Despite a majestic lake stretching through its eastern border that gives way to beautiful beaches, Malawi is the African country less-traveled.

But it’s the place to be if you want to enjoy a natural paradise without everybody else. Though it hasn’t become a booming destination such as Tanzania, Kenya or South Africa, Malawi has numerous attractions.

Named one of the top 10 places to go in 2014 by Lonely Planet, Malawi is one of the lesser known destinations on the travel guide’s annual list, which includes Brazil, Sweden and the Seychelles. The country is touted for its wildlife and beaches.

But there’s more to Malawi than animal parks, warm sands and its endless poverty

Malawians are very friendly people, called the “Warm Heart of Africa,” in the native language, Malawi locals exude friendliness. It’s common for strangers to wave and greet visitors as if they know them.And it’s easy to make them smile with a “moni” (pronounced mo-nee, not money), which means hello in Chichewa, the local language, and “Zikomo” (thank you).

Curious kids often come by to say hi and see what you’re up to. The refrain I heard repeatedly was, “Welcome. You are welcome.”

Although overt friendliness often arouses suspicion in the world traveler, especially when someone’s trying to sell you tchotckes, there’s hardly any hawking or selling of tacky souvenirs in Malawi — the people are genuinely friendly.

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