Beautiful Malawi

A few days after we returned from our safari to my home in Blantyre, my daughter Jessica left us for the European leg (seeing friends in Rome and Amsterdam) of her Christmas vacation from college. My sister Sheryl and niece Cassandra had 10 more days to spend with me, so we set off to see some of the beautiful parts of Malawi.

Our first tourist trip was the Zomba Plateau, which is about an hour north of Blantyre. We spent a half day of hiking there amidst beautiful greenery and waterfalls. We also saw welcome signs of conservation – in areas that had previously been clear-cut, indigenous saplings are being planted to replenish the area.

Hiking on Zomba Plateau. Photo by Sheryl.
The view from the plateau.

Our guide pointed out orchids growing along the trail.

A few days later, a group of us traveled by minibus and then bike taxi to help our friend Cheyenne Polk celebrate her work at Development Initiative Network (DIN), where she is a volunteer.

Getting ready to ride the bike taxis in Chikwawa. Unfortunately, I don’t have the names of the taxi drivers, but our group was made up of (from left) Stewart Taylor (side view), Dallas Smith, Cheyenne Polk, Sheryl Ballard.
Cheyenne Polk at her presentation of livestock and money to support Development Initiative Network’s projects.

Cheyenne is volunteering with DIN in Chikwawa, a town about 1.5 hours bus ride south of Blantyre. As part of her work at DIN, she has raised money to help their support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS. The money she has raised has been used to improve the groups’ food security by supporting community organic farms and supplied piglets and goat kids for their livestock programs.

The money was also used to buy these new sewing machines for DIN’s tailor training program. Twelve women are now in the training program to become tailors, which will help them better support their families.

Leaving Chikwawa, I spotted this billboard. The condom crusade continues!

Sheryl and Cassandra needed to see Lake Malawi while they were here, so we traveled to the tourist-favorite town of Cape Maclear for a few days. Cheyenne took a break from her work and joined us. On recommendation of a friend, I booked a driver from the area to drive us to our lodge there. His price was great and I was happy for the savings, but we regretted it when it turned out that he had forgotten his driver’s license. Malawi roads have frequent police checkpoints, where they check for proper insurance papers and licensing, so every checkpoint turned into an extended break from driving while he “discussed the problem” with the police. The trip took more than six hours.

Sunset at the lake

Once we got to Cape Maclear, we booked a tour on a small boat and were treated to snorkeling and rock diving, a picnic of barbecued fish, and watching the local fish eagles dive for fish.

Fish eagle
Local fishermen

Lake Malawi is famous for its variety of cichlids and beautiful scenery.

Cheyenne snorkeling and the beautiful cichlids of Lake Malawi

8 thoughts on “Beautiful Malawi

  1. Happy to see the pictures, stories, and knowing that you’re living the good life with family and friends. Best always.


  2. Cathy, your description of your excursions and photos were outstanding. I became so excited when I saw those new sewing machines which are not new at all. Those are antique Singer sewing machines that have been well cared for. They are exquisite! What is new are the wooden tables they are mounted in and the foot pedal looks like it would be new. I just donated one to a nun for the Philippines which was made in 1890. I had more but she couldn’t get them in her van because she also took a lot of my material.


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