The Viphya Plateau forms the spine of central and northern Malawi, snaking a cool path through the flat scrubland, dusty towns and sunny beaches that reign on either side. It may be called a plateau, but there’s nothing flat about this part of the country in looks or atmosphere. Tightly knit forests give way to gentle valleys and rivers, and huge granite domes rise softly from the earth like sleeping beasts. Indigenous woodland bristles with birds and wildflowers, monkeys dart through the trees and antelope can often be seen.
As it crosses the plateau, the M1 from Lilongwe to Mzuzu is often lined by pine trees, encasing the road in an eerie silence on misty days (and there are plenty). When the mist lifts you’ll be rewarded with a line of sweeping grey- and purple-tinged mountains lining the western horizon in the distance.