Malawi

Located in Southern Africa, Malawi has an area of 118,480 square kilometers. The country is landlocked between Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia. It is distanced approximately 200 kilometers from the Indian Ocean. Malawi, together with the rest of Southern Africa, is a member of SADC (Southern African Development Community). Malawi has a population of about 15 million people. Most of them are engaged in agriculture and live in rural areas. The cultivation of tobacco, tea and cotton is the main source of income for local residents and most important item in the economy.

lake malawiUnfortunately, Malawi often suffers from heats and long lasting droughts that destroy the agricultural crops, leading to starvation and countless economic difficulties.

The greatest wealth of Malawi are the significant water resources. Over 90% of the electricity in the country is produced in hydro power plants.

Today in the 21st century, Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Its population suffers from high infant mortality, low life expectancy (up to 54 years) and mass distribution of dangerous infectious diseases such as AIDS.

This infection has left behind hundreds of thousands of orphans and is the leading cause of premature mortality in the country.

The most serious problems in Malawi are associated with the spreading of HIV/AIDS, as well as lack of medical workers and medicines.

Malawi’s population is heterogeneous. It consists of different ethnic groups. Chewa and Lomwe are the most numerous. They together represent about 50% of the total population. Malawi is also a land of significant religious diversity.

Over 80% of local residents are Christian, and Muslims are the second largest religious group. There are, however, many other local beliefs that bring impressive variety and color to Malawian society.

Because of the high birth rate and premature mortality due to AIDS and other diseases, today almost half of the population is under the age of 18, which puts Malawi among the youngest nations in the world.

malawi landscapeMalawi is a land of astonishing natural beauty. Most of the country is covered by mountains and high plateaus with an altitude of more than 1,000 meters.

The highest peak in the country, Sapitwa, rises to a height of 3002 m above sea level in the Mulanje Mountain in southwestern Malawi, not far from the border with Mozambique.

The cool and wet climate that is typical for the high-lying areas of Malawi is the main reason why the mountains offer such a lush vegetation.

The lower flat areas are covered by dry and hot savannas. The eastern and northeastern parts of the country are covered by the waters of Lake Malawi. It is so vast that reminds rather an inland freshwater sea.

In practice, the lake covers about one third of the country and its banks in many places are occupied by beautiful sandy beaches. The Shire River, the largest one in the country, take it‘s source from the lake.

It springs from the south of Lake Malawi and flows north to south, toward the border of Mozambique. It crosses the border and flows into the deep-water African Zambezi River. The country and Lake Malawi are part of the famous Rift Valley in Africa.

This region is very interesting from a geological point of view. Within the country were made numerous documentaries, showing the nature of Malawi with its rich flora and fauna.

Malawi falls within the subequatorial climate zone. The country has two seasons, dry winter and rainy summer, and experiences year round high temperatures, ranging between 24 and 30°C. In low-lying areas of Malawi are not excluded heats with temperatures over 45°C.

In general, the days are warm all year round, but during the drier winter season the nights are cool, even cold, with temperatures below 10°C.

The rainy season in Malawi lasts from November to April with maximum amount of rainfall around 200 mm.

Malawi has a rich fauna. Here you can find practically all the large species of animals in Africa. The country is home to big herbivores such as zebras, wildebeest, buffalo, giraffes and rhinos.

The most typical local predators are lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, jackals and many others.

Huge crocodiles and hippos live undisturbed in local rivers, lakes and marshes. African elephants, however, are the largest animals living in Malawi. The country is home to hundreds of bird species, but the vultures are iconic.

With such a great wildlife variety they never go hungry. The great water resources of Malawi determine the variety of waterfowl, as well as species of birds that are closely linked to the water bodies.

Among the most famous are Herons and especially Kingfishers, which descend headlong into the water and catch small fishes.

Malawi‘s beautiful scenery is protected within the borders of 5 national parks (Lake Malawi, Kasungu, Lengwe, Liwonde, Nyika) and 4 reserves.

The main reason for the establishment of most of them, like many other protected areas in Africa, is to provide a secure environment for local wildlife.

malawi elephantsIn Malawi there are two sites that are under the auspices of UNESCO. The first one is Lake Malawi National Park. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. The second one is Chongoni Rock Art Area.

It is part of UNESCO since 2006. This place is known for its ancient rock paintings, the work of people who inhabited these lands during the early Stone Age.

When to visit Malawi? The best time to visit Malawi is during the dry season from May to October. This period offers the most pleasant temperatures and lowest risk of heat.

How to get there? Lilongwe International Airport maintains regular flights to countries from all around the world, especially with other African states.

If the city you live in does not maintain direct flights to Lilongwe, you could always travel to cities such as Nairobi (Kenya) and Johannesburg (South Africa) and to connect with a flight heading to the capital of Malawi.

What clothes should I wear? Do not forget that Malawi is a poor country and expensive clothes are not recommended. Prefer light, airy, comfortable and casual clothing.

Bring strong and comfortable shoes, especially if you are planning a safari. Sunglasses and sunscreen are required throughout the year.

What not to miss while in Malawi? Be sure to take a wildlife safari. Malawi is home to unique animals that you would otherwise only see on TV.

Food you should try? It is advisable to try “nshima”. This is the most popular dish in Malawi. It is usually prepared from maize, rarely from sorghum or cassava. Nshima is a source of carbohydrates, and for this reason it forms the basis of every meal in Malawi.

malawi savannahAdditional information: Since Malawi is a former British possession, the official language is English. If you are planning to rent a car is good to know that in Malawi, like in many other former British colonies, you have to drive on the left side of the road.

Official currency in the country is Malawi Kwacha (MWK). Although some merchants accept payment in dollars or euros, it is advisable to have always local currency near at hand.

Risks: When travel in Malawi you need to pay serious attention to the danger that brings the contact with wild animals. There are predators and herbivores, which is better to avoid.

You should not get close to wild animals. If you want to go on safari, will be better if you are part of a tour group and under the supervision of an experienced tour guide.

Beware of bugs, especially spiders, because some of them are poisonous and very dangerous. Beware also of poisonous snakes.

Use a repellent that will keep the boring mosquitoes away from you. Be careful if you are planning to travel alone by car outside settlements.

Like many other poor African countries, the danger of being attacked, robbed or even kidnapped in Malawi still exist.

Take care of your health before your trip. Before you travel to Malawi is needed to visit your doctor and ask him how to prevent illness during your trip.

You will probably need some vaccinations because in the country are wide spread many dangerous infectious diseases peculiar to the tropics.

Malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, hepatitis A, plague and many other are quite common in Malawi.