Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Antimalarials: Malawi Medicine

A bit of advice that I am always asked is what malaria drugs or pills should you take to go to Malawi.

Of course it is always important to see your GP or travel clinic for the latest advice, but having travelled to Africa and especially Malawi on a number of occasions here is my experience of antimalarials or prophylaxis.

Chloroquine and Paludrine:

A combined treatment that malaria in many areas of Malawi is now resistant to. Not a common preventative these days.


A powerful drug that can cause some pretty funny side effects. This is a tablet that is taken once a week on the same day. My experience is pretty bad of this one, including wild mood swings, vivid dreams and mass hallucination (will fellow travellers). Personal recommendation is to avoid this!


An antibiotic that is used to prevent malaria in areas that are resistant to other drugs. Side effects are quite light, although can cause severe thrush for women, and make your eyes and skin sensitive to the sun (lots of this in Malawi!)


My choice when I visit Malawi. A daily pill that prevents malaria, this is a fairly new treatment and can be used for both prevention and cure. Side effects I have experienced are dry mouth and VERY vivid dreams...quite good fun really.

Malawians live with Malaria on a daily basis, with many catching it twice a year. Cheap chloroquine etc are available in most little shops for treatment, and hospitals will diagnose this very quickly if you are showing the symptoms.

A word to the wise - cover up arms, legs and feet at dawn and dusk, as you can't catch Malaria if you don't get bitten!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Dedza Pottery: Handmade in Malawi for you

Souvenirs are a big part of the holiday experience, and Malawi is no exception. Wherever you travel in the country you will be offered a multitude of arts and crafts, from carvings to paintings and bracelets to hand-painted cards. These are not generally unique to Malawi, and can be found across this part of Eastern Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia etc.).

What is unique in Malawi, is the range of pottery on offer.

Dedza Pottery is the most well known of the artisan ceramic factories, owing to the rich clay soil in the area. Dedza is situated around 100km south of Lilongwe.

On offer to purchase are a wide range of ceramic tableware and crockery, as well as some more unique items, such as crafted olive dishes and figurine salt and pepper pots. For people looking for interior design items, Paragon Ceramics also make floor, bathroom and kitchen tiles to order, with choice of hand-painted pattern.

I would thoroughly recommed an inexpensive item or two to bring home to your family - and if you think they might break in your luggage, you can always arrange international postage!

Visit the Dedza Pottery website for more information.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Police in Malawi

Police in Malawi are generally courteous and helpful, and will be more than happy to help you if you are asking for directions or information.

Traffic police in Malawi are a slightly different ball game. Depending
on the time of year (eg Xmas) they can look for the smallest problem
with your car or attitude and fine you for anything that might be out
of place!

Fines range from a few dollars/pounds to a much larger sum that needs
to be paid at the police station. Fines CAN be negotiable, however
don't expect an official receipt as these will go straight into your
officer's pocket!

Find out more about police in Malawi's reaction to cannabis.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Rivers in Malawi

There are three major rivers in Malawi:

Dwangua river:

The Dwangua river is around 100 miles long, and flows from Kasungu National Park, on Malawi's central plateau to Lake Malawi.

Shire river:

The Shire river flows through both Malawi and Mozambique, and originates from Lake Malawi. It is around 250 miles long.

South Rukuru river:

The South Rukuru river is the main river in the Northern region of Malawi, flowing though the Nyika Plateau.

There are numerous other tributares that flow into Lake Malawi, but the only river that flows out is the Shire river.

Find our more about lake Malawi in this post.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

How deep is Lake Malawi and other facts

Friends often ask me a number of questions about the geography of Malawi, such as: How deep is Lake Malawi? How big is Lake Malawi? etc...

Lake Malawi is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Africa and by volume of water, it is the 8th largest lake in the world!

Lake Malawi is 700 metres deep, considered by some as the 2nd deepest lake in the world. Formed as part of the rift valley, the lake is the most southern of the great lakes in the East African Rift.

Lake Malawi also stretches for 412 miles along the shores of Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. 75km at it's widest point, gives it a total surface area of around 30,000km².

Look out for a future posts on the flora and fauna of Lake Malawi. Find out more about the main rivers in Malawi in this post.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Mangos in Malawi


A key fruit in Malawi is the mango. Both cultivated and wild, mango trees are found throughout Malawi, which has the perfect climate to grow.

Mango season in Malawi starts around October and finishes in January (depending on when the rains come, the season has started as late as December).

Many different types of mango grow in Malawi, from the small, sweet mangoes in Karonga, to the larger and more mellow-flavoured mangoes that grow along the central Lake Malawi shore around Nkhata Bay and Chintheche. In fact, visit Sambani Lodge around this time and the staff will collect and serve you mangos whenever requested!!

A word of warning though - eating too much of this sweet fruit can give you a pretty serious case of 'traveller's tummy'!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Beers of Malawi

Now onto a topic very close to my heart...BEER...(and more importantly, Malawian beer!)

So what beers are recommended for consumption in Malawi:

Carlsberg (but not as you know it):

The most common beer in bars in Malawi is Carlsberg. It is available nearly everywhere! There are two types, called Carlsberg 'Green' or 'Brown'. The Green is a lager, and the brown is a cross between a bitter and a stout, the beers are named after their labels, so you can order a Green or a Brown at the bar and the staff will know what you are talking about.

Green tastes quite good, while the Brown is a bit of an assault on my mouth!

Kuche Kuche:
A weaker beer, and becoming more common in Malawi. It means 'Bring on the dawn', suggesting you can drink it until the sun rises! Kuche Kuche is a slightly weaker lager, but with a very pleasant taste.


Chibuku beer carton in Malawi

A beer with a difference...Chibuku is a beer served in what is essentially a milk carton. Brewed from fermented maize, drinking Chibuku is like drinking alcoholic porridge. Marketed as a Chibuku Shake Shake (because you have to shake it before you drink it), its slightly thick consistency certainly makes it unique!
My recommendation is that you buy this in the morning, and then put it in the fridge. The longer chibuku is left out, the more it ferments in the carton - and you can end up with a pretty strong drink indeed. Great stuff, and definitely to be experienced.

For more info on food and drink, go to the Sambani Lodge food and drink page.

Find out more about Tobacco and Cannabis in Malawi.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Population of Malawi

A short (but nonetheless very important!) post.

The population of Malawi is estimated at 15.2 million for 2009. This is an increase of almost 50% from the 1998 census where it was estimated there were 10 million people living in the 'Warm Heart of Africa'.

Find out more about the main cities of Malawi and their populations.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Lilongwe Airport

A post about Lilongwe airport.

Lilongwe Airport (LLW) is a small, one-runway airport that serves as the main air hub of Malawi. Situated to the West of Lilongwe (about 4 miles away), Lilongwe Airport predominantly serves the capital and the northern region of Malawi, as well as people who are unable to get a flight to Blantyre.

View it on a map here.

Arriving in the airport from the UK really does feel like you are entering another world. Spectators throng the viewing platform directly above the baggage hall as your plane lands, and when the aeroplane doors open the heat will hit you. You'll take a walk down the stairs to the buses waiting to take you the short distance to the terminal, and that is where the fun starts..

...Immigration in Lilongwe airport is long and tedious. There are no computers, only some ancient wooden desks where immigration officials sit and manually write down all your details for entry into the country. You then get that all important stamp to enter Malawi and you can go and pick your bags up!

Once you collect your luggage from the single carousel, customs officials will ask you if you have any gifts or presents, and will normally have a bit of a sift through your bags (mainly out of interest rather than trying to catch you with anything dodgy...!)

On exit there isn't the usual hassle you get in developing world airports (although there are always some touts wanting to help you with your bags for a few Kwacha), and you can organise a taxi to pretty much anywhere. Most people are met by relatives, but for travellers you can get to the centre of Lilongwe and the central bus station quite cheaply. For reference, a taxi to Mzuzu (3.5hrs) is around £80-£100 (depending on interest rate fluctations.

So to sum up, Lilongwe airport is not a bad place to arrive, and there's no doubt you have arrived in Malawi!

Find out more about the main cities in Malawi.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Main cities in Malawi

There are number of cities in Malawi, spread out over the country:

Northern region:

The most Northern city in Malawi is Karonga. As of 2008, population was estimated at around 43,000 people.

Northern rift valley city of Mzuzu has a population of around 175,000 in 2008.

Central region:

The capital of Malawi is Lilongwe, and it is easily the biggest city in Malawi. Population of Lilongwe is around 900,000 as of 2009. Lilongwe airport (LLW) is the main airport in Malawi, more in the Lilongwe airport post.

Southern region:

Zomba is a small city between Blantyre and Lilongwe. Population as of 2008 was just over 100,000. To find out more about Zomba, read my Zomba: In-depth post.

The most southerly city in Malawi, Blantyre has a population of around 730,000 as of 2008.

Friday, 4 September 2009

All About Malawi: What's it all about?

Hello and welcome to All About Malawi!

This blog will regularly be updated with snippets of information about Malawi, including:

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Charity
  • Food and Drink
  • Geography
  • Language
  • Medicine
  • Nature
  • Sociodemographic features (including tribes, culture, dress and folklore)
  • Tourism
Of course, if you would like to know anything about any aspect of malawian culture, food or even where to go in certain area of Malawi - just let me know!

Read about why I love Malawi.

Nick Andrews: Experience Malawi

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Why I love Malawi - The beginning

Experience Malawi is a bit of a self-indulgent blog covering a country that I am fascinated with: Malawi!

My first visit to the county was in 2001, at the tender age of 21, where I visited my girlfriend's parents who live in the town of Mzuzu, in the Northern Region of Malawi. We flew just before christmas from London to Lilongwe, the capital, and then took a packed minibus for the six hour ride north to Mzuzu. I was made incredibly welcome from the get-go, people we met were happy and welcoming, and my complete lack of any Chewa/Tumbuka/Nkonde didn't prevent communication (albeit with sign language taking over!)

Sambani Lodge. Lake Malawi's paradise hotel.The first week we spent in Mzuzu, visiting friends (my girlfriend hadn't bee back home for 3 years!) and then we headed down to Lake Malawi and her parents guesthouse in Chinthecthe - Sambani! You've probably seen our sister site,, and if not I urge you to take a look, an amazing lodge on an unspoilt part of Lake Malawi, set on a sandy beach which is safe for swimming (much of the lake has bilhartzia). And all for a few £ per night...amazing!

It was with sadness that I left Sambani Lodge to head back to Liliongwe after a week of swimming and exploring the area, but needless to say it wasn't my last visit!

A great trip and one I remember fondly. Now my girlfriend is my wife, but more about that on future posts.

To find out what this blog is all about, go to the All About Malawi: What's it all about? post.