PART 1, GENERAL INFORMATION
COUNTRY: Republic of Malawi
Capital city: Lilongwe
Population: 20 million
Currency: Malawian kwacha
Km travelled: 2100km
Days in Malawi: 61
Malawi is one of the 45 landlocked countries in the world, but 20% of the country is water (Lake Malawi). Malawi has received a significant amount of foreign capital in the form of development aid and has allowed Malawi to at times produce a food surplus. Nevertheless, its population has suffered from chronic malnutrition, high rates of infant mortality and grinding poverty (AMAZING!!!!), a paradox often attributed to an agricultural system that has favoured large estate owners. Agricultural products constitute a large proportion of Malawian export revenue; the most important of these are tobacco, sugar, tea, and cotton. Tea is grown on plantations on the Shire Highlands; coffee is produced mostly in the Shire Highlands and in northern Malawi. With the rise of worldwide campaigns against smoking, however, farmers have been increasingly encouraged to diversify so as not to be wholly dependent on tobacco. Corn (maize) is the principal food crop and is typically grown with beans, peas, and peanuts (groundnuts) throughout the country by virtually all smallholders. Other important food crops include cassava (manioc), bananas, pulses, sweet potatoes, and rice; chickens, cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats are raised. Most of Malawi’s population engages in cash-crop and subsistence agriculture. Malawi has a low life-expectancy and high infant mortality. There is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, which is a drain on the labour force and government expenditures. Malawi is among the world’s least developed countries. The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. In 2008, I was told Malawi received over 600 million dollars in foreign aid. The purchase in 2009 of a private presidential jet followed almost immediately by a nationwide fuel shortage which was officially blamed on logistical problems, however was more likely due to the hard currency shortage caused by the jet purchase according to observers and locals! International observers noted issues in several human rights areas, included violence against woman, human trafficking and child labour. Corruption within security forces is also an issue. Malawi had one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. In 2015 Malawi raised the legal age for marriage from 15 to 18. Other issues that have been raised are lack of adequate legal protection of women from sexual abuse and harassment, very high maternal mortality rate, and abuse related to accusations of witchcraft. As of 2010, homosexuality has been illegal in Malawi. In one 2010 case, a couple perceived as homosexual faced extensive jail time.
The country is nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa” because of the friendliness of the people.
Lake Malawi is the main reason to visit Malawi. Partly because of its sheer size. It is 350 miles long from its northern to its southern tip. This measurement makes it the ninth largest lake in the world, and the third largest and second deepest in Africa. Lake Malawi covers 20% of Malawi. Malawi is small, just 900km long and at the most just 300km wide. South Malawi is the most populated and developed region. Central Malawi is home to the capital Lilongwe and Northern Malawi is the least populated area. Chintheche supposed to have the best beaches in Malawi.
The largest urban area in Malawi and the country’s commercial capital. Blantyre has several historical buildings of interest. Perhaps the most impressive is St Michael and All Angels church, built by men with no training in architecture, construction or even brickmaking. Visits can also be made to the Museum of Malawi and Carlsberg Brewery, which lie between the Limbe and Blantyre’s two town centres, as well as the tobacco auction floors on the edge of Limbe. Both towns have a good range of shops, markets and services and there is even an old colonial golf club on the western edge of Blantyre.
CHIMWENYA GAME PARK
A beautiful and privately owned 500-acre game park, home to giraffe, zebra, antelopes: kudu, eland, roan, sable, nyala and waterbuck. The park is one of the last remaining indigenous forests and grasslands of the Shire Highlands of Southern Malawi. It lies approximately 20 km south-east of Blantyre shortly before the Thyolo Tea plantations on the way to Mount Mulanie.
Elephant Marsh is part of the flood plain of the River Shire and lies at the very southern tip of Malawi. The name Elephant Marsh was given to these swamplands by David Livingstone who reported 800 Elephant in a single sighting. Half a century later most of the great herds had been hunted to destruction and today the largest surviving mammals are crocodiles and hippos.
Is a few metres deep. In times of drought, or even at the end of the dry season, it shrinks perceptibly. There are inhabited islands in the lake, and even mobile stilted fishing villages during the dry season. Chisi and Thongwe islands must be some of the most remote communities in all Malawi. Thongwe is towards the northern limits of Lake Chilwa and its people live in much the same way as did their forebears a hundred years ago.
LAKE MALAWI NATIONAL PARK
The Lake Malawi National Park is the world’s first freshwater national park and a World Heritage Site, found at Cape Maclear at the southern end of lake Malawi. The park includes a land area around the cape and bay as well as the lake and islands up to 100 metres offshore. The countless thousands of freshwater fish, the mbuna, are more abundant and varied here than anywhere else in the world. Boats are available for hire and the fish will feed directly from the hand. Away from the lake, the park has baboons, antelope and hyrax, and, of course, there is a great variety of birdlife including fish eagles. Great overlander place to stay is at Monkey Bay.
An interesting place to visit, located high above Lake Malawi at 900m and in the shadow of the Nyika Plateau. There are views of incredible beauty across the lake to Tanzania. Livingstonia is also a fascinating and pretty town with a remarkable history. The road link to the Lake includes over 20 hairpin bends. Great place to stay is the Mushroom Farm.
Off the eastern shore of the Lake is Likoma Island, a small piece of Malawian territory in Mozambican waters. Likoma’s primary claim to fame is its magnificent cathedral. St Peter’s matches the size of Winchester Cathedral in the UK yet is here on an island in the middle of a lake in the middle of Africa! Work began on this extraordinarily ambitious construction project in 1903 when the mission was fortunate to have a trained architect on its staff. The island has a few bustling local communities and some lovely beaches. Given its small size it is easy to explore on foot. Nearby is another tiny island, Chizumulu, also Malawian territory. Access to Likoma is currently by boat from Nkhata Bay.
Karonga is one of Malawi’s most northern towns, home to the interesting ‘Cultural & Museum Centre Karonga’ (CMCK) which covers cultural history and the recent archaeological finds of dinosaur and homind bones. It will be the last or first town you reach before or after entering/leaving to/from Tanzania.
A concentration of small lodges, each having its own beach, is found around Chintheche on Lake Malawi’s northern shores. These are some of the best beaches on the lake the locals told us. It is just north of Kande Beach.
Dedza is a town of interest for a variety of reasons. At 1600m it is the highest town in Malawi. It sits in a beautiful landscape of forests and highlands, with the tree covered Dedza mountain rising immediately behind the town. Just 80km south East of Lilongwe, the area has been settled since pre-historic times and artistic traditions old and new are still to be found. At Dedza, pottery craftsmen can be viewed in the workshops and factory, producing a variety of items, from mugs and dinner services to table lamps and tiles. Many are decorated with brightly coloured designs or local scenes and all are sold at the factory shop.
There are two main seasons—the dry season, which lasts from May to October, and the wet season, which lasts from November to April.
Annual rainfall is highest over parts of the northern highlands and on the Mulanje massif with 2,300 mm. The annual rainfall is lowest in the lower Shire valley, where it ranges from 650 to 900 mm.
Summer: 15 degrees at night to 35 degrees during the day
Winter: 8 degrees at night to 28 degrees during the day
Rainfall: Dec to March
Summer: 16 degrees at night to 32 degrees during the day
Winter: 10 degrees at night to 28 degrees during the day
Rainfall: Dec to March
Summer: 20 degrees at night to 32 degrees during the day
Winter: 13 degrees at night to 28 degrees during the day
Rainfall: December to March
PART 2, BLOGS, PICTURES & GALLERY
The last 2 days in Zambia were not what we hoped for as Clary got Malaria. But after we visited the local clinic it became 5 days of pills and the malaria disappeared. We got a second opinion in Malawi but confirmed the same. The bad rash was unrelated and possible traced back to some local plant or possible the chimpanzees? One thing we know is if there is one thing they can cure in Africa it is Malaria as it is as common as the flu in Europe or Australia.
Despite brochures stating different Malawi is not a great wild life destination. 50 % of its land mass is taken up by Lake Malawi and this is where we will spend most of our time. Lake Malawi is 23000sg km and the third largest inland body of water in Africa. It is also the touristy part of the country but unfortunately tourism is well down. Malawi calls itself the warm heart of Africa and it is beating faster now, and the legendary welcome is there. Fair is fair it has the unrivalled combination of Lake, Landscape, Limited Wildlife & Culture in one of Africa’s most compact countries. Malawi is a poor country in terms of wealth, but a very friendly and welcoming one. Malawi is among the world’s least-developed countries. Its life expectancy is just 56 years and Malawi has an average weekly income or $ 15.67 per week or just 815 dollars per year making it one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 160th out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index. More than 50 percent of Malawi’s 18 million citizens live below the poverty line. Our first stop was Lilongwe making sure Clary was okay and had the right medicines to combat Malaria. Next was our stop at Lake Malawi and we stopped at Cape Mc Clear situated in the Lake Malawi National Park. Surrounded by islands, this is one of the most beautiful locations on this magnificent lake. Getting there we crossed central Malawi and turned south, crossing the Dedza highlands and Dedza-Salima Forest reserve. Lake Malawi National Park at Cape Maclear is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the waters and fish are protected, making the lake here a veritable aquarium of tropical fish. We decided to go back to our 2010 camp spot. (Fat Monkeys) in the middle of the village, we met a new bunch of SA people and a couple from Israel. Great campfire nights’ great music from the locals and the usual South African laughter till late.
After a 5 day stay (its hard to leave Cape McClear) we pointed North and stopped at Senga bay; from here further north into the lesser known part of Malawi. It is a region for those who wish to experience Malawi at its most unspoilt. The north is characterised by its great highlands up to 2500 meters.
The highlands of the north also influence the nature of the lakeshore, which in this region can be quite dramatic – fishing villages sitting at the base of cliff-like escarpments accessible primarily by boat. We stayed at Chitimba Camp, this has perhaps some of the most beautiful of Lake Malawi’s beaches. Also interesting was Nkhata Bay a bustling lake port, important to the fishing industry and a great market.
Despite having allocated 3 months travel in Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi we still could have spent 6 months in those 3 countries. BUT we need to go home so it is off to Dar Es Salaam and our flight home.
Albinism in Malawi Albinism is a genetic condition that leads to little or no pigment in the eyes, skin and hair. Persecution of people with albinism may occur for different reasons. One is based on the belief that certain body parts of albinistic people can transmit magical powers. Such superstition is present especially in Malawi and Tanzania. Many people believe in the medicine man (witch doctor) .The superstition is promoted and exploited by witch doctors and others who use such body parts as ingredients in rituals, concoctions and potions with the claim that their magic will bring prosperity to the user. Albinos’ body parts are believed to bring wealth and good luck. As a result, attackers chop off their limbs and pluck out organs, and sell them to witch doctors. Even after albinos are killed, some attackers go a step further and steal their remains from graveyards. The local newspaper quoted Malawi’s albinos are at risk of “total extinction” amid escalating attacks against them for their body parts, the United Nations warned.
During our visit to Malawi 2 people got sentenced to 25 years jail for the killing of an albino on April 23, see link below
Cost of visiting Malawi
2 visas 75 USD each for a 30 day stay, only accept USD For visa payment Road Tax 20USD 30 days. Paid in USD Temporary Import Permit 12 USD National parks cost $4.00 for locals and 20USD for international visitors.
We learned during our visit that overland trucks and budget travellers are now bypassing Malawi due to the high cost of entry into Malawi. Some overland trucks already bypassing Malawi drive from Zambia direct into Tanzania or vice versa. As one driver put it: Who wants to pay 75.00 for a 4 or 6 day stay in Malawi?
PART 3, BLOGS, PICTURES & GALLERY
After a few days in Lilongwe we left early for Lake Malawi but unfortunately the weather was not very nice. But it is winter in Malawi. The lake was choppy, and the South Easterly was blowing. At 4pm it was time to move to the Bar (right on the beach) and watch the Holland vs Brazil Game. Oh, and before I forget, for those who have no TV in Malawi, and there are many, for 3 cents you can watch the game in the local bar with the commentary on 150DB. The campsite is beautiful and is situated behind a house. The scene on the beach in front is a mixture of woman doing the washing, kids swimming, fishermen coming and going and people selling all kind of goods. Just as the game finished we lost all power because we are told that Malawi has sold all its power to South Africa for the World Cup! In the afternoon we lazed around the campsite and spoke to many Overlanders. The campsite is right in the middle of the village and this makes one feel part of the community. As we walked around, the slogan “Malawi, the warm heart of Africa” was well promoted.
Our next destination was Cape Mc Clear The trip was not uneventful, three major truck accidents on the way, and one near miss for us when a bicycle rider carrying wood decided to cross the road. He didn`t see us coming! Well it was a very near miss and if it wasn`t for the wide embankment the rider would have been dead, and we would be … (who knows, but I hate to think what would have happened if the truck turned over at 80km per hour.) We are camping right on the beach, and when I say right on the beach I mean 5 meters from the water`s edge, on the beach.
We do not have to move, everything is delivered or available. Our firewood, our security man for the night, live goats, chickens and pigs are being carried past and are for sale and are slaughtered right in front of you, if you wish. Seafood, fruit and vegetables. What a life! The locals will do the cooking, washing etc for about one dollar. Clary ordered a rattan basket to keep the maps in front of the truck; at a cost 5 AUD and it is being made as we speak. What a life. The second day we woke up and it was raining and overcast. But as the day went on, the sun came out and we were back to 30 degrees. Camping right on the beach means the coming and going of locals does not stop and absolutely everything is for sale. The area in which we are camping is part of Lake Malawi National Park and has been established to protect the tropical fish that thrive here.
Some are not found anywhere else in the world. Fish here will eat directly out of your hand. Many of the fish here are like those found in aquariums with one important difference. There are over 1,000 species and many are not yet named or officially described. There are over 20 dive sites at Cape McClear alone. Plenty time to explore the village, buy some fruit and vegetables and organize firewood to be delivered. Clary and I did not feel the best and we were not sure if this was due to food or the swim we had in the lake yesterday. We can see why Lake Malawi was called the Lake of Stars by David Livingstone. After 10 days it was time to leave Cape McClear and head north along Lake Malawi for our next stop, somewhere on the lake, half way to Nkhata Bay.
Malawi is called the warm heart of Africa and it sure is. The roads are full of people waving at you and thousands of bicycles loaded with timber, chickens, pigs, goats, pots and pans etc. However, you see very few cars, which is a good thing as driving is demanding, trying to avoid all the people and bicycles on the road. (We are told the bicycles are donated by European Countries.) They even have bicycle taxis. You just jump on the back of the bike and off you go. I said to Clary that I should spare them the agony of carrying me around today! We are told that a Dutchman developed a bicycle ambulance and today there are over 300 orange bicycle ambulances serving villages all over Malawi. The ambulance bicycle has been modified to suit muddy roads; it has a removable stretcher and special covers to protect the patient against rain and sun. One of the reasons for developing this bicycle was that Malawi has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world. Pregnant woman can now be transported to the hospitals. Diesel is very expensive in Malawi at around 1.80m per litre. Today we were also conned by a beggar who looked poor and very sick. As he begged for money I gave him 50 Kwacha (40 cents). Then as soon as I gave him the money, he instantly recovered his strength and ran off with a smile! Lake Malawi has one of the worst records of Malaria infection and bilharzia. So, we are a little concerned, but we seem to feel okay most of the day. This morning we stopped off in Nkhata Bay to do some shopping at the markets. The rest of the day we meandered north along Lake Malawi for our final camp in Karonga. BUT as we arrived at the campsite, we were met by about 2000 people having a youth gospel gathering! By this time, it was already 3pm and we made the decision to push on to the border and stay at a mission on a tea plantation in Kibishi Village. It was dark and raining when we found the turn off. But the gravel road was a black soil and clay track, so it did not take long before we found ourselves stuck and we had to engage 4WD. Slipping and sliding, we finally made it to the camp site. We were told that the weather was very unusual for this time of the year Furthermore, it was so very cold, so we checked our GPS and it showed we had climbed to 1500meters. We were pleased to have our spot lights as it made all the difference. It is a bit of a problem as most people here think headlights cost fuel and at best only 1 in 20 cars had their lights on! And the bad driving we had heard about appears to be correct. Anyway, we were set up by 7.30pm with a group of locals around us admiring the truck and the usual question, “How did you get here?”
Today is our last day in Malawi and we still do not feel very well. Tomorrow we are heading for our first National Park in Tanzania, but first we need Tanzanian shillings and we are told there is a small bank about 50km from here.
PART 4 VIDEO CLIPS
- Malawi shorter version with commentary
- Malawi long version no commentary
- Compilation Africa & Middle East
1. Malawi Short version with commentary
2. Malawi Long Version
2. Compilation Africa & Middle East