When I began planning my vacation, I knew I wanted to visit a unique country, far from the typical tourist destinations. I sought a place that would ignite my adventurous spirit, offer safety for solo travelers, and where the locals are friendly. After much consideration, I chose Malawi in Africa, and the experiences I had there were nothing short of magical and memorable.

1) Black rhino tracking: Last year, I witnessed the commendable efforts of African Parks, a non-profit focused on conservation. They successfully rehabilitated and managed a protected area in Rwanda with local and government support. In Malawi, they oversee four parks, including Majete Wildlife Reserve. I was thrilled to participate in black rhino tracking at Majete, alongside game drives. Black rhinos are critically endangered, with a global population of about 6487. I joined park rangers on a patrol to learn about rhino conservation, making it one of the most cherished experiences of my trip.

2) Tea tasting: From Majete, we journeyed to Thyolo, Malawi’s tea region. Being from India, a renowned tea producer, I was eager to explore Malawian tea. We visited Satemwa Tea Factory, where a video introduced us to the local tea. An interactive session with a Malawian tea taster followed in the tasting area. We sampled 19 specialty teas, and my favorite was the red hibiscus tea.

3) Climbing Zomba Plateau: Before arriving in Malawi, I had seen stunning photos of Zomba Plateau, which in person was even more breathtaking. Misty during my hike, it felt like a hill station. I hiked to Queen’s View, visited by the late Queen Elizabeth II, and later to Emperor’s View, revered by the Rastafari since Emperor Haile Selassie I visited in 1964.

4) Kayaking on Lake Malawi: My next stop was Lake Malawi, within the UNESCO-listed Lake Malawi National Park. I started with kayaking to watch the sunset, also enjoying it from a traditional dhow with drinks and snacks. At night, under a clear sky, I understood why David Livingstone called it the 'lake of stars.' The next day, I explored local village life, interacted with friendly locals, and enjoyed activities like fishing, sailing, and snorkeling in the vibrant freshwater ecosystem.

5) Exploring Chongoni Rock Art Area: My final adventure was at the Chongoni Rock Art Area, another UNESCO site. I climbed to a rock shelter with two distinct paintings—red ones by the Akafula, estimated at 10,000 years old, and white ones by the Chewa, about 200 years old. These artworks depict rituals and were a means of cultural transmission.