While Malawi’s small, landlocked location in south-eastern Africa may look unpromising on a map, nothing could be further from the truth. Long known as the Warm Heart of Africa for the depth of its people’s friendliness, the country’s lack of oceanic coastline is more than made up for by the clear waters of Lake Malawi.
It snakes along the country’s eastern border for an epic 590 km from north to south, where you’ll find perfect beaches and iconic boat trips above the waves of the Cape Maclear peninsula, and extraordinary diving among the many endemic cichlid fish species that call the lake home below them.
If you can tear yourself away from the lakeshore, Malawi also has a growing reputation as a safari destination. Of all its national parks, Nyika’s blend of rolling hills and forested valleys has one of the highest concentrations of leopard in the region. Further south, Majete Wildlife Reserve in the Lower Shire Valley is able to boast the Big Five, while nothing can quite match the experience of approaching Liwonde’s elephant and hippo by safari boat.
Elsewhere, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chongoni Rock Art Area hosts more than 120 individual sites dating back to the Stone and Iron Ages in the forested hills of a central plateau, while the Zomba Plateau in the Shire Highlands, together with nearby Mt Mulanje, the country’s highest peak, are popular hiking destinations due to their mix of waterfalls, riverine forest and native miombo woodland.