Flights to Malawi are available from all the major cities and towns in South Africa, so a trip to the warm heart of Africa could be your next great holiday. Malawi is a small unassuming country in East Africa where the people are famously friendly and nature abounds across unspoilt highlands, forests, lakes, and valleys. The vast chasm of the Great Rift Valley is one of the most spectacular geologic wonders of the world and Lake Malawi is unique landscape unlike anything you have ever seen before. Malawi is a country that will surprise you with its secret treasures and easy-going charm. It is a place you want to return to again and again. South Africans don’t need a visa to visit Malawi, but you will need to ensure your passport has three blank pages for stamps and is valid for at least six months beyond your departure date. With travel to Malawi so affordable and uncomplicated, the time to explore the great countries of Africa is now.
Attractions in Malawi
It might be small, but what Malawi lacks in size, it makes up for with beautiful landscapes, fascinating attractions, and unforgettable experiences. Visit a local village to learn about the local tribes or go on a tea farm tour and tasting at Thyolo Tea Estate to savour the flavour of Malawi. Lake Malawi offers endless opportunities for snorkelling, kayakng, sailing, scuba diving, and boat trips. There are also a number of great music festivals and events in Malawi that alone are worth the trip. The Manda Wilderness Dug-Out Canoe Race happens in April and sees communities racing against each other on Lake Malawi with their handmade canoes. Likoma Summer Cultural Festival and Tumaini Festival showcase the rhythmic beauty of the country, while Blantyre Arts Festival celebrates its cultural heritage. But it is the annual Lake of Stars Festival that draws the crowds. It is a three-day music festival that turns the shores of Lake Malawi into a wonderland of live music and good times. Of course, a trip to East Africa would not be complete without a trip to a wildlife reserve or national park. Fortunately, Malawi has both and they are beautiful. Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park are home to iconic wildlife such as elephants and lions. Spend a night in a safari camp to experience the wild rhythm of Malawi at its best.
Shopping in Malawi
You will find modern shopping malls in the major cities of Malawi. In Lilongwe, Gateway Mall, Pacific Parade, and Golden Peacock Shopping Centre are the three main shopping malls. And in Blantyre, Chichiri Shopping Mall is the shopping hotspot. Although these malls have a great variety of stores, the real shopping happens at the markets and roadside stalls. The standard of woodcarving in Malawi is the highest in Africa and the country is famed for producing particularly colourful textiles, beadwork, ceremonial masks, and folk figurines. The Mua Mission is a non-profit organization in central Malawi that trains carvers and has a superb curio shop. The Craft Market in Old Town is also a hub of artifacts from around the country and other trinkets that showcase the skills of the local craftsmen. Head to Lizulu Market in Lilongwe for fruits and vegetables.
Transportation in Malawi
There are only a handful of transport options in Malawi, so getting around is relatively easy and straightforward. Hiring a car is the best way to get around if you want to venture out of the city and explore the rest of the country. There are car rental desks at the airports in Lilongwe and Blantyre. A number of local tour and safari companies also offer car hire. There is a good network of public buses and mini buses in the cities. These are ideal for travelling short distances and are a great way to meet and chat to locals. There are also several reliable metered cab companies in the big cities and in some of the more rural areas. Yellow Top Cab, Joy Taxi Service, and Peace Taxi Services are three reputable and inexpensive taxi services in Malawi. For exploring Lake Malawi and the port towns around its sandy shore, there is a lake ferry that operates between Monkey Bay in the south and Chilumba in the north.
Accommodations in Malawi
Places to stay in Malawi vary from area to area. The capital city, Lilongwe, is known for its sleek and central hotels. Many of the hotels in the city offer all the amenities and services you need to be comfortable and are centrally located, so you are within walking or driving distance to restaurants, shops, and attractions. Central Malawi and the areas surrounding Lake Malawi are teeming with rustic beach lodges, luxurious safari camps, eco-lodges, and backpackers. The rolling highlands and wide open spaces of the north offer up beach houses, safari cottages, forest lodges, inns with sublime settings and complete tranquility. In the south, accommodation ranges from basic bed and breakfasts and charming little cottages to adventure lodges and retreats. The areas in northern and southern Malawi tend to be quite serene and quiet, while central Malawi has more of a bustling holiday atmosphere.
Flights to Malawi
You will be able to catch a non-stop flight to Malawi from Johannesburg or a connecting flight to Malawi from all major cities in South Africa. Flights from South Africa to Malawi land at one of the 6 main airports in Malawi: Kamuzu International Airport (LLW), Chileka International Airport (BLZ), Kasungu Airport (KBQ), Mzuzu Airport (ZZU) Karonga Airport (KGJ), or Club Makokola Airport (CMK). Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, and Kenya Airways are the main airlines that fly to Malawi. Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways are currently the only airlines that offer non-stop flights to Malawi. A direct flight from Johannesburg is just under 3 hours, while a connecting flight from Cape Town and Durban is about 6 hours.
Our expert preferred spot in Malawi
Lake Malawi is an exquisite marvel of nature that makes a holiday in Malawi undeniably special. At first you may mistake its teal water and soft sandy shores for the coastline of an exotic faraway place, but look closer and you will notice this is not a coastline at all but the third largest lake in Africa. And look even closer and you will realise it forms part of the southern end of the Great Rift Valley. Knowing what Lake Malawi is makes a holiday on its banks a surreal and unforgettable experience. Stay in a wooden beach hut nestled between lush jungle or safari camp and be one of the few who have experienced the wondrous warm heart of Africa.