Malawi - The Warm Heart of Africa
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.