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An Introduction to Malawi
A long and narrow landlocked country it covers more than 1000 kilometres from north to south while Lake Malawi, nearly 600km long and up to 80km wide, dominates the countryside. When David Livingstone arrived at the lakeshore in 1861, he was the first European explorer to see the Lake, and was so awestruck that he started missions here.
There is no country in all of Africa that has its geography so sculptured and determined by Africa's Great Rift Valley, the largest single geographical feature on Earth. This ancient 5 000 km-long geological formation bisects much of Africa from Egypt to Botswana and boasts a bewildering array of habitats and lush vegetation. Towering mountains, lush, fertile valley floors and enormous crystal-clear lakes are hallmarks of much of the Rift Valley - and Malawi displays them all. Fertile soils are a result of the Rift Valley and evidence of this is to be found everywhere in Malawi. Throw a seed to the ground and a plant grows.
Malawi's people are friendly and outgoing, while being rooted in a patriarchal tradition that has a strict dress code. It is one of Africa's more densely peopled countries with a population of 13 million, and the country faces formidable challenges similar to other countries on the continent. The realities of modern African conservation are very apparent in Malawi but all the more marked because of its small size and unique topography. Chief among these challenges is a rural population that relies heavily on the basic natural resources of soil and water and the bounty they produce.
For those keen on experiencing African culture in all its complexity and beauty, Malawi is definitely the best country for this. Wilderness Safaris is based in Lilongwe, Malawi's capital, and Blantyre, the commercial centre, both of which are easily reached via London or Johannesburg, Harare and Zambia. From these cities, our vehicles provide easy access to aircraft for transfer to the main attractions, or across the border to Zambia.
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Rainfall varies greatly. Some years in the early 1990s were exceptionally dry. Really high figures are rare. Parts of the Lakeshore can receive 1270 to 1525 mm a year but Lilongwes and Blantyres figures are less than half that. Much of the rain falls in short but heavy bursts.