Things to do in Malawi
Malawi is one of those perfect little countries with a lot to offer for such a compact size. While you can find activities like in so many African countries, such as going on a wildlife safari, climbing along a mountain range to take in the views, and others, one of the main reason many travellers doing the overland route along the east coast of Africa enjoy Malawi, is for the lake Nyasa.
It’s no doubt that African travel can be hard, especially on public transport in more remote regions such as western Tanzania, so arriving into a country renowned for it’s huge beautiful lake and beaches is the perfect tonic to a weary body and mind.
The best thing to do in Malawi for the traveller looking to take a break from long term travel? Hit the beaches, enjoy fresh fish, hang out with friendly locals, and take an old steamship cruise across Lake Malawi.
Even come to Malawi just to do that boat trip.
Cursing On Lake Malawi
Using the term “cruise” may a bit misleading. Don’t imagine some luxury liner, but think more of something Indiana Jones might take a ride on. It is a very old boat with minimal luxuries, but thats part of the fun and adventure.
Arriving from the north you can spend a few days relaxing on the beaches while waiting for the boat to arrive into “port”. The reality is to get on board you will have to wade into almost chest deep water, carrying your bag over your head, and trying to squeeze on board a small lifeboat to get rowed out to the main ship. Doing it at night just adds to the confusion.
￼You have a few towns along the coast to get on it but the best bet is to head to Nkhata Bay around 1/3 of the way down the coastline from the north where some of the best beaches can be found to enjoy before the boat.
Cruising along the lake Malawi you have the option to get off at small islands along the way such as Likoma island, where you can find some funky accommodation to hang out in and do nothing but appreciate the easy way of life for a while.
The boat even stops at the Mozambique border if you want to get off and head into that country. After spending a few lazy days doing nothing but enjoying the cool breeze from the deck of the ship and chatting with the locals you arrive at Monkey Bay in the south where you can then take a motorbike to Cape McClear to spend more time on beaches.
Malawi has a lot more things to do than just take a lake cruise and chill on the beaches, and for a small country would be great for a 2 week break as you won’t have to worry about long distance transport.
But this really is the perfect stop just for beaches and lake time for those tired travellers making their way across the continent and with perhaps more time to spare.
You could say that its Africa condensed, and also one of the cheapest countries on the continent.
Make sure it’s on your list of African countries to visit someday.
Written by: Jonny Duncan. Jonny has travelled twice from Ethiopia to South Africa overland by public transport and hitch-hiking. He writes about his continuing adventures at his blog Backpackingman.