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Published: February 20th 2019
The drive to Monkey Bay was remarkably easy. We actually had a road most of the way! That was until we actually got there, and then it deteriorated badly. We were staying at the Monkey Bay Beach Lodge
which is actually located through a Malawi Navy base checkpoint. The guys were only doing their job but they could have been a little friendlier. There was a stop sign and we stopped, but not right in front of the sign. It's not like we were blocking the traffic or anything. Later, when we walked through the gate we were told off for not using the pedestrian gate!
That aside, what a great location. The lodge has nice, comfortable rooms with very friendly dogs and not-too-curious monkeys. The dogs often occupied the sofa outside our room, but the monkeys never stole our sandals which were left outside. Mind you, the smell after two months of travel may well have put them off!! Hot water was sorely lacking, especially in the mornings, but the climate is pretty hot and sticky so it's not the biggest issue we have faced on this trip. We ate here each evening as the offerings of the town were poor and the
food at the lodge was so, so good. The lodge also had kayaks and snorkel gear for rent but somehow we never got around to using either. The waters of Lake Malawi are clean but time slipped by and we didn't venture in at all. Shameful, I know.
We did do a bit of walking though. Wandering through the town of Monkey Bay was uninspiring and waiting an hour and a half for some boiled rice and a few scraps of beef to be cooked was frustratingly typical of rural Malawi. The shops were a ramshackle selection with not an awful lot in stock but we got what we needed. The dogs from the lodge followed us everywhere. The ultra-slow restaurant were not too happy with our canine companions but there was no way of getting rid of them. We made our way down to the quay where the Ilala departs on its journey up and down Lake Malawi each Friday morning. Even though there was nothing to see there, we were offered the chance to look around for a small fee. We declined. If the boat had been there, maybe, but to see an empty dock?! On the
Friday morning we did actually see it depart from the comfort of the lodge's terrace under the watchful eye of playful monkeys in the trees.
The best walk was around the back of the navy base and over the hill to a local fishing village. At first it felt intrusive but we asked permission from an older girl and she led us to a village elder. He then led us through the maze of huts down to the beach where we were introduced to his sons and grandsons, fishermen sat in the shade tending to their nets. They were really friendly, as were the little children in the village. They didn't like the dog which came with us though, and we had to stop them throwing stones at it. There is no wonder dogs get aggressive and it becomes something of a vicious circle. We were offered a boat ride back to the lodge but we were in need of some exercise so we climbed back up the path. The children obviously have strict limits and they left us alone at the edge of the village.
We did try to drive around the headland to Cape Maclear but
the recent rains had left parts of the track inaccessible to our saloon car and we decided to play it safe and give up. After three days of comfort it was a wrench to leave, but the trip was drawing to a close and we had to head back to Blantyre.
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