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Date TimeOctober 27, 2019
VoiceIsland camping, forest trekking and a lakeside music festival all add up to an unforgettable trip for Gemma Cairney
A magical musical tour of Malawi
Off-grid experiences are harder to come by these days, but if you’re looking for something that will imprint itself on to your soul and make your heart quicken, Malawi is your destination. I first visited in 2011, and was gripped by an inexplicable love for the African continent and a deep sense of freedom, so returning now I was excited to see if I’d feel the same. A lesser-known land in south-east Africa, Malawi borders Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia. It’s a comparatively small, land-locked country, beguiling because of its sea-like lake. It is rightly known as the Warm Heart of Africa.
I wasn’t prepared for quite how changeable its landscape would be. For the first 10 days of my holiday I am on an organised group excursion. It’s curated by Faraway, a company specialising in diligently planned group escapes. Signing up to be part of a rabble of 16 people of similar age to me but from different walks of life and parts of the world and all looking to go on a fantastic trip, felt a bit like being on a more intrepid 18-30s holiday. But Faraway is a lot classier – and livelier. With regular offerings of the infamous Malawian gin replacing Sambuca shots, it’s adventure travel for the Instagram generation. Group leaders Helen and Al present us with tote bags containing a “survival kit” that includes some lightweight cotton trousers (vital for the long coach journeys) and a black and white disposable camera.

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