Malawi Has Secrets to Reveal, Are You Game?


Written by Brandon Schultz, courtesy of  Uptown Magazine

Called "the warm heart of Africa," Malawi enchants visitors with generosity, a welcoming spirit, and engaging smiles.

If the most you know of Malawi is that Madonna adopted children from there, you’re not alone, but you’re missing out on an outdoor travel secret that’s worth your attention. While countries like South Africa and Kenya are well known for bucket-list safari vacations, nearby Malawi has safaris (including opportunities to see all of the Big 5 mammals most sought after by travelers), is far less touristy, and is home to the vast Lake Malawi. At a north-south length approaching 356 miles and widths near 52 miles, “calendar lake” encompasses roughly 20 percent of the nation and is coveted for its 700+ species of tropical cichlids—the brightly colored tiny fish of fantasy. Three island groups within the lake are home to countless bird species, ancient trees, colorful lizards, and very few people, as most are uninhabited. People, though, are a prime reason to visit Malawi, affectionately called “the warm heart of Africa,” enchanting visitors with boundless generosity, a welcoming spirit, and engaging smiles impossible to ignore.

Malawi is easily reached on South African Airlines through Johannesburg (a nonstop journey from either New York City or Washington D.C.), and the cost of the extra flight is more than offset by the U.S. dollar’s tremendous value in Malawi’s considerably weaker economy. The lack of development through much of the country encourages an authenticity and purity harder to encounter in more commonly visited African countries and, quite simply, you’ll feel good about spending your dollars here, supporting the growth Malawi is working toward. Most destinations are supported to some degree by tourism, but in Malawi you will clearly see what your dollar is doing.

UPTOWN was invited to explore some of Malawi’s lake and safari retreats this summer, and here’s what we found.

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