Zomba Plateau is a large mountain where much if the nature is protected. It is therefore popular for hiking
Hippos, elephants, a lizard, a spider and more
It has been on our minds for a couple of years to visit Malawi. It may be a bit of a forgotten corner of the world but it is a country people we have met have spoken well of. This year it fitted nicely in our schedule to go there and since we also managed to get flight tickets we decided to go.
Malawi is shaped almost like a sausage, it is long and narrow. We arrived in Blantyre in the southern part of the country, almost at the end of the sausage. But we decided to leave straight away since we knew that it is in the central parts of the country, also known as mid-sausage, where the more interesting things are. Our first stop was therefore the city Zomba
, in south central sausage.
There were two things in Zomba that had caught our attention - the Zomba Plateau and the colonial architecture in town.
The Zomba Plateau, or Zomba Massif,
is a large mountain where much if the nature is protected and therefore is popular for hiking. We took a half day
Animal life was scarce in the Zomba Plateau. But when the big game isn't available, the small game will have to do.
hike there. Animal life was scarce, the only thing we saw was one antelope, but the hike was rewarding nevertheless. We saw waterfalls, flowers, insects and we went to two lookout points (one named after Haile Selassi and one named after Queen Elisabeth the Queen Mother). This hike was a good way to begin our trip.
We read in our guidebook that Zomba town has some interesting colonial architecture. Malawi used to be a British colony and Zomba was one of the most important towns in the region. That sounded good and we were curious to see the architectural heritage that was left behind by the Europeans. It turned out it wasn't much and not very interesting either. It was still rewarding to walk around in town so we were not disappointed. It was just a different experience from what we had in mind.
Next stop was Liwonde National Park, which is one of the largest national parks in Malawi and also one of the best when it comes to animal life.
We stayed at Liwonde Safari Camp, a camp inside the park boundary. From the camp they offer at least
Spider with catch
That spider has caught some goodies he or she has hidden in those "bags"
two different tours in the park - one jeep tour and one boat tour. We were only interested in the boat tour since we wanted to see the park's big attraction - the hippos. The boat tour was excellent. We saw lots of hippos but also a crocodile and some elephants.
As we said, Liwonde Safari Camp is inside the national park. That means wild animals can come close. There are several park rangers working at the camp and they constantly keep an eye out for animals that potentially could be dangerous for guests. There was one elephant lurking around near the site in the evening and in the night they heard a lion close by. Could these animals pose a danger to the guests? Well, the park rangers probably have a good idea of where the animals are and it is probably safe enough. But Ake must admit that he got a bit worried when he found out that a lion had been somewhere in the neighbourhood when he went for a visit to the bathroom at night.
The final place we are going to write about here is Mangochi. Our plan was
Butterfly in the Zomba Plateau
to stop only for a few hours, visit the ruins of a fortress, and then leave and go on to Cape Maclear. We got into a taxi and told them about the fortress we wanted to go to. The driver had never heard of it before so he took a chance and started driving without knowing exactly where the destination was. He asked people on the way for directions and eventually we ended up on a really rough road, one where we would have been much better off with a 4-WD than with the taxi we had. The road ended at a tobacco factory. When we stepped out of the car the people who worked there explained that the fortress we wanted to go to was more than two hours hike away instead of the 600 meters the guidebook said that it was. That was a miscalculation. We aborted our plans to see the fortress/ruin and instead we asked if we could see some of the factory. They gave us a small tour of the storage area and showed us where they dry the tobacco leaves. As it turned out, this was way more interesting than the fort would have
We had no idea that physalis actually grew in the wild.
been. So even though the day didn't pan out the way we had planned, it actually turned into something better.
In the mountain above the tobacco factory they pointed out an interestingly shaped rock. It is called Skull Rock because it actually resembles a human skull. With most of these rock formations you need quite a lot of imagination to see the shapes they are supposed to have. But with Skull Rock east of Mangochi it was very obvious how it got its name. It actually looks very much like the Skull Cave, the home of the fictional hero the Phantom
After Mangochi we went to Cape Maclear and Lake Malawi. That we will write about in the next blog entry.
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