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This tailor made self drive to Zambia and Malawi has a focus on wildlife and nature with a couple of beach days in between. Highlights include: Lilongwe, Majete Wildlife Reserve, Mulanje, Liwonde National Park, Cape Maclear, South Luangwa National Park, Viphya Mountains, Lake Malawi and Nkhotakota!
Small scale accommodation
We choose small scale accommodation in excellent locations to explore the highights of your trip. These accommodations are selected carefully within your budget and request. However, upgrades are available and the tour can be tailor made to your requests.
This is a customized trip. Additional overnight stays, upgrades and route changes are possible on request!
For this route we will give you a car with a higher clearance. They are much better for the gravel roads and deep sandy roads in the national parks.
Lilongwe – Lilongwe
19 nights in guesthouses & safari lodges
African Travels will send you to the most beautiful and unique accommodations in Africa. They are not only run by excellent staff, they also give back to the local community and operate as eco friendly as possible. Located in the most beautiful and safe locations, they will contribute to your ultimate Africa experience.
Upgrade to guesthouses, and/or lodges is available. We will make sure they tick all the boxes!
Welcome to Lilongwe, and Malawi – the warm heart of Africa! On arrival, a representative from us will meet and greet you at the airport. You will be given the maps and information you need for your trip and directed to your first night’s accommodation.
Head to Majete to safari for a few days. You will be accommodated at Thawale. Thawale Lodge is a peaceful haven from which to experience Majete Wildlife Reserve, the only Game reserve in Malawi where the “the big five” can be viewed. Completely unfenced, the lodge is regularly visited by wildlife.
The Mulanje Massif, as it is also known, is located 65km east of Blantyre, rising sharply from the surrounding plains of Chizardzulu, and the tea-growing Mulanje district. It measures approximately 13 x 16 miles (22 x 26 kilometres).
Mount Mulanje towers over 3000m high, locals call it the ‘island in the sky’, it is easy to see why – on a misty day the mountain is enclosed in a smoke-like haze, and its highest peak, Sapitwa, bursts through the cloud.
The mountain welcomes all hiking abilities; you do not need to be a serious hiker to enjoy the trails of Mulanje. If you want to tackle Sapitwa you will most likely be able to take it on, providing you are relatively fit and well-prepared. So, if you enjoy walking and breathing in the freshest of fresh air then Mount Mulanje is a great destination for you.
Things to do at Mount Mulanje
The Massif is popular for hiking and climbing, and has several mountain huts scattered across it which are maintained by the Malawi Mountain Club and the Malawi Forestry Department. There are a number of trails for hikers. The trail route depends on the length of your stay on the mountain and what you want to see and do.
Mulanje has many individual peaks reaching heights of over 2500m, including Sapitwa, Central Africa’s highest point (3,001m) and Chambe Peak, the West Face of which is the longest rock climb in Africa. Each of these peaks are accessible for hikers. We advise anyone trekking the mountain to do so with a certified guide.
The mountain isn’t just for hikers; the mountain itself is part of the protected Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve, within the reserve there are a number of plant and animal species – many of them endemic to the area. Making Mount Mulanje a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts.
Reach the summit:
The moment you reach the summit of Mount Mulanje, Sapitwa, you will be higher than anybody else in Central Africa. This is an awesome prospect, and if you’re on the mountain you may as well reach the top, right?
Drink straight from the spring:
Once you reach a certain altitude you can drink the spring water running down the mountain. But make sure your guide permits you drinking before you take those first thirst-quenching mouthfuls.
Dive into a waterfall (if you can brave the cold):
There are a number of waterfalls on the mountain. There is a particular one which feeds into a large spring pool – perfect for diving into after a strenuous hike. Be warned though the water is often icy cold!
Your next destination is in the Liwonde National Park. The camp overlooks a broad stretch of the Shire River (pronounced Shiree), with a profusion of hippos, crocodiles and the amazing birdlife of the Liwonde National Park. An impressive thatched dining and lounge area is situated nearby, offering a magnificent vista of the Shire River.
Today after breakfast you will have a boat transfer to Mumbo island where you will spend the next two nights on your holiday through Malawi. Mumbo Island is a pristine and deserted tropical island floating on the expansive waters of the Lake Malawi National Park. With a maze of massive underwater boulders, innumerable species of colourful cichlid fish and calm, clear water, the National Park offers what many consider to be the best freshwater snorkelling and SCUBA diving in the world. All tents are fully furnished with en-suite bathrooms.
Today you have a 4 hr drive ahead of you towards Lilongwe for a stop over. You will have the opportunity to enjoy a good restaurant in town.
Time to cross the border into Zambia and discover South Luangwa National Park. Croc Valley Camp is the place to go if you are wanting to visit South Luangwa on a budget. From the campsite to the en-suite tents there are a variety of accommodations to suit any budget. Set on the banks of the Luangwa River at the edge of the park you can take daily guided game drives within the park or arrange for a walking safari. They have a pool, lively bar – where you will find local guides and camp managers having a well-earned beer – as well as a relaxing lounge. Although, outside the park, they regularly have hippos, crocs, elephants, bushbuck and monkeys in camp.
Luwawa Forest Lodge is nestled in the beautifully tranquil Viphya mountains (1700m), one of most scenic locations in the north of Malawi. The Lodge is only 8 km off of the M1 in an area renowned for its variety of colourful birdlife and wild flowers where bushbuck are frequently seen.
The forested Viphya Plateau is a peaceful area of stunning scenery. It forms the spine of central and northern Malawi, snaking a cool path through the flat savanna, dusty towns and sunny beaches that are visible on either side.
Makuzi Beach Lodge is situated on the lush northern shores of Lake Malawi. It is one of the Malawi’s only private white sand beaches which provides guest with a superb, secluded retreat and wonderful views across Africa’s third water fresh lake. All chalets are en-suite with stunning lake views and are set in perfectly manicured gardens. This relaxed lakeshore lodge is a perfect retreat with a well-deserved reputation of warm hospitality and great facilities. Makuzi Beach Lodge is a perfect location for a romantic getaway or a family holiday.
Nkhotakota is Malawi’s oldest wildlife park and a true paradise for those who seek nature and landscapes as well as a bush experience. If you enjoy walking safaris and are not looking to see the big game and if you are a passionate about nature Nkhotakota might be the right destination for you.
On the banks of the beautiful Bua River in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Central Malawi, Bua River Lodge offers fine, en-suite, tented accommodation to a very high standard but at moderate prices. Bua River Lodge is already highly acclaimed for the friendliness of their staff, the quality of the accommodation, the standard of service and excellent food! Take a walk down to the river or kayak if you prefer, watch the amazing sunsets or go bird watching.
Time to drive back to Lilongwe for a final night om African soil.
Depending on your flight time we advice you when to head to the airport where the car rental company will meet you to fetch your car. We hope you enjoyed Malawi!