Malawi is often referred as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, as people are incredibly friendly and welcoming. This was the first impression I got when I crossed the border and has continued all through my travels and destinations in Malawi. Never once did I feel not welcomed, or at least accepted as a tourist ‘Mzungu’ (white person).
It is no wonder that so many expats chose Malawi as their new home. Formally known as ‘Nyasa land’ Malawi’s first president ‘Hastings Kazunu Banda’ changed the name to ‘Malawi’, which means as much as ‘sparks’.
These sparks coming from early blacksmiths hammering glowing steel in hot fire pits. The Malawian flag still represents that with sparks around the sun.
These sparks were particularly strong whilst driving through deserted, dusty one lane mountain dirt tracks through the heart of this fascinating country.
Cars don’t drive these rough, corrugated and dusty roads often, Zimba and his paint job were a sensation for these isolated communities. Again, this incredible experience is to be witnessed and not to be described in words.
Locals, old or young,
male or female, unsure at first, before starting smiling, waving and giving me a thumbs up. Kids often ran towards me to ‘high five’ whilst driving slowly.
Where and whenever I stopped for a toilet or coffee break, I was quickly surrounded by people of young and old.
A classic example happened on a busy dusty road on my way to ‘Vwaza National Reserve’.
I stopped for a much-needed coffee break, carefully watched by a bunch of cute kids rolling tires around.
Careful and anxious at first, they quickly loosened up to become ‘cool’ boys.
Posing in front of Zimba,
or still unsure of the camera in my hand.
It didn’t take long for the girls to see what all this commotion was all about.
Giggling as young girls do. Early childbirth was obvious too, sadly enough. The fellas at the pub across the road kept them entertained with comments. Which kept everyone amused.
One even ran across to have his photo taken.
An Ox wagon driver passed yelling and laughing, full of beans.
This was just one off many unexpected memorable moments the two of us encountered.
A fabulous sunset over the mountains just topped the experience.
A few boys generally inquire carefully about what I am doing.
A few more appear,
before the girls join in. The result is a group gathering when I display the photos with lots of laughter.
The whole country called Malawi sure is the ‘Warm heart of Africa’.
It is just heartbreaking to see these poor souls suffering and neglected by their government. Walking deserted roads to supply on basic staple food.
Food in supermarkets was expensive for me, unimaginable for the locals.
I was in Nhakata Bay on July 6th. Little did I know that it was the 54th Independence Day for this friendly nation. I checked in at ‘Butterfly Backpackers’ and parked Zimba on the kids’ playground, as no other spacious spot was available.
The neighbours kids loved to come down to play, just enjoying themselves. In fact, as far as I can remember, this is the only playground with swings and slide I have seen in Malawi.
Some were clearly showing off, good on them.
Some were a bit unsure of a zebra parked on their territory. I was an intruder once more.
There was a funky vibe at the bar overlooking Lake Malawi with a spacious deck. There is a Rastaman vibe here, lots of strong built tall men
and pretty women mingled with travelers from around the world. Malawian Gin and ‘Gold’ was shared until the early morning hours, a funtastic night to celebrate freedom.
Via Mzuzu, I drove to Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital. Like all other capital cities in black Africa, it is a bustling city filled with markets all around
and a few mosques dotted here and there.
The army paraded along the Main Street for unknown reasons, maybe it is a power thing. I did get a haircut, which normally isn’t worth to mention. Apart from the fact, that after the actual haircut, I had some colour in my hair. Ha ha, I didn’t see that coming. Maybe the grey hair was too overwhelming?
For a large city, it is surprisingly small in terms of people knowing each other. I met a fair amount of locals who either recognized me or Zimba from previous outings. Staying at ‘Mabuya Camp’ was a good option to camp.
A massive ‘Ridgeback’ dog by the name of Sammy patrolled for security. The area was secured.
After weeks of communicating on ‘Couchsurfing’, I finally met Manuela. She works closely with poor communities in remote areas and tries her best to make a difference for those in need.
It was her birthday a few days back and I was invited to celebrate. Plenty of chatting, beer and gin in the friendly happy atmosphere.
What a way to end my incredible journey through Malawi. We celebrated till the early morning hours.
My Malawian visa runs out tomorrow and I will be crossing over to Zambia, which I am really looking forward to as well. National Parks and wildlife viewing options all around in this large African country. See what happens in Zambia, shall we?
For now, it is ‘Sikomo’ Malawi. Thank you so much for an unforgettable journey through the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’.
A tear will be shed like the sun did over Lake Malawi.