Landlocked by the larger countries of Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique, Malawi boasts a wide variety of landscapes including plains, mountains, forests and river valleys. Despite its relatively small land mass for an African country, Malawi has a large number of national parks and open spaces making it ideal for a safari holiday. Choose between walking safaris, horseback safaris and 4x4 safaris. Unlike many of Africa's more well-known national parks and safari package destinations, those found in Malawi tend to be less touristy and unspoilt. The Big Five can be seen in Malawi as well as a large number of other species.
Of the nine national parks, the largest and oldest is Nyika National Park found in the north of the country where buffalo, zebra and leopard can be spotted amidst its diverse vegetation and landscapes. In the west of the country is Kasungu National Park, home to crocodiles, hippos, zebras and lions. The most popular national park for safaris is Liwonde National Park, in the south of the country, home to a huge number of species including elephant, lion and rhino. Malawi is also a popular bird watching destination thanks to the sheer number of species including fish eagle, kingfisher, pelican and flamingo.
Malawi also boasts two UNESCO protected areas; Chongini Rock Art Area in Central Malawi, with paintings dating as far back as the Late Stone Age and Iron Age periods, and Lake Malawi National Park with its protected fish and aquatic species. The country's biggest annual music event, the Lake of Stars Festival, takes place in late September on the shores of Lake Malawi.
Although Malawi's 14 million strong population live mostly in traditional rural villages, the cities are still a good place to find out more about Malawian culture. The capital Lilongwe is a small and manageable city split into two parts, the Old Town and the Capital City. The highlight of a visit to Lilongwe is the bustling daily market, the largest in the country. More can be discovered about both the land and the human history of Malawi at the Cultural & Museum Centre of Karonga and the Museum of Malawi.