Malawi is affectionately known as 'The Warm Heart of Africa'. People are enormously friendly, welcoming and keen to show you around their beautiful country. One of the best ways to see this side of Malawi is to spend time visiting local communities and learning more about life in rural Malawi.

There are lots of different ways to get involved during a holiday to Malawi, try and make sure you contact a local operator and find out the most responsible ways to visit local communities, don't hand out money and sweets and try and ensure you are being culturally sensitive with your dress choice and how you act within rural villages.One of the best ways to ensure your visit is beneficial to you and the community is to choose a tour operator who has linked with a community to offer eco-tourism activities.

The Central Region of Malawi is rich in culture, witch-craft and tradition. Visit Ntchisi Forest Lodge and spend time exploring the local area, taking village walks and getting involved at the primary school. Try some Malawian food and learn how to cook local dish Nsima. Ntchisi is a beautiful area to spend a few days and the mix of culture and incredible landscape makes it ideal for families and first timers to Africa.

Spending a night within a rural village really gives you the opportunity to  find out more about life in Malawi. Njobvu Cultural Village is on the outskirts of Liwonde National Park and is great in combination with a stay at Mvuu Camp. The Village has been set up by the local community as an alternative source of income for the village. Visitors will be treated to traiditonal dancing, local food and nights around the camp fire getting to know the local people. 

Travelling responsibly means ensuring local people benefit from tourism. One way you can do this within Malawi is by stopping on route at community initiatives. Visit a small boatyard on the shores of Lake Malawi, bring out some educational maps for a small library in Mulanje, or visit a community in Zomba and learn how the village banking system works!

Useful contact for community visits in Malawi:

http://www.malawitourism.com/

http://www.responsiblesafaricompany.com/

http://www.ntchisi.com/

http://www.njobvuvillage.org/