Our 7 favorite safari animals in Malawi

We have a great passion for the safari animals in Malawi. If you know us personally or have been following us online for a while, you will certainly know this. But what you may not know yet, is which ones we find slightly more fun, exciting, beautiful or interesting than the others. Today we tell you about our seven favorite safari animals in Malawi!

There are many safari animals in Malawi

And that’s why it’s not easy to choose! Rhinos just missed the list. Same goes for the cats, although we always get very excited when we find them.

Our seven favorite safari animals in Malawi include species we would like to tell you more about. But we couldn’t choose which ones we like best, so we didn’t put them in a specific order.

Hessel takes a photo of buffalo

Each time we see buffalo on safari, we are impressed

You may know we are also pretty avid bird watchers, so we have another blog about our favorite feathered wildlife coming up!


We start with one of the most common safari animals in Malawi, the impala. This antelope species can be seen in large numbers in many African countries. Because of the “m” shape on their buttocks and because you see them around basically every corner, impalas are also called the McDonald’s of the bush. Did you know that this animal is also the only McDonald’s you can find in Malawi? The American fast food chain does not exist here!

Baby safari animals in Malawi are the best! These ones are impalas

How cute are these young impalas? And do you see the ‘m’ shape?

Because you regularly see impalas, people tend to pay little attention to them. Some guides don’t even stop for at all… And we find that strange, because they are incredibly beautiful safari animals. In Malawi you can spot them in any National Park or Wildlife Reserve, but in smaller numbers than in South Africa, for example.

If you come across a herd of impalas, it’s worth taking the time to take a good look at them. The different shades of brown, black markings, long eyelashes and athletic body make it an incredibly beautiful animal. And see what you can notice about their behavior and social structure.


Hippos have something mysterious about them, because you usually only see a small part of their body. But the biggest reason it’s one of our favorite safari animals in Malawi, is the sound they make! Have you ever heard it? It almost sounds like some kind of laugh.

The Shire River in southern Malawi has one of the largest hippo populations in all of Africa. Especially the part of the river that flows through Liwonde National Park. During a game drive in the early morning or at the end of the afternoon, you regularly see hippos on the riverbanks. They come ashore in the dark and dusk to graze.

In our blog about hippos in Malawi, you can read why they don’t do this during the day.

If you still want to see hippos during the day, it is best to book a boat safari. That’s a very nice adventure anyway!


You can also see many elephants during a (boat) safari in Liwonde National Park. And fortunately, also in most other parks in Malawi!

Elephants in the water

On a hot day, elephants like playing in the water

These gentle giants continue to fascinate us. Their intelligence, deep social bonds, nimble trunk and their calm yet powerful appearance. Elephants command respect and you wouldn’t be the first to forget to keep breathing when a herd crosses right in front of you. We won’t get tired of talking about elephants and look forward to spotting them here together with you.

Until then, you’ll enjoy learning more about the challenges and successes of elephants in Malawi.


One of the less famous safari animals in Malawi, is the nyala. This antelope species is related to the larger kudu, which more people seem to know. Nyalas are very elegant and relaxed animals.

The males and the females look quite different, which is why the first European explorers in Africa have long been unaware that they are the same animal species. This would be the reason that a nyala male is called “bull” and a female is called “ewe”. Normally you expect a bull with a cow and a ram with a ewe!

Nyala female and male

The nyala ewe is brown and a lot smaller than the bull

Nyalas are browsers and like to eat leaves in the dense bush. As a result, they are sometimes a bit difficult to spot. Take your time if you do see them somewhere between the branches, as they are not that shy and may well come closer.


As horse lovers, we obviously had to include zebras in this list. These “ponies in pajamas” always bring a smile to people on safari. The closer you look, the more beautiful their patterns become!

The zebras in a herd often graze quietly next to each other. They seem very calm and peaceful animals. But appearances can be deceiving, because if there is a little disagreement somewhere, they can fight harshly. Zebras know how to kick and bite hard. And not only each other, even other animal species regularly have to give up their tasty piece of grass.

Two zebras

When you look closely, you can see a scar from fighting on the left zebra’s back

Yet we are a fan of zebras and they belong in this blog. No matter if they’re black and white, or the other way around!


The local Chichewa name for giraffe is “kadyamsonga”. This means “eater of the tops”. How appropriate! There is some uncertainty about the exact natural range of giraffes in Malawi.

Some people say these animals don’t really belong here. Fortunately, after research by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and African Parks, it has been decided that Malawi has probably always had giraffes. For all kinds of ecological reasons and of course the fact that a local name exists.


On top of its long neck, there is a pretty face!

In addition to a small number of private reserves, since 2018 you can see giraffes in Majete Wildlife Reserve as well. Moreover, there are rumors of a (re)introduction in Liwonde National Park. Let’s hope so, because who doesn’t love these magical long necks?!


The last in this list of our seven favorite safari animals in Malawi, is the only one we have unfortunately never encountered yet. That in itself makes sense, because the pangolin is one of the most endangered species in the world. But somehow, they are still relatively common in Malawi, so we keep hoping for a sighting!


Pangolins are incredibly interesting animals. Credit: pangolins.org

These prehistoric-looking insectivores are the only mammals with scales. These protect them against predators. Unfortunately, the scales are also the reason that pangolins are endangered. Like the horn of a rhino, for example, pangolin scales are highly valued in traditional Eastern medicine. As a result, these special animals are now on the red list…

National Geographic wrote an article with more information.

Fortunately, Malawi is working hard to combat poaching. We occasionally hear about live pangolins being rescued from illegal trade. After veterinary check-ups, they are then released in protected areas around the country. There they will hopefully grow old in the wild, where they belong. We can’t wait to finally see one!

Which animal are you looking forward to see the most, while on safari in Malawi?


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  1. Watson Panja

    I love The Warm Heart of Africa,, so called Malawi

    • Dilo

      Yes, we totally understand that! We are looking forward to meeting you here!


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