Reteti elephant sanctuary community united for elephants

Reteti elephant sanctuary community united for elephants

Reteti elephant sanctuary community united for Elephants does exactly what it says on the tin!

Reteti elephant sanctuary community united for elephants (R.E.S.C.U.E)

Reteti was started in 2016. Its purpose is to help the increasing number of elephants who are being abandoned, separated, falling into wells or being affected by human-wildlife conflict. Previously, these elephant calves went to the Daphne Sheldrick Centre in Nairobi to be looked after. When ready, they would then be released to Tsavo National Park. While it was great that these elephants were being rescued, the people of Samburu felt like they needed to have their own centre in Samburu. The benefit is that the elephants would not have as far to travel and they can potentially be released potentially back with their original herd.

This board is on display at the sanctuary and tells you the name of each elephant and why they had to be rescued:

Reteti elephant sanctuary community united for elephants

Community ownership

The Sanctuary is owned and run by the Samburu people. There are around 50 staff members to take care of the elephants.  Currently, there are 33 baby elephants, 4 reticulated giraffes and 2 kudus. 10 elephants have already been successfully released back to the wild. To help raise awareness of the situation and funds to assist, tourists are allowed to visit the centre.  The highlight of the visit is watching the elephants being fed their bottles and feeding the baby giraffe.

Prior to the feeding, you are taken to the kitchen where the nutritionist explains how they make up the milk. She explains what ingredients go into the milk and how they measure and adjust the formula for each individual elephant’s needs. Interestingly they have just started using goat milk with the formula and have found it to be pleasing to the elephants. This is great news as it now provides business for local Samburu herders who can sell their milk to the sanctuary. There are many other ingredients that go into the milk. Including human baby formula, honey, calcium, baobab mineral mix, multivitamins and even salt to ensure that when they go back to the wild they are used to saltwater. The exact amount and ingredients depend on the size, age and needs of the individual elephant.

Feeding time

When it comes to feeding time a wheelbarrow of milk bottles is taken to the feeding area and you are shown to the observation deck. The elephants are waiting impatiently at the gate.  Each keeper has a bottle with the elephant’s name on it and they have to identify their elephant and give them the correct bottle. This is quite difficult to do when the elephants are running at you full speed, trumpeting and demanding their milk!

It doesn’t take them long to guzzle down their bottle and they then the second wave of elephants are let in. When all the elephants have full belies they are left to play in the water, wallow in the mud and snooze in the shade. The elephants get fed every 3 hours, day and night.

Once the excitement of the elephant feeding is over then come along the baby giraffes (already taller than me). They are also due their bottle and come up to the observation deck demanding their food.  If your lucky you might actually be able to feed them, but you might have to fight them to get the bottle off them once all the milk has gone!

Costs

To visit the centre cost $20 per person for foreigners or 150 Kenyan Shillings for Kenyan residents. This money goes directly into the centre to help with the costs of feeding and looking after the elephants (and giraffe). There are also T-shirts available for sale (like the one I am wearing below) for $30.

Reteti elephant sanctuary community united for elephants

Logistics

The sanctuary is located north of Nanyuki, in the Namunyak wildlife conservancy, Samburu region. Once you get off the tarmac road it is about 45 minutes down a dirt road. The sanctuary is close to Mt Ololokwe, Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs so you could combine it with a visit to any/all of those places. To read more about other places to visit in northern Kenya read this blog post 5 must-see places in northern Kenya. 

It is best to tell them in advance when you are planning on visiting, they do sometimes have exclusive viewings meaning you might have to wait around another 3 hours if you happen to turn up on one of these. Also in April and May, the dirt road can get bad due to the rains so email l ahead to check if it is accessible.

Email: info@retetielephants.org

Accommodation

Reteti its self has no accommodation. The best place to stay in my opinion for self-sufficient campers is the elephant rock, it is just 5 minutes away from Reteti. The elephant rock is the site where the community used to meet to discuss starting the elephant sanctuary. A French artist called Youri Cansell has painted a beautiful elephant mural on the rock. There are no facilities here so if you would like to stay here you have to have everything with you that you will need. For example cooking facilities, water, tent, sleeping bag etc. You also need to arrange for 2 rangers to be with you throughout the night for safety. This can be organised through Reteti.

Non Camping accommodation

If you are not equipped for camping then another option is Lion Caves Camp which is just off the other side of the tarmac road, so a maximum of an hour away.  Rooms are comfortable and reasonably priced ($75 for the room plus breakfast per couple). The rooms have a wonderful view over the river and the large overhanging rock is the perfect place for a sundowner in the evening.

I would highly recommend visiting Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, you get to witness first-hand what a united community can achieve, feed cute baby animals and feel good while doing it as your money help them to be able to rescue more animals in need!

Have you been to Reteti, what was your experience like? If you would like to know more comment below and I will assist as best I can.

5 must-see places in Northern Kenya

5 must-see places in Northern Kenya

We have just come back from a short 10-day road trip around north Kenya. This blog post will briefly explain the route of the whole trip and a bit of information about the 5 must-see places in Northern Kenya. Future blog posts will go into detail about each place related to our trip specifically.

 

The route

Day 1 – Lewa – Il Ngwezi

Day 2 – Il Ngwezi

Day 3 – Il Ngwezi – Sabache Camp at the foot of Mt Ololokwe

Day 4 – Climb Mt Olokwe – Lion Cave Camp.

Day 5 – Lion Cave camp – Reteti Elephant Sanctuary

Day 6 – Reteti Elephant Sanctuary – Elephant Rock

Day 7 – Elephant Rock – Isiolo (food top-up) – Samburu

Day 8- Samburu

Day 9 – Samburu

5 must-see places in Northen Kenya

5 must-see placed in Northen Kenya

Day 10 – Samburu -Lewa

 

5 MUST-SEE places in Northern Kenya

1 Il Ngwezi

2. Mt Ololokwe

3. Reteti Elephant Sanctuary

4. Elephant Rock

5. Samburu

The total driving time between each destination was no longer than 3 hours or no more than 100km, this makes it is a great trip for those who don’t like long days in the car.  It also means you have more time to rest and relax as you are not having to get on the road so early in the morning to make your drive to the next place. This was a part of the trip that I LOVED! Don’t get me wrong I love road trips but in Africa, the distances tend to be far and the drives long. Consequently, you do spend a lot of the day in the car getting to your destination as well as a lot of time in the car on safari. I also loved that this trip was active, we climbed a mountain, we went for hikes, walking safaris and I even managed to fit in a run! Let’s have a look in more detail at the 5 must-see places in North Kenya:

 

 

Il Ngwezi

This is probably not on a lot of lists in Northern Kenya THE PLACE to visit, but that’s what also makes it THE PLACE to visit. We were the only visitor in the whole conservancy, of course, a lot of this has to do with covid, but generally, it’s not a busy place. Il Ngwezi Eco Lodge is a community-owned and run lodge in Kenya. It is run by the Laikipia Maasai people for the sake of the conservation of the wilderness and the animals.


Accommodation: Il Ngwezi lodge offers affordable comfort surrounded by pure wilderness, it is the only lodge in the conservancy so you will never bump into too many people on your safari. The lodge has a large pool with views overlooking the water hole and comfortable bedrooms. The ‘star’ bedroom overlooks the water hole and the bed is on wheels so you can roll it out onto the deck and sleep under the stars.  Both the toilet and the shower also share the same amazing view of the waterhole, I think it would be difficult to leave your room if you stayed there. You can also camp in the conservancy as we did, but be warned there are no facilities. Make sure you are self-sufficient when camping. You also need to have a ranger with you for safety reasons.

Activities: The lodge does have a game viewer, or you can drive your own car, however, we didn’t really safari by car at all. Instead, we went on walking Safaris with the ranger, the geography is perfect for walking safaris as it is quite open so you can see the animals from a long way off, there are also no buffalo so you don’t have to worry about bumping into them as you walk. Other activities offered include; visits to the Maasai village, spa treatments, bush breakfasts, visiting  Mukogodo Forest and walking to the rhino sanctuary.

Animals: The area has a lot of reticulated giraffes as well as gerenuk, impala, lion, kudu, waterbuck, hyena, leopards (although very rare to see) and elephants.

 

Mt Ololokwe

The sacred mountain of Ololkwe. The recognisable flat top of Mt Ololokwe makes for a wonderful hiking destination.  The hike is 4.32 Km long up and then the same back again. It takes around 2 hours to climb if you’re going at a good pace, longer if you stop and take rests. It is 2,000m high. It is very steep at the start and then gets easier, it’s not an easy climb so prepare to be out of breath! Top tip, start your climb early (4:00 am) to get t the top for sunrise it will be cold but worth it for the view!

Accommodation: We camped at Sabache camp (named after one of the smaller mountains adjoined to Ololkwe), it is the perfect location for the hike as it is literally at the foot of the mountain so you basically begin your uphill climb straight away. The campsite is very basic but it does have a clean toilet (long drop compost toilets) and cold showers. There is a young Maasai as security to watch over your stuff as there are monkeys around camp so be careful of leaving food out.  Sabache also has a lodge that looked like when it was in its prime it would have been great. The views from the rooms and the generous balconies are certainly amazing but, unfortunately, it has been left to go downhill and it certainly needs some work doing to restore it to its former glory days.

Activities: Climbing My Ololokwe is the obvious one you can also camp on the top of the mountain which we didn’t do but I think if we went again we would.  There are also other not so strenuous walks you can do that will still award you a pleasant view including climbing Mt Sabache. The website also claims other activities including cultural visits, night wildlife safaris (although their land rover game viewer was ‘parked’ in the campsite and looked like it hadn’t moved in a very long time), visiting the singing wells and camel safaris. It is also well located for day safaris into the local parks including Samburu and Shaba.

Animals: Plenty of monkeys around the campsite and genets at night time as well as elephants in camp waking us up at night. The elephants actually walk up the mountain to get water from the permanent springs so be aware when hiking up, especially if hiking in the dark. We also saw lots of leopard tracks.

 

Reteti Elephant Sanctuary

My favourite part of the trip! This again is a community-owned and run sanctuary, the community came together to provide a refuge for all of the baby elephants who were being abandoned by their mums (due to drought) separated from their mums, had fallen in wells and were unable to get out or were injured or otherwise needing help. The sanctuary started in 2016 and they now have 33 orphaned elephants and have already reintroduced 12 back into the wild. They also have 4 baby reticulated giraffes and 2 kudus.


Accommodation: Again if you are self-sufficient you can ask permission to camp at the elephant rock (more info in the next part) but other than that there is no accommodation so you need to find a place nearby. Lion cave camp is a very nice, affordable site.  We did plan to camp there but you couldn’t access the campsite by car (our tent is a rooftop tent) so we decided to get a room instead. The rooms are varied in price but we actually went for the most expensive ($75 for 2 people with breakfast). Our room had a beautiful view over the Ewaso Nyiro river which I would have loved to splash around in (it’s very hot!) except for the fact that there are crocodiles everywhere! The perfect activity here is sundowners on the rock overhanging the river.

Activities: Feeding baby giraffes (my highlight!) and watching the caretakers feeding the baby elephants. You also get a tour of the kitchen and learn what the elephants get fed (spoiler: it involves goats milk and human baby formula) and how they mix the formula. The elephants get fed every 3 hours and they are literally trying to break down the fence to get their bottle. When the gates are opened they come running and trumpeting to their keeper demanding their milk. When their bellies are full they then splash around in the mud and play in the water, it’s truly a magical experience.

 

 

Elephant Rock

The Elephant rock, the place where the elders met to discuss the start of Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. Since the start of Reteti a French artist, Youri Cansell, painted the elephant on the rock, it’s an impressive mural and an amazing place to be able to camp for the night.

Accommodation: What you see is what you get, if you want to camp here, as I said before, you need to be self-sufficient. There are no facilities so make sure you have enough water and food. You also need to arrange with Reteti beforehand so they can organise rangers for you, you have to have 2 rangers with you throughout the night for safety reasons. Generally, you don’t notice they are there are they are patrolling the area so you are left to feel like you are camping alone under the stars guarded by this magnificent elephant.

Activities: You are of course very close still to Reteti Elephant sanctuary so you can go there and see the elephants and giraffes, you can also do hikes and walks around the area with your ranger. There are many hills to climb which offer great views, and there is also plenty of wildlife around to be able to do a walking safari.

 

Samburu

Lastly, we visited Samburu National Reserve. Famous for its ‘Special five’ including Reticulated giraffe, Somalian ostrich, Grevy’s zebra, Besia Oryx and Gerenuk, although these can all also be seen in other parks. Samburu is also home to the beautiful vulturine guineafowl who are very photogenic.  Samburu is definitely a place worth visiting, although, it has to be said, at this particular time there were a few unexpected surprises.  Currently, there is a big drought in Kenya, the rainy season simply did not produce enough rain and as a consequence humans and animals alike are suffering. Due to this the local Samburu community are currently grazing their cattle, sheep and goats within Samburu and Shaba reserve.  This somewhat ‘takes away’ from the safari experience as men and women, their livestock and even their dogs wander through the reserve. However, needs must and until the rains return, this is what will happen.

Accommodation: Currently, there appears to only be one high-end lodge open in Samburu, due to covid many have closed. Elephant Bedroom has remained open and did have guests. There is also Samburu Riverside camp which isn’t on the riverside.  It is a basic tented camp with stationary tents for $60 per person per night. There are also public campsites which are on the riverside. You are literally on the banks of the river with many shady spots under the trees, the trouble is, once again the campsite has seen better days and the facilities are not maintained. The toilets and the showers are unusable, but there is a working tap so that’s a bonus! We stayed at the campsite nearest the ranger post and in terms of location it’s perfect, you are on the river bank and the core game-viewing area is right behind the camp.

Activities: Games drive of course! Despite the people and livestock walking around, there is still plenty of wildlife, including the ‘special five’ and lots of elephants who came into our camp every day. When the big camps are open they also offer things like bush breakfast, cultural visits etc but for us, it was lots of game drives and lots of relaxing at the camp in the heat of the day.

So there you have it! 5 must-see places in Northern Kenya.  With tourism still recovering from Covid it’s a great opportunity to travel local, get out there and be a tourist in your own surroundings, we didn’t travel far from home this trip but still felt like we were in a different world! Have you been to any of these places, do you have any other recommendations, comment below and let me know!

 

 
Packing for a road trip

Packing for a road trip

So we have a trip coming up soon and we are in the process of packing. I thought this might be a good opportunity to go through what I pack and how we set up the car, what equipment we have for camping etc. Not because  I think I am an expert at packing, but actually the opposite, I am notoriously bad at packing and I always overpack or forget something. Therefore, by going through the process of explaining what I am packing and why I am hoping it will help me to really think about what I have packed and hopefully not forget anything and not pack too much!

Before I get onto the packing let me tell you about the trip. We are starting at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

We leave here on Saturday 11th September (2 days time). From here we drive to Il Ngwezi

Il Ngwezi neighbours Lewa, Borana and Lekurruki. Il Ngwesi covers 16,500 hectares and is home to the Il Lakipiak Maasai – ‘people of wildlife’. Il Ngwezi lodge is the only upmarket lodge owner and run by the community, the profits from the lodge help support the community in caring for the wildlife and protecting them against poaching. We are spending 3 nights camping at Il Ngwezi, going on games drives and walks etc. the next stop will be Reteti Elephant sanctuary. 

This video says all you need to know about Reteti and why I am excited to go there:

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We are spending 2 nights in a new lodge still being finished at Reteti and then one moving on to see this place:

(photo by Lori Robinson)

After that we are heading to Mout Lotokitok, we will stay 2 nights to give us time to climb the mountain on one of the days.

www.thekenyancamper.com

Our final destination will be camping in Samburu and exploring Samburu and Buffalo Springs. We will be here 4/5 nights before heading back down to Lewa and back home.

Click here to see our route virtually via Google Earth.

OK on to packing! As you can see the trip we are going to go on is very much a bush trip, there will be no fancy dinners, bars or clubs so that makes packing a bit easier. Therefore I will be packing practical clothes:

The packing will be listed in the following way; personal, camping, food, electronics,  other

Personal Packing

  • 1 pair of safari zip of trousers
  • 1 pair of safari shorts
  • 1 long dress (useful for travelling in)
  • 1 pair of comfy long trousers for the evening
  • 4 t-shirts (green, beige, khaki colour) avoid bright colours and dark blue (tsetse flies)
  • 2 long sleeve tops for the evening for the evening
  • 1 pair of running/exercise shorts
  • 2 exercise tops
  • 1 jumper
  • 1 down jacket
  • 1 kikoi/shawl (very useful to cover up when in villages)
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 visor, 1 safari hat
  • underwear, bras, bikini
  • quick dry towel
  • hiking day bag
  • sunglasses

Shoes

  • Hiking boots
  • trainers
  • Vellies
  • sandals/flip flops/Birkenstocks

photo of shoes

  • toiletries – shampoo and conditioner soap bars, body soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouth wash, sunscreen, moisturiser, bug repellent, hair ties, deodorant, baby wipe

Camping equipment

  • Folding table
  • folding chairs x 2
  • hammock x 2
  • duvet, pillows, bedsheets,
  • fridge
  • kitchen box – cutlery, kettle, washing up basin, bottle opener, plates, bowls, pans ect
  • gas stove
  • water dispenser
  • water tank
  • potjie pit
  • braai grid, braai stand
  • groundsheet
  • petrol tank (back up)
  • high lift jack
  • shovel
  • blanket
  • warning triangle etc
  • jump leads
  • compressor

Electronics

  • torch
  • head torch
  • extension lead
  • cables to charge phones, batteries etc
  • kindle
  • Camera plus all cables, hard drive, SD cards etc
  • laptop
  • battery bank
  • an old ‘brick’ phone that lasts for days (very useful in the bush)
  • Gps
  • car battery back up
  • speaker

Food

  • tea, coffee, milk, sugar
  • cereal
  • yoghurt
  • meat
  • pasta
  • tins; tomato, beans, chickpeas, coconut milk etc
  • spices, salt and pepper
  • snacks, breakfast bars
  • meat
  • bread
  • rice, noodles
  • fruit & veg

Other

  • binoculars
  • sunglasses
  • hiking bag
  • bird book/app on the phone
  • first aid kit
  • day rucksack/camel bag and bladder
  • maps/download maps.me on your phone
  • other useful apps: SASOL birds, Ioverlander, Lonelyplanet, Kingdom
  • zip lock bags – useful when it starts raining
  • money/load your phone with Mpesa
  • yoga/exercise mat, skipping rope
  • passport & driving licence

As you can see we don’t travel light when camping, we like to be comfortable when camping and have everything with us when we need it. For this reason, we take out the back seats of our land cruiser to give us more space and we have also made a few modifications to the car itself. A few things we have done are:

  • installed a rooftop tent
  • fridge in the back on a draw system
  • dual battery system
  • pull out storage draws
  • fridge in the front
  • awning
  • spotlights
  • solar panel
  • upgraded the suspension
  • blacked out the windows
  • installed a flip-down table on the back door
  • shower system and curtain
  • gull wings

I will make a few videos on the trip and show you better and post them on the next blog post. Ok so for now that’s it. I will soon find out what I have forgotten to pack or if I have packed too much as the trip goes on! Comment if you can think of anything I have already forgotten!

Malawi, is it worth a visit?

Malawi, is it worth a visit?

Malawi, is it worth the visit?

Malawi, is it worth the visit? If the big five is what you’re after, then maybe Malawi isn’t the place for you. But if crystal clear water, unparalleled sunsets and private wildlife viewings are your priority then Malawi should be number one on your list!

Malawi is a largely overlooked African country when it comes to tourism, in other words, one of Africa’s best kept secrets. Of course, we all love safari and while on safari we all love seeing lions, cheetah, leopards and lots of action. When you think safari you probably think of the Serengeti in Tanzania or the Masai Mara in Kenya, you think of the wildebeest migration, of opportunistic crocodiles and predators waiting in the wings, of endless plains and ​silhouettes at sunset, great herds of elephants and journeys of giraffe. Although you will not get the concentration of animals in Malawi that you get in Tanzania or Kenya, you will also not get the concentration of people. Well not tourists, the concentration of locals however, is very high!

Private viewings

Having said that, with African Parks now in charge of a number of parks and the reintroduction of 16 species including cheetah, rhino and wild dog, the wildlife sightings in Malawi are definitely on the rise. Even with this being the case, you will never see the hoards of people in the parks that you do in Tanzania and Kenya for example. It is this that makes Malawi so special. When you are on safari in Malawi, 9 times out of 10 you will have sightings to yourself. You can enjoy those moments, just you and the animals. Those heart-pounding moments when you make eye contact when a lion which somehow pierces through to your soul. 

 

When you are surrounded by a herd of feisty elephants (if you have been to Majete you know what I mean), when you find that oh so elusive leopard and you can revel in your luck for as long as you want without anyone disturbing you.  When your car overheats and breaks down in the middle of Mejete due to blistering heat – ok so there are drawbacks as well as perks but give me a private viewing of a greater kudu over 10 vehicles tussling and pushing to see lions in the Mara any day.

I lived in Malawi for 4 years, during that time I was able to see a lot of the country. It is true Malawi is a small country, 2.1 times smaller than the UK, but it packs a big punch in terms of places to go and things to do.

National Parks

I have already mentioned Majete National Park now a ‘Big Five’ park thanks to African Park’s initiatives. There is also Liwonde National Park which has also benefited from African Parks. African parks, among many other things, have kept poaching down, re-introduced cheetah, relocated black rhino to the park, and increased the number of lions. Liwonde’s magic is the river safari when you can drift by hippos fighting and get sprayed by water as elephants splash and play. Both parks are beautiful and are easily Malawi’s ‘best parks’ in terms of animal concentration. However, there are also many smaller parks including Nkhotokota, Kasungu, Nyika and more. If you want a real feeling of being out in the bush then these should not be missed. However, be warned a lot of them do not have good facilities so be prepared to camp, some places you even have to bring all of your own food as there is nowhere to buy anything. Of course, you do not want to miss the best National Park of all, the reason you come to Malawi, Lake Malawi National Park.

Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi takes up almost half the country in size, it is the second deepest lake in Africa and home to more species of fish than any other lake, including 700 species of freshwater cichlids. When standing at the tidal water edge it is sometimes hard to believe it is a lake and not the sea, that is until you see a crocodile nestled on its banks or a pod of hippo submerging and re-emerging from its surface. Of course, the best thing of all is when you go for a swim and are met by beautiful crystal clear freshwater. Lake Malawi is one of my most favourite places on earth, more specifically Cape MaClear on the southern part of the lake.

Laid back life

If you have been to Africa you know the pace of life is not exactly fast. If you have been to Malawi you would know if it was any slower everyone would be going backwards. You do not go to the lake for high energy, fast-paced adrenalin rush, you come for a relaxed, tranquil, reset. You can whittle away days, swimming in the lake, snorkelling in with the cichlids, paddle boarding, lounging in hammocks, reading, going on boat trips, watching fish eagles, birding, eating delicious food and sleeping under the stars. Just writing about it is making me want to go back immediately!

Where to stay

If you do go and visit, then there are two lodges I particularly recommend Mgoza Lodge and Warm Heart Adventure Lodge both of these are right on the beach in Cape Maclear, the owners care about sustainability and work together to help the local community. If you’re feeling adventurous there are also 2 islands off Cape Maclear, one budget camping island called Domwe Island and one more ‘luxury’ style island called Mambo Island. Trips to both of these islands as well as other activities around the area can be arranged via Kay the owner of Warm Heart Adventure Lodge. She also organised day activities including kayaking, boat trips, snorkelling, hikes and bike ride.

The people of Malawi

It would be wrong of me to write a blog bout Malawi without mentioning the local people. As I said before there are a lot of them, a population of over 19 million people it is difficult to find a spot to go for a quick wee without someone appearing out of nowhere to catch you with your pants down. Besides there being so many Malawians, they are the reason why Malawi is called ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’. Everywhere you go the people emit a genuine kindness. They are keen to talk to you, to direct you if you are lost, to assist you if you are struggling, to accommodate you if you are without and just to generally help in any way they can. The children love to see you and will run up to you hold your hand and escort you on your way, sometimes for too long so you have to shoo them away so they don’t wander too far from home.

Malawi, is it worth the visit?

Poverty

It has to be said that Malawi is a very poor country and people do struggle to get by, many Malawian are farmers and live hand to mouth, they rely heavily, sometimes solely, on the harvest which is determined by the countries rainfall. For this reason, you will find people begging as well as street children, which is always difficult to see.

Don’t get distressed if/when people shout ‘Mzungu’ at you, it means white foreigner, it is not said to offend you. If spending time with the locals is something you wish to do then there are many opportunities for this. There are the usual ‘cultural tours’ where you pay money for an ‘authentic experience’ however I would recommend the ‘old fashioned way. Just talk to people, you can go to the local village, visit the markets, go into churches to listen to beautiful singing.

Local culture

As a general rule men will have a better understanding of English than women in rural areas so it might be best to approach them.  Everyone is friendly and most people are not in a rush so will take the time to talk to you. It would also be good if you could try to learn some Chichewa, in particular, greetings as these are very important in the Malawian culture. The greeting is ‘Muli bwanji’ (how are you) to which the response is  ‘Nliri bwino, kaya inu? ( I am fine, and you?).

A top tip is to remember is that a lot of Malawians get their ‘r’ and ‘l’ mixed up, so if you are struggling to understand something try swapping these two letters and it might suddenly make sense! Also, be sure to dress respectively when walking around villages, this generally means covering your knees and shoulders.

Other things to do in Malawi

  • Mountain Biking – Malawi has a big mountain biking culture and organises events and races, if you don’t want to compete you can just explore the beautiful surroundings on a bike, the terrain is perfect but don’t forget your puncture repair ki
  • Hiking Mount Mulanje – There are many routes up Mulanje which is accessible from the southern town of Blantyre. Mulanje stands 3000m high. The mountain club of Mulanje have made a comprehensive guide to climbing Mulanje which can be accessed here
  • Volunteering – There are so many places that need your help,. If you’re a teacher you can go to one of the schools, give resources and equipment, talk to the teachers share ideas. If you’re a nurse or doctor you can go to hospitals or clinics, maybe you are a coach, instructor, therapist…the list goes on. If you are going to Malawi on holiday then bring along stationary, books, toys, medical resources etc it will all be gratefully received
  • Visit the Tea Estates – Satemwa tea estates are. a beautiful place to visit. you can stay the night at Huntingdon House explore the tea estate, have high tea and play croquet on the ground.
  • Play golf with zebra and giraffe roaming around you at Game Haven
  • Cultural visits to villages, markets, homes
  • Visit historic Livingstonia and stay at Mushroom Farm Eco Farm with unbeatable views
  • Chingoni Rock Art World Heritage Site
  • Visit the old colonial town of Zomba
  • Purchase beautiful pottery at Dedza Pottery
  • Watch the mesmerizing dance of the Gule Wamkulu
  • Horse Riding along Cande Beach

The list goes on… so as you can see there is plenty to do in Malawi. In addition to his, you have a relatively cheap safari, friendly people and a rich culture and traditions. So Malawi, is it worth the visit? In my humble opinion, the answer is yes, Malawi is 100% worth the visit!

Have you been to Malawi, what did you particularly enjoy? Get in contact and let me know if there is anything I have missed!

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