Malawi

Malawi

Curious what backpackers do in Malawi? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
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Most traveled places in Malawi:

  • Day17

    A couple of weeks ago in the Serengeti I came down with a cold and a cough. In my medical kit I had some antihistamines and paracetamol so I dosed up the best i could and just got on with it. Over dinner one night my guide asked me why I hadn't told him I was sick and I said I had medicine and was going to be ok. He shook his head gently and said, but I could have given you elephant dung tea and you would be better now. Elephant dung tea fixes lots of things. The worst had passed so I stuck to my own remedy.

    Our truck is an enormous imposing vehicle with shock absorbers that could withstand a major earthquake. It bounces all over the road like a rubber ball and I have seen it flip a human or two into the aisles while taking a corner on a mountain in Tanzania, or across an undeveloped patch of road in Malawi. I have bruises in random parts of my body from banging into the walls and despite the overly sedentary lifestyle of long drives, my arm muscles are still able to hold me stable. And even though this sounds like the stuff of nightmares, this experience is known as the "African Massage".

    This morning though was the kicker. I rose early to catch the sunrise and fish market on the beach, it was beautiful and I was sitting peacefully when a lovely local man sidled up beside me and pulled up a patch of sand. After the mandatory, where you from .... ohhh kang-gar-rooooo conversation, he asked where was my husband? I politely told him I don't have one and without skipping a beat, he told me "I can help you". Now it's not every day someone comes up to you on the shores of Lake Malawi and offers a solution to the obvious problem of not being able to find myself a member of the opposite sex, so I curiously asked "how will you help me"? Mr Malawi then told me for $20, he would take me to see the village medicine man. Dr Malawi (medicine man) would mix up a Potion and I would have to drink it and a husband would appear, just like that. Knowing I have nothing in my medical kit that can produce the same result, I asked him if the potion had a name. "Yes, it is called Love Potion........number 9".

    Of course it is. Pass the elephant dung....
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  • Day76

    Drove a half day up the lake to Ngala beach. A beautiful spot, though when we arrived at our lodge, we saw not just 1, but 2, overland trucks and a very full campsite. Luckily, the owners were apologetic and upgraded us to a chalet for 2 of our 4 nights so we have really enjoyed the change of pace. The beach is absolutely beautiful and we’ve pretty much spent 4 days doing not much of anything apart from re-connecting with family and friends, doing some planning for the rest of our trip, and eating some very good food at the restaurant.Read more

  • Day72

    After a slightly shady money changing transaction in a parking lot in Chipata, had an easy-ish border crossing into Malawi and a short drive to the capital of Lilongwe where we spent just one night. We decided to stay in a hotel, and what a great decision. The front desk guy knew a guy who might be able to fix our winch (which John had sort-of broke). The guy came with his assistant on Sunday night, in his best Sunday outfit, removed the winch, and then took it somewhere (via taxi) overnight turning up at 7am the next day. He had managed to untangle the cable and fix the motor. He installed it, demonstrated it was working, and we happily paid him and on our way by 9am.
    We’d heard that re-filling gas bottles (which is how we cook our meals) was difficult North of Zambia, but luckily, Christy saw a guy in the parking lot near the supermarket, where we were stocking up, with a gas bottle and quickly went up to him and found out there was a refilling station right across from the Shoprite. Very exciting.
    We next were trying to get some cash from the ATM, but because it was Monday machine after machine was empty. Finally, on our way out of town, we saw an armed guard at an ATM at a filling station and were told they were putting cash in the machine. We decided to wait to withdraw some cash (no credit cards are accepted at filling stations). While waiting, we had a great conversation with a few of the fuel station attendants. One was very curious how we were finding Malawi compared to other African countries we’d visited. He’d worked briefly in South Africa, but had to return because of the “xenophobia” he found there (his words). He was focused on raising his 2 kids (only 2 so he could give them a good life and education). The other guy found out we were headed to the lake and reminded us that where we were going was not the “real Malawi” and that whatever we could do to buy from local people and give them work like washing our laundry during our travels could make a big difference.
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  • Day80

    Great name, for an unusual – you could even say a little odd -- place.
    Up the mountains 15km on a very rocky, potholed road with 21 switchbacks, which took about an hour to drive up and scared the hell out of Christy with sheer drops off the side of the mountain. We picked up 3 travellers at the bottom of the hill (many people walk up) and gave them a ride up to where we were all staying-the wonderfully named Mushroom Farm. Our passengers were 3 young ladies, 2 from Chile and 1 from The Netherlands. The amazing coincidence was Elise, from Holland, had been on our night drive in South Luanga. Another meeting in the middle of nowhere with someone we’d met in a different country, several hundred kilometers away! We got some good information about Chile and are now even more excited to visit, even if it’s still a few months away. We’ve had some great campsites, but this one was spectacular. High up on the plateau we were perched on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the valley and Lake Malawi below.
    Livingstonia, named after the famous Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, looked like a ghost town, but was still a busy place. It was established as a missionary outpost in the 19th century, with a hospital, university and large church. Most of the university buildings are now empty, but the church still has services every week. There’s an old house built of stone, now a museum, that used to house the mission’s doctor and other staff. We walked up about 5km from our camp to look around, and realized this was the longest walk we have done since leaving the US – it sort of hurt, but it was good to stretch our legs a bit.
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  • Day73

    Enjoyed a beautiful drive through very dramatic, rocky mountains to the bottom of Lake Malawi - the 3rd largest lake in Africa and a world heritage site. We found a really nice campsite right on the beach where there was only one other couple camping. The village was all around the camp so we really enjoyed wandering into the local market, talking to local people, and saying endless “hellos” and giving high fives and fist bumps to many little kids as we walked along. They seemed super excited to be practicing their English and were ridiculously cute and funny. The downside of staying in the middle of the village was the late-night karaoke and music playing. Luckily, we have a good supply of ear plugs (thanks to the Davis family).
    Did an early morning kayak out to the national park, but didn’t stay out too long as the kayak was fairly tippy and there were some sizable waves because of the wind. Later, we took a boat out to the same island we’d visited by kayak and snorkeled, then cruised to a beautiful place called otter point. We were a bit dubious about getting in the water as they have bilharzia (a wormy-parasite…yuck!), but decided the temptation of seeing all of the colorful fresh-water fish was too good to pass up and that we could always treat the parasite if necessary. However symptoms of infection do not show up for at least 6 weeks – we will keep you posted. Let’s hope they don’t make an episode of “The Monster Inside Me” based on this experience…
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  • Day29

    We arrived at Kande Beach Resort at about 1:00pm so that left us plenty of time to explore after we had checked in. I decided to upgrade again as the price was very reasonable for a beach front room as you can see in the photos the room is average but the view is beautiful - we are lucky enough to be staying here for two nights.

    Carrie and I had taken a liking to skirts that one of the girls on our other tour was working, we asked her where she got them and this was the place! We had been looking forward to this for a couple weeks.

    After lunch we got some directions from Hesbon our tour manager and started making our way to the village shops. Hesbon said as we were leaving 'don't worry you will find plenty of friends' we didn't quite understand this until we walked out the gate of the resort and we were met by about three men. The three men weren't trying to sell us anything, they were simply asking us our name, what we did for work, how big our family was, where we came from etc. I felt like they were taking the opportunity to talk to a 'mozuma' and find out how we lived, they were just as interested in us as we were in them.

    We continued walking with one of the males Shud who was studying as well as an artist with his own Malawian hip hop band, he invited us to the local pub that night to come watch him - we told him we would think about it. He continued to walk with us quite a while just making general conversation before stopping and leaving us to walk alone. The walk to the village shops was about 2.5km long and took about half an hour to walk, the path took us through the village, crops and a forrest.

    We were greeted by a man named James as we reached the shops, he asked us what we wanted - we explained to him that we were after material and a dress maker. He immediately showed us to a store with material, we found one each that we liked but we wanted two skirts each made so he took us to another store where we found another pattern each that we liked. What I liked was that there was no 'tourist price' or bullshit they told us the price and it was cheaper than what we had been told by our guides to pay. Once we bought the material James then took us to a dress maker who was sitting underneath a veranda of a shop on the side of the road with his singer sewing machine, James acted as a translator and explained to him what we were after.

    We then began walking back to Kande Beach Resort. Along the way many people, young and old spoke to us - everyone was so welcoming and friendly. It was great to be able to walk through the village, seeing the way that they live and speaking to the locals - a lot better than just driving past in the truck.

    That night I had an ant infestation in my bed, I went to sleep at about 12:00am and woke up at 1:30am in a sea of ants. I tried everything (even stripping the bed) to get rid of them but they just wouldn't budge so at 4:00am I am calling mum because I am in pain from the bites and emotional. The next morning they ended up moving us into a different room.

    The next day, after lunch Carrie and I went for a walk with Chris, Vig, Archana and Nicole to pick up our skirts. We wernt walking for long before Shud and James began walking with us again, they told us that they enjoyed walking with us because it gave them a chance to practice their English. The skirts had to be altered slightly so Shud and James took us for a walk about a kilometre down the road to a wood carving and painting stand on the side of the road. I ended up buying a bowl with the big five carved into the side of it, it was nice because they didn't hassle us and we were able to look.

    We walked back and the skirts weren't ready yet so we were taken to a local pub to have a beer. The pub literally had a few wooden benches, speakers, one fridge, television and a pool table.

    Our skirts were ready and they are just what we wanted! James began walking us back but at about half way he introduced us to his uncle William who walked with us the remainder of the way. Along the way we spoke to several children, one group showed us their soccer ball which was made out of a condom, plastic bag and string (very creative).

    This has been one of my favourite places to explore, majority of the places we have stayed we haven't been able to leave the resorts or camp grounds as it isn't safe for us. It was nice to be able to go out on our own, socialise with the locals, getting an understanding of the way they live and their culture.
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  • Day243

    En route pour la Zambie, j'ai passé un weekend au Parc de Liwonde.
    Le parc est petit et ne compte pas de prédateurs... Mais la population des éléphants est désormais trop importante pour la superficie du Parc et met en danger l'équilibre naturel et la végétation. Aussi la gestion du Parc a été confiée il y a quelques mois à "African Parcs", une société sud-africaine, pour 15 (ou 20?) ans. Le Parc est désormais clôturé (pour empêcher la destruction des cultures par les éléphants et mieux contrôler le braconnage), des éléphants sont déplacés vers d'autres parcs, et des guepards (cheetahs) sont en train d'être ré introduits, en attendant les lions dans quelques mois si tout va bien.
    Les lodges autour de Liwonde town ont aussi des propositions d'hébergement pour les backpackers -tentes, dortoirs... Je suis restée au Bushman's baobabs, superbe environnement au milieu des baobabs, ambiance relax, guides sympas et bonne bouffe !
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  • Day29

    After various stop offs and the use of numerous modes of transport (taxis, 'dala dala' buses, motorbikes and coaches), we arrived at the Big Blue Backpackers hostel in Nkhata Bay, on the edge of Lake Malawi. We swam in the lake, caught up on the 'goings on' in the world, did some more planning of the trip and even got to catch some of the rugby World Cup in a local bar.
    Next we travelled to Mangochi on the south edge of the lake, where we attended the Lake of Stars music festival. It was interesting to experience a musical festival based on the beach with not one drop of mud in sight! We saw various musical acts from Malawi and around Africa and Europe. We even saw the Malawian version of 'Vagina Monologues'. Some of us managed better in the sun than others (the 'Corrigan skin' is surviving quite well so far!) but it was still a very enjoyable festival and another good experience on this trip!
    We then headed back north to Senga Bay, where we stayed for a couple of days in Mufrasa Lodge. Here we recovered after a busy weekend and we also did some kayaking on the lake. The local pool table maintenance man, from South Africa, drove us, free of charge, to the city of Lilongwe in the back of his 'pick up' truck. After a mix up in the bookings at Mabuya Camp, we were each given our own individual tents for free, as a way of compensation for not having any bedrooms for us. We did some shopping, stocked up on supplies and dipped our feet in the camp's swimming pool!
    We are now out way to Zambia. The bus was two hours late this morning so God knows what time we'll arrive in Lusaka. Hopefully it won't be as bad as the last long journey to Mbeya, when we arrived at 3.30 am after 21 hours sitting on a hot bus. But I guess we've learned that time means nothing here in Africa. Getting things done quickly isn't an option!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Malawi, Malawi, ማላዊ, Malaui, ملاوي, Malavi, Малаві, Малави, মালাউই, མཱ་ལཱ་ཝི།, Malawi nutome, Μαλάουι, Malavio, مالاوی, Malaawi, An Mhaláiv, માલાવી, מלאווי, मलावी, Մալավի, Malaví, マラウイ共和国, მალავი, ಮಲಾವಿ, 말라위, Malavia, Malavis, Malāvija, Malaoì, മലാവി, မာလာဝီ, मालावी, Malaŵi, ମାଲୱି, Malauí, Malawïi, Malevia, மாலவி, మాలావి, ประเทศมาลาวี, مالاۋى, ملاوی, Ma-la-uy (Malawi), Malaviyän, Orílẹ́ède Malawi, 马拉维, i-Malawi

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