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Malawi is known as the 'warm heart of Africa' and this is a fitting tribute to her friendly people and abundant sunshine. This is a beautiful country and popular destination offering an unrivalled combination of Lake, Landscape and Wildlife. Malawi's roads are slowly improving, but negotiating enormous potholes is to be expected and there is also deep sand in places. You should travel in convoy with another vehicle and a 4x4 is advised, but not essential. Shopping for provisions is limited to the larger cities and towns, so you need to be totally self-sufficient. Campsites are normally situated within national parks and the facilities are excellent. There are however some parks with rudimentary campsites and limited facilities where you must create your own bush camp with portable shower or bucket and a long-drop lavatory.
None of the national parks and game reserves in Malawi are fenced and the wildlife moves freely through the camps.
In line with many of Africa's national parks, off-road and night driving is not permitted except when staying in private lodges or unless otherwise specified.
Lake Malawi is one of the Great Rift Valley lakes and occupies one fifth of the country’s total area. It is the third largest lake in Africa. Fishing villages are scattered along the length of the lakeshore, but there are still long stretches of totally uninhabited golden sand. Lake Malawi's sub-aqua life is plentiful and some compare it to snorkeling in an aquarium. A section of the lake at Cape Maclear in the south has been declared the world's first freshwater National Park and includes the peninsula of land and several islands.
Rainy Seasons: It usually rains from November to March and the storms are unpredictable. The air is clean at this time and there is no haze over the lake.
The rain diminishes in April and May followed by gentle winds and calm water.
Dry Season: July is cool and a little unsettled with more wind usually from the south east. The wind drops in August and September and the water becomes calmer. October is one of the best months as the lake is calm and very clear and the air is hot.
LAKE MALAWI SPECIALITIES
- Swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving amongst colourful fish
- Warm lake water
- Fish Eagles
- Fresh fish for supper
- Water sports
- Friendly people
This is a malarial area.
LIWONDE NATIONAL PARK
This peaceful park lies at the southern end of Lake Malawi and encompasses riverine swamps, woodland and open grassland. It offers some of the most scenic game viewing in Malawi and is reputed to be the best bird watching destination in southern Africa. Although the number of visitors has increased, Liwonde is still uncommercialised.
- Large herds of elephants
- River trips
- Exceptional bird watching
This is a malarial area.
The park covers 212 miles² (550 km²).
NKHOTA-KOTA WILDLIFE RESERVE
This park covers a broad area of the Rift Valley escarpment and is one of two large game areas in Malawi's central region. Its rugged terrain is crossed by a number of rivers that tumble down the edge of the escarpment as they make their way to the Lake. This is a true wilderness area for those who enjoy walking, fishing and climbing.
NYIKA PLATEAU NATIONAL PARK
This is an area of rolling grasslands and extensive woodlands. The wild, open nature of the plateau attracts visitors who come to view the birds and animals, study the flowers, walk, mountain-bike or ride across the hills and valleys, or simply sit in the sun and absorb the magnificent.
VWAZA MARSH WILDLIFE RESERVE
The low-lying area of Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve is an interesting contrast to the high Nyika Plateau. Most of the reserve is flat and covered with forest and grassland. The reserve is also rich with the wetlands of the Vwaza Marsh and Lake Kazuni. These wetlands provide a haven for animals and birdlife and a walking safari is highly recommended.
KASUNGU NATIONAL PARK
This is an area of natural woodland, bush and occasional stretches of open grassland. Poaching has reduced the number of animals but, contrary to some rumours, there is still plenty of wildlife to be seen. The birding here is very rewarding and again a walking safari is highly recommended.
Rainy Season: It rains mainly during the hot season November to March. April and May become dryer and it cools down a little.
Dry Season: the cooler months are between June and August and the dry season continues up until November.
Information courtesy of the Game Reserve website and Malawi Tourism