Exploring Tourism in Malawi
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Zomba Plateau

Zomba Plateau, Malawi

Malawi’s Zomba Plateau is unique. A great slab of a mountain standing at 1,800 m (6,000ft), and with peaks topping 2,000 m, it has vast tracts of cedar, pine and cypress but elsewhere the vegetation is wild and mixed. On three sides, the plateau has scarp-like edges descending from its outer rim of peaks that surround a central depression. As well as the forests, the plateau top is criss-crossed by streams and there are tumbling waterfalls and still lakes. There are roads right round the top which give access to viewpoints that offer vistas of such splendour that they were described in colonial times as “the best views in the British Empire”. The roads around the plateau are dirt roads used mostly by logging trucks and so require a 4×4 to navigate, but the road up to the top from Zomba town is a good tar road accessible to all. Once on top of the plateau, there is plenty of hiking, trekking and walking through the forests, alongside the streams and to connect the viewpoints around the edge.

Whether walking or driving, there is always something to see on the plateau as well as from it. Wildlife includes leopards, although sightings are very rare. More in evidence are giant butterflies and, on the lower slopes, baboons. Birdlife includes the long-crested eagle and the augur buzzard. Fly-fishing for trout is possible in season and there is a very good stables that offers horse riding even to novices.

Accommodation on the plateau includes a luxury hotel, the famous Sunbird Ku Chawe, set at the very edge of the mountain; and a large camping site. Slightly lower down the plateau slopes, the cosy Zomba Forest Lodge offers an alternative ‘off the grid’ stay, complete with fantastic food. Off the plateau, in Zomba Town, alternatives include the charming Pakachere Bag Packers Lodge beautifully sited on the edge of the golf course, and a little out of town, on the road to Blantyre, the modern Hills Spring Lodge.

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