Burkina Faso
Cote d' Ivoire
Gambia, The
South Africa


Discovery Tour to Malawi
by Helen C. Broadus

Venue International Professionals, Inc. (see Malawi map)


BACKGROUND. Malawi is known affectionately as the "warm Heart of Africa", where visitors are welcomed with open arms and made to feel at home by friendly people. Formerly called Nyasaland (Land of the Lakes), it is one of Africa's most beautiful countries and is an affordable tourist destination that compares in scenic beauty to some of the world's top resorts. For a country that is completely landlocked, it is best known for its 558 km-long Lake Malawi that runs down the eastern side of the country but also has an abundance of spectacular wildlife, incredible scenery and genuinely friendly people.


Lake Malawi, affectionately called the "Lake of a Thousand Shinning Stars" is the largest freshwater body in the world. Basically it is just like an inland sea, offering picturesque golden beaches in a year-round tropical sunny climate. One can simply just relax on an uncrowded beach or hand feed tropical fish at the lake's freshwater national park, which has been declared a national heritage site by UNESCO

Land of Smiles
Malawi is a very friendly place, with it smiling faces and hospitable environment. The population of Malawi is about 1.2 million and the main ethnic groups are Chewa, Ngoni, Tumbuka and Yao while Nyanja, Lomwe, Sena Tonga, Asian and European make up the rest of the population. Malawi received its independence from British colonial rule in 1964 and became a Republic in 1966. It has a politically stable government with a well-established multi-party system and peaceful history. The currency of Malawi is the Malawi Kwacha (MK), which is divided into 100 tambala. The official language is English but most people speak Chechewa, except in the north where the predominant language is Chitumbuka. The Chewa is the largest ethnic group in the country. The population is predominately Christian being made up of about 55 percent Protestants and 20 percent Roman Catholic, while about 20 percent are Muslim and the remaining 5 percent belonging to traditional African religions

GETTING THERE: The national airline, Air Malawi, is one of the more modern airlines in Africa and operates both locally and regionally with flights to Blantyre, Harare, Lusaka, and Nairobi. Aero Zambia, Air Tanzania, Air Zimbabwe, British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM and South African Airways all service Lilongwe International Airport, some of them on daily basis. There are no seaports in Malawi, but there are four ports on Lake Malawi: Chipoka, Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay and Nkhotakota. There are no entry requirements into Malawi but all entering the country except nationals of Belgium, the British Commonwealth, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United States require visas.

GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE: Malawi, as stated previously, is a landlocked country situated on the southeastern side of Africa bordered by Mozambique on the east and south, by Zambia on the west and Tanzania on the north. The terrain is in the form of a narrow elongated plateau with rolling hills and some mountainous areas. It has a subtropical climate with the rainy season from November to April, and the rest of the year being fairly dry. Items to bring on your visit to Malawi include lightweight cotton clothing because the weather can become very warm in this tropical setting. During the winter, at higher altitudes the nightly temperature can drop quite low, so long pants and a windbreaker could be necessary to protect one against the rain and chill of the air.

MAJOR CITIES: The Capital of Malawi is Lilongwe, with a population of about 233,000. It is known as the "Garden Capital City"and was constructed specifically to be the seat of the government. The other major towns are Blantyre, founded by missionaries and the commercial and industrial center with 332,000 inhabitants and Zomba, the old seat of government with 43,000 inhabitants. Malawi has first class modern hotels, lake resorts and lodges in wildlife reserves, as well as clean and simple accommodations in the more remote areas.

PLACES OF INTEREST: The real attractions of Malawi are the game reserves, national parks and of course the spectacular lake. Malawi has five national parks and four game reserves with Liwonde National Park being one of the finest in southern Africa. The bird life along the shores of the lake and river and on the flood plains is nothing short of astounding. Adventurous travelers will appreciate the multitude of water sports available on the lake including windsurfing, fishing, canoeing, water skiing, speed boating, and kayaking along with many other forms of water recreation. One can even take a canoeing safari to several remote islands on the lake. There are also two ferries, the MV Ilala and MV Mtendere that travel between Monkey Bay and Chilumba once a week. The ferries are inexpensive but not quite up to international tourist standards.

Lake Malawi: Lake Malawi provides ideal sailing conditions, with no tides or currents, and a fairly consistent southeasterly wind from February to October. The wind, known locally as the 'Mwera' is the strongest from August to September, and is replaced by a stronger but less predictable northerly wind known as 'Mpoto' between November and January. The calmest months are December to March, but rough,windy weather can occur unexpectedly at any time. The major event of the year, with quite an international following, is the challenging Lake Malawi Yacht Marathon, an eight-day 560km race, taking place each year in July.

You can also sail a traditional dhow, rent an outboard dinghy well as go snorkeling and scuba diving. With more than 500 different species of tropical fish, warm clear waters and safe conditions, the lake is ideal for underwater recreational activities. A snorkeling experience in the lake, with the many different species of fish that are brightly colored and patterned is very much like snorkeling in a tropical fish tank. The lake contains a great variety of indigenous tropical fish, many of the cichlid family, that are not found anywhere else in the world. Courses are available for beginners and equipment is available for hire for more experienced divers. The best time of the year to dive is from August to December.

Wildlife: Game viewing is another peaceful pastime offered by Malawi. Wildlife including elephant, hippopotamus, crocodile and bird life can be seen in their natural habitats. The country's nine wildlife reserves offer a true sense of unspoiled wilderness and excitement. One can experience the thrill of a safari in a handful of exclusive but inexpensive lodges and encampments. Natural beauty is also one of the country's great features with more than 400 species of orchid and other wild flowers. From the rolling hills of Nyika, to the forested plateau of Zomba, mountainous Mulanje Massif and the fertile Shire Valley, the landscape is ever changing. One can even enjoy hiking and backpacking along the countryside.

CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS. Visitors can enjoy a strong tradition of music and dance ñ from intricate wedding dances to the thrilling beat of drums and lively military dances like the famous Ingoma of Mzimba, celebrating great victories of the storied past. The dancers are often arrayed in magnificent wooden masks, like the highly colored Nyau masks adorned with feathers. These make souvenirs to treasure, as do the carved boards and counters for bao, a game somewhere between backgammon and mah jong, played universally amongst Malawians with astonishing skill and speed.

Tourist will also find a wide assortment of attractive traditional gifts to take home, including colorful hand-woven mats, great woodcarvings of furniture and sculpture, especially in ebony at affordable prices. Also, don't forget to sample the local cuisine of which a favorite is the chambo, a fish, which is a frequent catch from the waters of Lake Malawi. Eaten cooked or dried, this fish can be used for meals at all times of the day.

Malawi is a perfect getaway from the city life and urban pressures with so much to choose from. Come to Malawi and enjoy year round sunshine, fresh water lake, pristine beaches, spectacular wildlife, abundant recreational activities and breathtaking scenery. All of the above combine to make a perfectly relaxing holiday destination.
For more information about VIP's FAM Trip to Malawi contact
Helen C. Broadus 1-877-TO-VENUE
e-mail :vipinc@erols.com.

Quick Facts:
Malawi is in Southern Africa, east of Zambia;
Capital: Lilongwe
Area: 118,480 sq km (slightly smaller than Pennsylvania)
Population: 10,385,849 ; Ethnic groups: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuko, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European
Climate: subtropical; rainy season (Nov. to May)
Topography: arrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains
Religions: Protestant 55%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs.
Languages: English (official), Chichewa (official), other languages important regionally
Government type: multiparty democracy

Diplomatic representation in USA
Ambassador H.E. Tony Kandiero
chancery: 2408 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
tel.[1] (202) 797-1007

Diplomatic representation from USA
Ambassador Amelia Ellen SHIPPY
P. O. Box 30016, Lilongwe 3, Malawi
Tel. [265] 783 166 , fax [265] 780 471

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