Malawi
Central Region

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  • Day46

    Day 46: Malawi Waterfall Hike

    March 19, 2019 in Malawi ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

    Today was one of my favorite days. That’s why you will see two posts for this day 💫

    I got up early to go on a guided tour to the local waterfall. 4 hours of hiking. It was amazing to be active again - I haven’t done much physical activity ever since I got on the truck 💪

    The waterfall was beautiful but what was even better were all the people I have met on the way. The friendliness and happiness of these people is just unbelievable ✨💛🙏

    Words cannot describe how it feels to be around these people. I feel great being with them - their smiles are the best. I don’t think we need to pity these people. Yes, they lack wealth as defined by the first world. And yes, they are in need of education, medical supplies etc. BUT: They are so rich in happiness. And they live in line with nature. So I think they deserve our admiration as well as our compassion 🙏✨
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  • Day119

    Lusaka to Lilongwe

    January 12 in Malawi ⋅ 🌧 27 °C

    Early start again to get the 6am bus to Lilongwe. There is only one bus company that plies the Lusaka to Lilongwe route, so we take that one, and hope for the best.

    Today’s bus surprise is a small waterfall that emerges from the window whenever it rains (which is almost constantly). They’ve also oversold the seats, so we are crammed with passengers sat in the aisles on small wooden stools (it can’t be comfortable sat on those for 8 hours).

    They put films on the entertainment system, which is better than loud alarms or terrible music. However, playing one of the Fast and Furious films, which starts with a large coach crash and carries on in the same theme, seems a strange choice. It starts to feel a little like Final Destination.

    We arrive into Lilongwe around 6pm, and head to our chosen accommodation- a nice lodge with camping and, inexplicably, the best Indian food we’ve had for a long time.
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  • Day120

    Lilongwe

    January 13 in Malawi ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    There’s not much to say about Lilongwe, since honestly there’s not much to do here. But I guess it’s fair to say we are a Lilongwe from home.

    The city is spread out, with none of it feeling particularly like a city centre. Some might say that it has a sleepy charm, but for us it’s just a place to stage the next stage of our adventure up the lake.

    We bought bus tickets to Mzuzu, and found a strangely hipster cafe inside a wildlife reserve.
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  • Day75

    Ngala Beach

    July 20, 2017 in Malawi ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Drove a half day up the lake to Ngala beach. A beautiful spot, though when we arrived at our lodge, we saw not just 1, but 2, overland trucks and a very full campsite. Luckily, the owners were apologetic and upgraded us to a chalet for 2 of our 4 nights so we have really enjoyed the change of pace. The beach is absolutely beautiful and we’ve pretty much spent 4 days doing not much of anything apart from re-connecting with family and friends, doing some planning for the rest of our trip, and eating some very good food at the restaurant.Read more

  • Day46

    Day 46: Malawi Village Tour

    March 19, 2019 in Malawi ⋅ ☁️ 29 °C

    So here is part 2 of today. In the afternoon we visited the local village. Village tours are the best as you actually interact with the locals and see what they are like 🙏

    Just like at the waterfall I was confronted with nothing but kindness. So many friendly people - almost everyone we have met wanted to “high five” or do a handshake 🤝 💛 And the children ... they were just adorable. I gave out some cookies and jut after a few seconds I made many new friends 👭

    After the tour I went to my tour guide’s wood carving shop to buy some stuff for my home. He asked for a certain amount of dollars and asked if I could also give him some supplies (rather than just money). So I gave him bandaids and mosquito repellant ... and because he was so happy about this, he made me a present and gave me one of his paintings. So someone who has much less than I do just gives me things for free ... I was beyond happy ... Malawi 🇲🇼 you are the best ✨💛 (I’ll come back some day)
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  • Day71

    LILONGWE, MILAWI

    July 16, 2017 in Malawi ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    After a slightly shady money changing transaction in a parking lot in Chipata, had an easy-ish border crossing into Malawi and a short drive to the capital of Lilongwe where we spent just one night. We decided to stay in a hotel, and what a great decision. The front desk guy knew a guy who might be able to fix our winch (which John had sort-of broke). The guy came with his assistant on Sunday night, in his best Sunday outfit, removed the winch, and then took it somewhere (via taxi) overnight turning up at 7am the next day. He had managed to untangle the cable and fix the motor. He installed it, demonstrated it was working, and we happily paid him and on our way by 9am.
    We’d heard that re-filling gas bottles (which is how we cook our meals) was difficult North of Zambia, but luckily, Christy saw a guy in the parking lot near the supermarket, where we were stocking up, with a gas bottle and quickly went up to him and found out there was a refilling station right across from the Shoprite. Very exciting.
    We next were trying to get some cash from the ATM, but because it was Monday machine after machine was empty. Finally, on our way out of town, we saw an armed guard at an ATM at a filling station and were told they were putting cash in the machine. We decided to wait to withdraw some cash (no credit cards are accepted at filling stations). While waiting, we had a great conversation with a few of the fuel station attendants. One was very curious how we were finding Malawi compared to other African countries we’d visited. He’d worked briefly in South Africa, but had to return because of the “xenophobia” he found there (his words). He was focused on raising his 2 kids (only 2 so he could give them a good life and education). The other guy found out we were headed to the lake and reminded us that where we were going was not the “real Malawi” and that whatever we could do to buy from local people and give them work like washing our laundry during our travels could make a big difference.
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  • Day45

    Day 45: Lake Malawi (Central)

    March 18, 2019 in Malawi ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

    Another day, another drive. We travelled down south along the shores of lake Malawi 🇲🇼 to spend two days at another lodge.

    And this lodge is just perfect 👌 After two days of just very basic accommodation, this place feels like pure luxury: Right at the beach, nice garden, soft bed, clean bathroom with running water and an infinity pool 💛 Please forgive me for being so excited about this 🙈 - but these accommodations are so rare on this trip that when I do get some comfort I get really excited about it ✨

    When we were driving through Malawi I was thinking about our first world definition of wealth and poverty. Malawi 🇲🇼 is supposed to be a very poor country. But if you take a close look you see happy faces, people having enough food (because they grow everything they eat themselves) as well as small houses surrounded by lots of amazing nature ... and a huge fresh water lake. So basically they have what they need for a happy life, no?
    Almost no one is driving a car here ... they walk, they ride bikes. But I feel not having cars is actually a benefit - better for the planet, better for personal fitness and it makes you stick to the local community. At night everyone is out on the streets - happy!
    Don’t get me wrong the people here have their problems (like medical care for example) and they do need support, but I do think they are not just poor ... they have wealth ... just a different kind than we have and we should admire them for it 🙏💛
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  • Day39

    Mabuya Camp, Malawi

    January 2 in Malawi ⋅ ☁️ 24 °C

    Arrive at our soggy campsite just as dusk is falling. We all upgrade for just a few dollars. I share with another traveller and we have a large room with single bed each with mosquito net. It's not en suite but bathroom block is just next door. We sit around chatting while the cook group prepares food. Because of our late lunch we're not too hungry but meal of stir fry vegetables and rice is very tasty..

    After eating, most of us head off to rooms or to sleep.

    Uneventful stop really.
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  • Day40

    Lilongwe, Malawi to Tete, Mozambique.

    January 3 in Malawi ⋅ 🌧 21 °C

    Early up this morning for shower, breakfast and 7am departure for Mozambique border. We're told that border crossing might be easy or it might be a bureaucratic nightmare taking several hours. We'll see.

    Still spitting down rain but it eases off a bit as the journey progresses. Its an uneventful trip until we get near the border. The scenery was pretty much what we've become accustomed to with lots of lush greenery and sight of the sometimes distance, sometimes near, hills and mountains of the Rift Valley. There are the usual small and large villages spread along the road and people working in the fields. It seems, from observation, quite poor but people still wave, smile and look cheerful.

    We are getting near the Mozambique border when the truck stops and pulls over. We wonder whats going on. Jemma, the tour leader, comes up and tells us that the police have pulled us over. They say that we should have a list of all the passengers on the front window and wants a fine of US$1,000. Of course, there is no such offence. Its an attempt to solicit a bribe by corrupt policemen. Often and Jemma calmly keep their cool and call the police's bluff. They show willingness to go to the police barracks to sort this out. If course, the coppers don't want this and eventually back down. We drive off.

    A few minutes later we get to the border. It looks like the usual chaos and bedlam we have witnessed before but now we know that there's a system there. We first get our exit cards from Malawi immigration. There really small bits of photocopied paper and we fill in name, date of birth, passport details, travel details etc. We hand these in with our passport to immigration who stamp our passports with an exit stamp and we motor off to the Mozambique section.

    This border is by far the most chaotic and incompetent I have ever seen and I've travelled through quite a few borders in my day. Nobody seemed to know what they or their colleagues were doing. Also, the officials are very rude. We are there for three and a half hours before we are able to pull off. Sighs of relief.

    The toilets at the border post are the worst I've seen so far in Africa; and that's saying something. Mind you, they're not as bad as some of the ones I saw in Central Asia. Think rotten piece of wood on the ground with a crumbly hole in over a deep pit. Think of the worst smell you ever smelt. Double it. Double it again and then add some more for luck. That's what it's like when you have a blocked nose. I once shone my torch down one of them. It took six months of therapy to help me overcome the trauma. The one here isn't that bad but was so bad it's unusable. Time to practice the art of clenching again.

    Mozambique seems different to Malawi although the border is a colonists construct and did not exist before colonisation. I guess economic development depends on political boundaries so I guess the

    Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambque (Portuguese: Moçambique  or República de Mozambique) is a country located in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north,  Malawi  and Zambia to the northwest,  Zimbabwe to the west, and  Eswatini  (Swaziland) and South Africa to the southwest.

    The sovereign state is separated from the Comoros,  Mayotte and Madagascar by the  Mozambique Channel to the east. The capital and largest city of Mozambique is Maputo (formerly known as "Lourenço Marques" from 1876 to 1976).

    We immediately notice the difference between the two. The landscape is more rugged with less farming visible and the villages look very poor.

    We cross the mighty Zambesi River and continue along until we pull into our campsite.
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  • Day40

    Mabuya to bush camp in Mozambique.

    January 3 in Malawi ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

    I managed to get a good night's sleep and felt so much better for it. The warm shower also helped to lift my low mood of the previous day. However, the rain was still pouring down unabated. The scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast was warming and protective against the cold morning air. The amount of rain on this trip has been extreme and has given the journey a looming backdrop of a world in weather chaos with enormous forest fires raging across a drought ridden Australia at the same time. Having seen so many wonders of nature, I couldn't help but wonder how much if this will survive the ever increasing human population careering headlong towards catastrophic climate change. Will the children of today ever get the chance to see lions in the wild?
    We headed out into a cool, grey, murky and misty morning more reminiscent of winter in England than Africa. We then passed through a fascinating area of high bouldered peaks which looked all the more dramatic and atmospheric in the misty grey gloom. We reached the Mozambique border just after an attempted extortion from the corrupt local traffic police. It took a long time to get through the border due the overbearing bureaucracy that is a consistent feature of officialdom in East Africa. We finally set off from the border after three and a half hours of waiting. We began our journey in Mozambique with a heavily cultivated area of maize fields with stunning bouldwred hills and mountains behind. We stopped for a toilet break and lots of young boys herding cattle chased across the fields to meet us. When they got near, Often our driver, mock chased them away which they found a funny game but were also genuinely a bit scared of us. Very few white tourists travel through Mozambique so the people find us even more if a novelty and can be even scared. We had a fun interaction with the boys who chased the truck for a hundred metres until we picked up speed. We had lots of nice waves and thumbs up from the local people living by the roadside. One mother and children started waving in rhythm with us and began to dance. The people looked quintessentially African with broad faces and very dark complexion - quite a different look than the people in Malawi. The houses were often traditional, thatched, mud-brick round houses. This felt more like an old Africa, apart from the odd transmitter and power lines giving away the use of more modern technologies. The people did not ask for money like in other East African countries as they weren't used to western tourists. We travelled through some large valleys with more dark, distant mountains standing tall amidst storm clouds gathering around their peaks. The clouds fell low creating horizontal bands of light and darker shades. A large rainbow appeared arcing across the mountains and we crossed the wide expanse of the great river Zambezi which we would meet again at Victoria falls. The truck drove on into the evening, passing a populated area with people sat around enormous baobab trees which became prominent in this part of the country. The sky coloured deep oranges and reds, and an impossibly huge African sun dipped under the clouds and slowly fell behind distant mountain silhouettes leaving a bright orange trim on the mountain tops. Soon after we turned off the road onto a gritty, sandy scrubland area where we would make our bush camp for the evening. We cooked fajitas for our dinner as the dark descended. The cloud thinned so that we could see the first quarter half moon's milky light and a few scattered stars in a big sky stretching out above the trees. There was a cool breeze outside the tents and a few of us sat out in the darkness and talked about the challenges and exertions of this type of overland travel, but inside it was very hot and humid which meant that it took a long time to go to sleep.
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