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Romance in the Warm Heart of Africa

Malawi might not be at the top of your list when thinking of romantic holidays, weddings or honeymoons, but it should be! The Warm Heart of Africa is a hidden gem for all things romance. Full of secret, stunning, special and best of all, uncrowded, places. Golden beaches, excellent wildlife reserves, and friendly, welcoming people. You can be on a game drive, deep in the bush one day, and on an exclusive island paradise, sipping cocktails the next. Privacy, peace and amazing landscapes – I can’t think of a more perfect recipe for a romantic escape.

Kumbali Country Lodge, Lilongwe

This relaxed and stylish boutique lodge is much more than just another Lilongwe hotel. A 1,600-acre forest reserve and working farm, Kumbali Country Lodge is about 15 minutes drive from the city centre. With spacious, comfortable rooms and wholesome, home-grown food, you’ll forget you’re in the capital city. Explore the naturally forested estate, take a dip in the pool, enjoy a nature and bird walk, explore the banana plantation, or relax and enjoy a spa treatment or some home-roasted coffee. A new function facility in the spacious grounds could make for a perfect wedding venue, and the delightful sunken garden area is a special spot for a private function.

Mvuu Lodge, Liwonde National Park

Mvuu Lodge in Liwonde National Park, about 100 miles from Blantyre, is the perfect place for a secluded safari and a popular choice for honeymooners. With the reintroduction of lions, leopards and cheetahs the park has become a perfect destination to see wildlife on land, on foot or by boat!

The 14 rooms at Mvuu Lodge are a mix of spacious stone and canvas chalets, and specially designed family tents, with private viewing decks and plunge pools that offer overlook the floodplain and the river. An impressive thatched dining and lounge area offers magnificent river views, framed by a pair of large baobab trees. Dining under the stars is a speciality here, or perhaps a bush breakfast to surprise your loved one?

Kuthengo Camp, Liwonde National Park

On a large open plain, stretching towards the Shire River in Liwonde National Park, you’ll find Kuthengo Camp, nestled among fever trees and baobabs. From adventurous game drives and walking safaris to tranquil boat cruises there’s something for everyone here. Four spacious and modern safari tents, all ensuite and with outdoor showers for a touch of romance.

Tongole Wilderness Retreat, Nkhotakota Reserve

Tongole Wilderness Retreat is a beautiful lodge and the only high-end lodge in Nkhotakota Reserve. With views over the beautiful Bua River and deep into the forest, Tongole offers luxury in the heart of the wilderness. Wildlife and birdwatching, walking, canoeing, fly fishing, cultural experiences, there’s a lot to do, or you can do nothing at all and just relax and take it all in. And for that extra romantic touch, how about a romantic candlelight dinner on the deck followed by a bath for two in your room’s giant bathtub?

Mkulumadzi Lodge, Majete Wildlife Reserve

Majete Wildlife Reserve is one of the most outstanding success stories of African wildlife conservation – after decades of poaching hard work has turned the reserve into a wonderful wildlife area and a Big 5 destination (if you count wild dogs and cheetah, you can call it a Big 7 destination). Located on the banks of the Shire River in Majete is Mkulumadzi Lodge. Eight lovely chalets, ideal for couples seeking seclusion from the hustle and bustle of city life. The lodge offers daily game drives, as well as walking and boating safaris. Guests looking for a more relaxed stay can sip sundowners on the viewing deck whilst enjoying the magic of the wildlife coming down to drink at the waterhole.

Kaya Mawa, Likoma Island

Discover your own piece of paradise on Lake Malawi. Stunning views, relaxation, indulgence, beautiful blue water and some of the best freshwater snorkelling and scuba diving in the world. With private beaches, tucked into the boulders of a secluded bay, romantic beach dinners, secluded lakeside chalets with private lounges and outdoor showers, Kaya Mawa, is one of the most beautiful lodges in Malawi and one of the most romantic places in the world! Kaya Mawa offers everything you could want for a relaxing and romantic retreat, and with their special honeymoon house, you’ll feel like the only couple in the world!

Blue Zebra Island Lodge, Nankoma Island

Blue Zebra is the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation in a tranquil setting. Enjoy dips in the infinity pool, sip a cocktail, or stroll around the island and see the resident birds, bushbuck and bushbabies. Spend your afternoon exploring in a wooden fishing dhow and watch the local fisherman setting sail. Embark on a couple’s snorkelling adventure and witness the magic of the colourful 500 species of cichlids. Learn how to windsurf or enjoy the tranquil waters of Lake Malawi on a paddle ski. For the ultimate romantic gesture take a private sunset cruise and a beach dinner.

The Makokola Retreat, Mangochi

Brilliantly green gardens, spacious beach villas and rooms perched along the southern shores of Lake Malawi, The Makokola Retreat is a tropical haven with a relaxed pace – the perfect place for a wedding, honeymoon or romantic getaway – and weddings are their speciality. Makokola can arrange your entire special day – so contact their wedding specialist in advance, to help plan every detail!

Huntingdon House, Satemwa Tea Estate, Thyolo

Romance? Endless views of tea plantations? Go to Thyolo and stay in the wonderful Huntingdon House, one of the oldest buildings in Malawi. This place offers the charm of days gone by while giving you peace and tranquillity to enjoy some special time with your beloved! Spend a relaxing afternoon sampling all the teas and cakes, or try the tea-infused cocktails for a date with a difference. You can also ask for a romantic candlelit dinner in the garden.

For a touch more romance…

For the perfect way to relax and find your zen, Norah Nikkie is an internationally qualified massage therapist with years of experience. Based in Cape Maclear, she is fully mobile and available to work at resorts and lodges further afield if you want to plan some days of pampering to tie in with a wedding or other special function.

Chocolate is the food of love. To add a little sweetness to your romantic Malawi holiday check out Kwanza Cocoa’s range of Malawian craft chocolates, infused with Chilli, Coffee, Mangoes, Baobab and more. Kwanza can make special orders should you want to add this delicious taste of Malawi to your celebrations.

Crafted Africa, World Travel Award winner of best Malawi Tour Operator for the last three years, has put together a couple of itineraries to help you maximise your romantic adventure in Malawi. If you want some more ideas for some special romantic moments, get in touch and they will help you plan the perfect itinerary!

For two on a honeymoon, here’s the perfect trip…

7 Nights Honeymoon Package

Day 1: Fly into Lilongwe International Airport

Day 1-2: Kumbali Country Lodge, Lilongwe

Day 2: Guided road transfer to Liwonde NP

Day 2-5: Accommodation at Kuthengo Camp, Liwonde NP

Day 5: Guided transfers to Lilongwe International Airport with a connecting flight to Likoma Island

Day 5-8: Accommodation at Kaya Mawa Lodge, Likoma Island

Day 8: Fly from Likoma to Lilongwe International Airport with a connecting flight home

If friends and family have joined the trip, how about a ‘familymoon’…

7 Nights Familymoon Package

Day 1: Fly into Lilongwe International Airport

Day 1-2: Kumbali Country Lodge, Lilongwe

Day 2: Guided road transfer to Satemwa Tea Estate

Day 2-4: Accommodation at Huntingdon House, Satemwa Tea Estate

Day 4: Guided transfers to Liwonde NP

Day 4-6: Accommodation at Mvuu Lodge, Liwonde NP

Day 6: Guided transfers Senga Bay with a connecting 20 minutes boat to Nankoma Island

Day 5-8: Accommodation at Blue Zebra Island Lodge, Nankoma Island

Day 8: 20 Minutes boat to Senga Bay and guided road transfer to Lilongwe International Airport with a connecting flight home

For an unconventional wedding or honeymoon destination, or perhaps a proposal vacation, Malawi offers some of the most romantic locations imaginable – the Warm Heart of Africa really is the land of love!

Sarah Kingdom

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, before moving to Africa at the age of 21, Sarah Kingdom is a mountain climber and guide, travel writer, yoga teacher, trail runner, and mother of two. When she is not climbing or traveling she lives on a cattle ranch in central Zambia. She guides trips regularly in India, Nepal, Tibet, Russia, and Ethiopia, and takes climbers up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro numerous times a year.

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    1. Hi Jodie,

      Malawi is definitely a romantic destination. It’s a country with so much going for it, but still relatively unknown. I’d definitely recommend it!


  1. Usually I enjoy my catch-up with A Luxury Travel Blog on the commute into work.

    Sometimes though a post can be too beautiful. When I saw these lodges and retreats all I wanted to do was get on a plane to Africa.

    1. Hi Zoe,

      Definitely get on that plane and come out for a visit! Malawi has so much going for it as a destination, and what’s actually really nice about it is that it’s still relatively unknown, so you never have crowds.


  2. As a safari survivor my advice is to take heed of how far it is from the airport to your lodge. I probably don’t need to remind anyone that flying can be tiring.

    On our first safari, which was our honeymoon, we were very naive and headed off straight from the airport. Nearly 4 hours later we were shattered.

    These are such great places that you want to be fresh to appreciate them.

    1. Hi Steven,

      You are right. Going on safari can be pretty tiring anywhere, with all the early starts for game drives etc, so arriving fresh is definitely a good idea. If heading to Malawi it’s always a good idea to stop for a night on arrival in either Lilongwe or Blantyre.


  3. The views from the bedrooms in some of these lodges are unbelievable. I’ve never done a safari and in fact I’ve never even been to Africa.

    Looking at these pictures I’m very aware that there’s a huge gap in my travels. Waking up to one of these views must be an incredible experience.

    1. Hi Neil,

      I think it’s time to add Southern Africa to your travel list! There’s something so special about it. I came here 30 years ago and feel in love with the views, the people, the lifestyle, the experiences… and never really left!


  4. The decor in these African lodges is always so stylish. I know that they’ve got some natural advantages with great light and awesome views. Then after that they do such a great job with the contrasting textures and the retro touches. As ever all of these lodges look absolutely perfect.

    1. Hi Sue,

      I agree. There’s something so appealing about safari style. I’ve spent a lot of time on safari, and picked up so many decor tips and ideas along the way that I’ve tried to incorporate into my own home. Lucky I like out here, because I don’t think it would work if I had a home in the UK or USA!


  5. Someone I work with went to Likoma Island a few years ago. She’s been on other holidays since but it’s still Likoma that she talks about most.

    The true test of how much you love a place is your screensaver and she’s still got Likoma as her screensaver. It’s a great advert for the island.

    1. Hi Graham,

      There is indeed something super special about Likomo Island and especially Kaya Mawa Lodge. It’s one of the most beautiful places you can ever visit.


  6. Nice idea it may be but we’re not in favour of a “family moon”. Whilst we’re saving up for our own flat we’ve now both gone back to our parents for 14months to avoid shelling out big bucks on London rents.

    We like the idea of a Malawi safari but not the idea of sharing it with our parents. As it is they’ve spent too much time with us over the last year – and may be even the last 3 decades!!!!

    1. Based on my experience I think most couples will feel that they’ve spent too long with parents and family in the planning and run up to the wedding. Once the big day is over it’s probably best to put some distance between yourself and the family with a fabulous honeymoon on safari.

    2. Hi Jack,

      I can definitely see your point! When it comes to ‘destination weddings’ though sometimes a bunch of family and friends have come along, so you need to find something for them to do, hence the family moon idea. Alternatively maybe elope 😊. I definitely know what you mean about saving money.

      The upside of Malawi is that it’s super affordable and you can combine safari and beach in the same holiday.


  7. When I read Sarah’s potted biography I was reminded of the book “How does she do it?” Are there enough hours in the day to pack in all of that?

    Just reading about everything that Sarah does made me feel quite inadequate.

    1. My thoughts exactly! When you read about someone leading a busy life like that it makes me feel completely inadequate. Having read your comment I don’t feel quite as bad. Though on the other hand I need a holiday in Malawi to escape from all the stresses of my life as it is.

    2. Hi Kate,

      That’s very kind of you to say! But I don’t do everything simultaneously 😁. I’m just lucky to have been able to shape my life the way I want it over the years, and to make the opportunities to follow my dreams.


  8. I’m leaving this post open on my laptop until my boyfriend takes the hint. We’ve lived together for over 3 years and his romantic gestures are getting less and less frequent. It wouldn’t have to be a honeymoon but I could do with a romantic trip to Africa. I’d settle for a safari.

    1. Hi Abbie,

      I hope he gets the hint soon! Malawi is a fantastic destination and actually super affordable, so you can have a dream holiday without breaking the bank.


  9. This is the first time that I have visited the new look A Luxury Travel Blog and it really is a big improvement. When you’ve got a post like this which is full of great images it really does look spectacular.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I agree about the new site, it’s looking super. And hopefully those Malawi photos will give you the inspiration you need to come for a visit.


  10. You should certainly count wild dogs in a Big Seven. I sometimes think they’re even more elusive than cheetahs.

    On the last day of my last safari after we’d ticked off the Big Five – quite easily as a rhino had turned up to the lodge’s waterhole just as we were having breakfast – our tracker and guide asked us what we wanted to see. As none of the 4 of us in our vehicle had ever seen a wild dog we said we wanted to go on a wild dog search.

    Three hours later we still hadn’t seen a solitary wild dog. They definitely count as Big Seven!

  11. Admittedly we went to South Africa and not Malawi for our honeymoon and it was an amazing and unforgettable romantic experience. Comparing notes and photos with a friend who’d been to Malawi for her honeymoon they looked to be very similar experiences though I think hers probably provided much better value for money!

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