Tuesday, 31 July 2018

From Monifieth to Malawi… The Wildlife Wonders I Saw

Readers, tonight’s blog is my entry to the Trips 100 / #AudleyBloggerChallenge where I’m writing about my amazing experience seeing wildlife in the natural habitat on the shores of Lake Malawi. Instead of my usual Glasgow food blog posts, I'm doing something different tonight!

Audley Travel are on the hunt for bloggers to share their adventures... and if you keep reading, you might be able to enter a competition yourself to win an African safari! 

For those of you reading this, Monifieth is a tiny village in the north east of Scotland… and well you probably know where Malawi is.

This post is a mission to convince you that it’s an AMAZING place to go. People often have visions of starving children, poverty (it can’t be denied, there is poverty, with NGOs trying to resolve this) but maybe, just maybe, we could use the powers of sustainable tourism to drive visitors to this wonderful, friendly country and learn there’s much much more than what’s shown on Oxfam adverts.

So queue my story.  I was 19.  Young, not really what you’d call “well travelled” (I’ve done my best to change that since) and was invited to go and do some volunteer work in a country called Malawi.  I’d heard of it, but had never even been out of Europe at that point.  There I was on a plane bound for Johannesburg.  Then on a tiny plane to southeast Africa.  
audley travel trips100 travel blogger challenge
Amazing views and landscapes in Malawi

The heat was dry and searing, people looked at me, stroked my skin (I’ve since learnt in the more rural parts, they’d never seen a white person) but something struck me.  Those huge smiles.  It didn’t matter there was a language barrier, we’d find a way to communicate.
audley travel trips100 travel blogger challenge
Traditional cooking in a Malawian mut hut


For 3 long weeks, I laid bricks, built walls (not my profession now, my skills were average at best). I taught English in schools and ran wild in the playground with the kids. It was emotionally exhausting, but totally rewarding and at the end of the trip, hopped on a minibus for a 4 hour ride to Lake Malawi.

For those who like facts, it was only discovered 150 years ago.  You’ll find fishing villages dotted on the shore, next to golden sands and beach resorts. We didn’t have time, but I’m told the crystal clear waters make for great snorkling, where you’ll see a vast array of fish swimming in their habitat.  But oh what you’ll see… watch for Nile Crocodiles!  There’s around 700 species of fish in the lake alone.  Plenty to spot on your adventures.
audley travel trips100 travel blogger challenge
The shores of Lake Malawi at 7am. Beautiful, peaceful and tranquil


For me, though, the best part of all, was taking a water safari along the Lake.  This wasn’t just to see the animals living in the lake… it was the banks of the lake where the magic happened.  Walking by us were herds of elephants.  The entire family on a slow walk by the river… tiny babies surrounded by grandparents, with years of wisdom and survival experience.
audley travel trips100 travel blogger challenge
Elephants and birds on the shores of Lake Malawi, from our boat

Looking closely, there were hippos baking in the midday sun, rolling around in the mud.  Doing as hippos do, one would assume. 

Those famously stripy zebras peeked out from the tall grasses as we sped past on our boat.
Birds swooped overhead, magnificent colours and sizes – just some of the 650 species you’ll find in the country.
audley travel trips100 travel blogger challenge
Cooling off in the waters of Lake Malawi


I was in awe… having never been somewhere so exotic, and seeing animals that only existed in the encyclopaedias and picture books of my youth, to be almost touching distance of an elephant, was without a doubt… breath taking.

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Win an African safari with Audley Travel by sharing your best wildlife photograph or video on your social media channels. To enter write #AudleySafari and @AudleyTravel on your Instagram or Twitter post or share directly on the Audley Travel Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/audleytravel/. To find out more or enter via the website, visit www.audleytravel.com/social.  Entries must be posted between 20th August – 23rd September.

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