History

Mua Wander the atmospheric old Roman Catholic mission and learn about Chewa, Yao and Ngoni culture in the Chamare Museum.

Livingstonia The mountaintop mission is named after Dr David Livingstone, who is depicted in the church’s stained-glass window.

Zomba The capital of British Central Africa, Nyasaland and, until 1974, Malawi, with crumbling colonial piles on its hilly streets.

Blantyre Home to the national museum, Malawi’s oldest standing building – Mandala House, itself the location of a fascinating historic library and archive – and the country’s oldest established hotel.

Cathedral of St Peter Missionaries built Likoma Island’s stunning Anglican cathedral in the early 1900s.

Nkhotakota The lakeside town was home to a huge 19th-century slave market, and a tree marks the spot where Livingstone camped in the 1860s.

Landscapes

Zomba Plateau An accessible chunk of mountain atop a tar road from Zomba town, with viewpoints named after famous visitors including Haile Selassie and Britain’s late Queen Mother.

Mt Mulanje This granite massif, rising at the ends of dusty roads through emerald-green tea plantations, offers multiday hikes beneath soaring eagles.

Nyika National Park Malawi’s most photogenic area, where lone zebras pose for sunset shots amid rolling grasslands and wildflowers.

Livingstonia The gruelling ride up from the coast is soon forgotten when you set eyes on the dizzying views from the escarpment.

Viphya Plateau A mist-shrouded mountain kingdom of pine trees, lakes, granite domes and montane woodland, ready to be explored on horseback, by mountain bike or on foot.

Cape Maclear Golden beaches and desert islands lie at the tip of a peninsula dotted with mystical rock formations and missionary graves.

Wildlife

Majete Wildlife Reserve Thousands of animals inhabit Malawi’s only Big Five park, a rugged wilderness of hilly miombo (woodland) and savannah.

Liwonde National Park This southern gem, its riverbanks thick with elephants, hippos and crocs, has a fenced sanctuary dedicated to breeding rare black rhinos.

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve This 1800-sq-km wilderness, riven by the Bua and several other rivers, has received hundreds of elephants translocated from southern Malawi.

Nyika National Park In the stunning setting of the Nyika Plateau, its undulating grasslands dotted with antelopes, you stand a good chance of spotting leopards on night drives.

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve Watch herds of animals lapping at Lake Kazuni and hippos poking their heads out of the water, before hitting the bush in search of elephants, buffaloes and occasional big cats.

Lake Malawi Divers and snorkellers spot colourful clouds of Lake Malawi’s endemic cichlids, and schools of dolphinfish are attracted to torchlight on night dives.

Beaches

Cape Maclear Malawi’s most popular beach town is a haven for diving, snorkelling, kayaking, sailing, water sports, hiking…and simply chilling by the lake.

Nkhata Bay The lakeside community, with its Caribbean good looks and reggae soundtrack, is an idyllic spot to learn to dive, feed the fish eagles on a boat or kayak trip, and hit the hammock at a beach lodge.

Likoma Island This 17-sq-km Malawian outpost on the Mozambican side of the lake has dreamy beach lodges with Robinson Crusoe appeal.

Senga Bay In this fishing town you can watch the boats coming in from night fishing, and spot vervet monkeys and rock hyraxes (dassies) on hikes in the Senga Hills.

Chitimba The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village is Livingstonia’s lakeside neighbour, and its beach camps are appealing spots to recover from the terrible road down the mountain (or from the long drive from Tanzania).

Chizumulu Island The island takes some getting to, but that’s part of its escapist appeal, and Likoma’s neighbour is a tiny floating paradise with an almost Mediterranean coastline and an uber-chilled beach lodge.