We can define this trip a real adventure through the “warm heart of Africa“. Malawi lies on the Rift valley between an altitude of 1200 meters and 400 meters above the sea level. It’s still an uncontaminated country with friendly and kind people that boasts such different ecosystems and landscapes that will make your journey always rich and various. National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, Mountains Forest reserves and above all the Lake Malawi, Unesco Heritage Site and beating heart of the country. We focused our journey on the National Parks and Game Reserves to spot the wildlife, with a short 3 days stop in Zambia visiting the stunning South Luangwa National Park, and on the Lake Malawi.
1° Day: LILONGWE
2° Day: LILONGWE – MALAWI/ZAMBIA BORDER – CHIPATA – SOUTH LUANGWA NP (Croc Valley camp)
3° Day: SOUTH LUANGWA NP
4° Day: SOUTH LUANGWA NP
5° Day: SOUTH LUANGWA NP – ZAMBIA/MALAWI BORDER – KASUNGU NP (Lifupa Lodge)
6° Day: KASUNGU NP (walking safari) – MZUZU – NKHATA BAY
7° Day: NKHATA BAY (Lake Malawi boat tour) – NKHOTAKOTA
8° Day: NKHOTAKOTA (hot springs and town tour) – SALIMA – MUA MISSION (Museum of culture and art) – CAPE MACLEAR (Chembe)
9° Day: CAPE MACLEAR (Lake Malawi boat tour)
10° Day: CAPE MACLEAR – MANGOCHI – LIWONDE NP (Liwonde safari camp)
11° Day: LIWONDE NP
12° DAY: LIWONDE NP – ZOMBA – MAJETE WILDLIFE RESERVE
13° Day: MAJETE WILDLIFE RESERVE – BLANTYRE
14° DAY: BLANTYRE – ITALY
Tip: you can tailor-make your itinerary on your taste. Malawi also offers beautiful places where you can have outdoor activities as Zomba Plateau and Mulanje Forest Reserve. There are other beautiful Reserves/NP such as Vwaza Reserve, Nkhotakotha Wildlife Reserve or Nyika National Park where you can have a pleasant game drive/walking safari to spot the wildlife. If you want to try an amazing experience on the Lake Malawi, we suggest cruising the Lake taking (and sleeping onboard) the Ilala ferry. It cruises the lake from Cape Maclear to Likoma Island and Chilumba (north part of the lake) stopping in some towns along the lake shores (like Senga bay, Nkhotakhota and Nkhata bay) loading people and goods (from Cape Maclear to Chilumba takes 3 days, but this is Africa, and the ferry is always on late!)
|Visa: check out the official website clicking here.
Traveller’s health: click here for more information; keep in mind that bilharzia disease is present in Lake Malawi so as in most of African lakes and rivers. Malaria is also endemic, remember to take measures to protect yourself above all at night by applying mosquito repellent that contains at least 30% DEET.
Mean of transport: a vehicle with driver rented through a local agency; basically, all the road are well maintained, and the traffic (out of the 3 major cities Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Blantyre) is little. Length of the trip: 1900 km. You can also catch the local transports like buses and minivan, but it takes a long time to cover your itinerary.
Local agencies: the best way to enjoy the country is to rent a car and to self-drive. Anyway, if you want to experience the country with local tour operators, you can try with Kiboko Safari, Baobab Travel, Malawian style, Best Car Hire, Land e Lake, Budget Safari, Africa wild truck or Porini adventure safari. If you like having a more extended trip through the southern countries of Africa (including Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia or Mozambique), we suggest contacting Undhuvu Tours and Safari.
Accommodations: medium range (tent, dorms and rooms); average expense for camping was 10 US$, for a bed in a dorm was 15$ and for a double room was around 50US$. We booked part of our accommodations through the website of the accommodation itself and others with Booking.com. Anyway, tourism in Malawi is not so massive; therefore, you’ll always find accommodations when you get to the place you want to visit or stay (above all if you bring your tent). In case, if you visit Malawi during August, we suggest booking at least the accommodations and activities in South Luangwa NP, Liwonde NP and Majete WR.
Food: restaurants of our accommodations; The average price for a “main course” (meat or fish) with sides is around 5000/7500 Kwacha (7/10 US$).
Currency exchange: the local currency is called Kwacha (1 US$ was 765 Kwacha – 1 euro was 860 Kwacha). There are some currency exchange shops at Lilongwe international airport (no commissions); you’ll find ATM at the airport and in the major city Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Blantyre. Anyway, you can easier pay accommodations, activities and restaurant in US dollars as well. We changed just a small amount of Kwacha for paying our expenses at local markets/shops along the road. Most of the accommodations accept the credit cards (better Visa) as well. So as in all the African countries, remember that they only accept US Dollars issued since 2010 and in good condition (no rips, pen stains, scotch tape…etc..);
When to go: the best moment is during the dry season from May to September. Take in mind that during the night/early morning could be a bit cold since it’s their winter season (above all in June and July and at high altitude).
Travel insurance: don’t forget your travel insurance since if something gets wrong, the medical expenses could be very, very high. We made it with World Nomads.
Guide book: we bought our guide with Lonely Planet.
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