August 2015 Newsletter
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Dear All,

Wherever you are in the world, make the most of it and have an epic weekend!!

We do hope you enjoy reading our newsletter, watching all our cool clips and appreciating the good life you could have... follow your dreams - you only live once!!

Enjoy and come visit us in the warm heart soon. You are most welcome!!

Warm Regards

Mike and the Malawian Style Team

A beautiful leopard shot by our MD, Mike Varndell on a recent trip to South Luangwa, Zambia

- The Funky Cichlid - So far so good...

- Launching South Luangwa Safaris

- Lake of Stars 2015 - Amazing Packages!!

- Incredible FAM trips with Malawian Style

- The Epic Malawian Style Volunteer Experience

- That VISA to Malawi that we are all talking about

The Funky Cichlid: Funky's... a home away from home for a lot of the Malawian Style team!! With an increasing number of school groups, university groups, school expeditions and adventure travelers looking for more than just a bed, we needed a base in Cape Maclear. A great location, great value for money, friendly staff, good food, abundance of water sports and of course, a great atmosphere. With that, Funky's was born and has gone from strength to strength with the Trip Advisor reviews speaking for themselves... 

Funky's is happening, and we are so proud of the team in Cape Mac, who we are delighted to call part of the Malawian Style family. It's a great spot, and is proving very popular as a base for the Malawian Style volunteers who come out from all corners of the globe, to help us take things to the next level and have an incredible lifestyle at the same time.

The Funky Cichlid - Promotional Video
The Funky Cichlid promo video... tell us this doesn't look like the coolest place in the world??

South Luangwa Safaris: South Luangwa is a very special place, and easily one of our most popular products. This stunning national park is approximately 300 km from Lilongwe and is widely regarded as one of the best game-viewing parks in Africa. Experts have dubbed South Luangwa to be one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River, and its oxbow lagoons, is among the most intense in Africa. So it's no wonder that this is such a popular product, being right in our back yard.

The demand for our South Luangwa products was growing massively, and we really needed to have a specialist platform to guide our clients in the right direction and help them plan their adventure in the wild. We therefore launched which caters for all budgets and specialises in helping you find the lodge which best suits your needs. 

In addition to South Luangwa, this site also has a number of extensions that are useful when planning your perfect holiday in Africa. These extensions include Lake Malawi, Victoria Falls, The Lower Zambezi, The National Parks of Malawi, The plateaus and mountains of Malawi and much more... check it out!!

On Safari - Malawianstyle!
Safari at Croc Valley Camp, South Luangwa... One of our favorite spots for our budget sensitive clients!!

Lake of Stars: Lake of Stars Festival is an annual three-day international festival held on the shores of Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa. The festival was started in 2004 and attracts over 3,000 attendees with musical acts from Africa and the United Kingdom. Back on the water the magic of Malawi's 'Lake of Stars' will again emerge as songs, dance, culture and art travels from across the globe to perform in one of Africa's most diverse festivals.

This year the festival takes place over the last weekend of September (25 - 28 Sept) at the most common venue, Nkopola Lodge on the Southern Lake-shore. Malawian Style have teamed up with Lake of Stars to put together some fantastic pre-tour packages, so if this is your vibe get in touch for more information.

Some highlights of LOS 2014!!

Malawian Style FAM Trips: For those of you wondering the word FAM is not short for family, but for familiarization, a term we use to improve the local knowledge of our preferred partners in crime, international Tour Operators and travel agents.

Contrary to what many of you believe, the travel industry is actually really hard work. I know most of you think that when our MD Mike is jet-setting around the world, he is on a permanent holiday, but he is actually attending trade shows and yes burning the candle at both ends. These shows are alot of fun, but often require back to back meetings from 8am to 6pm, and then of course you are expected to further develop those business relationships on the dance floor, in Berlin until 3 am. In fact, word on the street is that Mike would often get back to his hotel room, at approximately the same time his room-mate would be getting up to go for a run... Good times!!

At the end of the day we discuss business opportunities, and eventually like to get our agents out to the warm heart so that they can better understand our products, meet our team, spend time with our local guides, experience the country, landscape, culture, standard of our roads, our vehicles and essentially the lodges where we would accommodate their clients.

This year we have had 20 agents out from RSA, UK, USA, Australia, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany. The comprehensive FAM trips cover a combination of South Luangwa and Malawi, covering both the North and the South from Nyika to Mulanje, and even though they are essentially work, they are a lot of fun. The good news is we are running FAM trips again in Nov 2015 and PRE WAA and INDABA in April 2016. Please do let us know if you would like more information. You are most welcome!

The EPIC Malawian Style Volunteer Experience: As Malawian Style and The Funky Cichlid diversify and grow, we have had a need for a wide range of skills to help us become the complete company we aspire to be. We have a need for languages skills, marketing and sales skills, SEO, web design, social media, management consultant and accounts and much, much more. As our budgets are still fairly tight, we prefer to use what we do have to look after our local staff and to offer an experience that money can't buy for our International "Volunteers"! Over the last 6 months, we have been fortunate to have some of the most skilled, hard working "volunteers".

These guys are all legends and add so much value, and really help make the company a better place. In exchange, they get to bounce between Africa's answer to the Caribbean; the funky cichlid, the bright lights of Lilongwe, safari adventures and sometimes even a road trip to Vic Falls. What is important is that these guys are having the time of their lives, and adding so much value at the same time... REALLY everyone is a winner.

The problem we have, the demand is so high for this kind of person, and unfortunately we can't accommodate the demand. We have therefore come up with a volunteer experience adventure, that has a small charge, 50% of which goes to the local village. Included is their accommodation, meals, a few safaris, the Mt Mulanje challenge, learning how to fish with a local, learning how to dive (a scuba diving course), adding value with beach cleanups and seeing how their funds go towards changing lives of the less fortunate in the village. For more information please refer to the following link: 

If you have great skills and wish to be considered for the Malawian Style volunteer experience please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

MALAWIAN STYLE Trip from Victoria Falls to Cape Maclear
Marcus and the boys on a recent trip to Vic Falls. As you can see its a pretty epic video, made by Marcus... this legend came to help us translate itineraries to German, and ended up fine tuning our Accounts department, in typical German style and showcasing his videograghy skills!!

The New VISA: So this is a hot topic of conversation at the moment, and one that we have chosen not to publicize any information on, as the information keeps changing and we didn't want to distribute incorrect or out of date information. Let's be honest... where is the vision or the bigger picture when it came to this decision to implement a visa to enter Malawi? Why could it not have been done through the right channels with good notice to plan and implement, with a sufficient notice period?

However, let's have a little bit of perspective here and put ourselves in our fellow Malawians shoes. Malawi is now officially the poorest country in the world, and suffered devastating floods earlier this year. The economy needs help and if all other countries in Africa demand a visa why shouldn't Malawi?

So we are in agreement we do need a visa, but USD75 is cheeky, especially as most tourists would also go to Zambia adding insult to injury and making visa fees astronomical. However what a lot of people forget is that this is a once off visa to enter the country. If you look at the difference in the price of daily parks fees alone in Kenya and Tanzania compared to Malawi... or the fact that Malawi is so diverse and easily accessible, with relatively cheap transport options between locations, this visa fee really is immaterial when looking at the bigger picture! Please don't let this put you off coming to the warm heart.

Our MD, Mike was recently at the first ever Investor Forum in Lilongwe. He questioned what Malawian Airlines (the local airline that is partially govt owned) and the ministry of tourism are doing to subsidize flights into Malawi to counter this new visa? The response was good. Apparently we are not too far away from having direct flights to Dubai and London from Malawi, however, don't hold your breath as this is Africa, and will surely be done on African time. At least there is a plan for this to happen one of these days.

We want to reassure all our valuable partners in crime, clients, friends, valuable volunteers, school groups etc. that the private sector is doing everything we can to make our voice heard about the new visa. We are not saying we shouldn't have a visa fee, but we think the tourism visa should be less and, that we must look at a uni-visa with Zambia and Mozambique to help lower this cost. The good news is the ministry of home affairs and the ministry of tourism have had various meetings and we genuinely believe a compromise will be met, and there will be a happy ending to this story. So please watch this space... we will keep you updated on any developments.

The current position is that the new visa fees will be effective 01 October 2015 and applicable to visitors from any country which requires Malawian Citizens to acquire visas to visit their country of citizenship. These countries include but not limited to the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Schengen member states, Australia, New Zealand. Most Middle East countries will also be required to pay visa fees. A comprehensive list of countries required to pay the fee is still being compiled. Exempt from this entry fee are countries belonging to SADC and COMESA; with the exception of those countries that charge visa fees to Malawian nationals.

Below is a summary of the visa fees:

Transit - Valid for 7 days USD50
Single Entry - Valid for 3 months USD75
Multiple Entry - Valid for 3 months USD150/ Valid for 6 months USD250
Gratis - Applicable to diplomats/ individuals on government assignments FREE