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Published: January 28th 2013
Drinks at the bar
This was my second time on safari in South Luangwa but a completely new experience for Mum and Gabbie. At the camp we stayed at we saw crocodiles, hippos, mongoose, squirrels, monkeys, baboons and monitor lizards.
In the actual park, we saw giraffes, elephants, hippos, baboons, monkeys, buffalo, genets, servals, lions, porcupine, zebras, many types of antelope and many types of birds.
We had a wonderful and very funny guide called Billy, who was actually from Malawi. He asked us on our first drive if there was anything in particular we wanted to see. I said that last time I was here I saw everything except a zebra, so I'd like to see a zebra. And then, we saw hundreds of zebra. Around almost every corner was a zebra! After a while we just started to ignore all of the zebra and antelopes that we saw!
After returning from South Luangwa, we spent one night in Lilongwe and the next day we headed off in our hire car to the south of Malawi. I was the designated driver for our 6 day journey, as Gabbie can’t drive and Mum didn’t feel confident to drive in Malawi. I’ve driven
The view from the bar
here before so I felt happy to drive, although it did turn out to be quite stressful anyway. There’s always a lot of people and animals
on the side of the road, as well as bike riders, often transporting anything from logs, live animals and people on the back of their bikes. The roads are quite narrow, which makes it quite difficult at times, trying to navigate between and around everything on and off the road.
We also had to do a lot of driving on roads that were terrible quality, which wasn’t easy in our car as it was very low to the ground. I feel like I’ve become a pro four-wheel driver now, with all of my experience driving around huge potholes, through deep puddles and mud and across large ditches. The road up to Gabbie’s parents’ house in Limbe was the most difficult road and there was one steep section that I initially scraped the car on a lot. By the end of the week I’d managed to get up twice without scraping the car, which was a huge achievement for me.
Anyway, our first stop was the town of Mua,
Looking at the hippos
to visit the Mua Mission. I’d heard a lot about Mua Mission from many different people, so I was really interested to see what it was like. There’s a huge church there, as well as a craft store, cultural museum, waterfall and restaurant. It was a really pretty place and the cultural museum taught me a lot of interesting things about 3 of the tribes in Malawi – the Yao, Ngoni and Chewa tribes.
After Mua we continued on to Blantyre, which was our actual reason for going south – to visit Gabbie’s family. We stayed there with them for 5 nights. It was nice to live in a house with electricity and lots of space. It was also nice to see the family again, especially to meet Gabbie’s sister Zione, who wasn’t living there last time, and her baby boy Praise. Praise is a really cute baby and after a day of being unsure about us white people, he was pretty happy to hang out with us.
We visited a lot of relatives while we were in Blantyre. It felt like nearly every day we met a new lot of people. It was
sometimes very tiring, to be meeting so many new faces and to be surrounded by conversation that I didn’t understand.
We took a day trip one day to Mount Mulanje, the highest mountain in Malawi,
at 3002m. I’d been there before but Gabbie had never been there, and I wanted him and Mum to see it, as it’s a really beautiful place. We also took Gabbie’s niece Judy with us. She was meant to be at school but wanted to come with us so much so we taught her some things during the day, like an alternative school.
On the way to Mulanje we drove past many tea estates and visited the Satemwa
Tea Estate in Thyolo to have a walk through a tea estate and drink/buy some tea. We had a picnic lunch in Mulanje, which felt a bit strange, as I’ve never seen an African having a picnic before.
We didn’t feel strong enough after our lunch to climb to the top of Mulanje, but we instead decided to take the much easier option of walking 45 minutes to a waterfall. After fighting our way through all the people offering to
The baboons were like guards at the entrance to the park
be our guide or guard our car, we did the short walk up to the waterfall. Gabbie and Judy had never even seen a waterfall before and it was great seeing Judy’s interest and
delight in discovering that sticks travel down the falls like small boats.
When Mum and I were in Nkhotakota, one of our guides had mentioned to us that
there were lots of Rastafarian churches in Malawi, including in Blantyre. Mum really liked the idea of going to visit a Rasta church, and it turned out that Gabbie’s brother Aubrey has a friend who knew where there was a Rasta church, in the same area that Gabbie’s parents live in.
They took us there on Saturday morning, as Rastas have their services on Saturdays. We ended up having to climb up a huge hill to get to the church, as Rastas aren’t allowed to have their churches in the towns because people think they’re a bad influence on children and other religions don’t like them. It was a
lovely “church” – actually just a clearing among the trees, but with an amazing view over the area Gabbie’s family lives in.
Hundreds of zebras everywhere!
a bit early for the service, but we met a couple of people there who taught us a bit about Rastafarianism and prayed a little, which was really interesting. I had no idea that Rastafarianism was a type of Christianity. They follow the same bible and worship the same figures. However, I’m sure they’re the only type of Christianity that allows marijuana smoking at church!
While in Blantyre, we also went on a short tour of the Carlsberg brewery, which is the only Carlsberg brewery in Africa and the first that was established outside of Denmark. This was probably the highlight of Gabbie's week, because after our 10 minute tour we got to spend almost 1 & 1/2 hours sitting drinking free beer. There were a few other Americans there who'd also taken the opportunity to get drunk for free. Between them and Gabbie, there were around 25 beers that disappeared very quickly!
On the Sunday we headed back to Lilongwe so that Mum could get her flight home on Monday. In a way I was very relieved to give back our hire car and leave the driving to someone else, even if it
And also hundreds of impala...
was crazy minibus drivers!
We got back to Gabbie’s house only to find that while we were away the termites had moved into the ceiling beams next to Mum’s bed. Just to add to the cockroaches, ants, spiders, crickets and falling-down walls…
Monday morning we all headed out to the airport so that Mum could fly back to Australia. I’m sure she was looking forward to getting back to the comforts of Australia and being able to have a hot shower, have electricity, drive her own car and not battle with cockroaches and ants in her bedroom! For Gabbie and I it was very strange to be going back home without her and it took a couple of days to get used to not having her around.
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