The Malawian people are, without doubt, its greatest asset: friendly and welcoming to a fault. Every visitor is met with a smile and the warmth of the welcome is genuine and long-lasting. With a population of a little more than 14 million, Malawi is one of the more densely peopled countries of this part of Africa. Most of the population is rural, living largely in fascinating traditional villages. Many of today’s Malawians are descendants of the Bantu people who moved across Africa and into Malawi for hundreds of years up to the fifteenth century.
There is a rich cultural mix in Malawi with the Chewa being the most numerous tribe. Others include the Yao, the Nyanja and the Maravi. In the north the Tumbuka are prominent. Each tribe has contributed to the modern Malawi scene, whether it be in dress or dance or language. Masks are commonly used in various dances and ceremonies and these are usually tribe-specific, the best known being the Gule Wamkulu, performed by the Nyau of the Chewa. Traditional (African) doctors still attract many people and the two main ‘modern’ religions, Christianity and Islam, frequently exhibit a continuing adherence to traditional beliefs.
All travel in Malawi will include some element of cultural experience as interaction with local people is very much part of any stay. A visit to a local village can easily be arranged at most lodges or hotels, whether they are in a town, forest reserve, National Park or on the lakeshore. These are always real villages, whose residents have an established relationship with the lodge in question, and who welcome the interest from visitors in their daily life. One of the best Cultural Experiences to be found in Malawi is in the Ntchisi Forest Reserve.
Lake Malawi also known as the 'Calendar Lake' as it is 365 miles long, 52 wide and, rounded up, 1 mile deep, stretching from the northern tip of the country in the north to Mangochi in the South! Occupying 1/5 of Malawi's total area, it is the third largest lake in Africa.
This lake has shorelines on western Mozambique, eastern Malawi, and southern Tanzania.
For much of the year Lake Malawi is placid, but when strong winds blow north or south, it can become an angry monster. Because of its potentially rich harvest of fish, the Lake plays an important part in the country’s economy. Fishing villages are scattered along the length of the lake shore and the traditional industry and practices are an attraction to visitors.
Lake Malawi is possible along much of its length but it should be noted that it is usually necessary to take a short detour off the main roads in order to reach the beach. Despite the attraction the Lake has to settlement, there are long stretches of totally uninhabited golden sand lake shore, and plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy activities on and in the waters.