Beyond the major highlights, Malawi is a relaxed and interesting country to explore.
In the south of the country, the landscape includes the impressive Zomba Plateau and Malawi’s highest mountain, Mount Mulanje, and these regions offer scenic hiking and interesting birding.
The Zomba Plateau is unique. A great slab of a mountain rising to 6000ft (1800m), it has vast tracts of cedar, pine and cypress but elsewhere the vegetation is wild and mixed. The plateau top is criss-crossed by streams and there are tumbling waterfalls and still lakes. There are driveable tracks right round the top offering views of such splendour they were described in colonial times as “the best in the British Empire”.
Whether walking or driving, there is always something to see. Wildlife includes leopards (although sightings are rare). More in evidence are giant butterflies and, on the lower slopes, baboons. Birdlife includes the long-crested eagle, augur buzzard, scarce swift, mountain wagtail, the highly localised white-winged apalis, and Tchyolo alethe.
In central Malawi Nkotakhota National Park is a heavily wooded but exclusive region which is slowly developing as a game viewing destination. Elephant sightings are good, especially along the Nkotakhota River, and there are lion, buffalo and various other species found in the park. However the park is probably best visited for birding, walking and relaxation.
The tea plantations in southern Malawi offer something quite different and it is possible to visit a working plantation to gain an insight to this industry. The scenery is beautiful and the birding superb.