Overland Day 40: Malawi
Another gorgeous day in Zanzibar. Started off by walking along the beach and visiting a turtle conservation centre, where I got to feed the turtles (and shake flippers with one too!). They’re beautiful creatures and amazing to be so close to them. One of them was called Squishy; he was my favourite 🙂 Rest of the day was spent sunbathing, swimming and generally lazing around.
Time to return to Dar Es Salaam today. We had to drive from the northern beaches to Stone Town in order to catch the ferry and as we got closer we found out that the night before there had been riots throughout Stone Town and its surrounding areas. I didn’t fully understand why but it had something to do with a Muslim group whose leader had gone missing. Churches had been burnt down overnight and a policeman had been killed (we only found this out after we left). Some of the streets were strewn with wreckage and as we neared the road which led to the ferry, suddenly a group of boys came running out towards our van. The driver quickly U-turned and we got out of there pretty sharpish. At this point we started to get a bit worried but thankfully we were able to find another way to the ferry and got there just in time. It was a bit of a chaotic ending to a relaxing few days in Zanzibar!
Drove 538km over 14.5 hours today. Arrived at Iringa Farmhouse and the best part of the day was the hot chocolate and Amarula (tastes like Baileys) they served up in the bar before bedtime. It’s the little things!
Border crossing into Malawi today and quite a long drive day. As with most of the countries we have entered, Malawi is immediately different to Tanzania. The people are so much friendlier (nice to be waved at again!) and it’s back to dry and dusty landscapes. Their houses seem better maintained, which I found surprising given how poor Malawi is. Lake Malawi is absolutely stunning – it’s so vast, you could easily mistake it for the sea. We reached Chitimba Camp at about 6.30pm (7.30pm really as the clock went back an hour) so probably one of the latest arrivals yet.
Malawi is HOT. Reminds me of Malta in the sweaty depths of Summer. Only problem is there are no cold floors for me to lay on here and chill out. Too hot to sleep in so we were all up far earlier than we needed to be. Went on a village walk round Chitimba and got to visit a local primary school, health centre and the village witch doctor. The school was another sobering experience – 1200 pupils to 14 teachers and nowhere near enough room in each class for anyone to sit comfortably. That said, the headmaster was very enthusiastic about the kids’ education and you can tell that the little they have is appreciated. We walked along the beach on our way back; it was so hot that most of us burnt our feet 🙁 Won’t do that again in a hurry!
After some lunch back at camp,another girl from the truck and I went for a lesson in wood-carving; it’s far harder than it looks and you certainly learn to appreciate all the work that goes into everything they make. I made Sarah and Davinia a little something there – you’ll get it in due course!
Woke up at 4.45am and found a decent spot on the beach to watch the sunrise. Made our way to Kande Beach with a stop at Mzuzu first of all to pick up food for cook group, as well as fancy dress costumes for a little party we had planned. Next stop was Nakhata Bay, a local area with loads of wood-carving stalls, then last of all we made it to Kande Beach. Simone and I had already booked an en-suite room since we were going to be there for three days and I’m so glad we did – it was a great way to relax and have a break from the mayhem of truck life.
The worst has happened – today I woke up to find a (squashed) cockroach sharing my bed. I knew this would happen sooner or later 🙁 Hopped into the lake after breakfast, the spent some time sunbathing on the beach. Visited a local artist’s hut in the afternoon for a few hours and he helped me and a few others make our own paintings. I’m really pleased with how mine turned out and it’s definitely my favourite souvenir so far.
We had something special planned for the evening: a hog roast followed by our fancy dress party. The pig had been roasting over the fire since the morning and it was incredible! As for the costumes … we had all been assigned another person on the truck to shop for which meant everyone looked pretty horrendous. Just as it should be! Had a really fun, albeit slightly manic, night at the bar 🙂
Lazy day at Kande today. Most of us were somewhat hungover so not much happened other than general beachiness.
Time to say a sad farewell to Kande Beach and make our way to Lilongwe. Arrived in good time and spent a few hours at probably the most Westernised shopping centre we’ve come across so far. Pizza for lunch – oooh yeah! Settled in to Mabuya Camp quite quickly (broke our record for quickest tent pitching yet!) and then a few of us went out for dinner at a yummy Italian in town. After that even less of us made it to a local club where we spent the night. A pretty good introduction to Lilongwe!
Quiet day at camp today. Malawi is back to being super hot (it was overcast and a bit chilly yesterday) so don’t really have much energy for anything. Having a bit of a truck clean later and then I’d say it will be a quiet night with the others.