Malawi Geography

Geography in Malawi

Malawi borders Tanzania to the north and northeast, Mozambique to the east, south and southwest, and Zambia to the north and northwest. Malawi’s 118,480 km² land area is located in the area of the East African rift valley system and is made up of plateaus, isolated island mountains, extensive plains and Lake Malawi, the third largest lake with a water surface of approx. 29,600 km², 570 kilometers in length and a width of up to 80 kilometers Africa, definitely. The eastern shore of Lake Malawi also forms the border with Tanzania and Mozambique.

Although the northern region is generally more mountainous with peaks of up to 3000 m above sea level, the highest point in the country, the Sapitwa, is in the Mulanje massif, at 3002 m above sea level in the rather lower southern part.

The outflow of Lake Malawi, the Shire, which flows into the Zambezi in Mozambique, is the longest river in Malawi at 402 km.

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Flora and fauna in Malawi

Malawi’s land area is covered with 31% forest and scrubland and 15% with meadows and pastures. The vegetation is mainly determined by savannahs, open grasslands and sparse dry forests. Closed forests only occur on the wooded high plateaus and in mountainous areas. Acacias, cacti and grasses, among other things, but also palms and baobabs grow there. In the high areas you can even find coniferous forests. Due to extensive clearing in favor of new building areas and for wood extraction, the original forest cover was strongly pushed back and can only be found in the mountainous areas or individual high plateaus.

The diverse fauna of Malawi is characterized by the occurrence of crocodiles, elephants, antelopes, zebras, monkeys and leopards, snakes, monitor lizards and many species of birds. The abundance of exotic fish species such as cichlids, catfish and many other aquarium fish species is overwhelming in Lake Malawi.

Flora in Malawi

National parks and nature conservation

Liwonde National Park

The most popular wildlife park in all of Malawi has an area of approx. 580km². It borders the Malombe Lake, which is surrounded by river swamps, woodland and wide grasslands. Floodplains and grasslands in the south, mixed forests on the hills, tall grass and tree savannah along the alluvial forest of the streams and the occasional dry thicket of leaves characterize the landscape. In the park there are good opportunities to observe the diverse fauna of Malawi. Elephants, hippos and crocodiles frolic on the rivers. In the grass and tree savannas you can find kudu, sable antelopes, bushbucks, leopards and hyenas, and occasionally lions. The black rhinoceros were reintroduced in the park by the Frankfurt Zoological Society. Liwonde National Park is home to around 400 species of birds.

Majete Wildlife Reserve

Close to the town of Blantyre is the approximately 70,000 hectare Majete Wildlife Reserve. The varied landscape in this wildlife park ranges from primeval Miombo forests and massive Granti rocks to gentle river valleys and green floodplains. Since 2003, the large game population, which was severely decimated by poaching in the 80s and 90s, has been replenished. Today larger populations of black rhinos, elephants, buffalo, eland and kudu antelopes, waterbucks, cliff jumpers, impalas, hartebeests and zebras can be observed again. The Majete Wildlife Sanctuary is the only contiguous area in Malawi where the famous “Big 5” can be seen.

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

In the central interior of the country, on the shores of Lake Malawi, lies the largest and oldest wildlife sanctuary in Malawi. The protected area has largely unexplored wilderness over an area of 1,800km². The landscape is characterized by Miombo bushland, which is interrupted by open grass savannahs at various times. In addition, numerous watercourses pave their way through the fascinating landscape, form several beautiful waterfalls and end in Lake Malawi. The residents of the Nkotakota Wildlife Reserve include lions, elephants, buffalo and various species of antelope. Due to the dense vegetation and the impassable terrain, they can only be discovered with a lot of luck.

Nyika National Park

The Nyika National Park extends over an area of 3,200 km² in the hilly north of Malawi and is the largest national park in the country. Wide open plains, hilly grasslands and the “Nyika Plateau”, which rises up to 2,600 meters above sea level, form an untouched wilderness here. In Nyika National Park an extraordinary biodiversity of living things can be found. The mountain landscape is home to leopards, lions, jackals, hyenas and warthogs. The rare roan antelopes as well as zebras, sable antelopes and large herds of eland find a home here. Various wildflowers and other endemic plant species form a paradise for butterflies.

Climate in Malawi

Malawi has a subtropical climate with four different seasons and average temperatures between 19 ° C and 32 ° C from November to April and between 14 ° C and 24 ° C from May to October. It is coolest between May and mid-August and especially in July, followed by the hot season until November and then the wet rainy season with up to 100% humidity in the morning. The post-rain season begins in April and ends in May. In general, the climate in the higher mountains is cooler and more humid, while the lowlands around Lake Malawi are hot and humid. There is a significant precipitation gradient from the northern part of the country with around 2000 mm of precipitation per year to the southern parts of the country with a maximum of 1000 mm of precipitation per year.


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