Malawi

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Flag of Malawi Malawi
Information
Language: Chichewa, English
Capital: Lilongwe
Population: 12,900,000
Currency: Malawi-Kwacha
Hitchability: <rating country='mw' />
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Malawi is a country in the southeast of Africa. It has borders with Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia. Malawi is one of the poorest countrys in the world, nearly 50% of the population have less than $1 per day.

Hitchhiking

Expect, that the road conditions are far below standard except the main roads, which sometimes have pavement. People in Malawi often travel onboard of pickup trucks or lorrys, minibusses and busses. Most families do not own a vehicle. Busses and minibusses usually go heavily overloaded before they start. The condition of this vehicles is mostly pretty bad. Minibusses seems to be a quite unsecure traveloption because they tend to go fast on the bumpy roads.

Because of the bad condition of public transport, hitchhiking in private cars seems to be the most secure transport option. Arrange a ride via hitchhiking in the south of Malawi seems to be easy, in the north the distances between the citys are bigger and there is not so much traffic. Consider the common safety rules while hitchhiking.

When Sieve hitchhiked Malawi in 2013 he had no big problems. People are friendly and will stop for you, either though in more rural areas it really can take a while until a car actually passes by that is not public transport. People often expect you to pay for the lift, usually they try to get more out of you than it would be usual for locals because there's the stereotype white = rich (and the fact you made it to Malawi probably proves it right compared to the living standard the local population enjoys) and people often think that you have no idea what you're doing and that you're kind of stranded but you can negotiate them down to public transport prices easily if you're hitching ethics allow you to pay for lifts (what my ethics do in Africa!). Hitching for free is also possible, and anyway if you only stop cars that are clearly private vehicles 50-60% of the drivers don't want any contribution. Especially on the main north-south route along Lake Malawi you have many foreigners (tourists, expats, lodge owners, investors, NGO workers etc.) that often will pick you up. If not, opt for the fancier cars, like 4x4's and definitely only hitch and don't even indicate that you want transport if you have the slightest suspicion that the car that's passing you functions as a public transport vehicle, which often is the case with sedan cars as well. However, you will probably learn how to differentiate public transport cars from private cars after a while. A hassle I experienced were the pick up trucks that function as public transport. They are moving slow and will stop for you to pick you up. When you deny, whatever explanation you use, you often will overtake them again with the ride you get a few minutes later and the same pick up will see you again at another spot on the road. It happened to me up to four times with the same pickup that I overtook it and later it overtook me again when I was waiting for a lift. However, the conductors in this pick ups, latest at the 2nd or 3rd time don't find it funny and will curse and shout at you, for me somehow understandable, i would feel tricked as well if I'd see the same Muzungu standing on the side of the street every 10km, too. Beside shouting nothing will happen, Malawi is a very safe and good country to travel.

Climate

There are four seasons in Malawi. A cool season between may and august, a hot season between august and november, a rainy season between november and april (with a humidity of almost 100%), and a post-rainseason between april and may. In the mountains in the north it is colder, the hottest region is the malawilake. In average the temperatures are between 19 °C and 32 °C in the rainy season and between 14 °C and 24 °C rest of the year.

Health

If you cross the border from the neighbour countrys an immunization against yellow fever can be wanted. Recommended are immunizations against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, poliomyelitis and hepatitis A. For a longer stay also hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid fever and neisseria meningitidis are recommended. Also think about cholera which occur under bad hygienic circumstances. Take care of your personal hygiene and food and water hygiene. During the whole year there is a high risk of malaria, you may think about a prophylaxis. In Malawi about 10-15% of the locals are infected by HIV (AIDS), so protect yourself. Meningitis seems to be a problem too, so think about an immunization and talk to your doctor in advance. Human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is transmitted by the tsetse fly, think about protection against insects. Don't go swim in the malawi-lake you may be infected by schistosomiasis.

In every case consult a physician before your journey starts.

The medical supply is far below western standards, stay clean and healthy!

Weblinks

http://www.friendsofmalawi.org/