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Making sense of Malawi

Making sense of Malawi

Phil Clisby gets nostalgic. After all, this is what we call the ‘Africa bug’. The alluring smell of herbs; music blaring from a house; goats bleating. The lap of the water on the shore; the long stretch of untouched sand. The splash of a paddle in the water; the freshness of the air. The heat of the sun, the warmth of the people. Fishermen casting their nets out on the lake, others tending theirs at the water’s edge. The...

How to rebuild a park – the revival of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

How to rebuild a park – the revival of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Mark Stratton goes to this vast central Malawian park, following the ‘500 Elephants’ translocation by African Parks Network, to see how the elephants are adapting to their new home and the impact their arrival has had on the reserve as a wildlife destination. (All images by Mark Stratton) In the pied shadows of miombo woodland, a solitary, faraway elephant seems slim pickings for a game drive. The young tusker lingers on the ashes of a recent fire, wriggling his...

Ditch the car

Ditch the car

Following a trip to Malawi, Sophie Ibbotson puts the case for doing your game viewing from the water. Pictures by Sophie Ibbotson and Ben Tavener Nothing beats messing about in boats or gently cruising down a river, watching the world go by. And when you are on safari, there is an added dimension to the pleasure of a boat trip: you can quietly approach all manner of birds and other creatures you wouldn’t normally see up close. When I...

Enchanting Nyika

Enchanting Nyika

Set in the remote north of the country, this isolated park may not harbour big game but is home to magnificent landscapes and incredible biodiversity. Laura Griffith-Jones falls under its spell when she explores it on foot Staring out of the Cessna’s window as we circled like an eagle above Nyika National Park, I understood what author Laurens van der Post meant when, in 1949, he wrote: “I found my pulse quickening at the view… There was a sort...

Reaching a new plateau

Reaching a new plateau

When Travel Africa editor Laura Griffith-Jones travelled to the isolated Nyika National Park, in northern Malawi, she discovered a picturesque landscape unlike anywhere else on the continent. Photographs by Will Birtles In 1949, author Laurens van der Post wrote of Nyika National Park: “I found my pulse quickening at the view… There was a sort of Rider Haggard, a King Solomon’s Mines, Queen of Sheba touch about it.” Nearly 70 years later, I found myself equally mesmerised. The landscape was...

Why every child should visit Africa

Why every child should visit Africa

Tourism makes an invaluable contribution to the development of schools and educational programmes across Africa. But perhaps the impact Africa has on visiting children is just as important. By Kate Webb. From time to time I speak at secondary school and youth events across the UK and I always ask the same question: who knows about the UN Global Goals? And each time I have been met by silence. These are young people about to leave school and head...

10 Top spots for birders

10 Top spots for birders

For a relatively small country, Malawi harbours some impressive avian riches. Dominic Couzens reveals the best places to go. Image copyright Ben Cranke. Malawi is a small country that punches well above its weight as a birdwatching destination. Part of the reason is the sheer, delightful practicality: distances are manageable, there is some excellent accommodation, the people are famously friendly, it is very safe and, above all, it has eclectic birdlife. The country is like a supermarket. While many...

The resurgence of Liwonde

The resurgence of Liwonde

Despite many challenges over the last 25 years, Malawi’s flagship national park is experiencing a renaissance. Phil Clisby talks to Chris Badger, managing director of Central African Wilderness Safaris, whose story is intrinsically entwined with the reserve’s evolution As we floated down the majestic Shire River, my eyes struggled to take everything in: fish eagles soared, kingfishers eyed the water for food, storks strutted, yellow baboons raced around, warthogs snuffled, waterbuck jumped, crocs slid into the water at surprising...

Taking responsibility

Taking responsibility

The tourist dollar can have a huge positive impact on local communities. Emma Gregg discovers how tour operators and lodges are giving back to the Warm Heart of Africa — and how you can, too What is it about Malawi that inspires me, tugs my heart strings and makes me smile?” asks Dom Webb, founder and managing director of The Responsible Safari Company (RSC). “It’s the people, the chaos, the buzz, the freedom, the potential.” RSC, a social enterprise...

How to translocate an elephant

How to translocate an elephant

In July, Sue Watt and Will Whitford witnessed the conservation organisation African Parks start the most ambitious animal translocation project in Africa’s history. The move saw the first of 500 elephants brought from Malawi’s Liwonde National Park and Majete Reserve to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. Here is how this complex, delicate process transpired. Words by Sue Watt and photographs by Will Whitford 1. Identify the family Because family units are crucial to elephants, an entire group is moved together to...

What lies beneath

What lies beneath

Warm water, superb visibility and a clutch of excellent diving schools make Lake Malawi the ideal choice for a scuba holiday, says Fiona McIntosh Hovering in the warm, clear water of Lake Malawi, we train our cameras on the multi-hued cichlid and wait for the little fish to perform its party trick. Sensing danger at our approach, the female opens its mouth for its fry to swim in to safety. If we keep still long enough, the process should...

A massif awakening

A massif awakening

Mount Mulanje is Malawi’s other natural wonder, often bypassed in favour of the country’s celebrated lake. Hiking sceptic Aaron Gekoski steps out of his comfort zone and sets out for the summit Hiking. Being at one with nature. Getting a rollicking good workout, while taking in lungfuls of crisp, unpolluted air. Freeing oneself, however temporarily, from the trappings of consumerism. It’s easy to see the allure. Yet despite this, I’ve always had a natural aversion to all things uphill....

Lakeside living

Pumulani

With pristine sandy beaches and water sports aplenty, Lake Malawi is a wonderful escape destination for one and all. But where should you stay? Gemma Catlin scoured the 500km shore to uncover the best options Lake Malawi (or Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique) is the third-largest and second-deepest in Africa. More species of fish (around 1000) reside in its clear waters than in any other lake anywhere, making it one of the greatest freshwater diving...

Top 5 things to do in Malawi

Lake Malawi

Malawi, a little-known country with a lot to offer. Unlike its larger neighbours, Malawi has received less attention from the tourism industry in the past, although that is changing. Every year the number of tourist visitors grows, as more and more people learn about this small African country. Packed with incredible things to see and do, if you are considering a trip to Malawi, make sure you check out Marc Crouch’s list of five unmissable places Soak up the...

The one that nearly got away

The one that nearly got away

Chances are you’ve never heard of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. Maybe it’s time you did. Aaron Gekoski heads in search of Malawi’s last remaining wilderness. Thump thump thump. I’m lying in the back of a bakkie, sweating and getting grumpier with each passing thump. My bottom is being pummelled against the metal floor of the car, courtesy of the lumpy bumpy track below. Gem, my partner, reaches for additional clothing to pad our bruised coccyxes. Some might call this karma:...

Chill zone

Chill zone

With the ongoing regeneration of its national parks and investment in tourism infrastructure, Malawi is quickly becoming a viable safari destination in its own right. What it offers that many other countries can’t, is its lake. So does this mean the country can now offer a viable bush and beach combination? On a recent twelve day tour of Malawi, John Hale spent a day at Mumbo Island to get a sense of what makes Lake Malawi so appealing. Just...

Malawi: Getting to the heart of it

Malawi: Getting to the heart of it

With Malawi celebrating 50 years of independence from British colonial rule this July, we invited Blantyre-based Frank Johnston to take you on a tour of his adopted home, to show you why this little country is rightly known as the 'warm heart of Africa'. Arriving in either Blantyre or Lilongwe, what you are most likely to notice first are the smiles; here even stoic officials smile as they say ‘takulandirani, or ‘welcome’ in ChiChewa, the local language. And you...

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