In contrast to the beautiful lake stretching through it’s eastern border that gives way to magnificent beaches, Malawi is the African country less-visited.
But it is the place to be if you want to enjoy a natural paradise without everybody else. Though it hasn’t become a booming destination such as Tanzania, Kenya or South Africa, Malawi has numerous attractions.
Malawi is one of the lesser known destinations on the travel guide’s annual list, which includes Brazil, Sweden and the Seychelles. The country is touted for its wildlife and beaches.
But there’s more to Malawi than animal parks and warm sands.
Called the “Warm Heart of Africa,” Malawi is very peaceful. It’s common for strangers to wave and greet visitors.
1.The locals are friendly
And it’s easy to make them smile with a “moni” (pronounced mo-nee) which means hello in Chichewa, the local language, and “zikomo” (thank you).
Curious kids often come by to say hi and see what you’re up to. The word that you would repeatedly hear is, “you are welcome.” The people are genuinely friendly hence Malawi is called the “Warm Heart of Africa”. Founded in 1964, Malawi has never had a civil war.
2.It’s not crowded
You can enjoy the pristine views of massive Lake Malawi previously known as Lake Nyasa during the colonial era. It’s the ninth largest lake in the world — without having your perfect day wrecked by a bunch of other holiday makers.
Instead, you’ll hear restaurants jamming afro beats or reggae music. This is the best time to taste the special Malawi gin and premier brandy.
Another perk: you won’t have to jostle for reservations at hotels, restaurants or game parks. Even the capital Lilongwe has the relaxed vibe of gardens.
You can go from the high life of the Kumbali Country Lodge, where Madonna stays, or sleep in more budget accommodations.
3.Lake Malawi is spectacular
Although Malawi is landlocked, it’s giant freshwater lake is it’s life blood. The sunny beaches of Lake Malawi are golden, and the waters are nearly empty except for a few boats.
Lake Malawi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to the largest number of fish species of any lake in the world, thought to be between 500 and 1000.
It’s perfect for freshwater snorkelling and diving in clear water. The lake draws in a variety of bird species, as well as hippos, warthogs, baboons and occasional elephants. Not bad company to enjoy the water with (well, maybe not the hippos).
4.Game parks and natural reserves
Tour companies offer safaris in parks and reserves that include eco-friendly trips, mountain biking, horseback riding and traditional housing stays.
One of the best known parks is Majete Wildlife Reserve, which became a target for poaching that continued into the 1990s. By the 2000s, thanks to a partnership between the government and a non-profit organization, the park was repopulated and rehabilitated.
The Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo) can be viewed here.