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Malawi is dominated by huge Lake Malawi, which stretches 590km and covers 20% of the total country! But the Lake is not the only Malawian destination; many overlanding tours to Malawi visit bustling Lilongwe, while the northern and southern regions are worth exploring.
As the third largest lake in Africa, massive Lake Malawi dominates the tiny country, occupying over 20% of Malawi’s total area.
Any overland tour group travelling through Malawi are sure to stop off at the lake and enjoy endless sandy beaches, great diving and snorkelling, eons of fresh seafood and friendly locals.
Part of southern Malawi has been proclaimed a World Heritage Site for having the richest variety of tropical fish of any freshwater lake in the world. David Livingstone described Lake Malawi as the ‘Lake of Stars’, referring to its glittering surface.
It’s a great stop on an overland safari adventure; overlanders can take time out to relax on the beaches, play soccer with the local kids, drink traditional Malawi beer and even try their hand at fishing!
Southern Malawi is the greatest draw card for travellers to Malawi: lodges, hotels, golf courses and airstrips populate Lake Malawi’s southern shore, with plenty of uncrowded beaches and a variety of watersports available on the lake.
Most overlanders will take a trip out to Cape McLear, the springboard for the Lake Malawi National Park. Declared a World Heritage Site, this part of the lake is full of tiny islands, and great diving and snorkelling spots.
Other attractions in Southern Malawi include Blantyre, the main commercial town in Malawi, and 3000m Mount Mulanje, Malawi’s highest mountain.
The far north of Malawi is the most beautiful, and its remoteness means it’s much less populated than southern Malawi.
The lake is at its widest here, but on a clear day you can see Mozambique 80km away! This is the best spot for a remote African holiday: horse riding on the beaches, diving or snorkelling in the Lake or simply swinging in a hammock.
For Malawi overland adventurers wanting a taste of the wild, the impressive Nyika Plateau National Park in northern Malawi has excellent hiking, trekking and horse-riding opportunities. Even further north is the tiny town of Mzuzu , where you’ll inevitably pass through on the way to and from a Tanzanian safari.
Lilongwe has been the capital city of Malawi since 1975, and is situated in the fertile central region of the country. Split into the New and Old towns, Lilongwe is a thriving modern yet distinctly African city.
Malawi overland tours usually pass through Lilongwe to pick up supplies and enjoy some curio shopping. Overlanders can change money and go shopping in trendy New Town, or wander through bustling markets with its vibrant vendors in the Old Town.
Lilongwe isn’t really a stopover like Nairobi is, but overlanders can still immerse themselves in the Malawian culture, with stops at the curio markets often heralding the odd find.
Be careful when buying souvenirs though; sometimes curios are not quite what they seem, and you could end up paying for more than you bargained for!