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Published: August 10th 2012
Since the travel to Senga Bay was tough, we splurged and paid for a speed boat direct to Cape Maclear. The speed boat was an adventure in itself. Much better than paying for a zip line across Batoka Gorge at Victoria Falls. Longer than the 3 minute zip line too.
When we first inquired about the speed boat, we were told it takes about 25 minutes from Senga Bay to Cape Maclear. Then someone else said it's more like 40 minutes. When we asked Captain Magic (Yes, that's his name, and the name of his boat was "Bad News"), he said it would be about an hour.
We thought the lake was calm and the ride would be quite smoothe. Guess again! the beach areas were relatively calm, but the middle of the lake was windy and choppy, and since we were sitting at the bow of the boat, we rode each wave up and down. It was better than any amusement park ride. Occasionally, the boat would hit a wave really hard, and each vertebrae would vibrate. W.. had great fun. He had a big grin on his face throughout the ride. Always look on the bright side
of life ... (sung to the Monty Python skit theme) ...
The water was much calmer once we were inside the protected headland of Cape Maclear. The depth near the middle of Lake Malawi is over 1000m. And Captain Magic was right. It took us just over an hour to get across, as we were heading into wind the whole time. The return trip was likely faster, as he would have had a tail wind. He had nobody take up his offer of a ride back to Senga Bay. "Bad News" for Captain Magic, but the trip was good news for us.
A regular motorized fishing boat would have taken 3-4 hours and the Ilola ferry that goes the length of Lake Malawi once a week takes even longer, and doesn't stop at Senga Bay nor Cape Maclear. The regular boat would have cost almost as much as the speed boat.
Since we arrived in good time at Cape Maclear, we got a room and after a light meal, rented some kayaks and paddled up and down the Cape Maclear beach. We'd have been better off walking, because it was windier than we judged and the current
was quite strong. The kayaks also were not proper sea kayaks. They had no "skirt covered seats" and was thus wet and uncomfortable - no back support. We'd planned on 4-5 hours of kayaking, but stopped after just 2 hours. We even got back a small refund from the kayak rental guy, after a little haggling.
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