10 Reasons to Visit Lilongwe
1. Unique Foods
One of the great pleasures of visiting Malawi is tasting the delicious, unique local foods. The cuisine consists mainly of a maize porridge called nsima, which the people eat 2-3 times a day. There is also a ﬁne assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables in the markets. Malawi has international cuisine available at the restaurants in Lilongwe or Blantyre, the two major cities of the country. One highlight not to miss are the ‘mouse boys’ who sell sun-dried mice on sticks at the side of the road. This is not for the faint of heart, but is certainly a photo opportunity during your trip. There’s delicious, fresh-ground Malawian coffee which is said to be some of the best in the world.
2. Volunteer Opportunities
There are a number of ways that you can get involved when you’re in Malawi and make a real difference in people’s lives. Many organizations will give you the chance to help with building schools, digging wells, and volunteering as a teacher or healthcare assistant. The Malawi Volunteer Organization, or VSO, is the perfect place to start when you’re looking to get involved. This and other organizations are doing things like delivering tablet-based learning in local schools to help develop children’s math skills. When in Malawi, there are so many wonderful ways that you can help out and make a real difference in the lives of the people who reside there.
3. A Different Way of Life
Visiting Malawi will introduce you to a completely different way of life that you have not seen before. You’ll drive across some interesting mud roads, see people walking by with bicycles stacked up with enormous quantities of ﬁrewood, view towers of mud bricks being baked dry in the sun, and watch barefoot children running amidst chickens and goats. Watching how the people of Malawi go about their daily lives is fascinating and talking to those who have no understanding of technology such as smartphones and tablets is eye opening. When you visit the country you get a glimpse into a kind of life that is rare in the world today.
4. A Blast to the Past
There are a lot of modern conveniences that you won’t ﬁnd in Malawi and this helps you to really appreciate what we have in the world. When you are adventurous and stay in a Malawian hut, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for running water, electric lights, and ﬂushing loos. It’s truly an interesting experience to enjoy cold showers from a bucket, candlelit evenings, and a few days free from the internet, and it helps you to never take for granted the comforts that you enjoy at home. Kumbali Village in Lilongwe is the perfect place to experience this kind of simplicity, while still enjoying clean water and comfortable rooms.
When you take a walk or drive around Malawi you’re going to see that there are a lot of different plants and animals everywhere you turn. It’s possible to take a safari or venture off to one of the country’s national parks, such as Liwonde and Lengwe, to see the remarkable hippos, lions, elephants, and so much more. Even when you’re walking out and about you can come across monkeys, baboons, unique insects, and remarkable birds. Also, while walking through one of the villages you’re going to want to be sure and steer clear of the wandering chickens, goats, and dogs that are left to run around freely.
6. Climbing Mount Mulanje
When you’re looking for a little exercise and a spectacular view there’s nothing like climbing Mount Mulanje. It will give you a great sense of achievement and provides one of the best photo opportunities in Malawi. Mount Mulanje is 9,849 feet high, and that makes for quite a climb. The good news is that there is no special equipment required and you need not have any training or guide. Climbing the mountain makes for a wonderful day trip during your stay in Malawi.
7. Friendly Locals
Any travel destination will boast that the locals are friendly, but this is really true in Malawi. Malawi is known as the ‘warm heart of Africa’ and this is due to the warm and friendly people that inhabit it. The locals are genuinely interested in those that visit their country and they’re always happy to share their lives and interests with you. It always puts a smile on their faces when you use a couple of simple Chichewa phrases such as ‘zikomo’ (thanks), ‘chonde’ (please), or ‘moni’ (hello).
8. Untouched Scenery
The scenery of Malawi changes throughout the year, being lush and green during the wet season, and dry and dusty during the arid season. No matter what time of year you visit, it’s an impressive landscape, with a wide variety of different terrains such as mountains, lakes, and rivers. There are not many tourists in Malawi and that makes for a lot of open space. One of the biggest rewards of visiting the country is to see the unspoiled nature where commercialism has never taken over.
Some might assume that Malawi is very hot, but the truth is that the country enjoys very mild temperatures with low humidity. This provides you with the perfect climate to enjoy some sunbathing. You’ll always see locals outdoors enjoying the weather in Malawi and one of the best ways to spend the afternoon is to simply sit out and enjoy the sunshine. It’s always a good idea to wear sunscreen when you do this, but you’re going to ﬁnd that the sun feels so good in Malawi that it doesn’t seem like your skin is getting scorched.
It may seem strange to visit a country just for the sunsets, but once you see the sky at dusk in Malawi you’ll understand why it’s a reason to visit. Malawi actually means ‘ﬂames of ﬁre’ and this term refers to the country’s sunsets. Visitors proclaim it’s like nothing they’ve ever seen before, but it’s only one of Malawi’s many natural wonders. Whether you visit the pristine, azure waters of Monkey Bay, or the incredible rock formations at Mulanje Massif, you’re going to see that every natural wonder of Malawi is only enhanced by the crimson sunsets each evening.