Well, the weather still has not let up and its making me long to go back to the wonderful, and much drier, Africa. One country I have always wanted to visit in Africa is Malawi…in South Eastern Africa nestled in between Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania. One may think that because it is landlocked it may not be an ideal paradise, but Lake Malawi (which provides a border between Malawi and Tanzania and Mozambique) makes any resort in that area feel like a beach paradise. It is also called the ‘Calendar Lake’ since it is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide.
The beaches are pristine, the people are warm and energetic, and it is an untapped paradise for water-lovers despite being ‘landlocked’.
To experience Malawi in true luxury form without making a negative dent, but rather a positive one in the environment and culture try staying at one of the top eco-friendly and sustainable resorts in the world….the Kaya Mawa.
Located on the Likoma Island of the northern part of Lake Malawi (close to Mozambique), this lodge is a step back into a undeveloped wonderland of flora and fauna. The island is only 17 square kilometers and you will stay in one of 10 stone and teak-framed ‘chalets’.
The huts and resort were built entirely BY HAND (there was no machinery on the island) with help by employment of local people (who speak with the Tonga dialect). The workers used the local landscape and resources (stone and natural cliffs) to build the resort into the island as naturally as possible.
The Honeymoon suite is even located on its OWN PRIVATE ISLAND!
Get to the resort by air (small planes in Africa are so much fun for a birds-eye view!) or by boat and arrive to pure relaxation or get started with their activities which include snorkeling, SCUBA, sailing, mountain biking, exploration to Mozambique, and visits to the local village of Nkhwazi to the school or even to the local dance bars!
If you want to look into how to offset your travel emissions from flying…click here.
The resorts sustainability initiatives stem from its mantra “Maybe Tomorrow” (in local Tonga dialect). The management works in partnership with the locals to stem overfishing, improve the agricultural scene in the area by planting as much new produce as possible, not using machinery in construction, employing locals, and helping the local village schools with volunteerism and large donations (for purchases of football fields for athletic programs in the schools and other endeavors).
They even started an Island Child program in which one can sponsor a local child’s education, health care, etc.
Likoma means beautiful, from “silikoma” or “sweet land” and it certainly lives up to that name.
Rates range from a semi-affordable (relatively speaking) $180 (US) up to $430 (US) per night (for a the honeymoon suite). Definitely a splurge, but compared to other luxury hotels that aren’t as sustainable, I would say it’s a deal!
Although March is the prime-time for the rainy season, it should be dying down by now! Note: you will want to look into getting some immunizations and some Malaria pills before you head over, and there are many different options for travel/air carriers, so contact a travel agent who specializes in African travel for some advice or check out a “Lonely Planet” guide here from Amazon…or the Lonely Planet’s condensed version of Malawi on their website here.
Malawi was a British colony (many obviously speak English making travel easier) that gained independence back in 1964 but has struggled to develop a market economy and provide the proper health care for its citizens, struggling with infant mortality rates, malaria, HIV/AIDS, agricultural sustainability, improving environmental protection and increasing the quality of education for its densely populated citizenry.
Although celebrities (aka Madonna) have made adopting children from this country popular, I suggest a better way for feeling socially responsible: donate to the local schools when you visit (even just some school supplies we take for granted would help), or maybe spend part of your time on vacation volunteering at a local school if you feel moved to do so. You will be helping more than one child!
One thing that really draws me to Malawi is its cultural heritage and its focus on dance. Since I am a dancer, and have studied some African dance, it would be my dream to go to Malawi and study some of their traditional dances of their Bantu people that are performed at many rituals and traditional ceremonies. Some dances include the Gule Wamkulu of the Chewa people in which the members dance in elaborate costumes and even on stilts, while the vimbuza which is a healing dance performed by witch doctors to help patients of the Timbuka in northern Malawi.The government even founded a National Dance Troupe!
A friend from my alma mater, Colby College, a few years ago began an organization to help children in Malawi called Luzicare. This unprecedented endeavor by a busy college student, Jamie Goldring, has helped to bring aide to thousands of people (particularly children) suffering from HIV/AIDS in the country. It is a remarkable effort that is really making a difference by a remarkable young man…for more information on his efforts click here.
For some more basic facts on Malawi from National Geographic…click here.