Discovering Malawi: The Warm Heart of Africa
Malawi is a small country in the heart of central-southern Africa with an extraordinary lake and an unique flora and fauna. But it is not enough. Malawi is also known as “the warm heart of Africa”, thanks of its mild and friendly people. Although Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, it is famous for the warm hospitality of its inhabitants. In fact, several popular guides put it in the very first places among the most welcoming countries in the world.
Why to visit Malawi
There are many reasons why I recommend to visit Malawi. I was lucky enough to visit Malawi three times and although I did not have very high expectations, I had to change my mind. Malawi has a beautiful, uncontaminated territory, with unique and varied landscapes. It’s not big and it is therefore easy to explore. It has roads in good condition and a peaceful political situation, unlike other African nations. Malawi also enjoys an exceptional location, it is situated between Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique, so you can also choose Malawi as an unique base to explore the neighborhood countries. Yellow fever vaccine is not mandatory (yellow fever vaccine is required only for those who come from countries where the disease is present).
Although in Malawi you can’t find the huge number of animals that you can spot during a classic safari in Tanzania or Kenya, the endemic species of Malawi are something extraordinary. Malawi is a paradise for nature lovers: you can take a boat trip along the Shire River or a walking safari through the Liwonde National Park, Malawi’s largest natural and wildlife park. Hippos, crocodiles, buffaloes and elephants are abundant here and it is ideal for bird-watching (in fact the birds I saw here have not seen them anywhere else).
Lake Malawi or Nyasa is the third largest African lake, located almost at the end of the Rift Valley. The southern part of the lake has become a nature reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lake is home to endemic and very particular species of fish: at least 500 species of cichlids, colorful fish very popular all over the world for aquariums. And, believe it or not, here you can snorkel. In a lake? Well yes. Do not forget even its sandy and golden beaches: in short, the perfect place for a break between safaris.
In the south of country, especially in the area of Blantyre, there are the largest and most important tea plantations of the country. Immense green valleys that can be of an almost blinding green during the rainy season (from December to April). The ideal is to stay in one of the many farmhouses immersed in the plantations: it will seem to breathe the atmosphere of the old times. A visit to a tea production and packaging factory is also highly recommended, with tasting included and a visit to the plantations to see how the harvest takes place.
With its 3.050 mt, the Mulanje Massif also known as Mount Mulanje, is the highest mountain in Malawi and of Southern Africa. Located in the south of Malawi, it offers a truly unusual corner of Africa. It hosts a natural reserve that is the habitat of extraordinary species including the fragrant Mulanje Cedar, today protected. Malawians consider magic and mystical the Mulanje Massif for the numerous legends and stories that populate this area: the summit called Sapitwa is often surrounded by a blanket of fog, hence the name “Island in Heaven”.
In Malawi, 85% of the population lives in the border on the minimum subsistence income. In the country, however, there are many help and volunteer projects that you can take part in or support at a distance. Whether you are a doctor, nurse or not at all, anyone can help. On the Malawi Tourism website you can find all the information with a list of the charitable organizations operating in Malawi. Check it out now and make Malawian feel your help.