Zambia and Malawi – Quintessential African Bush and Beach
“A beach, on a lake?” This was my wife’s reaction when I said that after our safari in Zambia, we’d be going to Lake Malawi for the beach section of our family holiday to Africa. We certainly were and a safari in Zambia followed by beach holiday on Lake Malawi is a combination I recommend fairly regularly.
It works well for travellers during the European and North American summer months when both countries have hot sunny days and cool nights. It’s a very ‘African’ combination utilizing small camps and lodges with high levels of individual service and flexibility.
Wildlife is good in Zambia’s national parks at this time of year as the grass has died back and leaves have come off the trees. Animals are increasingly drawn to water sources, such as the Zambezi and Luangwa rivers. It’s a country where national parks can be explored on foot as well as in vehicles, and canoeing and boating are possible on the Zambezi River. Safari goers might expect to see lion, elephant, giraffe and zebra as well as hippo, crocodile and perhaps leopard (the country has a good reputation for them being sighted on safari).
If you’re just visiting one safari area, then the South Luangwa National Park combines most easily with Malawi simply due to the geography and its proximity to Lilongwe. Among our favourite camps here are two from Time and Tide Africa:
Time + Tide Chinzombo – a wildly luxurious camp which nevertheless retains its bush authenticity with grass and canvas walls. Each of the six villas offers panoramic views of the Luangwa River and the incredible wildlife that frequents its banks.
Time + Tide Luwi Bush Camp – Situated deep in the national park on the ephemeral Luwi River, Luwi Camp is wonderfully remote, with no other camps or people for miles around. The five thatched rooms are rebuilt annually ensuring the camp retains its light footprint.
For holidays including more than one safari area, the Lower Zambezi National Park offers a complementary experience in terms of landscapes and activities.
Sausage Tree Camp – this is one of the original camps within the national park and unusual in offering a private guide and vehicle to every set of guests. With the complete rebuilt of its simple, stylish, contemporary and very luxurious suites it is an exciting new take on safari chic offering guests every comfort in a place to relax and switch off. It is set right on the riverbank allowing wildlife viewing by vehicle as well as on foot, by canoe or in a boat.
Getting around for your African bush and beach holiday
Travel transfers between safari areas within Zambia is by light aircraft and all the national parks can be connected with each other, sometimes changing planes in Lusaka. It’s typically a light aircraft that would get you to Malawi as well and then onward from Lilongwe to the lake, although a vehicle transfer may be more suitable in some situations.
At 350 miles long and 50 miles wide Lake Malawi is more of an inland sea than a lake. It has palm-fringed sandy beaches and is so vast you find yourself talking about going for a ‘swim in the sea’ by mistake. But it’s fresh water so no sea salt stickiness as you towel yourself down.
Our two recommended luxury properties on Lake Malawi are almost at opposite ends:
Kaya Mawa – situated on Likoma Island in the middle of Lake Malawi, Kaya Mawa is closer to the Mozambique shore than Malawi. There is a choice of beaches and a number of granite islands to choose from with a variety of rooms spread across the property.
Pumulani – on a hillside on the southern shore of the lake Pumulani’s ten villas are nestled amongst trees and craggy outcrops. For those looking to relax by a pool, there are two to choose from at the top and bottom of the property, but there are plenty of activities available for those wanting to keep the heart beating at a faster rate.
Start your planning for your Zambia and Malawi holiday
You’re welcome to call me (Richard) to talk about this safari and beach combination but our experts travel regularly, so anyone can chat to you and recommend the best properties for you. Call or email and let us know something about your likes, dislikes, your preferred travel dates, and any budget you have, and let one of our team do the rest.