Monday, 27 April 2009

Malawi, the warm heart of Africa

Flick through the glossy tourist brochures and the clichés come thick and fast. Malawi is ‘the warm heart of Africa’, or ‘Africa for beginners’; and its lake ‘the lake of stars’. It all seems too good to be true, but, with stunning and varied scenery and supremely friendly locals, along with the relative ease of travel here, Malawi really does live up to the hype.

Malawi’s big draw is the lake: a magnificent shard of crystal water stretching some 500km along Malawi’s eastern border, separating it from the wild and mountainous coast of Mozambique and Tanzania. Isolated villages pepper the northern lakeshore and the beautiful Liwonde National Park rests at its southern tip. Around 500 species of fish inhabit the lake and the freshwater diving and snorkelling here are excellent. Malawi’s not just for water babies and sun worshippers though; there’s plenty here to keep you active and Malawi’s landscape is surprisingly diverse. Head for the misty heights of Mount Mulanje or to the Nyika National Park, where you'll find sheer escarpments, dramatic peaks, endless rolling grassland and some of the most enjoyable hiking routes in the whole of Africa.

Many travellers only pass through the country for a couple of days, intent on racing through to Africa’s ‘bigger’ attractions. This is a shame, as Malawi has much to offer. Take time to explore the highland wilderness, dive and swim in the lake’s warm waters, or simply soak up the vibrant local flavour and you’re sure to find yourself seduced. Tempted to go to Malawi? Go to and book your hotel.

Not convinced yet? Below you can find more information about the major cities in Malawi:


Lilongwe is hardly awash with excitement; it’s a sleepy little city that while perfectly pleasant, isn’t particularly interesting or memorable. The quiet buzz of the Old Town, with its craft stalls, market, a nice little cafés and drinking holes, is at its heart, and this is where you’re likely to spend most of your time. The more modern city centre has little to offer – it’s a soulless collection of banks, office buildings and embassies.


Blantyre – the commercial and industrial capital of Malawi – is a more happening city than Lilongwe, although that’s not saying much. It stretches for about 20km, merging into Limbe, its ‘sister city’. Most travellers stop only for a few days to send or receive mail, buy maps and books or pick up a visa for Mozambique. This is probably long enough to check out some interesting sights, the most global selection of cuisine in Malawi, several enjoyable bars, and a fair selection of places to stay.


Mzuzu is the largest town north of Lilongwe and the transport hub for all north-related activities. The town is centred around a grand tree-lined avenue. It has banks, shops, a post office, supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations and other facilities, which are especially useful if you’ve come into Malawi from the north.

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