Often dismissed as 'Africa for beginners', Malawi has historically been overlooked as an interloper at the table of great safari destinations. That is until a lion reintroduction program commenced in 2012 and travel editors suddenly started salivating.
Aside from its animals, what immediately captures you about this vivid country is its geographical diversity. Slicing through the landscape in a trough formed by the Great Rift Valley is Africa’s third largest lake – Lake Malawi; a shimmering mass of glittering clear water, its depths are swarming with colourful cichlid fish. Whether it's diving, snorkelling, kayaking or chilling out on one of its desert islands, a visit to the lake is a must.
Suspended in the clouds in Malawi’s deep south are the dramatic peaks of Mt Mulanje and the mysterious Zomba Plateau; both are a trekker's dream, with mist-cowled forests and exotic wildlife. Head further north and you'll witness the otherworldly beauty of Nyika Plateau, its rolling grasslands resembling the Scottish Highlands.
Zambia & Malawi: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Zambia & Malawi guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip...
Need to know
Southern Malawi is home to the country's commercial capital, and receives the highest proportion of foreign visitors who venture here to scale the country's mountains and watch wildlife in an incredibly diverse landscape. To the east, on the border with Mozambique, and flanked by emerald-green tea plantations, is mist-shrouded Mt Mulanje, Malawi’s highest peak.
This small corner of Malawi is chiefly famed for its dazzling white beaches and scattering of desert islands. Backpackers’ mecca Cape Maclear is the first to spring to mind; a sunny peninsula where travellers slip into a daze of snorkelling, sunbathing and laid-back village life. And just over the water is the idyllic Mumbo Island, home to one of Malawi's top ecolodges.