In 1974 Denise and her family came to Lake Malawi on a week holiday so after packing up at Cool Runnings we went in search of the old colonial hotel that was where they had stayed. We found it! It’s called Sunbird Livingstonia hotel and some things were the same whilst others were different which you would expect after 41 years.
We had coffee there and enjoyed chatting to the one waiter who remembered the history of the place. It has a lovely campsite and is on secluded beach so it was tempting to stay there. One of the features of Lake Malawi is how many people, mainly men use it for bathing, and lo and behold in front of the campsite were the usual suspects bathing, men without a stitch of clothing on so we moved on…..
We went to Cape Maclear and en route visited the Mua Mission which is just off the road. A really interesting place which tells the history of the Catholic Church in the area as well as documenting the local history.
There are two rooms dedicated to cultural information about the most prominent tribes of Malawi beautifully done by one of the Catholic priests. Really amazing artist and a surprisingly well done with a magnificent sculpture shop with unusual wooden art.
There were sections on the way to Cape Maclear that were part of the national park which showed how magnificent the bush must have been in this area. There are large tracts of land that are barren, where all the trees have been cut down and I mean ALL, for human use, so it was good to see some land still intact.
We camped at a place called Chembe Eagle’s Nest, lovely little place situated in a nook of the lake surrounded by villages.
There were the inevitable men and boys bathing on the lake either side of the lodge so we wondered where the women’s bathing area was!
It was a lovely place to chill and relax, enjoy swimming and the scenery. The camp site supported a large variety of lizard life from 1m+ monitors to little geckos.
We managed to watch the opening ceremony to the Rugby World Cup here. We also had a wonderful sunset cruise which also gave us a good view of the lake shore.
Then to make us feel quite at home…. load shedding! We were serenaded with the sound of generator power for most of one day……..
Leaving the lake we headed south to the Zomba plateau which is very beautiful and chilly. We stopped along the road for a take-away a la East Africa (this time just slap (soggy) chips).
Zomba had been the colonial capital of Malawi at some stage so the town is quite structured. The main road is under construction so we got a scenic detour as we moved towards the plateau. We stayed in a hotel at the top which was hosting a couple of Aid Organizations conferences. It was very civilized and even had tea and scones on the menu. We went for a walk and had to fend off numerous offers for tour guides.
We found a trout farm which is no longer operational although a ‘caretaker’ did offer to let us camp there. We did joke about putting in an offer for the place.
Leaving Malawi signified that we were nearing our journeys end. The border post into Mozambique at Dedza was painless and quick. We planned to overnight in Tete then straight through to Nyamapanda in Zimbabwe. The scenery once into Mozambique was magnificent and very beautiful. Tete city was surprisingly large and extensive. We found some accommodation on the Zambezi River which consisted of small en-suite log cabins and a very small restaurant at the water’s edge. Lo and behold it seemed that we had once again stumbled upon the communal bath/ wash area. This time large volumes of topless women were doing their washing in front of the lodge whilst the men bathed amongst frolicking children slightly down stream. Modesty is clearly not a plentiful commodity in this part of the world.
The next day saw us cross the border back into Zimbabwe. We traveled south west through Mutoko and Murewa, Alan’s old stomping ground when he was in the army and took a bit of time to reminisce.
We arrived at Denise’s brother Bill and his wife Jill’s home in Marondera mid-afternoon. Bill and Jill work at Peterhouse Boy’s and Girl’s school respectively and live on the girl’s school property. The school is situated on a large tract of land filled with Msasa trees and balancing rocks and incorporates a small conservation area called Gosho Park that is home to some Kudu, Impala, Giraffe and Eland as well as some striking scenery.
We enjoyed a sunset braai one evening in Gosho.
We also joined a sunset/ moonrise gathering with some other Peterhouse staff on the top of granite balancing rock outcrop – this on the evening of the blood moon eclipse which we later enjoyed from Bill and Jill’s garden from 03H45 the next morning.
Time had eventually caught up with us. Vehicle and Medical Travel insurance was valid until 30th September. Also, Mike and Kerry our son and daughter in-law were due to move into their first home on the 3rd October – a fairly noteworthy and momentous occasion – so we decided that it was time to head home. Having spent a wonderful time with Bill and Jill we headed for Tshipise hot springs near Musina. Unfortunately we had a torrid time with the numerous Zimbabwe Police road blocks on the Harare Beit Bridge road who seemed to be out to harass foreigners and in some cases were clearly looking to elicit a bribe (none paid although it cost a small fortune in receipted spot fines!). This spoiled an otherwise pretty hassle free experience of traffic officers throughout the entire journey of over 16000 km’s lasting seventeen and a half weeks.