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Trip Report Travel Report for Malawi - A Great Place To Relax

Hi,
here you find our Travel Report for our last trips to Malawi (August 2014).
For more information, check our website: http://grandescapades.net/guide-to-malawi/
We have also added a budget part: http://grandescapades.net/budget-guide-to-malawi/
And a short selection of pictures: http://grandescapades.net/malawi-a-selection-of-30-pictures/
Do not hesitate if you have specific questions.
Cheers
Gilles

Itinerary And Time Of The Visit
In August 2014 we traveled Malawi, named after the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. We crossed the border coming from the south, from Tete in Mozambique. These are the places we visited: Blantyre, Liwonde Natonal Park, Chongoni Rock Painting Area, Lilongwe, Nkhotakota, Nkhata Bay, Livingstonia and last but not least South Viphya Forest Reserve.
Having only two weeks, we decided to rent a car and drive ourselves, which gave us great flexibility and the possibility to go Off The Beaten Track.

Why Travel To Malawi?
Malawi is mostly known for its ocean-like lake that runs through the country from north to south. Yes, it is intriguing to find fine sand beaches in a land-locked country!
Malawi is very easy to travel: short distances, mostly good roads, people speak English and accommodation is relatively cheap for Africa. It even earned the title “Africa For Beginners”. One thing is certain, there is no other place on the continent to crash and relax as cheaply as in Malawi. Anyway that we know of…
Malawi also claims to be “The Warm Heart Of Africa”. Well, of course most people are friendly and helpful, but if our memories drift back to travels in Uganda, Zimbabwe or Mali… this is where we would give out titles.

Challenges Organizing The Trip - What Would We Have Wished To Know?
You should have a very good look at two aspects when organizing a trip to Malawi:
• Red Tape
Citizens of most European countries, but not all of them, can get a free of charge Visa On Arrival at any border crossing or at the International Airport.
Nevertheless, some countries are not included on this list, for instance Austria & Switzerland… There are only very few embassies of Malawi in Europe delivering Visas, so check carefully in advance. And: in such a case the visa is awfully expensive - no less than 150 Euro!
• Money…
Read this very carefully: “Bring Your Visa Card… And Cash”! We spell it out again: VISA, not Master Card, not American Express, it is VISA only!
Not knowing this we wasted a lots of time and above all money …

Highlights Of The Trip
• Relaxing on the shores of Lake Malawi at Fish Eagle Lodge in Nkhotakota, the most pleasant and relaxing place. And that for a really, really reasonable price!
• Strolling the streets of Livingstonia being the only tourists
Not only did we enjoy the stunning views and the very relaxed atmosphere, but we had so many pleasant encounters and discussions with local people in the streets, restaurants or in shops…
Livingstonia turned out to be the best place to buy wooden artwork ever. Prices were about 10-15% of what we would have paid in Lilongwe…
• Night Diving in Nkhata Bay
The “normal” dive was okay, but nothing to write home about. The night dive was truly spectacular!
• “Football Fever” in Nkhata Bay
Across from the local prison, the football field turns lively on weekends, when local teams compete each other. A very local event, if this is what you like.
• Tobacco Auction in Lilongwe
Fascinating to watch how the system works and how quickly 500 tons of tobacco can be sold…
• The spectacular suspension bridge made of bamboo in Kandewe
Climbing across the wobbly bridge with the river well below was quite an experience!

How To Go Off The Beaten Track?
For more information, check our website

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