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Published: April 21st 2010
Monkey bay to Lilongwe
I’ll continue from where I left off last time, travelling down the shore of Lake Malawi. Our last stop was Senga Bay in Salima, because of its proximity to Lilongwe and the good road links; this is a popular town for visitors from the city going to the lake side for a few days. This means that there lots of fairly nice lodges available, we stayed in the Lakeside Lodge, an ex-colonial compound strait out of the 1950’s right next to the lakeshore.
The next day we set off towards monkey bay, our last night by the lake, on the way we had to turn off the road we were on (the M5, don’t let the name fool you it’s basically a B-road in the UK) onto the M10, when the turn off came up we took it, onto another dirt track, this was slightly surprising as on the map it was marked as a main road and we were still quite a distance from Monkey Bay (we probably would have just driven past it had we not been looking). This could mean that it would take hours to drive, longer than the short hop we wanted for that day. But as the sign clearly pointed down we hoped for the best and started down the track. After a few kilometres it was becoming more and more obvious that this wasn’t the right way, the road was becoming narrower and the condition quickly worse. In the end a deep ditch running the entire breadth of the road, impossible for us to cross in a saloon, decided it for us and we had to turn back, go the longer route. But just down the road we found a second tarmaced road with a second sign for the M10, really confused, but glad we didn’t have to drive extra hours and miss Cape McClear out of the trip, we continued onto the lake.
We stayed that night in Fat Monkeys in Cape McClear near to the Lake Malawi national park. I would guess that it was either designed for (or possibly by) backpackers, it has a relaxed beach-bum feel about the place that’s great (not to mention most of the menu being pizza). The bar/restaurant is virtually on the beach, where you’ll find guys trying to sell you all kinds, from boat trips out to the islands, to t-shirts, curios and fruit. I went for a swim in the lake (a body of water that size has no right to be that warm all the time) then had a quite drink with Dad. Later on I was reading by myself and started talking to the group of Australian and Irish gap year guys, on the next table, in the end I joined them and spent most of the evening with them, which was really fun.
After a leisurely breakfast we went to the national park. After looking around the museum and aquarium, we wandered down the beach to Otters Point, there we took many pictures and Mum bought some gifts from the guy selling curios. Out next stop was Zomba, we planned to spend a couple of days there so that night we just checked into the lodge and had dinner. The mext morning we made our way up to the plateau, despite the sheer drops and roadwork’s (accounting for the new scratch down the side of the car) we made it up without any problems, Mum even managed to glance over the edge once or twice. Because of Dad’s knee and Mum’s back (bloody parents) hiking for hours around the plateau was out of the question, so instead to get to see the sights we went to the plateau stables for an hour’s horse riding. While we were waiting we got talking to the owner and it turns out his son knows KJ, small world. The hour was fantastic, I was on a big (15 hands) black stallion, called nick (nickaquid) that kept getting right up behind the leading horse, Dad was behind me and then Mum at the back plodding along on a horse that would only go at its own pace. We had an awesome time and I’m thinking of going back when I have time.
Out next stop was Blantyre, there I was able to guide them around better than precious places and take them to my usual haunts. I took my parents to the St John offices, to Limbe market and around Blantyre. We were staying at the Chatata’s so they were able to meet who I have been (and still am) staying with. The last of the gifts were bought at the curio market in Doogles.
While we were staying in Blantyre we took a day trip to Mulanji. On the way we stopped off at a tea estate where Mrs Chatata’s father met us and gave up a bag of Malawi coffee. Once in Mulanji most of the 3rd tallest mountain in the world was invisible due to the rolling cloud. So we went along to the Mozambique border, had a cup of coffee and a spot of lunch. In the afternoon we went up to Likhubula rock pools (the mountain was in view now) which was just fantastic. That evening we had been invited for a meal with Mrs Kumdana, the national coordinator, at her house.
Their last day was mostly spent travelling back to Lilongwe. Once there we had some problems trying to drop the car off because it was the first lady’s bridal shower (their wedding was last Saturday) but eventually we managed to get through. We were met by Mrs Chatata (Bruce’s step-mother) who we had arranged to meet after Mr Chatata (Bruce’s father) had asked to meet my folks. They were good enough to put us up for the night and even take us for a meal at the Blue Ginger Indian restaurant.
The next morning they drove us to the airport, so I could wave goodbye to Mum and Dad. It was great to be able to see them, though a little sad as it means my trip is coming to an end (only 2 months left) though this is exciting too as I’m going home soon.
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