MALAWI 2016 & 2010
The last 2 days in Zambia were not what we hoped for as Clary got Malaria. But after we visited the local clinic it became 5 days of pills and the malaria disappeared. We got a second opinion in Malawi but confirmed the same. The bad rash was unrelated and possible traced back to some local plant or possible the chimpanzees? One thing we know is if there is one thing they can cure in Africa it is Malaria as it is as common as the flu in Europe or Australia.
Despite brochures stating different Malawi is not a great wild life destination. 50 % of its land mass is taken up by Lake Malawi and this is where we will spend most of our time. Lake Malawi is 23000sg km and the third largest inland body of water in Africa. It is also the touristy part of the country but unfortunately tourism is well down. Malawi calls itself the warm heart of Africa and it is beating faster now, and the legendary welcome is there. Fair is fair it has the unrivalled combination of Lake, Landscape, Limited Wildlife & Culture in one of Africa’s most compact countries. Malawi is a poor country in terms of wealth, but a very friendly and welcoming one. Malawi is among the world’s least-developed countries. Its life expectancy is just 56 years and Malawi has an average weekly income or $ 15.67 per week or just 815 dollars per year making it one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 160th out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index. More than 50 percent of Malawi’s 18 million citizens live below the poverty line. Our first stop was Lilongwe making sure Clary was okay and had the right medicines to combat Malaria. Next was our stop at Lake Malawi and we stopped at Cape Mc Clear situated in the Lake Malawi National Park. Surrounded by islands, this is one of the most beautiful locations on this magnificent lake. Getting there we crossed central Malawi and turned south, crossing the Dedza highlands and Dedza-Salima Forest reserve. Lake Malawi National Park at Cape Maclear is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the waters and fish are protected, making the lake here a veritable aquarium of tropical fish. We decided to go back to our 2010 camp spot. (Fat Monkeys) in the middle of the village, we met a new bunch of SA people and a couple from Israel. Great campfire nights’ great music from the locals and the usual South African laughter till late.
After a 5 day stay (its hard to leave Cape McClear) we pointed North and stopped at Senga bay; from here further north into the lesser known part of Malawi. It is a region for those who wish to experience Malawi at its most unspoilt. The north is characterised by its great highlands up to 2500 meters.
The highlands of the north also influence the nature of the lakeshore, which in this region can be quite dramatic – fishing villages sitting at the base of cliff-like escarpments accessible primarily by boat. We stayed at Chitimba Camp, this has perhaps some of the most beautiful of Lake Malawi’s beaches. Also interesting was Nkhata Bay a bustling lake port, important to the fishing industry and a great market.
Despite having allocated 3 months travel in Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi we still could have spent 6 months in those 3 countries. BUT we need to go home so it is off to Dar Es Salaam and our flight home.
Albinism in Malawi Albinism is a genetic condition that leads to little or no pigment in the eyes, skin and hair. Persecution of people with albinism may occur for different reasons. One is based on the belief that certain body parts of albinistic people can transmit magical powers. Such superstition is present especially in Malawi and Tanzania. Many people believe in the medicine man (witch doctor) .The superstition is promoted and exploited by witch doctors and others who use such body parts as ingredients in rituals, concoctions and potions with the claim that their magic will bring prosperity to the user. Albinos’ body parts are believed to bring wealth and good luck. As a result, attackers chop off their limbs and pluck out organs, and sell them to witch doctors. Even after albinos are killed, some attackers go a step further and steal their remains from graveyards. The local newspaper quoted Malawi’s albinos are at risk of “total extinction” amid escalating attacks against them for their body parts, the United Nations warned.
During our visit to Malawi 2 people got sentenced to 25 years jail for the killing of an albino on April 23, see link below
Cost of visiting Malawi
2 visas 75 USD each for a 30 day stay, only accept USD For visa payment Road Tax 20USD 30 days. Paid in USD Temporary Import Permit 12 USD National parks cost $4.00 for locals and 20USD for international visitors.
We learned during our visit that overland trucks and budget travellers are now bypassing Malawi due to the high cost of entry into Malawi. Some overland trucks already bypassing Malawi drive from Zambia direct into Tanzania or vice versa. As one driver put it: Who wants to pay 75.00 for a 4 or 6 day stay in Malawi?
After a few days in Lilongwe we left early for Lake Malawi but unfortunately the weather was not very nice. But it is winter in Malawi. The lake was choppy, and the South Easterly was blowing. At 4pm it was time to move to the Bar (right on the beach) and watch the Holland vs Brazil Game. Oh, and before I forget, for those who have no TV in Malawi, and there are many, for 3 cents you can watch the game in the local bar with the commentary on 150DB. The campsite is beautiful and is situated behind a house. The scene on the beach in front is a mixture of woman doing the washing, kids swimming, fishermen coming and going and people selling all kind of goods. Just as the game finished we lost all power because we are told that Malawi has sold all its power to South Africa for the World Cup! In the afternoon we lazed around the campsite and spoke to many Overlanders. The campsite is right in the middle of the village and this makes one feel part of the community. As we walked around, the slogan “Malawi, the warm heart of Africa” was well promoted.
Our next destination was Cape Mc Clear The trip was not uneventful, three major truck accidents on the way, and one near miss for us when a bicycle rider carrying wood decided to cross the road. He didn`t see us coming! Well it was a very near miss and if it wasn`t for the wide embankment the rider would have been dead, and we would be … (who knows, but I hate to think what would have happened if the truck turned over at 80km per hour.) We are camping right on the beach, and when I say right on the beach I mean 5 meters from the water`s edge, on the beach.
We do not have to move, everything is delivered or available. Our firewood, our security man for the night, live goats, chickens and pigs are being carried past and are for sale and are slaughtered right in front of you, if you wish. Seafood, fruit and vegetables. What a life! The locals will do the cooking, washing etc for about one dollar. Clary ordered a rattan basket to keep the maps in front of the truck; at a cost 5 AUD and it is being made as we speak. What a life. The second day we woke up and it was raining and overcast. But as the day went on, the sun came out and we were back to 30 degrees. Camping right on the beach means the coming and going of locals does not stop and absolutely everything is for sale. The area in which we are camping is part of Lake Malawi National Park and has been established to protect the tropical fish that thrive here.
Some are not found anywhere else in the world. Fish here will eat directly out of your hand. Many of the fish here are like those found in aquariums with one important difference. There are over 1,000 species and many are not yet named or officially described. There are over 20 dive sites at Cape McClear alone. Plenty time to explore the village, buy some fruit and vegetables and organize firewood to be delivered. Clary and I did not feel the best and we were not sure if this was due to food or the swim we had in the lake yesterday. We can see why Lake Malawi was called the Lake of Stars by David Livingstone. After 10 days it was time to leave Cape McClear and head north along Lake Malawi for our next stop, somewhere on the lake, half way to Nkhata Bay.
Malawi is called the warm heart of Africa and it sure is. The roads are full of people waving at you and thousands of bicycles loaded with timber, chickens, pigs, goats, pots and pans etc. However, you see very few cars, which is a good thing as driving is demanding, trying to avoid all the people and bicycles on the road. (We are told the bicycles are donated by European Countries.) They even have bicycle taxis. You just jump on the back of the bike and off you go. I said to Clary that I should spare them the agony of carrying me around today! We are told that a Dutchman developed a bicycle ambulance and today there are over 300 orange bicycle ambulances serving villages all over Malawi. The ambulance bicycle has been modified to suit muddy roads; it has a removable stretcher and special covers to protect the patient against rain and sun. One of the reasons for developing this bicycle was that Malawi has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world. Pregnant woman can now be transported to the hospitals. Diesel is very expensive in Malawi at around 1.80m per litre. Today we were also conned by a beggar who looked poor and very sick. As he begged for money I gave him 50 Kwacha (40 cents). Then as soon as I gave him the money, he instantly recovered his strength and ran off with a smile! Lake Malawi has one of the worst records of Malaria infection and bilharzia. So, we are a little concerned, but we seem to feel okay most of the day. This morning we stopped off in Nkhata Bay to do some shopping at the markets. The rest of the day we meandered north along Lake Malawi for our final camp in Karonga. BUT as we arrived at the campsite, we were met by about 2000 people having a youth gospel gathering! By this time, it was already 3pm and we made the decision to push on to the border and stay at a mission on a tea plantation in Kibishi Village. It was dark and raining when we found the turn off. But the gravel road was a black soil and clay track, so it did not take long before we found ourselves stuck and we had to engage 4WD. Slipping and sliding, we finally made it to the camp site. We were told that the weather was very unusual for this time of the year Furthermore, it was so very cold, so we checked our GPS and it showed we had climbed to 1500meters. We were pleased to have our spot lights as it made all the difference. It is a bit of a problem as most people here think headlights cost fuel and at best only 1 in 20 cars had their lights on! And the bad driving we had heard about appears to be correct. Anyway, we were set up by 7.30pm with a group of locals around us admiring the truck and the usual question, “How did you get here?”
Today is our last day in Malawi and we still do not feel very well. Tomorrow we are heading for our first National Park in Tanzania, but first we need Tanzanian shillings and we are told there is a small bank about 50km from here.