Safari tours are a spectacular way to spend your time in Malawi, whether in an open all-terrain vehicle or on a river safari. Elephants, leopard, hyena, crocodiles, hippo, wart hog, bushbuck, impala and several other animals call Malawi home. Bring your best camera and enjoy the nature of this spectacular and diverse country. Here you will find a list of the best safaris in Malawi and how you can experience them for yourself!
Lake Malawi is the size of Belgium! It has over 2,000 species of colorful cichlid fish as well as majestic fish eagles and hundreds of squawking aquatic cormorants. Visitors can snorkel among the cichlids, kayak around the tiny islands in the lake or just hang out by the shore. Other activities include sailing, diving and feeding fish eagles.
Check out our article Advice for Traveling to Malawi
Can’t miss activities include safaris at Nyika and Liwonde National Parks and at Majete Wildlife Reserve, snorkeling in Lake Malawi and shopping at the local craft markets. Malawi is a bird-watcher’s dream come true, especially at Liwonde National Park and around Lake Malawi.
Where: Nyika Plateau, Northern Malawi
Terrain: Rolling grasslands
Animals: Zebra, roan antelope, eland, elephant, bushbuck, warthog, lion (rare), leopard, owl, hyena, porcupine, mongoose, hare
Activities: Day and night game drives
Overall experience: Chelinda Lodge and its surroundings are breathtaking. From the moment you wake up and look out at the grazing animals, to your first experience with the nocturnal fauna of this enchanting grassland, Nyika never ceases to amaze you with natural beauty. My favorite experience was seeing my first leopard. She was stalking porcupines when we caught a glimpse of her late one night.
Tip: Bring warm clothes. The Nyika Plateau has a high altitude, so it can get quite chilly.
Where: Southern Malawi
Terrain: River, marshlands, dense forest
Animals: Hippo, warthog, Nile crocodiles, water buffalo, bushbuck, water buck, elephant, heron, genet, baboon, kingfisher
Activities: Walking safaris, day and night game drives, river safaris, village culture walk
Overall experience: Liwonde National Park is arguably Malawi’s crown jewel in terms of richness in flora and fauna. In my opinion Liwonde offers some of the best safaris in Malawi. Elephants and buffalo roam the land, and you will never forget when you see these majestic creatures for the first time. Mvuu means hippo, and you will see thousands of them along the Shire River banks. My favorite experience was getting very close to a lone bull elephant one morning on a river safari. He was massive!
Tip: Come for at least two nights so you get the chance to see as many animals as possible.
Where: Southern Malawi
Terrain: Dense forest and river
Animals: Elephants galore, black rhino (small population), water buffalo, baboon, hippo, crocodile, water buck, sable antelope, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest (leopard, lion and cheetah are currently being introduced).
Activities: River safaris, day and night game drives, guided hikes, black rhino tracking experience, waterhole viewing, village culture walk
Overall experience: Majete Wildlife Reserve is a place I will never forget. The sheer volume of elephants is spectacular. I was thrilled to learn that leopard, lion and cheetah are being reintroduced to the area. Currently, Majete Wildlife Reserve has a fenced in area being used to house a breeding population of black rhino, which are endangered. Hopefully conservation efforts will eventually yield more black rhino for future generations to experience. My favorite experience here had to be witnessing a river crossing by a herd of elephants. It’s one of my top travel memories, for sure.
Tip: If you are staying ay Mkulumadzi Lodge, be sure to participate in at least one guided morning hike. You will learn about native plants like the fever tree and get to see a variety of bird species that are only active during morning hours.
Where: Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa bordered by Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania
Terrain: Lake and small islands
Animals: Cichlid fish, cormorant, chambo (tilapia), catfish, fish eagle, water monitor, snakes
Where to stay: See our article Best Hotels Around Lake Malawi
Activities: Sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming, feeding fish eagles, feeding cichlids
Overall experience: No trip to Malawi is complete without a visit to the “Lake of Stars.” Here, thousands of species of cichlid brighten up the water and entertain novice and experienced snorkelers alike. For a luxury sailing experience around the lake, or if you are just looking to relax poolside with a good book, Danforth Yachting is for you. Mumbo Island Camp is for those who don’t mind “roughing it” for a night or two in a restful camp atmosphere (no electricity). The views from Mumbo Island are stunning and you will feel like Robinson Crusoe! My favorite experience was feeding fish eagles with Howard, owner of Danforth Yachting. They swoop down so quickly, so you better bring your best camera skills to capture the epic moment.
Tip: Bring an underwater camera with you while swimming and snorkeling. The cichlids have vibrant colors and are not shy to get close to you, which means you will have plenty of good shots.
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Special thanks to the Malawi Tourism Board.