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History, shopping and tea estates

Blantyre is the commercial capital of Malawi, steeped in history dating back to the time of the missionaries and a good opportunity to do some shopping.

Blantyre, named after the Scottish missionary David Livingstone’s birthplace, is an arrival point to Malawi for some, through Blantyre Chileka International Airport. For others, the choice of accommodation in or nearby to the city makes it a good stopping point on an itinerary combining some of Malawi’s highlights further south with Lake Malawi and the central region.

If you want to discover a little more about Malawi’s history, Mandala House, built in 1882, is considered to be the oldest house in Malawi and its first two-storey building. The Society of Malawi curates a vast collection of books and resources about the country here. A tour of the city’s buildings may also include the Museum of Malawi, the impressive St Michael and All Angels church, built entirely by unskilled workmen, and the old town hall. Having visited some of the sights, you may like to do some shopping, whether it be for local curios or at one of the more modern shopping centres.

There are some great little bed and breakfast accommodation options and hotels within the city itself. Alternatively, a very short drive to its outskirts or surrounding areas offers up a choice of tranquil lodges set in leafy gardens with beautiful views, game parks or even tea estates.

Malawi’s tea estates, in the Thyolo region, are reason alone for many visitors coming to this area. With vast expanses of neatly trimmed tea bushes, the backdrop of Mount Mulanje and views over the Lower Shire Valley, the scenery is simply stunning. A stay at one of the tea estates, the best known being Satemwa, provides a fascinating insight into the tea growing and production process, scenic walks and tea tasting.

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