THE ADDRESS Magazine Summer 2014 - Page 396

for the comparatively tiny island. If your stay coincides with Sunday morning, head over to hear the gospel choir, whose acoustics resound through the early 19th century building. It’s great fun exploring in this way, stopping off at spots of fancy, wandering into villages, markets and buying a drink at the local ‘Superette,’ a dusty dark warehouse of shelves, outside which villagers convene to mingle. Malawi here, on Lake Malawi, is blissfully rustic and unchanged. I take my drink and wander to the nearest fishing beach, sipping whilst watching colourful fishing boats come into shore from Mozambique. Head for the hills Huntingdon House Tea Estate For a completely contrasting face of Malawi, head inland. I fly back to capital, Lilongwe and opt for the 5-hour car drive via the old commercial capital, Blantyre. The Thyolo district is at the heart of Malawi's tea producing region, replete with waves of immaculately cultivated, emerald green plantations and some of the oldest estates in the country. Here, Huntingdon House is a 10,000 acre institution. The Satemwa tea estate has been owned and managed by several generations of the Cathcart Kay family, growing 890 hectares of export quality tea, predominantly to Europe. The distinct colonial ambiance of the bygone era is magical. The grand old colonial house features just 5 classic rooms, making a stay here a privileged occasion, in and amidst heritage. Sunsets are astounding from the idyllic hilltop picnic location high up a mountain with views of Mt Mulanje to the southeast, and the Shire River to the west. I amble along plantation treks, head out with a guide mountain biking and, of course, taste some tea and coffee. 396 Keep it local Where possible, I usually book trips and arrange itineraries with the local tour operator, which often keeps costs down and is invaluable source of on-the-ground information. Often, agents based in home countries can’t offer the level of knowledge or first-hand information that the local ones do. In Malawi, Ulendo Travel is a well-established and trusted tour operator. Their consultants tailor a detailed itinerary, matching it to my timeline and budget, arrange transfers and give me reliable advise on accommodation. It’s a green light. 4. ZAMBIA Luxury of intimacy For a safari minus the crowds, look no further than Zambia. This is for luxury-lovers seeking an authentic and alternative African experience, including walking, boat and even small plane safaris, all with the ultimate luxury of all, few or no other tourists. The result is a handful of spectacular lodges catering to an exclusively discerning upmarket traveller. Optimise a safari with a visit to wonder of the world, Victoria Falls. Zambia and Zimbabwe both straddle the Zambezi River, with just metres between them in parts. The culmination is thunderous Victoria Falls, which can be appreciated from both countries. I head to Livingstone, to stay riverside and take the ‘Flight of Angels’ helicopter tour over the Falls, a memory of sheer awe. Victoria Falls ‘flight of angels’ My base is Tongabezi Lodge, which features breathtaking sprawling open-faced suites. The equivalent penthouse suite, ‘Treehouse’