Welcome to the show notes for Episode 2 of the Just Go Places Podcast.  Episode Two is titled A Family Road Trip in Malawi.

Summary

In this episode, I speak to Rachel Heller, a blogger and travel writer, who took her family on a road trip down memory lane through the tiny African country of Malawi.

Rachel’s tagline on her blog, Rachel’s Ruminations, is a line from that famous poem by American poet, Robert Frost, The Road Less Traveled.  Rachel is ‘taking the road less traveled by.’ I’d say a road trip through Malawi is definitely a lesser travelled road.

Rachel’s family trip was inspired by her time in the Peace Corps in Malawi in the mid-1980’s where she met her future husband, a Dutch dentist also working in Malawi. So some 20 odd years later, the couple returned with their kids to introduce them to a country which holds a special place in their heart.

A family Road Trip through Malawi in Africa

Listen to Episode 2 below:

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Exploring Malawi

The first site you should explore if you are interested in visiting Malawi is the official tourist website for the country.  Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world where almost 3/4 of the population of 13 million lives on less than $1.25 a day.  On the other hand, Malawi is a safe and peaceful country to visit which has been nicknamed the ‘warm heart of Africa’.  Efforts to encourage tourism to Malawi are slowly succeeding but they still don’t have the profile of the big boys in African tourism (Kenya, Tanzania, etc.).  More tourism in Malawi can make a big difference in the lives of its people.

Map of the Republic of Malawi

Mobile banking in a village in Malawi

A mother and child stand near a mobile banking vehicle in Michinji village, approximately 120km west of the capital Lilongwe, Malawi.
Image credit: Gates Foundation

Livingstonia is a town in the North of Malawi established by by missionaries of the Church of Scotland. Rachel mentions this pretty Victorian-era town for its beautiful architecture.  The ecocamp the family stayed at was the Lukwe Ecocamp in Livingstonia.

Lake Malawi is a national park which is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.  It is one of the Great Lakes of Africa created by the African tectonic plate shifting discovered by the explorer, Dr. David Livingstone (after which Livingstonia is named) .  Estimated to be anywhere between 40,000 to 2 million years old, this lake is the highlight of any visit to Malawi.  The largest part of the lake is located in Malawi but a portion is also in neighbouring Mozambique. Cruising around Lake Malawi Cruising around Lake Malawi is a popular way to see the area..  Monkey Bay is a tourist resort on the Southern shores of Lake Malawi.

Lake Malawi in Malawi

Lake Malawi

Nyika National Park makes up most of the Nyika Plateau in Northern Malawi.  The park spans 3200 square kilometres (1250 square miles).  I guess when Rachel says this is a small safari park suitable for families, she is definitely thinking in terms of African sizes!  It’s got lots of wildlife such as lions, leopards, elephants, antelopes and zebras as well as a rich variety of birds and plant life.

Rachel and her children volunteered at the Malawi Children’s Village is located in Mangochi in Malawi.  It is a village-based centre which helps extended families care for their orphaned and vulnerable children. They provide family support for 37 villages in the area including medical clinics and schools. The children they played with were at the Open Arms Orphanage which takes in babies and toddlers whose relatives are unable to care for them.  The aim of Open Arms is to nurture these children until they are old enough to return to their relatives.

After Malawi, Rachel and her family flew through Tanzania and stopped to visit, Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its luxury safaris.

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