MalawiWritten by admin on February 19th, 2009
Sunday 18 January
Yesterday we had a morning drive and stayed overnight at a cosy campsite on a farm just south of Iringa.
We had a fairly relaxed start and set off for the Malawi border. We had really enjoyed Tanzania, but were also excited about getting to Malawi and travelling through it at a relaxed pace with no set plan. On tar all the way we made quite good time and soon reached Karonga on the Malawi side. We had intended to stay here, but drove into the campsite, took one look, pulled a doughnut and were off another 100km south to Chitimba and a lovely little lodge campsite on the lake with its own private beach. On the way we crossed the 20,000km mark!!
It was extremely hot and humid in Malawi and after dinner we sat on the beach watching a large electric storm lighting up the lake.
Monday 19 January
We drove to Vwasa National Park, stopping at Rhumpi on the way to pick up supplies. The campsite we stayed at was right beside the lake and we sat watching hippos during the afternoon. When it had got a bit cooler we set off for a short drive, which quickly turned into the game-drive from hell, as plagues of Tsetse Flies swarmed through the windows. When Felicity had nearly swerved off the track a few times unable to see properly, due to all the flies on her sunglasses and in her ears, we frantically looked for somewhere to turn back. Safely back at the campsite again we opened a bottle of wine and sat on Bob’s sundeck – much more relaxed.
Tuesday 20 January
We drove about 130km of dirt road from Vwaza to Nyika National Park. Nyika is set at a slightly higher altitude and as we climbed we left the Miombo woodland and the scenery became very different and it felt more like we were in the hills of Wales, or the Yorkshire Dales than Africa.
We watched herds of Roan and Eland walking across the open hills. It was quite a bit cooler so in the evening we sat huddled round the campfire. Just before we went to bed we were sat chatting to the few other people at the campsite when we heard the rasping call of a leopard very nearby in the tree line. Very exciting and we decided time to call it a night!
Wednesday 21 January
We had a relaxed start to the day and took a scenic route out of the park before driving on to Mzuzu. We met up with Felicity’s friend Alan, who used to coach her volleyball. We stayed with him in his place up in the hills with a great view of Lake Malawi where he is building a luxury country club and sports centre.
Thursday 22 January
We had a scary start to the day, as we were both let loose with a pair of scissors on each other’s hair. Western hairstylists aren’t easy to find and as Marc did not want either dread locks or a shaved head, F got to work with the kitchen scissors. Throughout, Marc nervously kept commenting “ my hairdresser doesn’t usually do it this way’!
Thursday night was domino night at Chez Alan and after ripping it out of him a bit we actually thought it was quite good fun and something we may do again when we are 60!
Saturday 24 January
We left Mzuzu yesterday and stayed at Njaya in Nkhata Bay; pretty deserted, but nice place and camping at the edge of the lake. Today we went kayaking for a couple of hours along the unspoilt beaches of the Lake south of Nkhata Bay and past a few small fishing villages. Despite our incredible speed we were caught by a small motor boat with a few tourists on and sat bobbing nearby, as the guide threw fish for a pair of fish eagles, which swooped and grabbed the fish just metres from our kayak.
Alan joined us in the evening for a braai and couple of beers.
Sunday 25 January
We gave Bob a bit of TLC and polish up this morning then drove an incredible 52km south to Chinteche Strip. A quick snooze in the hammocks and then an even shorter effort at beach volleyball and badminton.
Tuesday 26 January
We spent a couple of days in Lilongwe in order to try and get Bob’s numerous leaks fixed. Unfortunately the Land Rover garage did not have the parts to fix a couple of them, but kindly did the one that they could for free. Lilongwe was also good for picking up some much needed food rations from a decent supermarket, much to the pleasure of Marc’s dwindling waist line!
Monday 2 February
From Wednesday to Friday we had spent time with a community project on the shores of Lake Malawi, near Monkey Bay (a stunning drive over the hills from Lilongwe). It’s a lovely project working in the schools and running home based care projects in the local villages. The volunteers headed off for the weekend, so we also headed off for the weekend to Cape Maclear; a gorgeous part of the lake with clear waters and beautiful views of nearby islands. On Saturday we had a first for the trip – Marc finally got his guitar he insisted on bringing out of its case! We also spent some time trying to teach the local kids how to play badminton on the beach.
Wednesday 4 February
We spent the last couple of days back at the community project in Monkey Bay. This included doing a home visit to one lady in the local village who had extremely big and deep wounds on her legs and back, which she had decided that, as she could not get to the hospital, putting pesticide into the wound would help! Needless to say it didn’t and the volunteers assisted her to get some proper treatment.
Yesterday we went with the volunteers for a sunset cruise on the lake on a research project boat, which made a perfect last night there!
Marc and Neale (the project co-ordinator) had an unexpected early morning dip in the lake today as whilst having breakfast we noticed that a boat being made for the project was rapidly sinking. With only 1 plank of wood above water before it was a wreck at the bottom of the lake they rapidly canoed out to it with buckets in hands. 45 minutes of frantic bucketing later and the boat lived to see another day!
Friday 6 February
We are in Blantyre visiting a project here. Bob has also visited another garage - he could write a great book on the garages of Africa! Nothing major, just leaks and things rattling apart, but it’s best to fix things before they do become major.
Saturday 7 February
After finishing up what we needed to in Blantyre in the morning we headed for Mulanje Mountain to do some hiking. We sorted out our porter - not really optional for tourists, and actually quite welcome once you start hiking with all your food, cooking equipment, sleeping bags etc., and set up camp at The CCAP guesthouse at the base of the mountain.
Tuesday 10 February
We spent 3 days/2 nights up the mountain hiking. We were pretty lucky with the weather, as it is peak rainy season, although the steep rocky paths were quite slippery in places. The rains had made the mountain beautifully green and the dramatic craggy peaks and vast bare rock faces had temporary streams and waterfalls rushing down them, which we had to take our boots off to wade across a couple of times.
The first night we stopped at the cosy CCAP mountain hut and after 6 hours of pretty tough hiking it was very welcome when the caretaker boiled up some water for us to have a hot bucket bath. We had the hut all to ourselves, which was a bonus, and we spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing, and sat by the log fire.
The second day was a much easier and shorter hike to Chisepo Hut at the foot of the highest peak of Mulanje. Again a really cool hut, if a little more basic, with mattresses on the floor and no hot bath! But amazing views more than made up for it. Sadly, we were joined by another couple of hikers, so no exclusivity.
Today was a long hike down, which although less strenuous, was also quite hard going, due to the tricky and steep descent. A great hike and really enjoyable 3 days. However, we did get some severe sunburn, despite it being a little overcast most of the time and our efforts to keep covered up and constantly applying sunblock. We couldn’t work it out, as just stepping out in the sun felt like you were being burnt alive. We eventually put Felicity’s diseased looking and rotten smelling flesh shoulders down to - bollocks suncream called Carotten, a new strain of Doxycycline from Zanzibar that we had started taking and a big hole in the ozone directly above Mulanje.