Malawi cultural tour

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Departure information

Flexible departures available throughout the year
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type
Small group holidays
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Malawi cultural tour

Environment

Our partner in Malawi has set up a scheme to ensure that your money benefits Malawi and its people. It is called Payment for Ecosystem Services - PES. We believe that a core element of sustainable travel is actively ensuring the future protection of the areas you visit. Malawi offers a beautiful and diverse landscape of mountains, forests, rivers and lakes and we want to keep it this way. To protect this diversity both for Malawians and international visitors we are committed to supporting efforts to ensure the protection of Malawi's ecosystems through our 'Payment for Ecosystem Services Scheme.' (PES).

What is PES? 1.5% of your holiday cost will go towards paying for the conservation, protection and enhancement of the ecosystem services you will benefit from during your stay in Malawi. For example your walks through the lush rainforest in central Malawi, your clean water swim in Lake Malawi or your hike up the forested slopes of Mount Mulanje.

Where does this donation go? In 2010 all PES donations went towards an organisation (Ripple Africa) based in Northern Malawi which is working to combat upland deforestation. Lowland areas of Malawi are beginning to suffer drought as a result from upland deforestation and Ripple Africa is tackling these issues through educating and aiding community based grassroots initiatives.

Why are our forests so important? Protecting Malawi's forests ensures the conservation of biodiversity, the generation of rainfall and the protection of watersheds and their soils. Just like a water company, forests provide critical life services for the benefit of humanity and the services have to be paid for if their provision is to remain sustainable. The global benefit of forests is that they sequester and store carbon, fundamental to global efforts to mitigate climate change. Some of the 1.5% donation towards Ripple Africa's environmental work therefore goes directly towards offsetting your carbon footprint made during your travels to Malawi. Key Fact: 90% of Malawians rely on rain-fed agriculture.

Responsible travel to us is an approach to tourism that maximises the benefits to local communities, minimises negative social and environmental impacts and helps local people to conserve fragile cultures and habitats. When travelling to a culturally and environmentally fragile destination you must do so with a certain amount of responsibility and awareness. Our aim is to minimize the footprints of your experience and instead leave you and the people you meet with only unforgettable memories that others can benefit from in the future. By seeing Africa from this unique 'ecotourism' angle we hope each and every client can gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of some of the greater issues facing Malawi and Africa today.

Our guides receive ongoing training in conservation, environmental awareness and how best to guide you throughout your stay. Beyond this education they are experienced drivers and have a wealth of knowledge about all the little things that will make your trip unforgettable. During your trip they will ensure that we have a minimal negative impact on the environment and wildlife – we will ensure that we do not leave behind any waste/litter, we have a non-intrusive and respectful approach to wildlife and we are careful in our use of vehicles in these habitats.

Accommodation
Where possible, we try to avoid large international hotels in favour of small individual eco-lodges. This is so we can try to channel tourism generated income into local populations as much as possible. On this tour you will stay in a mixture of Lodges, Tents and Village Huts and we will minimize the impact of our trips on the environment through the use of stoves rather than firewood for cooking meals and we burn any paper garbage from our kitchen, or that we collect from our clients. All waste items such as used cans, foil from the fire and used batteries will be taken back to the base by our staff and delivered to a local waste management project where these items will also be recycled. Where we use hotels or lodges, we ask that they also adhere to these guidelines and we select, where possible on that basis.

Community

We use local guides in the different destinations and we also offer overnight stays with local communities. On Day 6, you will stay with a local community where your visit will contribute to the local economy. Your visit will directly benefit the local people, both financially and culturally (the latter on a 2-way basis) because you contribute to their livelihood and you gain a greater understanding of their culture, which allows them to continue that heritage.

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