Little, lovely and landlocked, Malawi is often overlooked by African thrill-seekers, but it has lots to attract the gap year traveller. You’ll find incredible friendliness from the locals wherever you go and a willingness to show off what the country has to offer. It’s a cliché because it’s true – this really is Africa for beginners.
Malawi has varied landscape for any adventure. Hike and climb in the Mulanje Massif, where you’ll stand open-mouthed on the misty heights. Follow the antelope and zebra in Nyika, where you can hike, bike or travel on horseback past dramatic peaks and over endless grasslands. For a real adventure, take to the Shire River in Liwonde National Park, accompanied by hippos and crocs, and see elephants, endless species of birds and the rare black rhino in an unspoiled wilderness.
The “warm heart of Africa” is just perfect for student travel. As well as the thrills and spills of wilderness and wildlife, Malawi offers a beach haven in the shape of gorgeous Lake Malawi, known as “Lake of Stars” because of its shimmering beauty. Long and sinuous, it’s dotted with remote villages and lined with miles of tropical sandy beaches that are perfect for beach parties, diving, snorkelling and fish spotting – its 500-plus species will keep you busy however long you stay.
Malawi, despite its natural splendour, is one of the poorest countries in the world. As a volunteer you can get involved in a real variety of very rewarding projects from teaching to medical aid, sports training and community work.