Thursday, July 14

Happy Campers at Lake Malawi

Brett: The drive into Nkhata Bay is very scenic with views of rolling hills and the lake. We stayed at Big Blue Star ($3 pppn camping) which has space for overlanding vehicles. It was a nice spot but we were slightly put off by the night watchman camped out about 2 meters from our truck watching us. There were two other white hiluxes there – one with two guys from Netherlands (Alwin & Coen) that we had met at the Zimbabwe Ruins and Lilongwe and the other was three South Africans from Cape Town. We walked through town (through a rally of some sort) to Mayoka Village on the far side of town – they have a very cool setting with chalets spread over a steep site, but no space for camping and much more of a touristy feel. Town was really bustling but we mostly didn’t feel hassled, although we did get adopted by the local drug dealer, MIke. Mike chatted to us for a bit and offered us some wacky backy, but we couldn’t really understand what he was saying, so I asked “do you mean the board game?” (thinking he was talking about Bao – similar to backgammon). He laughed and left us alone after that Smile .

The weather had turned a bit stormy and it was not as warm as we had hoped for, with a few afternoons of cloud, but we managed to snorkel one afternoon and saw some bright blue cichlids.

We had heard about a beach party in town one night which sounded quite good, but Mary was too tired so I went with one of the guys from Big Blue. The beach party was actually over when we got there but we met up with Alwyn & Coen and headed over to Mayoka to see if there was anything happening there. It was a bit dead so we asked the Big Blue guy (a local) to take us somewhere in town. We walked into town, gathering people along the way and went to the Yiso Yiso Entertainment Centre, a little nightclub/bar in the town. It was really fun / interesting to see a local hangout – beers were cheap and everyone was dancing. The music was Malawian R&B – tough sounding voices singing “there is a place in heaven for you” or “chickens go cluck-cluck, dogs go woof-woof”. 

It was really interesting to see how popular bicycles are in Malawi and were used to carry everything from 10m tall corrugated iron roofing to live squealing pigs. Cell phones are have also taken off in a big way and everyone seemed to have one – it was common to see people cycling and texting or using them as a torch at night. On our drives, we saw a lot of “rats-on-a-stick”, but weren’t brave enough to try any.


Mary: From Nkhata Bay we drove down the coast of the lake to Kande Beach ($4 pppn camping), which was my kinda paradise – it is a pretty resort right on the beach, with the village a little further away, so it feels much quieter than Nkhata Bay. There were a few overlanding trucks the first night we were there, and they had a massive party at the bar, but it is a big enough resort that you can still get some peace. We walked on the beach, caught up on our washing, swam and chilled out for 3 days.

One day doing the washing, Brett hung up some tracksuit pants on the line that weren’t dirty enough to warrant washing but needed an airing out – which spawned the catch phrase, “airing on the side of caution” Smile

Kande Beach was really well set up with a huge bar area perfect for sun-downers and a pool table which we used (playing by the light of our head torches as the power was out). We also had a table tennis tournament that ended in a disastrous 3-0 victory to Brett! I will have to set that straight sometime. The beach also has a volleyball net which looked like fun but we were feeling too lazy for that, and they had a catamaran for hire that we wanted to try but it was too rough to take it out, which was a real pity. The wind had created some great little waves for body surfing instead. I could definitely come back here for a holiday again sometime!

Our last stop in Malawi was at Cape Mclear in the South on our way into Mozambique. We had stayed at Fat Monkeys 10 years earlier when it was being built so it was good to see it again ($7 pppn camping). It is a very popular spot and he camping is right on the beach. We explored town and did some curio shopping. We bought Bao (the actual board game) and some brightly coloured material for making clothes. None of the restaurants had Chumba (fish) for Brett so we bought the next best thing  (Tiger Fish) from some of the locals on the beach and cooked it ourselves – yum!

We have had 4 days of vegetarian food, although we have still been eating well (peas ‘n rice, butternut & chickpea curry, couscous salad, pesto pasta – so not exactly slumming it) as we used up all the meat we bought in Lilongwe. Brett survived tuna and cheese on boiled potatoes night which was very brave, but we are going to hopefully stock up at the Shoprite in Nampula on our way through Mozambique to the coast.

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