Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa

Sitting on the warm sand of the beach in Cape Maclear on the southern part of Lake Malawi I have been pondering about this special country with the endearing nickname ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’.

What makes people come to Malawi I wonder? What is the appeal of this landlocked country with its 4th largest lake in the world? 

Traveling through Malawi over the last couple of weeks I noticed the limited number of tourists and visitors. Most campsites or lodges have few guests, and many are struggling to keep their doors open. Tourism seems to have taken a dip over the last 3 years and we have noticed the same at Khaya Volunteer Projects. Few of our guests are interested in Malawi or even know where it is located. Those that are interested are often disappointed in the high costs of visa and expensive flights to get to Lilongwe or Blantyre International airports. 

 

malawi beaches

 

Being the poorest country in Africa their government unfortunately charges a high price for a holiday visa, rental cars are few and very expensive, so traveling is either for the budget traveler who is not afraid to take public transport and different local busses to get to the final destination or the higher end who rent cars with a chauffeur. Plenty of those big cars are around in Malawi but mostly to transport the overpaid UNAID, UNICEF or Save the Children consultants around as if they are royalty, but that is another article about how the aid industry has so little true impact on Africa and is more concerned with keeping its massive budgets spent then really making a sustainable and real change.  

 

stcker malawi

 

So, what keeps the normal travelers and tourists from coming to Malawi? This small and friendly country has so much to offer with its lake filled with ‘cichlids’ (like you are in an actual aquarium), the highlands, national parks with the Big 5 and hills and mountains to explore. The people are extremely welcoming and friendly, there is little to no crime and it is cheap to stay at some wonderful lodges and resorts. Especially when you compare the costs of going on a safari in Malawi to for example Zambia, Botswana or Namibia where the costs of visiting their national parks is ridiculously expensive.  So, what is still putting people off to come and volunteer and travel in Malawi? It can’t be that its cheap and friendly or warm and welcoming. It can’t be for its crime or bad roads, because that is not the situation to worry about.

 

malawi lake

 

So if you are looking for a truly exciting and unique travel destination that even has a name that tells us that it is special (the warm heart of Africa is quite the nickname to have), come to Malawi, I challenge you to visit this country on your next adventure and I can honestly say that it is one of my most favorite countries in Africa. It is very poor and has many challenges for sure and that is why we should support such a country and its people, think about it.

See you in Malawi.
Martijn

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