonde National Park with the serenity of Lake Malawi always for company, and of course, the thrill of the open road which only a self-drive trip allows. Africa is amazing for self drive holidays so you simply cannot miss road tripping here.
There are a few horse stables close to the shores of Lake Malawi between the towns of Chintheche and Dwangwa where horse-0riding can be enjoyed. Horse-riding provides a fantastic way to explore the western shores of the lake and at the same time pass through quaint local fishing villages and tropical rainforests.
The scenery on the entire ride will be stunning while riding on the short horse trails along the pristine white beaches. Malawi's diverse landscape provides the perfect backdrop and setting for a number of outdoor activities and horse riding is one which takes you where trucks and cars cannot go. To finish off the trip, riding with your horse bareback into the lake for a swim will be an unforgettable experience for anyone.
Mountain biking is a popular adventure sport in Malawi and there are many tour and safari companies who offer bikes for hire and organize cycle-based tours. Roads in Malawi are mostly tarred and traffic is sparse which allows for good cycling trips for a day or for extended periods through rural areas and villages.
The Luwana Forest region is the venue for the annual international bike race in the month of June which attracts passionate cyclists from all corners of the globe. The Nyika National Park is another wonderful cycling destination in Malawi as is the busy city of Blantyre where guests can go on cycling trips with a knowledgeable guide. Other significant spots for biking include Zomba, Ntchisi and Viphya.
Have you been there? What are your favourite things to do in Malawi ?
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