Malawi is known as the “warm heart of Africa,” and the friendly people and waving children support the title. We had many long bus journeys crossing Malawi from north to south. Thankfully because of good rains, the countryside is lush with greenery and baobab trees dotted the landscape.
Malawi was originally named Maravi, meaning “flames.” The original tribe in Malawi were mostly blacksmiths and their kilns lit up the night sky, hence the flames reference. The Malawian flag is black symbolizing the black people of Africa, red symbolizing bloodshed for liberation, and green symbolizing the land. The national language of Malawi is Chichewa, not Swahili, and the main tribe is the Chewa people who are known for the masked dances known as Gule Wamkulu.
Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and certainly looks large enough to be an ocean. It is partially in Tanzania and Mozambique as well, but runs the entire length of Malawi. Unfortunately, due to parasites we opted not to swim or snorkel in the lake. The fish population in the lake has also dropped over time due to over fishing. Because of this and the striking poverty of the region, prostitution of women in exchange for fish is all too common. This contributes to the overwhelming rate of HIV, estimated to be 1 in 10 adults in Malawi.
On our way to Lake Malawi, we stopped at a local market where our cook had us shop for our own produce. We had to haggle for the ingredients and navigate a densely populated marketplace. While camping in Chitimba which is also along the coast of Lake Malawi, Whitney learned how to play a local game called Bao, similar to mancala. During our stay in Malawi, we camped in Chitimba for one night and along the coast of Lake Malawi at Kande Beach for two nights.