Zomba is a city in the Shire Highlands of southern Malawi. It was the capital city of Malawi until 1974, when Lilongwe replaced it as the capital. The Parliament remained until 1994. The city is best known for its British colonial architecture and the dramatic Zomba Plateau, which provides many outdoor activities and beautiful vistas. Due to a cooler climate than most places in Malawi, Zomba is also much richer in plant resources, making it a specially green destination. Over 120 fruit plants grow there including several types of berries, which you can easily sample by the side of the road. Many fruits and vegetables are transported to other parts of Malawi.
Where to Stay
We have listed some accommodation places in this area. If these don't suit you, we are more than happy to create your custom tour with your priorities.
Sunbird Ku Chawe
Sunbird Ku Chawe is Malawi's premier mountain resort and one of the very best places from where to enjoy the splendor of this magnificently scenic country. The hotel sits on the edge of Zomba Plateau, which rises to nearly 2200m, (7000ft), with the highest peaks on the rim forming a saucer-shaped bowl. The resort is a 90-minute drive from Chileka International Airport in Blantyre.
Rooms are en suite, air-conditioned, have digital satellite television, international direct dialing, Wi-Fi internet, email facilities, and 220 volts power points (British standard).
You can enjoy breakfast in the room, at the bar, or in the restaurant. Mulunguzi restaurant offers the best of local and international cuisine on à la carte and buffet menus. Bastion’s Bar complements the restaurant with a well-selected wine list and readily available snacks. They also offer a variety of cocktails.
Zomba Forest Lodge
Zomba Forest Lodge has been a rest house for the past 30 years, but it is not just a lodge, it is a home. It is not just a business, it is a lifestyle. If you visit, you can expect to be treated as friends. The atmosphere is intimate, cosy, and friendly. Your two hosts will make sure that you have a great time.
The lodge has four lovely en-suite bedrooms, and like everything else in the house, they are small but perfectly formed. Each one is simple but stylish and tastefully decorated.
There are two double rooms, one twin room, and one room that can be either a double or a twin, so in total, they can sleep eight people. Any more than that, and it would feel a little crowded!
There is no electricity but don’t worry: you won’t be sitting around in the dark! The paraffin lamps, candles, and solar lanterns make for wonderfully atmospheric nights. The lovely evenings feel even cozier in the winter when you can sit by a roaring log fire.
To add to the atmosphere, two adorable, playful dogs will welcome any extra person (or two or three), adults and children alike, to play with them!
You will not leave empty-bellied either. Both owners love food and take it very seriously. Their guests have come to expect some of the best food in Malawi, and they aim to keep that up.
Kefi means the spirit of joy, good times, and passion for life. Owners Costa and Tania Scordis want guests and diners to experience just that.
Kefi Hotel is a serene escape only about an hour from Blantyre city. It is located in a forested area at the foot of Zomba Plateau, within walking distance from all sights and shopping areas in Zomba.
An old colonial house converted into a charming hotel, Kefi Hotel combines architectural heritage with contemporary design. The terrace offers unparalleled views of Zomba, and on a clear day, you can see as far as Mount Mulanje.
Guests can expect a unique and personalized accommodation experience. The rooms feature locally inspired décor and private porches where you can relax and take in the scenic vistas in a tranquil, lush and forested environment.
Kefi Café serves the very best Malawi produce, with various culinary options, from coffees, teas, wines and other drinks to freshly baked pastries, decadent desserts, and delicious breakfast and lunch menus. Enjoy a great atmosphere with pleasant and friendly servers.
Pakachere is the only backpacker's accommodation in Zomba. The rooms are basic but comfortable and clean. It's not a fancy hotel, but they offer a safe environment and go out of their way to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.
There are several accommodation options:
The private rooms have en-suite bathrooms with a shower and toilet. A family room sleeps four people with a double bed and a bunk bed, and there is a smaller room with a double bed.
For budget travelers, a basic 10-bed and two 4-bed dorms are available. All include mosquito nets, linen, and shared bathroom facilities. The 10-bed dorm has bunk beds and a bathroom attached to it; the 4-bed dorms have two single beds, better nets, and a fan.
You can also set up your own tent anywhere in the garden or rent a Paka tent with mattresses and linen.
During your stay, you can enjoy a drink in the relaxing garden, or a nice meal in the restaurant. Coffee, tea, cookies, and cake are available. The restaurant serves freshly prepared food and caters to most diets (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, etc.). It also serves nsima & relish for lovers of Malawian food.
Activities in the Area
Visit Zomba town: There is a lot to explore. Wander through the botanical gardens, visit the University of Malawi and learn about the city’s history at the KAR World War Memorial and old parliament buildings. There is also a lively market, where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, or watch the vendors and tailors go about their business.
The Zomba Plateau stretches some 130 km² behind the city. Mulumbe Peak, the highest point, reaches 2,087m above sea level. It is ideal for hiking, with a variety of trails ranging from 1 to 8 hours in duration.
A 6-hour hike, starting from Sunbird Ku Chawe, takes you to some of the most photogenic spots, including Mulumbe Peak, Chingwe’s hole and William’s Falls.
The Eastern Loop takes you to two other beautiful viewpoints called Queen’s View and Emperor’s View, passing by Mulunguzi Dam.
If you are after a challenging climb, you can hike up the Potato Path from just above Zomba to the top of the plateau, next to Kuchawe Inn. This path has been used for a long time to bring produce to the market in Zomba. It should take 1-2 hours.
Mountain Biking: If you want a more thrilling activity, you can dash down some of the many trails on a mountain bike. Bikes are available for hire at Pakachere.
Horse Riding: Zomba Plateau Stables are located on the plateau just opposite Mulunguzi dam.
They offer trail rides for one up to five hours a day. Depending on the length of your ride, they can take you across Mulunguzi dam, up to the waterfalls and viewpoints as well as Chingwe’s hole.
They have a great variety of horse breeds and can find the best-suited horse for all abilities. Beginners are welcome.
Malape pillars: Located at the foot of the Chikala Hills in Machinga district, the Malape Pillars are a 1-hour drive from Zomba. These mysterious sandstone pillars were created by erosion and gullying. Some people call them the “Malawian Canyon”. The entrance fee is MK2,000 per person.
Lake Chilwa: Lake Chilwa is Malawi’s second largest lake, but it is little visited. A 1-hour drive from Zoma, it offers some excellent bird-watching and unique places of cultural interest. There are inhabited islands on the lake, and stilted fishing villages during the dry season. You can travel to Chisi island in a traditional fishing boat.
Best time to Visit
The best time to visit Zomba is from April until September and November when there is little precipitation. Zomba reaches the highest average temperature in October and the lowest in July.