A big thank you to everyone who has kept Malawians in their thoughts and prayers following the recent flash floods.  We appreciate each and every message sent to the Responsible Safari Company headquarters in Blantyre, as well as to our partners across Malawi.  In this blog Farida, our Sales & Marketing Assistant, updates you on the weather events and how RSC responded.

In March, tropical cyclone Desmond - which did not reach Malawi - resulted in continuous, heavy rainfall. This weather mainly affected the Southern part of the country, and led to flooding in the areas around the lower Shire Valley, impacting at least 13 districts.  Nsanje and Phalombe were hardest hit, with more than 44,500 and 25,000 people affected, respectively.

This weather event affected the businesses and day-to-day routines of many Malawians, including us at The Responsible Safari Company.

I caught up with Innocent Kaliati, our Head of Sales & Operations, to get a detailed report on just how this affected our seven-day expedition with the University of South Carolina (USC) in March.

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USC’s planned itinerary involved one night stays in a variety of areas. Two of these areas – Mulanje and Majete in Chikwawa - were heavily impacted by the floods.

As soon as this information was communicated to us, Innocent contacted the tour leaders on the USC expedition.

“I spoke to the tour leaders, making them aware of the situation and letting them know we weren’t going to rule out their first two nights in Mulanje and Majete just yet.”

As the conditions worsened, the road connecting Blantyre to Chikwawa was damaged.  At this point the RSC team decided to make changes to the itinerary.

“It’s very unfortunate, because the accommodation on this itinerary revolved around two activities that USC were particularly interested in visiting Malawi for: learning about Fair Trade down at the tea estates in Satemwa, Thyolo, and to go on the “Behind the Scenes” tour with African Parks in Majete,” Inno explained.

“Fortunately, the expedition were still able to reach Satemwa and learn about Fair Trade, as Thyolo hadn’t been affected by the floods. I changed their first night’s accommodation from Likhubula in Mulanje to Game Haven Lodge between Limbe and Thyolo.  This upgraded their accommodation standards, and also brought them closer to the tea estates.”

With their first night altered from Mulanje to Thyolo, we were left with night number 2. Here’s what happened:

“Because the clients couldn’t go to Majete, we decided to give them an extra night at the lake. Additionally, their last night in Blantyre was upgraded to a newly opened hotel, Crossroads. The clients were grateful for our efforts in turning around a difficult situation, and said they were looking forward to working with us next year, with a new group of university students.”

I couldn’t help but ask Inno how he felt about the entire situation: from knowing that our accommodation suppliers had been greatly affected, to changing the itinerary and making sure the clients were comfortable throughout their stay in Malawi.

“I had mixed feelings because, being a Malawian, I felt the devastation of the floods. At the same time, I enjoy a challenge. I had to devise new logistics in a short space of time, all under the budget of the initial itinerary. I thought: we have a disaster at hand.  Now, how can we showcase the beauty of Malawi despite it all?”

“I also experienced the complexities of having to deal with client expectations versus their budget. This was USC’s first time traveling to Malawi, so the entire experience was new to them. Overall, the trip was a success, and I’m happy to hear of their future plans to travel with us.”

A big pat on the back to Inno and the rest of the team for amending USC’s itinerary at the same time as dealing with the disruption to their own lives.As you can see, not all of our expeditions are smooth sailing.  There may be setbacks due to unpredictable and unforeseen circumstances such as weather events, but what’s important is that our team prepares for these in the best way they can, to ensure you still enjoy your trip to our beautiful country of Malawi.03491.P47

Are you thinking of experiencing Malawi?

Whether you’re an individual, family, or group, contact us at [email protected] for a tailor-made itinerary.

If you’d like to help Malawi recover from the huge disruption of the weather events, get in contact and we can let you know what’s needed most at this time.

You can read more about the situation and the responses here: https://reliefweb.int/report/malawi/malawi-floods-flash-update-no-1-9-march-2019

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