We took our first family trip to Malawi, last year. We were not in the slightest bit disappointed by our visit to this less travelled hidden gem on the African continent. After long wanting to tick Malawi of our Safari Holidays or rather Africa Holidays bucket list, we finally did it.
Hubby, I and our two kids jetted of for a short 2 week break. Make sure you have all necessary documents and vaccinations before embarking on this journey. We flew with South-African Airlines (Flysaa), one of the flights to Malawi and the journey was not bad at all.
When travelling with kids, the last thing you want is fuss. Flying SAA meant a short wait in transit, before our connecting flight. There is so much to do at the South African Airport, you won’t find yourself clock watching. After we transitioned, we landed in the Capital of Malawi, Lilongwe.
Caution: The Malawi government strongly advises that you to get a Malawi visa before travel. However, if you can’t get a visa before travel, you can get a visa on arrival at any port of entry and the current fees are as follows:
Malawi transit visa: US$50; single-entry visa: US$75; six-month multiple-entry visa: US$150 and one-year multiple-entry visa: US$250.
Have some U.S Dollars at hand, to make the entry process and any other transit process easy. Travelling from the U.K, meant we also had some pounds to dispose, plus our visa cards.
Landing at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, meant easy access to a variety of accommodation and also easy access to rental cars. The car rental firm we chose was, Avis car hire. The service was absolutely superb and we would recommend it any-day. We had the rental for the whole duration of our trip.
After checking out of Kamuzu International Airport, the drive to SUNBIRD Capital Hotel where we spent our first night, was 20 minutes long roughly. From the exterior to the interior, the hotel was inviting.
From start to finish, the service is second to none and very professional. The staff are very polite and warm.
Once rested, the kids wanted to head to the poolside where we had drinks and fun. We went back to our rooms for a change and a little rest before dinner.
We dined at Vincent’s Restaurant for dinner, and you haven’t lived until you try their menu. After a good night sleep, we had delicious breakfast. After breakfast, we packed and checked out, ready for our Malawian Family adventure.
Paradise – The Adventure with Kids!
Salima – SUNBIRD Livingstonia along the Lake Malawi shore line, was our first stop and we spent a day there. The reason we choose it as our first stop is because we enjoy nature and birding as part of our family bonding, and guess what? Livingstonia is opposite Bird Island.
Being in the capital city of Malawi is an advantage, especially if you plan to journey to Salima. The trip only takes 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours maximum.
Travelling to Blantyre to proceed to Zomba is a long stretch. Try and find a transition stop and enjoy some lunch. Sunbird – Mount Soche, was our choice stop (Blantyre to Zomba is a journey of 1 hour and 15 minutes roughly).
Zomba – Plateau Stables, was our second stop.
The horses at Plateau stables are beautiful and very well taken care of. The surroundings and picturesque views are to die for. We would recommend Plateau Stables for beginners and pro’s equally. The whole experience ran smoothly and the kids absolutely enjoyed it.
Mangochi – Club Makokola Retreat, was our third stop.
From Zomba, we proceeded to Mangochi. A journey that takes an hour and 50 minutes roughly. Whilst at Makokola Retreat, we spent 3 days there. The Kids including us, enjoyed exploring Mangochi and especially basking in the sun by the pool as we enjoyed various beverages and all the delicious treats on the menu that you must also try.
We also took a day trip to Monkey Bay – Cape Maclear and it is roughly about an hour’s drive journey. There are so many fun activities to choose from at Cape Maclear, such as kayaking, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, hiking or shopping in the local craft markets.
Blantyre to Kara O’Mula Country Lodge
After our Mangochi adventure we stopped in Blantyre for lunch and then proceeded to SUNBIRD – Kara O’mula for the day. A short one hour – 20 minutes journey, to enjoy the beautiful picturesque views of Mulanje Mountain.
At Kara O’mula, you will see a breath-taking sight of monkeys playing in treetops above the lodge, something any child or grown up would enjoy (the kids absolutely enjoyed that). If that is not enough, wait for the sun to set upon Kara O’mula, what a sight to behold.
Remaining with one more adventure to undertake, which was the main purpose of our journey. Our Safari holiday at Majete Wildlife Reserve awaited us, and so we returned to Blantyre.
Safari holiday – Majete Wildlife Reserve.
Blantyre to Majete Wildlife Reserve is about 36 miles (58km), driving distance. It takes approximately 60 minutes to drive from Blantyre to Majete Wildlife Reserve.
We stayed at Mkulumadzi Lodge – Majete, for three and a half days. To get to Mkulumadzi lodge, its via a footbridge suspended over the Mkulumadzi River. All the chalet’s on site are absolutely breathtaking.
Activities during our stay included swimming in the pool (not the river) pun intended. Dining under the stars, river cruises, game-drives and walking safaris. This was an absolutely life changing trip for us and especially the children. Its one thing learning theoretically about animals or watching discovery channel, to experiencing the real thing. Its an experience the kids will never forget.
After Majete, It was back on the road for us. From, Blantyre, SUNBIRD – Mount Soche, to Liliongwe -SUNBIRD Capital, for a good nights rest, before we depart Malawi.
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu!
It was time to leave the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe. We boarded our flight from Malawi to South Africa and proceeded to England. Back to the norm!
Malawi is literally the only place left on planet earth were time truly does stand still. It is an un-spoilt destination that more people have not explored yet. However, this beautiful hidden gem of Africa will soon be flooding with people from all corners of the universe.
Our Malawi adventure was the holiday we didn’t know our family needed.
Malawi is a destination we aim to return to, in October, 2020 (if Corona-virus won’t get in the way). Malawi will become a second home with a possibility of a retirement place, to escape the chaos of England for a more quiet life.
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
Guest-post from; Jenny H, an avid reader of visit Malawi.
Have you ever been to Malawi and do you have a story/experience you would love to share with us? Please get in touch via our contact us page and we will respond promptly.