- 9 Best Things to Do in Zomba
- Feel the Nature of Zomba
- Visit Historical and Cultural Sites in Zomba
- Play Sports in Zomba
- Festivals in Zomba
- Find Out More about Zomba
9 Best Things to Do in Zomba
Zomba is a military and university town, located 65km north of Blantyre.
It was the first capital of Malawi and remained so until Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the first President, moved the capital to Lilongwe in 1974.
The city is best known for the Zomba Plateau which is an isolated igneous massif that rises to an altitude of 2,085m.
This article provides an overview of what to do and where to go in Zomba.
Feel the Nature of Zomba
The Zomba Plateau extends behind Zomba Town, which was also Malawi’s first capital until 1974, when the first president moved the capital to Lilongwe.
The plateau is a huge mountain of about 130 km², with its highest point, Malombe Peak, reaching 2,087 meters above sea level.
It is perfect for hiking, and the view of Zomba from the top of the mountain is so remarkable that it came to be known as “the best in the British Empire” during the colonial period.
Giant butterflies and baboons can also be seen on the plateau.
Many hikers use the Sunbird Ku Chawe Hotel as a starting point for their hikes, and the Zomba Plateau offers a wide range of beautiful scenery, including Malombe Peak, Chingwe’s Hole, William’s Falls and many more.
There are various locations where you may take in the beautiful and breathtaking vistas.
The Zomba Plateau is also home to many colourful and vibrant bird species.
Lake Chilwa is situated in eastern Zomba District and is the second largest lake in Malawi after Lake Malawi.
There is a large island in the middle of the lake called Chisi Island.
Within the last century the lake has dried and filled up eight times.
This is because Chilwa is a vast but very shallow sump with no outlet, so its size is almost totally dependent on recent run-off from Zomba and Mulanje.
Lake Chilwa was designated Malawi’s first Ramsar Site, Wetland of International Importance in 1997, and supports massive populations of important bird species including flamingos, pelicans and the localised black egret, while the baobabs on Chisi Island host the likes of trumpeter hornbill and various snake eagles.
To see all the waterbirds, it is best to take a boat with the help of a tour guide.
Chikala / Malape Pillars
Located at the skirts of the Chikala Hills in Machinga district and 80km from Zomba Town, Chikala Pillars are mysterious and beautiful sandstone pillars created by erosion and gullying.
It is also known as Malape Pillars by locals.
Some people call it ‘Malawian Canyon’ as it looks like the Grand Canyon of the United States.
Although the place is not as well-known as Mount Mulanje or Liwonde National parks, these amazing formations are worth a look.
An entrance fee of MK2,000 per person may be charged.
If you wish to reach the pillars by own means, 4×4 cars are highly recommended, especially during the rainy season.
National Herbarium & Botanic Gardens of Malawi
The National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens of Malawi (NHBG) is a place to sit on the lawn and read a book, chat with friends, birdwatch and observe wildlife in the beauty of nature.
As you stroll along the manicured paths, you will encounter a spectacular variety of plants, including exotic orchids, colourful tropical flowers and towering palm trees.
The garden showcases both endemic and exotic plants, giving visitors a glimpse of Malawi’s botanical richness.
It is a great place for those who want to spend time in the beauty of nature.
Visit Historical and Cultural Sites in Zomba
King African Rifles Monument (KAR)
The imposing red brick memorial in Zomba is dedicated to the soldiers who served with the King’s African Rifles in the First and Second World Wars.
In 1902, all British forces in East and Central Africa were combined and renamed the King’s African Rifles.
As you climb the steps leading up to the monument on a small hill, you can see the many heroic deeds of Malawians who served not only in Africa but all over the world.
The Park is surrounded by a quiet and peaceful atmosphere and is the perfect place to relax and enjoy yourself.
The Park is located just off the main road and free parking is available.
Old Parliament Building
Zomba was Malawi’s first capital until 1974, when the first president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, moved the capital to Lilongwe.
The Old Parliament Building, designed by Ross McKenzie, Van Heerden and Hartford and built by Messrs. Angelo Gouveia and Company was officially opened in 1957.
The building was used as Parliament until 1994, when parliamentary functions were moved to Lilongwe, and is now used temporarily as a part of Zomba High Court facility.
If you are in Zomba, why not visit this historic building?
University of Malawi (Chancellor Collage)
Zomba is also known as a university town and is home to Chancellor College.
Chancellor College, known as ‘Chanco’, is the largest college in Malawi.
In 2019, the other colleges were separated from the University of Malawi and Chancellor College became an independent university, adopting the name University of Malawi.
The college has five faculties: the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Education.
If you are in Zomba, why not visit Chanco, Malawi’s largest college?
Feel like a Chanco student as you stroll around the sprawling campus and dine in the cafeteria.
Play Sports in Zomba
Zomba Golf Club (Zomba Gymkhana Club)
Enjoy golf at the Zomba Golf Club at the foot of the Zomba Plateau.
Zomba Gymkhana Club is a British-style building built in 1923 and was the centre of social activities in Zomba during colonial times.
Now renamed the Zomba Golf Club, it has a golf course, tennis courts, gymnasium, art gallery and coffee shop.
To play on the nine-hole golf course, you have to pay a daily membership fee, green fees and caddie fees, but the total cost is less than USD 10.
Clubs and coaches are available for hire, so even beginners can enjoy golf.
It is recommended for those who want to work up a good sweat in the midst of nature.
Festivals in Zomba
Zomba City Festival
Founded in 2020, Zomba City Festival which is organized by Zomba Arts Platform is in its second year running.
The aim of the festival is to attract visitors to Zomba to explore and discover what the historic college city has to offer.
Zomba City Festival is not just a music festival, it is truly a city festival with a focus on arts, nature and heritage.
During the festival, patrons can enjoy a historic walk, coffee tasting, an art exhibition, a fashion show, cycling, hikes and much more.
The festival is open to all ages and this year, 2022, it was very evident that this was well understood by the public, as the festival welcomed young families, teenagers as well as older people.
There were over 50 performing artists, of which more than half came from Zomba.
The festival took place over 4 days from 29th of April to 2nd of May 2022 in 7 venues across Zomba: The Heritage Centre, Mango Lodge, Pakachere, The Mixed, Gymkhana Club, Sunbird Ku Chawe and Zomba’s scenic Botanic Gardens.