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MALAWI, THE WARM HEART OF AFRICA - TRAVEL, ACCOMMODATION & SAFARI GUIDE

Rocks and Coastline at Otter Point, Cape Maclear, Malawi
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MALAWI TRAVEL GUIDE
The Republic of Malawi (formerly Nyasaland) is a democratic, densely populated country located in southeastern Africa. It has Zambia to the north-west, Tanzania to the north, and Mozambique surrounding it on the east, south, and west. The origin of the name Malawi remains unclear; it is held to be either derived from that of southern tribes, or noting the "glitter of the sun rising across the lake" (as seen in its flag).
Magnificent Malawi Travel   by Darren Ravens

Often billed as 'the warm heart of Africa', Malawi offers something for all visitors. One of the most beautiful and laid-back countries in Africa, Malawi is renowned for being a destination for those seeking adventure, leisure or eco-tourism attractions. Malawi's scenery is gorgeous and varied and Malawians tend to be extremely friendly toward travellers. Nature lovers will adore the national parks and game reserves, mountain hiking and plateau trekking.
 
Top tips for Malawi Travel

Travel in Malawi

Malawi's road network is reasonably well established, with most major routes tarred. Bus transport is a viable option, with express and luxury coach options available and boat trips are a fond favourite. For those seeking a more comprehensive African adventure, there are a number of overland tour operators running trips that span various countries, allowing travellers an opportunity to really experience the spirit of Africa and enjoy a variety of experiences.

Social Conventions 

With a large and diverse range of tribal backgrounds among the people of Malawi, it's understandable that many travellers are concerned about matters of accepted behaviour and convention. Fortunately for visitors to this African paradise, Malawian society is well integrated and visitors need not worry too much about social differences.

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Greeting Conventions -
Malawians are "hand-shake people". They generally place some importance on the shaking of hands when meeting and greeting. Among some parts of society men practice a special handshake, involving the grasping of the thumb and placing the left hand on the forearm - foreigners should probably not be trying to do this, but if you're there and you see it, you'll know what it's about. Also, women and children might curtsey as a greeting or as a sign of gratitude.

Dress -
Generally, Malawians tend to the side of the conventional in their dress. It's advisable to dress modestly but of course in such a relaxed society there are no hard and fast rules and it's probably better just to dress appropriately for your intended activity; a day at the beach calls for beachwear and a safari trip requires long sleeves and trousers.
 
Malawi -The Road to Zomba
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Climate and weather
Winter, the dry season, is the best time to visit, and lasts from May to October. June and July are the coldest months with a very comfortable average daytime temperatures 21ºC. The dry season also offers excellent game viewing and hiking opportunities.

The warm, humid rainy season, from November to April, brings hotter temperatures of around the mid-30 ºC range. Rainfall is concentrated on the higher plateaus and some roads become impassable after very heavy rains.

Currency
The Malawi Kwacha is the locally used currency. It is freely convertible at a rate of around 137 Kwacha to the US dollar. US dollars are also readily accepted, particularly for larger purchases.

It's also worth noting that the neighbouring Zambia's currency, also called Kwacha, is worth a fraction of the Malawi Kwacha, so travellers need to watch out.

Credit cards are accepted to some extent, but then only the major brands like Visa and MasterCard and then only by the larger hotels or businesses geared specifically towards tourists. In general, it's safer to assume that your card will not be readily accepted.
Traveller's cheques too are not always easily exchanged. Some of the banks, Forex Bureaus and in top-end hotels may do so, but US currency in cash is probably a better option.

Health Precautions
Malawi is a Malaria-risk area. To minimise the risk of mosquito bites, wear light, long sleeved clothing and use an effective insect repellent (those containing Diethyltoluamide DEET work well) on exposed skin. Sleep under treated mosquito netting or ensure that the doors and windows of your accommodation are screened against mosquitoes. Having a fan or air-conditioner on at night will also curb mosquito activity to some extent. Currently, the three most effective anti-malaria medications are Mefloquine (Lariam or Mefliam), Doxycycline and Malarone (Malanil). Certain medications may cause side-effects and need to be taken some time before you are exposed to the risk, so consult you doctor or travel health centre well before you intend to depart.
 
Must-see sights of Malawi

Lilongwe - This, the Malawian capital, is renowned for the Old Town, home to market stalls, quaint cafés and restaurants and the New City, which houses embass offices and shops.

Blantyre - Blantyre, located in the southern part of Malawi, is considered the centre of commerce and industry in the country. Of interest for beer lovers, it is home to the Carlsberg brewery and has a range of restaurants andommodation options.

Lake Malawi - probably the most famous of Malawi's tourist attractions, Lake Malawi is also know as also known as Lake Nyasa and 'Livingstone's Lake' (after famous explorer David Livingstone). It is the most southerly lake in the Great African Rift Valley.

Forest Reflected in a Still Dam, Nyika National Park, Northern, Malawi
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The lake, about 560 km long and with a total area of nearly 30 000km², is bordered by Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania and is a source of territorial dispute between Malawi and Tanzania. Lake Malawi is home to a greater variety of indigenous species of fish than any other lake in the world, making it very popular among scuba divers and snorkellers. Its peaceful blue waters and stunning golden beaches make for great retreats for those seeking a bit of rest and relaxation. Water sports like kayaking; canoeing, windsailing and water skiing are available for those seeking a more active source of fun.

Hotels at Lake Malawi

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FEATURED TOURS & SAFARIS IN MALAWI


BLANTYRE HOTELS & SAFARI LODGES

Sunbird Mount Soche, Blantyre
Located in Blantyre, the commercial capital of Malawi, Mount Soche Hotel is strategically positioned in the city centre. The Hotel is set among lush tropical gardens overlooking the city in the north and the Historical Ndirande mountain in the south.  Taxi services are available at the hotel’s own taxi rank. Blantyre’s international airport at Chileka is a comfortable 10km, 15 minutes, away. Hotel transport - The hotel runs airport shuttle service at a nominal bus fee.  The nearest Parks and Reserves are Lengwe National Park, About 75 km's away, home of the shy nyala, just an hour away down the Chikwawa escarpment south of Blantyre near the sugar estates at Nchalo. A few kilometers away is the newly revitalised Majete Wildlife Reserve.

LAKE MALAWI HOTELS & SAFARI LODGES

Sunbird Nkopola Lodge, Nkopola, Lake Malawi
Located on the southern lakeshore near the friendly fishing village of Nkopola. This resort has spectacular views overlooking the lake and is 28 kilometers North of Mangochi district headquarters. Four kilometers away from the hotel is the Makokola airstrip. There are scheduled Air Malawi flights from Blantyre and Lilongwe.  2 conference rooms for all types of conferences, meetings, seminars, workshops and product launchesThe equipment available includes: audio visual equipment, OHP, LCD and screen, podium.  Sports & Recreation: Golf (nearby) Tennis, Swimming Pool, Pool, Darts, Water Sports.
Sunbird Livingstonia Beach, Salima, Lake Malawi
Located in Senga Bay, Salima, along the Lake Shore, 125 kilometers from the Capital City, Lilongwe.  Two hours drive from Lilongwe International Airport (145 kilometers). Airport shuttle is also available on request at a nominal fee. One conference room with a maximum capacity of 30 delegates.Equipment available includes video screen and VCR, LCD projector, flip charts and overhead projector.  Services include: Laundry/Baby sitter (on request), Hotel Shop/Conference facilities/Secretarial services, Free open car parking/Day excursions.
LILONGWE HOTELS & SAFARI LODGES
Sunbird Capital, Lilongwe
Only 25 minutes drive from Kamuzu International Airport. Hotel Shuttle Bus and Taxis are available.  Malawi, the warm heart of Africa, this hotel is in the magnificent parkland adjacent to the Government headquarters and only a half-kilometer from the new city center, where most diplomatic missions are based.  Rooms are en-suite, air conditioned, have digital satellite television, international direct dialing, WI-FI internet, e-mail facilities, internet ports and 220 volts power points.  The Tidye Restaurant - A la carte menu, offering a delightful contemporary African cuisine and International dishes.  Cocktail bar - Formal and just adjacent to the Tidye. Enjoy a delightful service and expertly mixed cocktails.  Le Mimosa restaurant - Offers mouth watering buffet breakfast and lunch. 
Sunbird Lilongwe, Lilongwe
Located in the Capital of Malawi, the warm heart of Africa, this hotel is situated in the hub of old town with easy access from all directions of the city.  Only 35 minutes drive from Lilongwe International Airport. Taxis are available. There is also easy access to public transport.  The hotel boasts one of the best and largest conference venues in the country with modern facilities, with a seating capacity of 170 delegates.  A 20-seater boardroom for smaller groups, workshops and seminars is also available. All facilities are offered with excellent audio–visual equipment.  Rooms are en suite, air conditioned, have satellite television, Mini bar, tea/coffee making facilities international direct dialing, e-mail facilities and 240 power volts.  The Patio restaurant serves à la carte menu, offering delightful range of local and international cuisine and also mouth watering buffet breakfast and lunch.
MZUZU HOTELS & SAFARI LODGES
Sunbird Mzuzu, Mzuzu, Lake Malawi
Located in Mzuzu, Northern Region's administrative city. The gate way to and from Malawi's most beautiful National Park - Nyika. And Located about 370kms from Lilongwe.  The hotel is only 3.5 Kilometers from the Airport, 100 Kilometers from Chintheche’s beautiful beaches, 200 kilometers from Malawi’s largest National Park, on the high rolling hills of Nyika Plateau 120 Kilometers from Livingstonia Mission, and 500 metes from the main road.  Entertainment include pool table, television and discos every Friday and Saturday. Guests looking for nightlife will find it in the popular New Choma Bar.
ZOMBA HOTELS & SAFARI LODGES
Sunbird Ku Chawe, Zomba Plateau, Zomba
The hotel sits on the edge of Zomba Plateau, which rises to nearly 2200m, 7000 ft, with the highest peaks on the rim forming a saucer shaped bowl. Around this rim are some of the most stunning views in Africa.  The hotel is one and a half hour’s drive from Chileka, Blantyre, the nearest international airport. Taxis are available.Hotel transport may be provided by prior arrangement at a nominal fee.  The Mulunguzi Restaurant offers both local and international cuisine on a comprehensive à la carte menu. The berries, particularly strawberries, which grow so well on the plateau are nearly always on offer.  Bastions Bar complements the restaurant with a well selected wine list.

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