Malawi

Combine the 'Lake of Stars' with Malawi's remarkable scenery, wildlife and the most friendly of people.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

All year round

Overview

Malawi is known as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’. For many years, it was known more for its glorious scenery and the almost uncanny rich blues of the sparkling lake. It may not have been as game-rich as neighbouring  African countries in the past, but the involvement of the African Parks NGO has revived the wildlife reserves. Malawi is now once again home to all the Big Five game animals.

Add in its marvellously friendly and laid-back people, superb flora and the beaches of Lake Malawi and you have a less well-known gem. So if you enjoy combining a safari with some relaxation beach. And if you like to meet the local people in an uncontrived way, then a Malawi holiday could be perfect for you.

This small sliver of a country is dominated by Lake Malawi, the most appealing of the great lakes of Africa. Indeed the ‘lake of stars’ is three quarters of the length of Malawi. Its crystal clear waters are teeming with colourful fish. (Lake Malawi is one of the most popular freshwater scuba diving locations in the world!) Plus its sandy beaches are a popular spot for relaxing after a Malawi safari.

Further south are the main wildlife reserves, the scenic Liwonde National Park – with its large herds of elephant – and the revitalized Majete Game Reserve, rich in magificent sable. In the southern lowlands are the tea plantations of Satemwe. Rising above them are the peaks of Mount Mulanje and the Zomba Plateau with hiking, mountain biking and walking trails on offer.

Travel within Malawi is relatively easy. Most of our clients use road transfers between Lake Malawi, Liwonde, Majete and the capital city of Lilongwe ( or Blantyre.) Light aircraft charters allow access to more remote destinations such as the Nyika plateau and Likoma Island.

Finally if you enjoy being active with bush walks, mountain biking or horse-riding all on offer, then try out one of our tailor-made Malawi holiday packages.

Features

Why you may love it

  • Known as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ with friendly and laid-back people
  • Luxurious sandy beaches
  • Lake Malawi is one of the most popular freshwater scuba diving locations in the world
  • Experience authentic African culture and local people
  • Superb flora and bird-life

Explore the Malawi map

When to visit Malawi

December to March

Rainy Summer Season

As with most southern African countries, Malawi has a hot and rainy summer season from mid November to early April.
AVG RAINFALL 203mm
MAX TEMP 28 ℃ / 83 ℉
MIN TEMP 18 ℃ / 64 ℉

April & May

Dry season

This is a transitional period when the rain tapers off and the dry season starts. However the daytime temperatures stay warm at 25-26C
AVG RAINFALL 118mm
MAX TEMP 28 ℃ / 83 ℉
MIN TEMP 18 ℃ / 64 ℉

June to August

Cooler Season

This is noticeably cooler, given the overall altitude of Malawi (ranging from 500-1100 for the main destinations) averaging a max of 23C with cold nights, especially on the plateau away from Lake Malawi
AVG RAINFALL 8mm
MAX TEMP 24 ℃ / 76 ℉
MIN TEMP 13 ℃ / 55 ℉

September to November

Summer Season

Temperatures rise steadily from mid August onwards becoming seriously hot in October to November (max 32c with high humidity) just prior to the start of summer rains.
AVG RAINFALL 34mm
MAX TEMP 31 ℃ / 72 ℉
MIN TEMP 19 ℃ / 66 ℉

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Visit & Review of Pumulani

Pumulani Lodge, Lake Malawi

The idea of setting up Pumulani was to offer a really good beach option post-Zambia safari without the need to go to Mozambique/ East Africa. The link between the two areas is straightforward and swift, as I would find out for myself the next day: when I flew from Pumulani to Nkwali in South Luangwa (I was reversing the normal sequence) the TOTAL travel time door to door was 5 hours, including a bit of waiting time at Lilongwe while the pilot filled out his new flight plan and refuelled the plane. In Africa terms, that is a doddle.

The main lodge is at the top of a granite outcrop, from where the views of the Lake are breath-taking, and the villas are at different heights below. I had room 5 which not only has the best view in my opinion, but is also close to the communal areas in terms of horizontal distance and height.

Other rooms are lower; some are pretty much at beach level which is quite a hike – about 150 steps (my guess, I did not count them!) or a fair 3-5 minute walk up. BUT they do have a golf cart they can use to transport people. All villas have grass roofs and are beautifully appointed. There’s a family villa near the Lake which has 2 bedrooms. The honeymoon suite has an outside shower in a kind of dhow. In general a third or even fourth bed can be put in all rooms. Children of all ages are welcome in low season, but high season JUL-SEP there’s a minimum age limit of 7.

All activities are included except SCUBA and motorised water sports. For diving and snorkelling they take guests in one of their speed boats to Cape Maclear. That takes about 20-30 mins and they go there because of the Cichlid fish. They also have open kayaks and 2 person dinghies, the latter are available to experienced sailors to take out on their own or be accompanied by a guide. I did the dhow sunset cruise which was fab – you’re out for an hour or hour and a half which seemed just right.

I also did the early morning bird walk which was superb. Mine was only an hour but we saw a fish eagle nest and the fish eagles themselves plus many others such as sunbirds and a pygmy kingfisher. Often they combine a walk and a return by kayak in a 2.5 hour morning activity.

Finally on the activity front is star gazing. They have a wizzo 850 x magnification telescope and when I was there Simon was also in camp, and he really knew his stuff. Highlight was seeing the rings of Saturn – yes they really DO exist!

Food was superb as expected. You can dine up at main lodge or down by the beach bar where there’s plenty of shade. Overall I very much like Pumulani and could well imagine chilling out there after a Zambia safari. How many days could I envisage staying there? Well, I think 4 or 5 would be fantastic; I certainly didn’t want to leave!

While I was at Pumulani I talked with Munyama and Ton, one of Robin Pope’s directors, about Mkulumadzi, an exclusive new luxury lodge in Southern Malawi set on a lush riverbank within Majete Wildlife Reserve. When we spoke it hadn’t opened, but as I write it is up and running. This will help create an interesting Malawi circuit.

Cedarberg : Peter Bates
Did you know
  • Lakes in MalawiCalendar Lake - 365 miles long, 52 miles wide
  • SizeMalawi is landlocked, but one fifth of it is water