Malawi - Nkhata Bay and Karonga

July 27, 2011 - Iringa, Tanzania

Kande Beach was full of overlanders in their big trucks and dome tents, not a welcome sight to the average camper! There were a lot of activities on offer: snorkelling and diving, bicycle hire, horse riding and walking tours but the weather was not great so we did not take advantage of anything.  The beach was busy with locals carrying out their regular chores – laundry, pot washing and bathing. Naked men made beach walking a bit awkward at times! Laundry and pot cleaning seemed to happen more in the mornings and often little children could be seen washing in small groups unsupervised, even the tiniest child dragged pots into the waves. Amazing what joy the spontaneous approach of a child can do and soon one little boy was hanging off our hands enjoying himself noisily as we wandered down the beach.

From Kande beach we pushed onto Nkhata Bay, in retrospect camping there made Kande beach look far more attractive!  We looked at 3 different camp sites settling on the most viable option. All three had terrible roads with steep hills especially difficult with trailers. I ran ahead to investigate the second two camps since we were not certain the road would be passable and just as well since the third camp’s road wasn’t. Never trust a sign that says 800m in Africa, I worked up a good sweat! The second camp which we finally settled on was also difficult to get to and was not at all made for camping as advertised. They at least made a plan and gave us one of the chalets for ablutions and access to electricity. From the first camp to the third camp a boy called Jonathan followed me chattering in unintelligible English all the way, he was relentless sticking to me like glue and driving me insane till I commanded him to ‘SHHHHHHH!’ Gladly he could do that momentarily.

Our camp was not at all secure and full of curious locals looking on and others keen to do business. Jonathan soon perched on the ground next to me and spread out his paintings joined shortly by another from his family then Mike with all his goods. Mike was as bad as Jonathan chattering away until I was exhausted and finally made a deal with them both. I bought a painting from Jonathan and commissioned Mike to make me a small portable bawe game for a pair of shoes, some kwacha and a few plasters. In the end I was really happy, the bawe box was nicely carved with a baobab, bwota (boat), fish and Malawi 2011 as ordered!

We were mobbed by other salesmen too of course! Maurice had connections to someone with a motor boat; soon he had negotiated a sunset cruise for the next day and a snorkelling trip for George and I.  The snorkelling was fun, the fish colourful and the water was beautifully clear. Later the four of us went down for the sunset cruise; this was a rip off of note! Clearly they had not purchased the petrol we had paid for so we did more bobbing around than actual cruising. We fed one fish eagle for some time until he was too lazy or disinterested and just before sunset we pulled up along a local fisherman to purchase fish for supper.

Travelling on we looked forward to the next big town Mzuzu anticipating a good stock up but only the coffee shop was open...Coffee... Cake...Toasted sandwiches... of course not! Coffee and chips with maybe a burger or curry was more like it. There had been marching and riots the day before and the police and army presence were clearly evident. Despite this the ‘shops’ came to us and I was persuaded by Lolly Jackson to buy a couple more paintings and some veggies from another – a real lettuce.....the first I  have seen since Blantyre! We made it through Mzuzu safely but 2 people were not so lucky and were killed that day whilst cars were set alight in Lilongwe.

Chitinga camp was next, this was also a beach camp with overlanders. We made our way up to Livingstonia one morning; it took an hour and a half to do 14kms up a steep and rocky road with many hairpin bends.  We spent a nice day enjoying the views, church, the stone house museum and lunch at the Mushroom Farm. At Chitinga camp we had parked in quite a sandy spot and George tried to pull the caravan onto harder ground before hitching up. The jockey wheel snapped off but lucky for us there was “Hakuna Matata” (no worries!) camp next door and Willie welded the attachment back on. Steve got himself stuck in the last camp too but gladly had learnt our lesson so used some man power to lift his caravan by the tow bar instead!

Our last stop in Karonga, the Beach Chamber, before we crossed over into Tanzania will always be remembered by..... “Mazungu....Mazungu”  - the persistent call from children on the perimeter of the lodge. Mazungu means “white man”, of course they were keen to sell things, obtain bottles or kwacha. We had a celebratory last meal joined by Fanny and Rupert (the bikers from the last blog) who rode in late afternoon. Malawi has been a memorable experience with beautiful people and has certainly lived up to its reputation as being “the warm heart of Africa!”

 

 


Pictures

1 Overlanders Kande Beach cooking a pig on spit
2 Children eager to fill our gerrie cans - the village water was better than Kande Beach!
3 Bath time Kande Beach
4 Small child pot washing Kande Beach
 
 

8 Comments

Sue P:
July 27, 2011
Gosh, never a dull moment for you guys.
The caravan definitely looks weather beaten so I can
imagine the nightmare towing it.
Keep strong and well.
Ellie:
July 27, 2011
Hi! The horse ride sounds great. Also like the look of the view from the mushroom farm. Did you get to eat any mushrooms? We are trying to grow our own mushrooms at the moment. Will let you know how much success we have. Take care & travel safely! Ellie
Alice:
July 27, 2011
Nota mushroom in sight Ellie! Was so looking forward to buying a few!
brigitte parfitt:
July 27, 2011
Hey Mazungu x 2,it seems that there is not a boring moment on your trip. So glad you are still enjoying your trip and it sounds as if you take the "no roads", paying for boat petrol but not getting it etc. now in your stride. Love to see the paintings you bought, Alice, when you get back. Just take a moment to think: What was so far the thing that most impressed you? (and DON'T say the "untidy" men on the beach!!!)He,he,he Yeah, I agree, these chocolate kids conquer one's heart in no time. Perhaps an oportunity to try play therapy and see what happens. Handing in my 1st assignment for this module next week. Have really enjoyed to explore Person-Centred Therapy in a case study. Love you Mazungas lots.... Brigitte and Roy
Boet:
July 28, 2011
Keep strong and take care !!!
Jo:
July 30, 2011
Crikey - I am shattered just reading about jonathon & co. I can feel their relentless pursuit & want to have a kip immediately!

Fortunately there was horse therapy available. What a magnificant ride through the bush then the beach and sea. I am so envious you have no idea. I have been pining for such a ride for at least 9 years. What did it cost? We are contemplating going for a ride at a nearby village riding this weekend but its £25 per person!

& eeish! I see what you mean about hairpin bends - the satnav pic says it all. I reckon if we turn it upright into a rollercoster design, that would be major competition for the famous one just opened in Japan!
philip:
August 2, 2011
Hello George and Alice,

As always so good to hear from you again. It's amazing how quickly time flies. We are at the beginning of August. More than half the year gone by and you are probably halfway through your trip.

It's always such a pleasure and privelage to share your journey and thank you for the wonderful blog and beautiful pictures.
I particularly liked the one on horseback in the waves.

Not much new going on my life at the moment. Work got a bit busier towards the last two weeks of July. We have just completed updating the computer so I am a bit nosy to see if we at least made budget and maybe a bit of profit.
I am doing quite a number of quotes at the moment as new budgets start being approved for the Christmas season [scary]. But at this stage it's only quotes. So we need to pray that GOD turns these into orders. I just need to trust HIS faithfulness.

You are both in my thoughts and prayers. Love and miss you. Stay safe and happy.
Alice:
August 2, 2011
Thanks my special friends, wonderful to hear from you! Brigitte - guess it was the people in Malawi that impressed us the most, warm, humble, polite, hard working, many are religious in some way. We always felt safe and enjoyed Zomba and the lake though it was not really the right season.
Jo (my sister) you made me laugh and laugh, that is the clown I love to see in you! Horse riding was very expensive and more expensive than scuba diving, can't remember what though.
Precious people thanks again your comments they are so greatly appreciated! Brings a smile to my dial and joy big time.
Lots love alice xxx
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