Ultimate Guide: Malawi 3/3
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This is a house in a small village in Malawi. The old lady is the grandmother of a friend and she invited us to her house for dinner.

The most spontaneous and outstanding trip in Africa I have ever done was my trip in Malawi. 3 friends of mine (Mike from the Netherlands as well as the two Andi’s from Germany) joined me for this unique adventure. On our trip we met 2 more travellers Sarah and Luca. Luca was given a 4×4 in Namibia and he traveled with it to Malawi. Sarah and Luca then joined our journey for the last couple of days. Here, you can read about the 1st part and the 2nd part of our trip (there is also a vlog each). This post is going to outline the final part of our tour throughout the “Warm Heart of Africa”.

Follow my ultimate 3 week road trip of traveling Malawi and get to know the culture, tradition and the people. Don´t forget to watch my 3rd vlog, which you can find at the bottom of this post:

Day 14 – Kande Beach

Crystal clear water and a white, sandy beach – welcome to Kande Beach. We spent the entire day chilling on the beach. When traveling Malawi and swimming in the Lake you have to consider one thing, Bilharzia. It is a parasitic infection caused by a tiny flatworm. This flatworm appears in parts of Lake Malawi and can cause a severe sickness. Read up on this before you go on your trip to Malawi but please don’t overthink it. I took Praziquantel 600 mg pills with me from Malawi to treat myself after my stay. You should consider doing the same and speak to a doctor after your trip. Nevertheless Lake Malawi is stunning. For dinner we headed to the restaurant called “Mom’s restaurant” in Kande. We had Nsima and Fish. Honestly, 2 years ago I would have never gone to a place like that. Most of the restaurants we went to eat at didn´t really look attractive from the outside but the food they offered was always good. Especially in the beginning of our trip my friends from Germany were super careful and afraid of the foreign food but after 2-3 days they realised that there is nothing to be scared of. Also, none of us ever had stomach problems. We wondered how many tourists make their way to “Mom’s Restaurant”. Sam, the owner, explained to us that tourists are rare in Kande. Most of them stay in the lodges instead of exploring the local life. This is a pity as it would help the community a lot if more tourists would come to the village. Besides that, it’s a perfect way of immersing yourself in the Malawian culture. We finished off our evening with a fire on the beach. 3 locals spontaneously joined us, M.J., Sam and Roger. All of them are tour guides and own shops at the beach selling local handcraft.

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This is a hammock and the beach of Kande Beach in the north of Malawi.

 

Day 15 – Kande Beach

Birthday party Malawian style

The next day M.J.invited us for breakfast at his house in Kande Beach.

 

Each of us had a bun, fried eggs and tea. Being invited to the village was such an authentic African experience for all of us. They still use water pumps, have to carry the water for bathing and cooking to their homes and also cook on fire. The bathroom doesn’t have taps, nor do they have a shower or flushing toilets. I always wanted to have a deeper look into a life like that. What a blessing we met those guys! Later on we went to the Market in Kande, which happens every Thursday. With Luca´s 4 x 4 and 10 more locals we went to town. Every single spot of the car was used. People were sitting in front, on the roof and in the back. Everyone wanted a ride and to be seen with us and the 4 x 4. I was laughing my ass off as it must have looked like a hilarious clown car.

Witrh this 4 x 4 we were traveling Malawi and wild camping on the beach

At the market we tried all of the street food they had to offer: Mandazi (fried balls made of flour and water), fried Cassava (sort of a potato), local chicken, dried fish and Samosas.

This is traditional food they sell at the market in Malawi. You can see peanuts and Mandazi.

Since traveling Malawi was so amazing I almost forgot about my birthday which was on the following day. We shopped for some fresh ingredients and drinks and started preparing a big party on the beach. M.J., Sam and Roger cooked a traditional local dish: Kampango fish, rice and vegetables, we played drums and sang songs. More and more locals joined spontaneously. When the clock struck 12 a.m. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Everyone sang a song for me, they hugged me, the guys we met one day ago even gave presents to me. A handcrafted bowl and giraffe, paintings and bracelets were my gifts. I was so amazed that I didn’t know what to say. Malawi is “The Warm Heart of Africa”, this was definitely more proof. We carried on partying in the bar at the beach teaching our new friends a common German party game “Musical chairs”. It was so much fun and it is hard to put into words what this evening meant to me. Somewhere in the middle of Africa I had one of the best birthday parties ever.

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African Craft

Day 16 – Kande Beach

Solving a problem in small communities in Malawi

We were supposed to leave Kande Beach on day 16 and had checked out of our lodge already. Unfortunately, there was a little incident that happened during my birthday party the previous night. Our friend Luca´s wallet went missing. Money-wise it was not a problem as Luca had a second credit card but his driver’s license was in there as well. Since he wanted to go further north in Africa he urgently needed his driver licence to carry on with his trip.

We discovered that Roland, one of the local guys that joined my birthday party spontaneously and which we didn´t know before found Luca´s wallet. Instead of returning it this guy took 4000 Malawian Kwacha that were in it and threw away the wallet with the licence Luca needed so badly. What we then experienced was sort of unbelievable and a unique experience as well. Our local friends took us to the chief and the head of police of the village. Now we witnessed how an issue like that is solved in a small community in Malawi. Roland disappeared and was nowhere to be found. The chief spoke to his grandmother and gave him a 12 hour deadline to show up and to prevent a higher punishment. The whole process of reporting to the chief and head of police took forever. Instead of leaving Kande Beach all together, Mike and I decided to stay with Luca for another night in Kande, whereas Sarah and Andi, went further north to Nkhata Bay. Hoping Roland was going to show up to find out where he threw the wallet, we decided to wait and meet Andi and Sarah the following day in Nkhata Bay.

Invitation to grannies house

Andi and Sarah left and we were invited for lunch to Sam´s grandmother’s house in a little village close to Kande Beach. Mike, Luca, our locals friends and I headed there around 2p.m. We bought some sugar, tea, milk, soap and bread as a gesture to give it to his granny. Most of the people of this village had never seen “Azungus” (white people) before. 50 kids were sitting in front of us observing and staring at us without saying a word.

This is in a small village in Malawi where the kids have never seen white people before. We were invited to a friends house for dinner and amazed by the kids starring at us.

We brought drums and in order to break the ice we started playing the drums and singing songs. 10 minutes later the entire village was dancing and singing with us. It was unbelievable. No words will ever describe this vibe and feeling. With amazing memories we left at sunset, heading back to Kande Beach to get involved in another unplanned cultural experience.

Death Rituals in Malawi

Coming back to M.J.´s house his family was waiting for him already. While we were having lunch at Sam´s grandmother’s house M.J.’s aunt passed away. In Malawi it is common that if someone dies, members and friends of the family will spend the night at their place to make sure the deceased isn’t alone. M.J. asked us to come with him to his auntie’s house. On the one hand side we felt super honoured, on the other hand we were nervous and didn’t know what to expect. The moment we got there we heard people wailing. It seemed like the entire village was there. About 50 people, relatives and friends, sat on the floor in a small room, crying and giving consolation. The body of M.J.´s auntie was displayed in a separate room. After 2 hours we left with an invitation to the funeral the next day.

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Day 17 – Kande Beach

Wild Camping on the beach

I woke up in a tent on the beach. That was my first wild camping experience ever. As we were supposed to leave the previous day we checked out of our camp and didn´t want to check in again.  Resolutely, we decided to camp on the beach. What that also meant was that there was no proper toilet nor was there a bathroom to shower. On the beach of Lake Malawi this is not a problem at all. You can find a “wild toilet” everywhere. Shower wise we did what most of the Malawians do, we showered in Lake Malawi. Even my black dress I needed for the funeral was washed in the lake. For breakfast we got invited to Roger’s house. This time we had baked banana with a tomato relish, cassava chips and fried eggs – it was delicious. Those guys really know how to accommodate people.

First Funeral in Malawi

The funeral started at 12p.m. When we got there all the men of the entire village sat around a common ground. The woman sat in the middle next to the coffin and sang songs. After the priest gave a speech and everyone gave donations we went to the graveyard. It didn’t actually look like a usual graveyard. It was sort of in the bush but all the family members are buried there. All the woman carried rocks to put them on top of the grave. The entire ceremony lasted about 2 hours and being part of that was an incredible and moving experience.

This is how a traditional Malawian funeral looks like.

Investigations going on

Coming back from the funeral we hoped for some news of Lucas’ stolen wallet. Unfortunately, Roland still hadn´t shown up so Lucas was stuck in Kande Beach for another night.  Now our local friends promised to alert the entire village to look for Ronald the upcoming day. My friend Mike went to Nkhata Bay whereas Lucas and I stayed in Kande Beach for another night. The fact that we had to spend another night in Kande Beach was unexpected for the two of us. Now we had to deal with another problem, both of us had run out of money. We couldn’t even borrow some money from Mike as he had to use the last money he had to pay the bus to get to Nkhata Bay. I had about 1000 Malawian Kwacha ($1) left, the same Luca. That day we spent our last money on food which we shared with our local friends. For the night M.J. invited us to stay at his house. We took a bath. That was the second bath after Lake Malawi without a shower. What the Malawians do is they wash themselves with water that is provided in a small bucket. After that we had dinner and went to bed early. I learnt two lessons that day:

  • If you have nothing left don’t stress, somehow it is going to work out.
  • You can camp everywhere.

Day 18 – Nkhata Bay

We woke up at 8a.m. M.J. wasn’t home by that time anymore. We made our way down to the beach hoping to find him. What we then saw was unbelievable. About 100 locals- kids, men, women were there already – it seemed like the entire village. All of them were standing in for Luca to find Roland who took his wallet. It was unbelievable. Sadly they couldn’t find him but honestly just the gesture was amazing. For now we couldn’t do anything to help. We had to go to Nkhata Bay as I only had 2 days left in Malawi and we urgently needed a bit of money. Luca planed on coming back to Kande in case they found Roland. At noon we left for Nhkata Bay which is further north about 50 minutes away from Kande Beach. In Nhkata Bay we meet up with Andi, Mike and Sarah at Mayoka Village, a really cool hostel. We went on a sunset kayak tour and after that to the beach. In general, what I experienced in Africa is that the locals always party on a Sunday. Back in the days that was their only off day and that´s when they had Braai´s (BBQ) and a big JOL (party). This was the case that day on the beach of Nkhata Bay. Later on we carried on partying in the local club “Bay View”. This is definitely something that I recommend once you are in Malawi. Go to party in a local club. First of all the African house music they play in most of the clubs is unique and its super easy to mingle with the locals.

This is Nkhata Bay, a village in the north of Malawi.

Day 19 – Nkhata Bay

We chilled in the morning and went to Mzuzu, which is the second biggest city in Malawi, in the afternoon. Sadly, it was Mike’s, Andi’s and my second last day in Malawi. If we would have had more time, we would have gone to Likoma which is an beautiful island in Lake Malawi. From Nhkata Bay there is the Ilala ferry and a fishing boat going there. If you find your self spending more time in Malawi you should definitely check it out.

Day 20 – Lilongwe

It was time to say goodbye to Malawi. We had to make our way back to Lilongwe which took us about 6 hours for a distance of 350 km. For sunset Mike wanted to fly his drone for the last time. It was already dark by the time the drone took off. Suddenly and totally unexpected the drone crashed in the middle of nowhere into the Malawian bush. It was super scary because now we needed to go and look for the drone in an area where there could have been anything – snakes, scorpions…! For the first time in 3 weeks Mike had to put on shoes again and because we didn’t know what to expect in the bush he took his machete with him. Andi, Mike and curious locals made their way into the bush. I waited by the car and fortunately 10 minutes later they were successful in finding it. With the drone we carried on to Lilongwe and got back to Owen’s house, our local friend, at 9 p.m. to catch our flights the following day.

My conclusion: Malawi is awesome. Everyone should put this amazing country on their bucket list.

Don´t forget to watch my new vlog of the 3rd part of our road trip:

CATEGORY: Africa, Malawi

Claudia Bartsch

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  • Wow from birthdays to funerals. You really got a deep feel for the country. It seems like an unforgettable trip and this was just one part of it. I hope you enjoyed yourself on all the parts

    • Claudia

      I did enjoy the entire trip. I was actually the best I have ever done.

  • CHAPTERTRAVEL

    What a great post, sounds like such an amazing trip!

  • A Travellers Footsteps

    Looks like you had an amazing local experience. Thanks for sharing

    • Claudia

      Yeah I had – thats for sure. You can only get to know a country by meeting it´s locals.

  • Steph Huff

    What a truly special trip! It sounds like you really immersed yourself and made connections with people. What a nice feeling to celebrate your birthday with new friends. I am hopeful to travel to Malawi next year so I will keep your blogs in mind 🙂

    • Claudia

      You should definitely travel Malawi – it is such an amazing country. I will always remember that time and will come back to Malawi one day.

  • See Malawi

    Such a great post, so much information and sounds you had an amazing trip. Join our cultural tours offering authentic experience.