Brimmed with dynamic wildlife and ethereal scenery, Malawi is a small country offering rare opportunities. Here’s our guide on responsible travel in Malawi.

 

Landlocked within the south-eastern sphere of Africa, Malawi homes magnificent natural beauties and communities bursting with culture. Its stunning geographical diversity brings you from one enchanting zone to another, from imposing plateaus and mountains to the tranquil stillness of Lake Malawi.

The shimmering waters of Lake Malawi encompass over a fifth of Malawi’s total area, fostering great tourism opportunities. Alongside this, phenomenal national parks, like the revered Majete Reserve, Liwonde National Park and Chimwenya Game Park, protect wildlife against ongoing poaching threats. Where antelope graze among deciduous forests and crocodiles bask on Lake Malawi’s sandy banks, there are growing hazards against the blossoming of southern Africa’s beautiful fauna.

As well as this, Malawi’s political and social state has made developments only recently following the declaration of independence in 1964. Poverty, police corruption and orphanhood are still rife in the country, making it essential for you to travel mindfully during your holiday to Malawi.

View our Malawi Itinerary:

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1. Be conscious of poverty


Malawi is among the poorest nations in southern Africa, with 80% of the population being dependent on volatile agricultural income. Before your holiday to Malawi, it is important to educate yourself on the widespread poverty which sadly commands much of the country’s localities. Whilst Malawi is revered by those who have visited, it is still a remote destination in the tourism industry - many tourist initiatives aid localities’ economy, including the employment of local guides. At Wayfairer, we try to support local guides, helping communities and providing you with a more authentic and responsible trip to Malawi.

2. Support community-run projects and charities


Our travel specialists are always on-hand to recommend brilliant community-run projects. “Travel and make a difference” is a key theme at Wayfairer – we always ensure the championing of authentic, kind-hearted charities and community initiatives. Malawi also has many charity projects which employ local artists and workers, selling products to generate proceeds for local communities. Some fabulous examples of these are the widely-adored Dedza Pottery ceramic shop and the phenomenal Katunda Likoma, a home décor store which focuses on ethical female employment.

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3. Be open-minded and inquisitive


At Wayfairer we promise an intimate and authentic adventure in your chosen destination. You may wish to stride into Malawi’s remote localities, raring to discover more about the everyday rhythms of its villages and towns. Whilst staying clear of touristic areas is a productive way to gain a fulfilling cultural experience, you should remain mindful of your interactions with locals. For instance, you could learn some key Malawian phrases before your trip, in turn exhibiting an enthusiasm for the communities you are guest to. You will soon realise that when you are open, friendly and inquisitive with people, they also tend to open up.

 

4. Don’t always expect “the warm heart of Africa”


A holiday to Malawi has for long been synonymous with welcoming and friendly locals, hence the fond nickname “the warm heart of Africa”. Whilst this nickname is well-meaning, we feel it is ignorant to visit a country with such pristine expectations of its people. Among Malawi’s communities, which comprise a population of nearly 20 million, people are bound to have bad days or not feel up for a conversation. You should be mindful of the privacy of residents, only entering spaces and buildings where you are explicitly welcomed. People are not tourist attractions, so always ask permission before taking photographs.

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5. Respect local culture and traditions


Malawi is a heavily Christian country, and a devout faith permeates its neighbourhoods, especially in the rural villages (known as mudzis). Whilst we may disagree with certain beliefs and customs which may impact minorities in Malawi, it is important to recognise that you are a visitor and should respect any differing values. For example, you should ask your local guide about dress codes, as modesty is required within places of worships and some neighbourhoods. Be mindful of social norms which contrast those back home – for example, open conversations about sexual matters are a taboo around most villages in Malawi.

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6. Buy and eat locally


Harness the agricultural diversity of Malawi’s topography and the abundance of fresh fish caught daily from Lake Malawi. Land agriculture also dominates local cuisine, as beef and goat are often found in delicious stews served with nsima. Dine at family-run venues, visit markets and small shops in villages, discovering new, vibrant flavours whilst contributing to local families. As a responsible traveller, we’d recommend supporting local communities in all their endeavours, including talented local craftworkers. Visit their shops in small villages  and avoid tourist-targeted souvenir shops in Lilongwe and other big cities.

 

7. Stay at eco-friendly lodges


Like all Wayfairer destinations, we hand-select lodges and hotels that adhere to our sustainability and social responsibility ethos. We are partnered with a selection of Malawian accommodations which utilise locally sourced ingredients and products, protect and conserve their surrounding environments and support local communities. Some examples of this are the Mvuu Lodge in Liwonde National Park and Thwale Camp, a tented accommodation near Majete Wildlife Reserve. Ask our travel specialists for a more comprehensive selection of luxurious and responsible hotel stays in Malawi.

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8. National parks and safaris


Visiting Malawi ensures a range of fascinating wildlife encounters, and its safari trails and parks make it a must-visit destination for animal lovers. At Wayfairer, we encourage you to take a bold step into the wilderness. Supporting national parks and conservational wildlife reserves is a fantastic way to unite against poaching and habitat destruction. Talk to our travel specialists to learn more about how entry fees, education and ethical animal encounters help the improvement of animal welfare in Malawi.  

Check out our “Malawi Family Safari Holiday” itinerary for a holiday brimmed with responsible animal encounters and safari adventures. Beginning at Game Haven Lodge, where giraffe and zebra roam sprawling grasslands, this carefully planned itinerary journeys through Malawi’s best safaris, concluding with a visit to Dedza Pottery.

 

9. Behaviour towards animals on safaris

Whilst you embark on your fabulous safari in Malawi, you may feel driven to get closer to the wonderful animals you encounter, perhaps taking selfies or snaps with them. However, there are marked tracks on safaris for a reason. A key pillar of responsible travel in Malawi is to never encourage your driver to get closer to animals, as the precious wildlife within the national parks deserve space and respect. If you are travelling with children, you should remind them not to touch animals or make any loud noises. Also, remember to turn off your camera flash!

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10. Littering and plastics


Malawi’s pristine natural environments are its champion, generating tourist opportunities, protecting wildlife, and preserving the purity of nature. At Wayfairer, we strongly encourage you to be mindful of your waste disposal both in your accommodations and within the beautiful outdoor spaces you traverse. Plastic pollution and other human waste disposal have become a problem on the shores of Lake Malawi. As visitors to this enchanting country, we must respect the land and its inhabitants, which is best achieved by avoiding single-use plastics.

So, there you have it, our Responsible Travel Guide for Malawi. Will you venture to this region anytime soon?

If so, click the enquire button below to speak to our luxury travel specialists.

We understand that booking trips, especially adventurous and alternative ones such as this can be intimidating, so get in touch; we can take the stress out of your holiday planning and organise a trip you won’t forget!

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