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Published: September 21st 2012
Getting to Nkhata Bay from Chitimba was realtively easy. We got a minibus on the main road to Mzuzu. This journey took us away from the lake and up into the mountains. We also had some baboons chase the minibus for a few hundred metres as the conductor threw out some nuts to them. It took 2 hours to get to Mzuzu, where we switched to another minibus and were in Nkhata Bay 45 minutes later.
I stayed at Mayoka Village, which is probably the best place I stayed at so far in Africa. I camped metres away from the lake. Unlike Chitimba, most of the bay here is rocky, which makes it even more ideal for swimming in. Most days I was there the lake was completely still and the water was always a perfect temperature for swimming in, even first thing in the morning.
I didn't do a whole lot except for swimming, reading and chilling out for the time I was there. I went on a couple of boat rides organised by Mayoka Village. These invovled going out on a speedboat to a point where the local guys whistled at 2 fish eagles, which had been
christened Tony Blair and Condaleeza Rice, threw some fish into the lake beside us and we watched as they soared over us before swooping down to pick up the fish.
We also got to go snorkelling and saw some really colourful fish - a lot more than you would expect from freshwater. We did some cliff jumping before arriving at a completely secluded beach. I say secluded, but not long after we arrived, a load of local children arrived and we played some beach soccer and volleyball with them.
I also ended up having another snake experience one morning as I came out from the toilet. Without looking, I almost stepped on a black snake, which then slithered away down on to a step below and into a hole. I immediately thought it was a black mamba and got one of the staff, who had a look and said it was harmless as it slithered into a hole in the ground. I took his word for it, but wasn't overly confident in it and walked around very nervously for the rest of the time.
As I said above, the lake is perfect for swimming in, but I
may have taken it a bit too far in deciding to join a couple of the others for a swim across the bay. It was about 500m across and I got pretty bad cramp on the way over. It was getting dark, so even once we had reached the other side, we couldn't rest for long and turned to go back. There are crocodiles in Lake Malawi, but it is generally accepted that they never venture to this part of the lake. One of the girls made the trip back more nervous than it should have been by asking us how they can know for definite that crocodiles don't come to this part of the lake.
I planned to leave after 4 days and take the Ilala ferry down to Monkey Bay, but on the day I was going to leave, I went to the only working ATM in town, which refused to accept my Visa Debit Card. Incredibly, after almost 6 months in Africa, it was the first trouble of this sort that I had. In the end it worked out fine, as I was able to get money out the next day and spent another 2 days
in one of my favourite places so far in Africa, even if it meant I missed the ferry.
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