Exploring Tourism in Malawi
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Best Of Central Malawi

Central Malawi, Malawi

Most international visitors to Malawi arrive at Lilongwe, the capital; hence their first view of the country is the Central Region. It gives easy access to the rest of the country, including Lake Malawi, as well as being an exciting region in its own right. Gently undulating landscapes give the area the appearance of a plain, but it is actually part of the Central African Plateau at an altitude of some 4000ft (1200m). Only in the east, close to the Lake, where the plateau’s escarpments descend into the Rift Valley, do its occasionally steep sides reveal the truth.

The Central African Plateau is crossed by numerous rivers making their separate ways to the Lake and, here and there, isolated hills, called inselbergs, punctuate the gentle landscapes. Though not quite as high or dramatic as in other regions, Central Malawi has its fair share of highlands and forests. Dzalanyama Forest Reserve lies west of Lilongwe and is known for its birdlife. The Dedza Highlands, Dedza-Salima Forest Reserve, Thuma Forest Reserve, Dowa Highlands and Ntchisi Forest Reserve to the east of the capital stretch south-north along the edge of the Rift Valley.

North of Ntchisi is the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, a genuine wilderness area of miombo woodland on the Rift Valley escarpment cut by the magnificent Bua River. Just beginning to open up, it is also home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including a number of large mammal species. Central Malawi’s other protected area is the Kasungu National Park. A large area of woodland, bush and grassland and once Malawi’s main National Park, poaching and general neglect have seen animal numbers reduce.

Senga Bay is the closest point on Lake Malawi to Lilongwe, just an hour and half’s drive from the airport. It has a range of hotels & lodges overlooking lovely beaches and a small forest reserve. It is also the place from which to gain access to the Marelli Islands, the 3 northernmost islands of the Lake Malawi National Park which are a 15 minute boat journey away. Further north, the beaches continue, though Nkhotakota is known more for its history as a centre for the slave trade whilst Dwangwa has grown as a result of the giant sugar estate here.

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