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  • Day126

    Nkhata Bay

    January 19 in Malawi ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

    Mayoka Village, perched on the edge of Lake Malawi, has to be one of the best places we have stayed so far. A series of little houses and bungalows seem to tumble down the hill, threatening to spill into the lake.

    We take a room which is directly on top of the lake- we can walk down the step and into the (surprisingly tumultuous) waves of the lake.

    Today, the head chef of the lodge has offered to cook for us at his house, so it’s an opportunity for us to peel away from the tourist places and experience the “real” Malawi. We are treated to Cassava Nsima- the national dish here, which is ground cassava, cooked into a solid mashed potato. It is eaten with your hands, by ripping off a small piece, rolling it into a ball and dipping it into sauce. It’s an acquired taste, but we’re now fond of the maize nsima (which is slightly lighter).
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  • Day134

    MV Ilala

    January 27 in Malawi ⋅ ☁️ 28 °C

    Today we are boarding the MV Ilala, a ferry that has been cruising Lake Malawi since 1951, for what promises to be one of the great African boat adventures.

    In the morning, we head down to the ferry terminal in Nhkata Bay to try and secure a cabin. Upon enquiring, we’re told that the only cabin left is the “Owner’s Cabin”, the most exclusive room on the boat- for £28. We take it, with the justification that we’ll probably never be able to get the most exclusive room on a boat anywhere else.

    The ferry arrives just after 2pm, but we are told that it won’t leave until around 9pm. We wait around, and head down to the ferry around 8.30pm. We settle in with a few beers on the upper deck, swapping travel stories with the other passengers. The ferry leaves at around 11.30pm, and heads off into a curtain of darkness, towards Likoma Island near Mozambique. The upper deck is First Class, but there are no beds. Instead, people find spaces in any nook or cranny, or bring big mattresses to sleep on. Around midnight, a small rain storm forces everyone to huddle under the small amount of covered space. Although it’s fun being up there, drinking beers under the night sky, I’m glad we have our little cabin.

    Not that our cabin especially lives up to the hype. It is next to the engine, so the air is filled with the fumes, and there are small roaches that scurry around the beds. Still, given that that we are a few beers “deep” (first nautical pun), we “drift” (second nautical pun!) off to sleep easily.
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