Malawi, land of happy smiles and friendly people

Malawi, Mwanza Region

A friendly welcome,

As soon as I arrived in Malawi, I received a warm welcoming friendly response from Malawians. All along the busy streets, people were waving and cheering us on, as if we took part in a charity run. Desperate vendors took no for an answer and walked off. Yet, poverty is a major factor in Malawi, as much as anywhere in Africa. Crossing the border from Mozambique into Malawi takes patience, but is a friendly experience.

Even before getting to the Malawi border post, I got swarmed by locals wanting to exchange money. Once passed through Mozambique customs, a 5 km ‘no mans land’ strip leads to the Malawi border post. As an owner of a car and self-driver, passing through immigration goes in three steps. 

  • Firstly, a visa cost 75$ US, they don’t accept local currency ‘Kwacha’. I needed to exchange at the bank in the customs area. Once that is paid, processing the visa takes a fair while.
  • The second step is to register Zimba with government traffic authorities. Another lengthy process, paying another 20$ US, and another 10000 ‘Kwacha’ for road taxes. 
  • The third step is 3rd party car insurance, which cost 35000 ‘Kwacha’ for a month. 

There are so-called ‘transporters’, officially registered by immigration, who help you through the paperwork process. Admittedly, I was a bit suspicious at starters but was happy to have Lucky and Stanley transporting me through the system, as efficient as possible for African standards.

Transporter Malawi style, Stanley and Lucky, Malawi

Transporter Malawi style, Stanley and Lucky, Malawi

Whilst my visa has been processed, we moved on to traffic and car insurance, saving a fair amount of time. Both weren’t pushy or asked for money and let myself decide, if and how much to pay for their ‘volunteer’ services. Friendly faces all around, even customs officers took the time to have a little chat. One really gets a happy vibe all around.

Mountain border to Mozambique, Malawi

Mountain border to Mozambique, Malawi

Descending from green semi-alpine mountains into a very dry and hot climate, caused by surrounding granite mountain ranges, I passed through an array of Baobab trees.

Baobab as far as I can see, Malawi, Mwanza Region

Baobab as far as I can see, Malawi, Mwanza Region

I passed a medium sized granite hill and decided to climb up, to get a better view.

Baobab near and far, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Baobab near and far, Mwanza Region, Malawi

I was looking out over the never-ending Baobab Forrest.

One baobab tree hill, Mwanza Region, Malawi

One baobab tree hill, Mwanza Region, Malawi

On top of the hill stood a single Baobab tree, like on many other hills.

Baobab fruit loosing their teeth?, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Baobab fruit losing their teeth?, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Most of the fruit had cracked and opened, due to intense heat.

Baobab fruit close up, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Baobab fruit close up, Mwanza Region, Malawi

A good opportunity for close up photos of the baobab fruit.

One tree hill in Black and White, Mwanza Region, Malawi

One tree hill in Black and White, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Not often do I get a chance to look down to a Baobab tree.

Astonished but friendly people, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Astonished but friendly people, Mwanza Region, Malawi

By the time I returned to Zimba, a family sat not far, watching and wondering what I was doing.

Brothers in arms, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Brothers in arms, Mwanza Region, Malawi

A father with 4 kids gave us the thumbs up.

Mini Me? I will hold the world ransom for...? Mwanza Region, Malawi

Mini Me? I will hold the world ransom for…? Mwanza Region, Malawi

Friendly, but uncertain of a camera. A  few photos were taken before I drove on. ‘Tedzani Falls’ was on my way to Blantyre and not too far off the main highway. Waterfall and Baobab trees combined got my definite interest.

Dusty tracks along Baobab Forrest, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Dusty tracks along Baobab Forrest, Mwanza Region, Malawi

A dry, dusty track lead to the falls, passing communities nestled within Baobab trees.

Baobab and cloud spectacular, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Baobab and cloud spectacular, Mwanza Region, Malawi

A rather spectacular view, those trees have me mesmerized. Almost everyone waved happily, wondering where the zebra wagon is going to.

Happy to pose, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Happy to pose, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Kids were happy to pose in front of the camera, a slightly different vibe to Mozambique.

Tedzani waterfalls disappeared by hydro/ electro plant, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Tedzani waterfalls disappeared by hydro/ electro plant, Mwanza Region, Malawi

The waterfalls were occupied by a hydroelectric plant, wish I knew that before.

Low setting sun over dry land, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Low setting sun over dry land, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Nevertheless, passing these Baobab Trees was worth the detour.

Dramatic sunset over Baobab Forrest, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Dramatic sunset over Baobab Forrest, Mwanza Region, Malawi

The sun was fairly low already, I won’t get to Blantyre before sunset. Thick cloud cover over distant peaks was dramatic and colourful.

Colourful dramatic sunset, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Colourful dramatic sunset, Mwanza Region, Malawi

Driving at dusk and darkness along busy Malawian streets isn’t recommended, but I had no choice if I was to reach Blantyre. 

After checking in to ‘Doogles Backpackers’ I had a few friendly chats with locals and two Dutch ‘soon to be doctors’ ladies. A few beers later, we decided to experience local nightlife in Blantyre. A few nightclubs and plenty of beer later, we headed home at 3 am in the morning. A good vibe all around, however, the oldest profession in the world seems to thrive here.

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