Malawi - tropical beach getaway - African Classic Encounters.com

 

Malawi is aptly called "The warm heart of Africa" due to its friendly people, green rolling hills with thatched villages and a translucent lake inviting newcomers to enjoy its tranquility. Although it is a small country one should spend at least a week here to experience all the scenic attractions such as the numerous lakes, rivers, mountain ranges and game reserves. The visitor will be left with fond memories of a typical African country where time is irrelevant, the pace relaxing and nature stunningly attractive. Malawi has much to offer at affordable prices in spite of scant resources, poverty, droughts and overpopulation.

This tiny southern African country is squeezed in amongst Zambia along its western border, Tanzania in the north and Mozambique in the south and east. Almost one fifth of the country is taken up by the 540 kilometer long Lake Malawi. From the shores of the lake a steep rugged escarpment rises to a green plateau covered with rounded hills and villages. The low-lying southern region is tropical and includes the lush Zomba Plateau. The high Mulanje Mountains are in the south eastern area. The variety of landscapes and scenery is one of the major reasons that make this country an attractive tourist destination.

 

Malawi offers a wealth of activities and attractions, although some are difficult to reach with ordinary transport.
For some excellent freshwater fishing, head down to Lake Malawi and many of the rivers. Note should be taken that Malawi's fish population is decreasing dramatically due to over-utilization. Contact the Angling Society at PO Box 744, Blantyre for more information.


The Mulanje Mountains are one of the highest in the Southern African countries, rising to about 3000 meters. It is a mountaineering and hiking paradise and has a huge range of plant and bird-life with breathtaking scenery. There are huts available and the numerous hiking tours last between two and six days.
Windsurfing, water skiing and diving are popular activities on Lake Malawi, but take precautions against the potentially fatal disease Bilharzia, currently infiltrating certain parts of the lake. There are operators offering horse-riding through numerous landscape areas.


Golf enthusiasts will be glad to know that there are some golf courses around and the one at the foot of Zomba Plateau is one of the prettiest around.


If you find yourself in Malawi during the "Republic Day"-festivities in the first week of July, make a point of seeing the various traditional dances, including the Gule Wamkulu dance where the dancers wear wooden masks, skin paint and other body decorations.


It is said that one hasn't been to Malawi without a visit to the tranquil shores of Lake Malawi. Imagine sitting on soft white pristine sand during a quiet evening with the red sun setting over the African horizon. Imagine fishermen slowly maneuvering their canoes for another nights' fishing in the background. At Lake Malawi it is this reality that brings peace to body and soul.

There are various coastal towns along the lake with Nkhota Bay, Senga Bay, Cape Maclear and Monkey Bay being some of the more popular. Join a voyage with the Ilala II liner and visit the various ports along the lake. Watch the mountains drift by and visit some of the exotic islands along the way. Likoma is known for its Anglican cathedral and Chizimulu offers great snorkeling and diving.


CITIES AND TOWNS

Blantyre
Although it is not the capital, it is by far the biggest town in Malawi with a population of nearly half a million people. It is named after the famous explorer, Dr. Livingstone's birthplace in Scotland and is a located in the beautiful southern part of the country providing easy access to surrounding attractions like Zomba Plateau, the Mulanje Mountains and Lengwe National Park. The buildings worth visiting in the town include the National Museum, the All Angels Church and St. Michael's Church.

Cape Maclear
The quiet beautiful beach resort can be reached via a rough road from Monkey Bay. It is a good base for hiking, diving (be aware of bilharzia) amongst many colourful fish, visiting nearby islands and the Lake Malawi National Park. It is advised to bring one's own food supplies.

Lilongwe
This pretty, tree-filled capital of Malawi, is often just a stopover point for visitors to replenish food stock before heading into the countryside. There is a market near the post-office with a variety of exquisite woodcarvings and other curios.

Livingstonia
For some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and the lake, head up this steep escarpment to visit the old Scottish missionary station. There is a small hotel, a museum and the 60 meter high Manchewe Waterfalls with caves hidden behind it. This village can only be reached with a sturdy vehicle that can navigate the 22 hairpin bends and a stony dirt road. Senga Bay
Another popular village situated on the lake's shore and east of Lilongwe, offers day trips to the nearby Lizard Island with its population of monitors (huge lizards) and other water-sports.

National Parks
Although Malawi cannot compete with the abundance of game found in many neighboring countries, the reserves are less crowded, offer wonderful scenic panoramas and often allow hiking.

Nyika National Park

Situated in the northern part of the country on top of the Nyika Plateau, this 3200 km2 park provides the visitor with unforgettable views and the opportunity to explore the grass-covered wilderness on foot. Hikes lasting up to five days can be booked through the Tourism Offices in Lilongwe. The animal life includes the rare roan antelope, eland, zebra, hyena, leopard, porcupine, jackal, a rich variety of birds and plenty fish in the rivers. 4x4 vehicles are advisable in this park especially during the rainy season and although there is accommodation, visitors should be self-sufficient otherwise.

Kasungu National Park
This 2000km2 park is situated in the middle of the country, north of Lilongwe. It has a magnificent variety of wildlife including elephant, buffalo, lion, cheetah, leopard, sable, kudu, oribi, eland and some 250 different bird species. The best time for animal viewing is during the drier months of August through to November when the foliage is thin. There are also some rock paintings and archaeological sites. Accommodation is available at the Lifupa Wildlife Lodge, which offers chalets, bedded tents, a restaurant and swimming pool.

Lengwe National Park
This small park which also allows hiking and watching game from well-disguised hides, has some rare wildlife including the tiny Suni antelope and Samango monkey. Other game includes nyala antelope, impala, sable, buffalo, leopard, hyena, warthog and many others. Birders will not be disappointed in this park that also offers limited accommodation.

Lake Malawi National Park
This is the newest addition to the national parks of Malawi and situated on the southern edge of the lake. Although there is currently only camping facilities available, there are plans to build a lodge in the near future. Visitors can view the variety of tropical fish with the use of scuba equipment, but be aware of the risk of Bilharzia. There are also hippos, monkeys, baboons and plenty birds in this park that is open all year round. Nearby lodges include Nkopola Lodge, Club Makokola and Palm Beach.

 

WHEN TO GO

The southern part of Malawi is tropical and there are 3 types of seasons namely rainy, dry and cool.

The rainy season starts in November and ends in April. From May to July it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere and it is therefore cooler.

From August to October it is relatively dry, and huge dust storms are common in October. The area around the lake is generally warmer than the higher plateau areas.

 

WHAT TO SEE

Kaya Mawa Lodge

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JOURNEYS OF DISTINCTION

 
   
JOURNEYS OF DISTINCTION