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Malawi - The Warm Heart of Africa

Updated on February 6, 2012
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Is Malawi a country you know of but have limited knowledge of what it has to offer tourists?

Also known as “The Warm Heart of Africa”.

In 1989 I had the pleasure of visiting Malawi with my son, a holiday that almost changed our lives forever.

Still fresh in my mind the harrowing experience we endured, in this beautiful country, I invite you to read thereof.

Part 1

THE COUNTRY – MALAWI

The Republic of Malawi is bordered by Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique with Lake Malawi dividing the borders of the latter two countries.

Located in South East Africa, Malawi has one of the world’s most beautiful lakes hidden away.

This small country has a population of over 15 million most of which are less than affluent. In fact, Malawi has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world. Encouraging is the fact that the “ultra poor” have decreased in number substantially since 2007 to 15%.

Malawi’s economy is based on agriculture. Among the main products exported are tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, sorghum, cattle, fish and wood carvings.

Lake Malawi: Africa's third largest lake
Lake Malawi: Africa's third largest lake
Lake Malawi National Park - Located at the southern end of the great expanse of Lake Malawi, It is home to a staggering array of colourful tropical fish species, all endemic to Malawi. Most of these fish species are in the cichlid family.
Lake Malawi National Park - Located at the southern end of the great expanse of Lake Malawi, It is home to a staggering array of colourful tropical fish species, all endemic to Malawi. Most of these fish species are in the cichlid family.

LAKE – MALAWI

Lake Malawi is also referred to as “The Jewel” because by day the dense dark blue water glistens as the rays of the African sun beat down across it’s calm waters. By night, the numerous fishing boats on the lake give the illusion of a starry night.

The lake is the 8th largest freshwater lake in the world and best known for it’s fishing habitat. In fact there are over 1,000 species of fish in the lake, the most of any freshwater lake in the world.

The residence on it’s shore-line rely on the fish as a major source of food.

Surrounding terrain of mountains offset it’s immense span of freshwater measuring 580kms in length and 75kms in width at it’s widest point.

Small islands dot across the lake that resembles a sea because it is so vast in size. Here, the water meets the sky as if to infinity.

On June 10, 2011 it was declared a reserve in an effort to protect this bio-diverse freshwater lake.

Beach at Club Mak
Beach at Club Mak | Source

MAKOKOLA RETREAT

AKA “CLUB MAK”

I could be forgiven for thinking I had arrived at an island resort maybe in the Pacific rather than at a resort hotel deep in Africa.

“How tranquil” I thought, paradisaic!

Lush lawns offset by huge gardens, swaying palm trees, a nearby golf course, seating for relaxation on the sandy shore, and always a whiff of cuisine with an African flavor from the kitchen and there you have it, “Club Mak”.

The accommodation has a distinct African flavor, safari lodge suites known as rondawels (circular thatched hut) all with private verandas facing the lake. Modern, clean and different!

For the water sports enthusiast “Club Mak” is ideal!

Activities include, parasailing, water skiing, boardsailing, snorkeling and diving and many more.

I simply found the calm waters pleasant to swim in but Mark was keen on kayaking which is unique as the ‘canoes’ are calved out of tree trunks.

For snorkeling, we took a ride on their catamaran to Bird Island so there really is something for everyone at “Club Mac”.

Venturing outside the resort hotel, there are groups of local people showing off their carved wares all at sale prices to bargain for. I showed interest in a small chair and they had a buyer! Undecided, I walked off but that night a knock at my door from an employee revealed that I would not be getting out of this purchase. Rather staggered I paid up as the situation was compromising to say the least. After the experience I decided my son and I should stay put within the resorts grounds.

Source
Source

Part 2

MALARIA

Malaria in Malawi is the insidious disease that almost claimed the life of my son then aged 14years old.

Despite having taken the recommended medication timely prior to our visit Mark contracted malaria and now I caution would be tourists to Malawi whenever possible.

Malaria is an infection of the blood caused by a blood-borne parasite which is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito.

The symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, weakness, vomiting and more.

Left untreated it can cause death. In fact, one million deaths a year in the world are recorded as a result of malaria with 90% of those being in Africa.

Immediate treatment is essential and a speedy trip to hospital was my son’s savior.

The doctor literally took a hand full of tablets and shoved them down his throat. All rather unconventional to my mind, but these doctors treat malaria so frequently that Mark was completely in their hands.

Quinine is the tablet recommended for the treatment of malaria. Mosquito repellent is prevention method number one. (containing DEET)

I never did establish why my son contracted malaria despite having taken preventative medication.

Quinine was added to tonic water as a prophylactic against malaria when it was first intended for consumption in tropical areas in Asia and Africa.

It is imperative to educate yourself on the medical facilities and conditions in Malawi prior to visiting. You will be astounded!

THE HOSPITAL

My son was treated on a bed that was hastily wiped down after a woman had given birth. I saw two to three patients per bed and believe it or not, I saw patients lying on the floor under and around beds. Blankets were non existent!

THE END

I still feel the euphoria of Marks narrow escape from death and this account is as close as I have ever gone to relating the nightmare we suffered in Malawi.

That's Me! Buying a hand carved chair at the markets
That's Me! Buying a hand carved chair at the markets

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    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      How exciting that he's getting married in a few days. What a great ending to this hub!

      Hope his honeymoon is carefree and healthy.

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Thank you sincerely for the kind words. When my son marrys next week I will be counting my blessings that he lived to enjoy the day.

      When I receive comment such as yours it is a reminder that hubpages is a loving community.

      With gratitude!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      Oh my, this is quite a story. Malawi and the resort looks stunningly beautiful but it must have been terrifying when your son came down with malaria, especially when you saw the unsanitary and primitive hospital facilities. Thank goodness though, that the staff was so proficient and effective at treating malaria and that your son recovered.

      Thanks for sharing the "good" and

      "bad" experiences that you had when you traveled there.

      Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting.

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Kevin, you are right, Malawi is a beautiful place, Africas best kept secret but as long as malaria looms the beauty is overshadowed.

    • KevinC9998 profile image

      KevinC9998 

      6 years ago

      What a powerful story. I am glad to hear your son is fine. It does look like a beautiful place. Thanks and voted up, Kevin

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Kevin, thank you for making a comment and the vote.

      I hope we can enjoy reading further hubs written by each other.

      Have a nice day!

    • kevins blog52 profile image

      kevins blog52 

      6 years ago from southern Indiana

      Great hub thank you LadyLyell, for the read, i voted up and awesome.

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Thank you for reading and making comment on my travels in Malawi. I am acutely aware of how lucky I am that my son survived Cerebral malaria as few do.

      If the powers to be, sprayed the regions where malaria is prevalent tourism would take off.

      I'm not too sure about that hub on the "chair" as the thought of a gang knocking on my door again may haunt me!

      Your support is truly appreciated!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      What an amazing and beautiful place to visit and how terrifying when your son contracted malaria. What a blessing that he is OK. I will be watching for the Hub about the "chair." :)

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      I am so pleased that this splendid place warms your heart. Most people don 't realize that Africa has such hidden beauty.

      Thank you for the writing compliment!

      Have a nice day!

    • pinto2011 profile image

      Subhas 

      6 years ago from New Delhi, India

      You have created a longing in my heart for this place. Great piece of writing.

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Peggy, A photo of 'The Chair' is above.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi LadyLyell,

      I did not see the chair and perhaps you have not added the photo yet. It sounds lovely. Perhaps you should rather do a hub about it and link these two hubs together?

      Nice to know that the airplane captain did all he could do to help your son and that the passengers bore it well also in the spirit of helping. You and you son are lucky indeed that all went well!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Funny you should ask about the chair as I am going to add a picture to this hub being the purchase of it so take a look. The chair is a masterpiece in fact, carved from a tree truck, in two pieces that slide together forming the seat and back and heavily engraved. If I told the whole story of this chair I would have a hub page and come to think of it, maybe I will one day.

      Few people survive cerebral malaria so I know how lucky I am to have my son. The flight back to Johannesburg, once he showed signs of recovery was quite and experience as the captain dropped the cabin temperature for his benefit causing all the passengers to have to rug up but no one complained.

      The captain did radio ahead to have an ambulance waiting for the landing .

      Thank you for taking an interest and allowing me to relate the ordeal for the very first time.

      Have a nice day!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Such gorgeous pictures and beautiful place in the world...all destroyed by mosquitos carrying malaria. What a nightmare for you and your son. So nice to know that he survived the ordeal without complications. Just curious...do you still have that chair?

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Your kind words are appreciated and I will be eternally grateful for my sons survival. Lake Malawi is very beautiful but I will never return.

      Thanks for the vote and support!

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 

      6 years ago from Sweden

      LadyLyell -- What an awful experience for you and your son!! You are so lucky that your son survived and came out okey through the ordeal. Malawi sure sounds like a paradise as long as you stay put inside the resorts. I loved that you shared this experience with the rest of us. The beautiful pictures was also a very nice treat.

      Voted up!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment Donna.

      Considering Mark had cerebral malaria I am lucky he survived with no after effects at all.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 

      6 years ago from USA

      How awful for you and your son! It's a miracle he survived that:)

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Thank you for the comment. I am blessed with my son coming through the ordeal.

    • profile image

      Sarena 

      6 years ago

      A beautiful part of the world but sad it ended up being a tragic time for you.

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