Trips & Things to do

Zomba city tour

Meet Zomba in an interactive way with a Malawian guide. Depending on your wishes and needs, our guide can show you town; from the historical buildings with the botanical gardens to the prison, the KAR memorial and the market. You discuss with the guide what you want to see and do, and together you walk around town.

Costs: 9.000 MWK first person; + 1,000 per person for extra people

Zomba plateau trip

One thing not to miss in Zomba, is taking a walk on the plateau! Paka works with an experienced guide. Together with him you discover the 2085 meter high mountain. He can tell you a lot about the flora & fauna, and knows all the nice hidden spots.


Isaac offers different trips:

Waterfalls (1,5 to 3 hours)

Queen’s & Emperor’s view & waterfalls (approx 3-4 hours)

Highest peak & Chingwe’s Hole & Waterfalls & potato path (4-6 hours)

Highest peak & Chingwe’s Hole & Potato village (potato path) & Waterfalls (8 hours)

And anything in between!

Prices start from MWK 6,000 for 1 person for the shortest walk; plus 1,000 per person for extra people.

A whole day costs MWK 16,000 for 1 person; plus 1,000 per person for extra people.


Taxi to Kucha We (starting point for many hikes): MWK 6,000 one-way for up to 4 people

Packed lunch MWK 5,000 per person (incl. 2 x water, sandwich, crisps/biscuits, and fruit)

Chilema tree & Chikala Pillars

Somewhere around Malosa, you will find the Chilema tree. A famous tree of its size and stories. Together with our guide, you will discover this deep part of the jungle, get to the three. Afterwards, you bring a visit to the special sand sculptures, Chikala Pillars. There are mysterious stories about whether they were made by humans or by nature.

1 person 20.000 MWK

Plus 5,000 per person for extra people.

The price includes entrance for Chikala Pillars (K 3,000 pp) and Chilema Tree (K 1,000 pp)


Transport (4WD needed!)  MWK 30,000 for up to 4 people

Lunch MWK 5,000 (2 x water, sandwich, crisps/biscuits, and fruit)

Ntonya Mountain (Vulcanic crater)

Approximately 20 minute drive from Zomba, you find Ntonya Mountain. Ntonya (which means ‘uneducated’) is the name of the village of Ntonya Mountain. Many Islamic people moved to Malawi and established a new village on top of the Volcanic crater. Inside the (non active) crater, you’ll find very fertile land and many crops and plants grow here. We will walk around the crater and the guide will tell you about the environment and history of this village. 5 hours.


1 person 13.000 MWK

Plus 1,000 per person for extra people



Transport MWK 10,000 return for up to 4 people

Lunch MWK 5,000 (2 x water, sandwich, crisps/biscuits, and fruit)

Lake Chilwa Boat trip & walk island

Take a boat trip to Chisi island in lake Chilwa. You will sail in a manual boat, and the guide uses a long bamboo stick to take you to the other side. On the island, you walk through the village, the school and the other side of the island, where a lot of different types of birds can be spotted. For example flamingos, egrets & hammerkops. If you’re lucky, you even find a hippo or a crocodile!


1 person 24,000 MWK incl. local village tour, boat & lunch

plus 3,000 per person for extra people (incl. village tour & lunch)


Transport MWK 30,000 return for up to 4 people.

Packed lunch: MWK 5,000 (2 x water, sandwich, crisps/biscuits, and fruit)

Overview: Trips with Isaac (pdf download)
Other things to do in Zomba (download Zomba map)

Except for hiking the plateau, you can do other things in Zomba. For example

  • Horse riding on the plateau
  • Learn to play golf for only K5,000!!!
  • Have cake & coffee at Maipai near the university. Nice garden and great cakes!!
  • Rent an Africycle and bike up the mountain. Either cycle up or use a motorbike to take the bike up
  • Have an early dinner and enjoy the views at Casa Rossa. Great Italian food (mainly pastas, no pizza)
  • Walk towards the immigration office and the parliament building, the oldest hotel in the country (former governer’s house built in 1886) and stroll through the botanical gardens (K 300 pp)
  • Play golf, tennis or squash at the Gymkhana Club and have a ice coffee afterwards
  • Go dancing in Vogue or see a live concert in Matawale (nightlife)
  • Visit the market, our DAPP store (cheap 2nd hand clothes) or just walk around town
  • Ask someone at Pakachere to arrange a visit to a school or development project (taxi MWK 7,000 and most projects ask for a small donation)

We are exploring possibilities for rock climbing and bouldering, mountain bike trips, overnight camping trips and much more! Soon the Malawi Defense Museum will open its doors in town (work in progress).

Download the Paka Map of Zomba

Day trips from Zomba

Ask for our day-trips. We organise transport for you to leave after breakfast and you will be home before it gets dark. If you want, we can add a packed lunch.

  • Thutchila pools; cool down in cold pools with gorgeous views at the foot of Mulanje (1.5hrs drive; $55 pp)
  • Liwonde National Park; see hippos and hopefully also elephant and other wildlife at Liwonde. (1,5hrs drive, incl. boat safari, driving safari & lunch; $145 pp)
  • Tea Estates; stroll around the tea estate, have high tea (needs to be booked in advance) or lunch in these beautiful surroundings (2hrs drive; $75 pp)
  • Kungoni Cultural & Arts Centre; learn about Malawian tribes and culture, gule wamkule and art work made on site. (3hrs drive; 95 pp)
  • And we have much more on offer: Lake Chilwa & Chilema Tree (2hrs drive + boat; $55), Chikala Pillars (2hrs drive; $48 pp) etc.


Download the pdf for more information

Best day trips 2019

Workshops & Travel tips

Painting workshop

Painting workshops can be organised upon request in the Pakachere garden. Together with local artist Blessings Sabiti, you will learn how to paint in African style. He will instruct you and guide you through the process of making a very nice piece of African art. And of course you can take your result home!

Groups: 2 – 25 people

Time: 2,5 hours, by arrangement (please book at least 48hrs in advance)

10.000 MWK per person (for big groups we can negotiate a different price – please contact Linda)

Chichewa lesson

Want to learn a bit Chichewa? Our Chichewa teacher will teach you the basics!


Groups: 5 – 20 people

Time: 1,5 hours, by arrangement


4.000 MWK per person

Cooking class

Together with one of our cooks, you learn how to make a traditional Malawian dish, Nsima with relish!


Groups: 5 – 14 people

Time: 2 hours, by arrangement


5.000 MWK per person

Workshop traditional dancing

Have you experienced traditional Malawian dances yet? This is a nice and interactive way of getting to know the moves, and learn the dance yourself! Guaranteed fun!


Groups: 8 – 40 people

Time: 2,5 hours, by arrangement (please book at least 48hrs in advance)


5.000 MWK per person (for big groups we can negotiate a different price – please contact Linda)

Trips & tips Southern Malawi

Explore Southern Malawi with Pakachere

Do you want to explore other places in Southern Malawi without having to worry about organising your trip? Pakachere will take care of it. The only thing you need to do is tell us where you want to go and when. We’ll book it for you!

Because some people want to spend more money than others, we have made different packages for you to choose from. There is a budget option and one with more comfort. Feel free to discuss this with us if you want certain things to be arranged in another way. Whatever is included is mentioned. If it is not mentioned, it is not included. Of course you can get it cheaper if you organise it yourself. All options are priced for 2 people traveling.


Cape Maclear

A place to enjoy and relax after all your volunteering and/or traveling.  Situated at the southern side of Lake Malawi, this lakeside has a lot to offer. There are lodges, restaurants, bars and lots of lake activities to choose from.

Places we recommend (depending on your wishes and needs) are

Mgoza Lodge: nice garden to relax, great rooms with big beds and the food is fantastic

Warm Heart: gorgeous chalets with shared facilities on the beach

Thumbi View: beautiful clean rooms incl. breakfast with lovely hosts

Funky Cichlid: if you like to party!

Malambe: cheapest pace in town!

Pakachere can organise your stay in Cape Maclear from $110* (dorm/budget) or 200* U$ for a private room for 2 nights with a minimum of 2 people traveling. This includes transport from and to Zomba.

Liwonde National Park


Ancient baobab trees and lofty borassus palms provide the backdrop for this magnificent southern Malawi reserve. With its fertile floodplains, dense woodlands and lagoons sustaining over 400 species of birds, 500 elephants and an abundance of game, this vibrant landscape contains a rich diversity of plant and animal life. During this trip you stay at Kutchire Lodge (budget) or Liwonde Safari Camp (comfort). If you want to stay somewhere where it is likely you meet other travelers, we recommend Liwonde Safari Camp or Bushman’s Baobabs. All three are nice, comfortable and safe places to be.

  • 2 nights in a dorm bed
  • Transport there and back to Zomba
  • 2x breakfast, 2x lunch, 2x dinner (drinks not included)
  • Game drive and boat safari on the same day
  • Park entrance for 1 day

220* U$ per person (minimum 2 people traveling; including transport from and to Zomba)

For a comfort package with a nice luxury tent you pay 280* U$ per person

Mulanje Mountain

There are many ways to discover this beautiful mountain in the south of Malawi. You can do a day trip with 2-hrs hike to the waterfall, do a light hike and sleep at the foot of the mountain for 2 nights, or you do a bigger hike with an overnight stay at the Lichenya plateau.

When choosing the light hike, you stay at Likhubula Hiker’s Nest for 2 nights. After your night there, you get to explore the mountain by hiking up to the waterfalls with a guide. There you can swim and relax. Remember to organise lunch in advance; take your own or ask us to prepare a picnic! After going down, you spend another night in the same lodge. The next morning you walk through the tea fields towards town where you will be picked up.

Day trip

  • transport there and back to Zomba
  • guide for a day
  • picnic

$115 per person (minimum 2 people traveling; transport from and to Zomba included)

Light hike

  • 2 nights in a dorm bed in Likhubula
  • Transport there and back to Zomba
  • 2x breakfast, 2x dinner, (drinks not included) and picnic
  • Guide

195* U$ per person (minimum 2 people traveling; transport from and to Zomba included)

250* U$ if you want to sleep in a double or twin private room.

Big hike

When choosing the big hike, you only stay at the lodge for 1 night. The next morning you leave with a guide and go all the way up to the Lichenya plateau. There you stay for 1 night. Remember to take your own food for lunch, dinner and breakfast on the mountain. There are cooking materials in the basic CCAP hut. Don’t worry about your backpack, a porter (1 porter for 2 people) will join you up the mountain to carry your stuff.  The next morning you go down again and meet the taxi in town.

  • 1 night in a dorm bed at Likhubula Hiker’s Nest
  • 1x breakfast, 1x dinner at Likhubula (drinks not included)
  • 1 night in the CCAP hut on the plateau (food included)
  • Guide for 2 days
  • 1 porter for 2 people for 2 days
  • Fees for Mulanje forestry

195* U$ per person (minimum 2 people traveling; transport from and to Zomba included)

250* U$ if if you want to sleep in a double or twin private room.

Satemwa tea estate – Thyolo

You love tea and want to take a step back into time? Then you should visit the Satemwa tea estate in Thyolo. The taxi will bring you to Huntingdon House. Originally the family home built by Maclean Kay in the early 30s, Huntingdon House exudes a colonial charm and unique character that cannot be recreated. This magnificent house is surrounded by sprawling manicured gardens with secret patios and terraces waiting to be discovered.​ Upon arrival you can take a walk around and explore the garden or estate (guided walks are also possible) or just sit down, relax and play croquet. You can either enjoy a two-course lunch or an English afternoon tea with scones, sandwiches and cake. After you are satisfied, the taxi will take you back to Zomba.


  • Transport there and back to Zomba
  • Two-course lunch OR afternoon tea (drinks during lunch not included) For high tea we recommend to book in advance to avoid disappointment.

75* U$ per person (minimum of 2 people traveling)

MUA Mission and The Arthouse, Balaka

MUA Mission/Kungoni Centre is Africa’s leading Cultural Museum and Artistic Centre. It is 3 hours from Zomba and the museum is worth a visit. It has a lot of information about different tribes, Gule Wamkulu (big dance), and the history of Malawi. Add the Art Gallery and the fantastic shop with a lot of woodwork, and you can easily spend all day here. If you want, you can stay at Namalikhate Lodge on site. Rooms are nice and clean, the food is simple but tasty, and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

After a night in Namalikhate Lodge, you can have lunch in the tranquil garden of The Arthouse in Balaka – halfway between Mua and Zomba. Fantastic and affordable Italian food with a shop where you can buy beautiful locally handmade clothes and quilts – very different than the usual chitenje fabrics.

  • Transport there and back to Zomba
  • 1 night in a room (Namalikhate Lodge)
  • 1x dinner (Mua; drinks not included), 1x breakfast (Mua)
  • Museum & Art Gallery entrance for 1 day (Mua)
  • Lunch at The Arthouse not included

140* U$ per person (minimum 2 people traveling; including transport from and to Zomba)

For a day trip (Mua Mission only, departure 7AM) 95* U$ per person

* these prices are guide prices and were correct in May 2019; prices might fluctuate.

Please contact Linda for more information and up-to-date prices.

Click for an overview in pdf (updated May 2019) Explore Southern Malawi with Paka

Explore the north

Paka tips for the north

We live in the south but we love the north as well. Jeroen & Annelies lived in Nkhata Bay for 3 months in 2015, and in 2017 we looked after Zulunkhuni River Lodge in Ruarwe for 6 months, one of the most remote but also one of the most beautiful lodges in the country. Below you find some of our personal recommendations. If you want help with bookings or more information, please contact Linda on 088 285 8089 or via email. We charge a small percentage for the service, based on your requirements. Most lodges have a website; please book direct with the owners and avoid booking sites.


How to get to the north

By car, taxi or minibus you can either take the Lakeshore Road (M5 via Salima, Nkhotakota, Chintheche, Nkhata Bay) or the M1 via Lilongwe, Kasungu and Mzuzu. Distance and time doesn’t make much difference; it depends on the condition of the rod and what you want to do and see along the way. Both routes are nice with relatively good roads and stunning views.



Petrol costs 825 kwachas per litre. Make sure you bring enough kwachas, as petrol stations do only accept kwachas and don’t accept cards. There are not many cashpoints (ATMs/PIN) along the way, only in the bigger towns (see below), so be prepared. You need to have a valid COF (like MOT/APK), insurance (both with stickers on the front window), 2 triangles and a spare tire. Watch out for potholes, goats, children crossing the road and speed cameras, especially in villages where many you are allowed to drive 50 km/hr max (which is fast enough to avoid crossing children and goats).



If you want to take a coach, you can also choose the Lakeshore Road (M5) but executive coaches like AXA or the Sososo bus go from Blantyre via Lilongwe to Mzuzu. For most coaches you can book a seat in advance.; we can help you with booking a seat at the Sososo bus.



It is quite far.. Zomba to Nkhata Bay is 550 kilometer and will take approx 8 hours by car. By minibus it can take anything between 7 and 17 hours. Pakachere offers transfers to the north. We can arrange transport for you starting at $300 for a single trip to Nkhata Bay (for up to 3 people).

Zomba to
Blantyre 68 km
Monkey Bay 190 km
Cape Maclear 200 km
Salima 270 km
Lilongwe 290 km
Nkhata Bay 550 km
Mzuzu 600 km
Livingstonia 800 km



The Ilala is a great way of traveling. It is a nice ship with a bar with cold drinks on the upper deck (1st class), a restaurant with good & affordable food, they have toilets (but no toilet tissue, so bring your own), showers and even berths for guests in cabins if you want to have a comfortable bed overnight. Tickets can be bought on board; only if you want a cabin we recommend you book in advance. A bed from Monkey Bay to Ruarwe is approx K 37,000 per person. It is worth booking a bed and it is also worth to take a 1st class ticket cos you can camp on the top deck.



There are not many ATMs in Malawi and most places (like petrol stations) do not accept credit cards. Touristy places Nkhata Bay or Cape Maclear/Monkey Bay do NOT have an ATM for example. Most lodges accept dollars and euros, but you should always have enough kwachas to buy fuel, food or tickets for transport. You can get money out in the bigger cities along the way in Zomba, Blantyre, Lilongwe, Salima, Mangochi, and Mzuzu.

From Zomba to Livingstonia

M5 – Lakeshore

Mua Mission; for a quick visit to the museum and the best curio shop in the country with amazing woodwork. They also have accommodation and the museum teaches you a lot about Malawian culture.

Salima/Senga Bay; if you want to spend the night, you can stay at Cool Runnings in Senga Bay or Safari Beach Lodge. Sam is an amazing woman and the community work she does is impressive.

Nkhotakota; the national park with the biggest elephant relocation programme in the world. Bua River Lodge is the place to stay; Steve and Donna will make everybody feel welcome and the food is fantastic.


A little d-tour takes you to the only ‘rain forest’ in Malawi; Ntchisi mountain is in the clouds, making it an evergreen forest. Nice hiking trails, stunning views and fantastic food can be found in Ntchisi Forest Lodge.

Kachere Kastle; the best food in the country at the most amazing location – yes, it is a real castle on the shores of Lake Malawi! Give them a call if you want to stop for lunch or stay the night in a gorgeous room or at the campsite. Again, the food is fantastic and they cater for all diets (vegetarian, gluten free, etc.). We love the kastle!

Kande; Kande has Kande Horse with beautiful accommodation and horse riding activities. On the beachside you find Kande Beach, a big party place for overlanders

Chinteche; Makuzi Beach Lodge is situated in a stunning bay. Their chalets are lovely, camping is affordable and the food is good. Chinteche Inn also has space to camp. The rooms and the restaurant are very good.

Nkhata Bay; see below

M1 – via Lilongwe

Dedza; have lunch and visit the shop at Dedza Pottery

Lilongwe; spend a night at Mabuya Camp or visit Lilongwe Wildlife Trust who do great work in conservation in Malawi

Kasungu; watch elephants and other wildlife at Kasungu National Park

Mzuzu; have Italian food at Macondo where you can also spend the night; for a more backpackers vibe and great Korean food, stay at Joy’s Place behind Shoprite. You can have a nice Mzuzu coffee in the Coffee Den, just a short walk from the Standard Bank (ATM). This is the closest ATM to Nkhata Bay that works for most bank cards.

Chitimba; have lunch, park your car to take local transport up to Livingstonia or spend the night at the big Chitimba Camp on a beautiful beach where overlanders stop

Livingstonia; Livingstonia is a town with history and close to the highest waterfalls in the country. Stay at Lukwe Gardens to enjoy a real eco-lodge with stunning views and beautiful huts in a peaceful environment, or at Mushroom Farm for a more backpacker’s vibe and lovely (big!) meals.

Vwaza Marshes; one our favourite parks. Simple accommodation and you have to bring your own food (also your own oil, salt, spices, condiments, etc.) but it is an amazing place to see hippos, lots of other wildlife and elephants if you are lucky

Nyika; we haven’t been here yet, but it is on top of our wish list. Apparently you need a 4-wheel drive and it is recommended not to drive up there in the rainy season. From Nyika you can hike or drive to Livingstonia.

Via Monkey Bay and the islands on the Ilala

Liwonde; make a stop for a 2-hours boat safari on your way north ($25 + $20 park entrance per person). The boats leave from Liwonde Safari Lodge at 10Am and 2PM. You will see birds, hippos and crocodiles, and if you are lucky also elephants and lots of antelopes. Good places to stay are Kutchire Lodge (Malawian run and cheapest option; very nice people, good food and friendly staff); Liwonde Safari Camp and Bushman Baobab.

Mangochi; not much to do here, but they have a cash point (ATM/PIN) – important, because Monkey Bay, Cape Maclear and Nkhata Bay do not have cash points.

Cape Maclear; when you pass the Monkey Bay roadblock, you can take a left turn onto a dirt road for 18km (easily accessible, also in a saloon car. Only in rainy season you might want a 4WD) to the beautiful beaches of Cape Maclear. Follow the signs (do not trust Google maps). For info on Cape Maclear and how to get there, please check the section about the south! There are many nice lodges there for every budget and all needs: we like Thumbi View & Mgoza best, but also recommend Warm Heart (best hostess), Funky Cichlid (party place) and Malambe (cheapest).

Monkey Bay; this is where you get the Ilala north on Friday morning. Mufasa Eco-Lodge is just opposite the port and a nice budget option to spend the night.

The islands; the Ilala stops at Likoma, a beautiful island with nice beaches. You can stay at Ulisa or at Mango Drift. Chizimulu is also a gorgeous island to visit.

Nkhata Bay; a traveler’s hotspot in the north where you find beach boys and curio shops. Great to spend a couple of days at Butterfly Space or Mayoka Village; Butterfly has an amazing community outreach programme, a great deck for sundowners and the rooms are affordable but need some TLC, while Mayoka is more a relaxing tourist spot. You can dive at Aqua Africa, have a drink at Njaya and/or dance with the locals on Chikale beach.

The road less traveled

The Ilala goes further north from Nkhata Bay and can take you to Usisya and Ruarwe, or to Livingstonia via Mlowe or Chilumba. The remote lodges are worth a visit if you have time!

Usisya Beach Lodge; situated on a private beach, this eco-lodge serves fantastic (vegetarian) food, has the most beautiful chalets and nice hammocks and sun loungers to enjoy the view. Say hi to Dani when you are there!

Zulunkhuni River Lodge in Ruarwe; situated next to a river with waterfalls, this stunning lodge has no electricity, no telephone reception and no internet. It does have amazing views, is great for hiking and snorkeling, and the best place to get away from everything. You can hike to Usisya Beach Lodge from Ruarwe; a 6 hours walk along the coastline. Take the Ilala from Nkhata Bay on Sunday morning (5AM departure – buy your ticket on board for 3,000-6,000 kwacha only) or take a local boat on Wednesday or Saturday. You can get back by boat (Monday, Thursday or Friday), on foot via Usisya (6 hrs hike) or travel further north to visit Livingstonia, see the Malawisaurus in Karonga or travel to Tanzania. Bookings and info, Blessings tel. 099 907 1914

Livingstonia: see above

Paka's travel guide for Malawi

Our Paka travel guide

We wrote a very personal travel guide we are happy to share with you!

Read our extensive travel guide with tips & recommendations