23 Apr 112 923km // LAKE MALAWI // MALAWI
Different from our usual just-the-two-of-us trips, we recently took a Topdeck Travel tour, for a group-travel experience of a lifetime. 21 days, 4 countries, 14 sleeping destinations, and a collection of 14 strangers who have proven that the best part of travel is the people you meet along the way.
The next country on our East African Explorer tour was Malawi.
Known as ‘the warm heart of Africa’, Malawi has been on my must-see-one-day-because-my-friend-recommended-it list for over a decade (my talented friend Ollie grew up in Malawi, so naturally I’d have to see where he came from). And yes, it is as spectacular and special as he described.
Let’s discuss the famous lake for a second. Lake Malawi is the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa. It borders three countries, namely Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, and is home to over a thousand sicklets (apparently this is the knowledgable term for tropical fish – hey, you learn something new every trip, right?) The lake is also one of Malawi’s main sources of income (after tea, banana and cassava agriculture) and brings a minimum of 5000 tourists to it each year. It sounds pretty fancy right? Well, after experiencing it over four memorable nights, I’m going to join the crowds and say that yes, it is one fancy body of water! I mean it’s a lake, yet when you swim in it, you would think you were in an ocean, riding gentle waves (without the fear of sharks, or the burning of salt in one’s eyes). It’s also a highly recommended spot to dive and snorkel – and who doesn’t love a little snorkel in the afternoon?
But besides the lake, and the fabulously clean beaches with only traditional canoes (or ‘bwaatos’) beached on them, the green pastures and farmland, with miles of cassava (a local tuber grown and harvested for six months of the year) will make anyone fall in love with Malawi. It is (sadly) one of the poorest countries in the world, but maybe that is also why it holds some of the kindest and humblest people.
I have to give a shout out to Vegemite (yes, that’s his name) – a young talented gent I met at one of the markets, who managed to turn a fairly generic Malawian wooden souvenir (one I found at every stall) into a personalized, engraved magnet for me in a matter of minutes (which reminds me – I think I need to share my magnet collection with you all one day soon – it’s getting serious).
Thank you Vegemite and thank you Malawi. I hope we see you again soon (but maybe next time not during the rainy season, so we can enjoy hot beach days too).