Volunteer‎ > ‎

Life in Malawi

Malawi is the ‘warm heart of Africa’ and is a country of unrivalled beauty. The sun drenched plains, glittering lake, golden beaches, colourful fish, lush valleys, soaring peaks and heady woodland are a beauty to behold.
The Malawian people have a reputation of being amongst the friendliest people on earth and it is a reputation well earned. The openness, kindness and ubiquitous smiles visitors experience are unrivalled anywhere else in the world.

Lonely Planet give an excellent guide to Malawi online, to see this please click here

Highlights of any trip to Malawi and great ideas for places to visit during your placement are:

  1. Lake Malawi
  2. Liwonde National Park
  3. Mount Mulanje
  4. Nyika National Park
  5. Zomba Plateau
  6. Overland Trips to Tanzania and Mozambique
Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi is a glittering shard of crystal water that stretches almost the entire length of the country. It is known as the ‘lake of stars’ and is the 3rd biggest lake in Africa. It’s beautiful waters and sun drenched silky sandy beaches put it at the top of many travellers itineraries and it has justifiably become one of the most popular tourist spots in Africa.

The Lake is an ideal place for sun worshippers and water babies. Its serene waters and deserted beaches often lure visitors into unintentionally long stays. For the more active the Lake is renowned as the best freshwater diving site in the world and it offers an aquarium like environment.
Around 500 species of tropical fish inhabit the lake including the famous mouth breeders and the cichlid, which is the fastest evolving fish in the world. 
Diving courses here are very cheap making it a great place to learn. Many volunteers take a week out in the middle of their placement to do a PADI course whilst they are here.

Isolated villages pepper the lakeshore and offer a fascinating glimpse into Malawian culture. The Ilala Ferry chugs up and down the Lake and is a great way to get around and experience the lake and can be used to reach untouched island such as Likoma.

The lake can easily be reached from the volunteer site and is an ideal place for a weekend trip or longer stay.

Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National Park Wildlife is the best place to spot wildlife in Malawi. The park overflows with hippo with more than one every 20 metres and is also a favourite stomping ground for elephants. Liwonde is home to the rare Black Rhino as well as a diverse and colourful array of birds. Zebra, waterbucks, warthogs, baboons, jackals, hyenas, sable, antelopes and the odd leopards are also seen roaming the plains. 

There are several lodges in the park, each offering jeep, lake, walking, night safaris and even kayak safaris and a chance to lie under the stars whilst being serenaded to sleep by the grunts of nearby hippos.

The park is very easily reached from the volunteer site in a few hours by either bus or minibus. We also offer single day and multi day safaris using our car which can be driven inside the park itself.

Mount Mulanje

Mount Mulanje is the third biggest mountain in Africa at 3,002m. The mountain is a great place to hike with dramatic views, stunning scenery, clear paths and well maintained huts. Many travellers choose to ascend the majestic peaks and climb to the top of the mountain, Sapitwa peak. This takes a couple of days but can be achieved without much climbing experience. 

For the more adventurous Chambe Peak on the West face of the mountain is the longest rock climb in Africa. Many people also come to explore the tea plantations at the foot of the mountain and sample the famous Mulanje tea.

Mulanje is very close to the volunteer site, approximately 30 minutes away. It is great for a day trip to discover the lower parts of the mountain or longer if you intend to climb to the top.

Nyika National Park

Nyika is the largest national park in Malawi and is a must for any visitor. It is a special place and allows visitors the rare experience of exploring untouched Africa.   At the heart of the park is the Nyika plateau, a beautiful landscape of rolling hills, towering forests, rocky peaks and sweeping grasslands all teeming with flora and fauna.

The hiking is fantastic and is great for wildlife spotting although nothing beats the experience of coming face to face with a zebra from horseback or from a bike.

Nyika is in the north of Malawi so is far from the volunteer site. We recommend you take a week to visit Nyika and combine it with the other highlights of North Malawi such as Nkhata Bay and Vwaza Elephant Marshes.

Zomba Plateau

Zomba Plateau is a favourite for lovers of the great outdoors. The plateau is an excellent place for hiking and is a great place to go to stand above the clouds and escape the heat whilst looking down upon the plains of southern Malawi. It is home to diverse and numerous birdlife, spectacular waterfalls and dense forest.

Zomba is very close to the volunteer site, around 1 hour away and has a number of beautiful cottages that volunteers can stay in and so is ideal for a weekend away.

Overland trips to Tanzania and Mozambique

Visitors to Malawi often take the opportunity to discover the neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Mozambique

Tanzania’s has several big draws. Zanzibar is an island paradise with emerald beaches and otherworldly turquoise seas. Mount Kilimanjaro is an African icon and climbing the highest peak in Africa is a rewarding experience. Close encounters with big game frequently occur in the world famous Serengeti National Park, arguably the best place to do a safari in the world.

Mozambique's unspoilt beaches, superb diving and unique culture makes it Africa’s best kept secret. Indulge your sense of adventure and seize the chance to discover the seldom visited interior and the exquisite 2500km of coastline dotted with idyllic offshore islands while you still can.

Tanzania is North of Malawi so cannot be easily reached from the volunteer site. We recommend you visit Tanzania before or after your volunteer placement. Mozambique is very close to volunteer site and can be reached by bus or even by bike if you are up for it!

Getting Around

Transportation in Malawi is generally cheap and plentiful although not always quick! Whilst on their placement, volunteers can take minibuses and buses to sites of interest such as those listed here. Our volunteer supervisor Damson is more than happy to accompany volunteers on such trips. Duncan can also drive the volunteers in his car.

Photo Credits:    Zebra Photo. Stolz, Gary M - USFWS