skip to main content

Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.


Trip Preparation

It doesn’t seem that long since I was in Nepal to run a marathon, and to do a few days of volunteer work. We’d worked with the local community of a remote village to dig trenches and lay water pipes to give them a reliable, clean water supply. Whilst voluntourism can be bad for communities, this was something we could be sure would make a positive difference. The organisers are good people and had done their research; afterwards they even produced a report of the impact this event had. It had been an amazing week with like-minded people who were there not just for the running, but for a new experience.

That had been the first event they’d organised, and I think they did a very successful job of it. They’d already started to expand the efforts to other countries. Of the places to choose from, Malawi was one which would fit in with my other plans for the year. There wouldn’t be anyone on this trip I already knew either, which meant as difficult as it can sometimes be, I knew I’d have to get to know other people. After booking, I had my doubts about whether it would be a good idea once I found how much effort is needed for their visa, and to get there.

The visa requirement is mostly standard, except for needing three months of recent bank statements. I wasn’t keen on this as statements include enough information for a bit of identity fraud. Their website also says that you can get the visa on arrival, and that you shouldn’t get it on arrival. A little contradictory. It also says that you need an appointment at the High Commission in order to get the visa, but one phone call later indicated this was wrong.

They wanted a covering letter, which is something I’ve not needed before, and didn’t know how to write. I found myself scouring the internet for tips before asking Impact Marathons what they recommend. The visa application also requires hotel confirmations. As I’d be staying in the athletes village there wasn’t exactly a booking confirmation. I’ve not been this stressed getting a visa since I went to Mongolia, but Impact Marathons were incredibly helpful (thanks Lisa!).

The Malawi High Commission only accept passport submissions on a Monday, and will allow it to be collected on Thursdays. Although they allow you to do it via post I didn’t want to risk this - I needed their confirmation my paperwork was okay, and couldn’t risk my passport getting lost in the post this close to the flight.

The flight to get to Malawi would be long - I’d have to overshoot Malawi and land in Johannesburg, just to fly a few hours back on a local airline to land in Lilongwe. I’d have liked to have spent some time exploring Malawi at the end, or maybe even a few days in Johannesburg, but after getting entry into the Chicago Marathon later in the year my time would be limited - just four full days even though with travel this would be an eight day trip.

I felt I could pack relatively light - I’d use the same travel pack I took to Morocco instead of using a suitcase. This would fit my race kit, and enough for a couple of days of training runs, along with day-to-day clothes and other requirements. My main concern was making sure I could get my travel tripod there and back safely so it was all about arranging the ziplock bags of clothes just right to maximise protection. The ziplock bags are a recent addition to my packing due to how much space they save. Everything else, except maybe my camera gear, would be minimal. I admit I’d still be packing two camera bodies and three lenses along with my iPad to use for writing,

Protecting my tripod wasn’t all I had in mind. After working my hands raw in Nepal I decided this time I’d pack a pair of old fingerless cycling gloves to use when working - the padding would help.

Travel vaccinations would normally be numerous for this trip, but staying up-to-date has its benefits. It meant I only needed a typhoid jab, but I’d be staying in an area with a high risk of malaria. I often get bitten by mosquitos, but here I’d need to be very careful to avoid them. I’d also need to take malarone anti-malaria tablets with me just like when I visited Kenya and Tanzania. My main issue would be when running - I figured mosquito repellent bands would be worth a try in addition to high strength diethyltoluamide - more commonly known as deet. It’s useful I’d learnt a bit from my previous African trip.

With everything sorted the doubts washed away, and I started to look forward to this short adventure.

Tags: africa malawi planning travel trip

Recent Trips

> “In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly lo…

For my first trip of 2022, I was heading to the Bailiwick of Guernsey for a 36 mile ultra marathon around the island. As with any other trip to a new place, of course I'd try to get in as much tourism…

This country split into two by conflict is one which my trip would also be divided into two due to the pandemic. For my first part of the trip I would be there sightseeing as 2021 approaches it's end,…

Twelve years ago, before the age of the smart phone, I visited Berlin at the start of my adventure spanning three European countries. I was younger then, and less experienced at travelling, and with a…

I have to mostly agree with Sir Terry - there are so many bikes in Amsterdam with lanes specifically for them. As long as you're alert it's not a problem. It's so different in some ways from other Eur…

More Trips…

Recent Races

Threshold Race to the Tower
Having done Race to the King and Race to the Stones, when Race to the Tower started it was one I wanted to try as well to complete the set (although ...Castle has started and finished since then too) …

RunThrough Chase the Sun Leicestershire 10K

Guernsey Day 2
This was a race I'd been waiting a long time to do, and it was one of the highlights of a really nice weekend away seeing friends. Sure there was rain, but there was sun as well. There was just the 's…

MK Rocket 5K
Today was a (mostly) downhill run in Milton Keynes - the Rocket 5K. I wasn't really sure what to expect going into it after how the last two years have gone, but felt it would be a good indicator of w…

Leicester's Big 10K

More Running…

© David G. Paul