Day 309: Kande Beach

Tues. 18th June 2013

Lake MalawiGuess what? Another 5:30am alarm as we have another long driving day today, crossing into Malawi and up to Kande Beach for two nights. This 9 day trip always was going to involve a lot of driving as we are using it to get from Zambia to Tanzania (about 3,000km and two border crossings), whilst catching some of the scenery and local life on the way. Malawi was on my wish list and this trip passes through it albeit in four days but hopefully we will get a flavour of Lake Malawi as well as the country.

Zambian stallWhilst Dave was involved in washing up breakfast I battled with the internet to see if it was any better than last night. I managed to download my emails, catch up on Facebook but the webpages refused to load so I have no idea if there is any new news in the world. We were soon on our way as we are all used to the morning routine and we efficiently get all packed up.

Too basic facilitiesFirst stop today is the border crossing from Zambia to Malawi which was quite quick as we are also now used to completing the usual questions on the exit and entry forms which are all very similar. The chilly air did mean there was a call for a toilet stop and, given the quality of the facilities at the border, we hoped for a nearby nature stop. As Malawi is one of the most densely populated of the African countries we were advised we may prefer to use the ones at the border rather than have an audience in the bush. Of all the toilets we have seen on our travels these take the award for being the worst. There was just a hole not much bigger than a letter box in the middle of a small room and no basin or paper. Is this an indication of Malawi? Enough on toilets (but I do have a collection of photos of facilities ranging from the basic to the bizarreā€¦..).

Bike anyone?Malawi is much busier than Zambia, in that there is a constant stream of people walking along the road as well as many bicycles mostly fully laden. There are many mud huts along the side of the road and every few kilometres are rows of stalls made of bricks or wood, or even just a mat on the ground with the wares laid out. They sell everything from tomatoes to coffins, phone credit to bicycles.

Should I apply to work here?We stopped in a small town to pick up some provisions and the shops are more basic than Zambia. The supermarket shelves were poorly stocked, but some found there was local booze to buy. As soon as we stopped there was a group of school children by the truck door, just watching us to see what we were doing. I spotted this sign but do not think I will be seeing if they have any vacancies. The road is not that wide and sometimes it is necessary to put two wheels onto the dirt verge to pass vehicles going the other way.

Lunch timeIt is lunchtime before we reached the national park which runs most of the way up Malawi. Much to the amusement of the locals we stop just before the entrance and unload a big table and our pasta salad, cold meats and cheese for lunch. The locals soon come over selling bananas for a ridiculously small charge and are grateful for our leftovers. Once fed we enter the park but the only animals we see are baboons. The tarmac ends at the park gate and the rutted dirt track passes through the quite dense forests.

Typical Malawan sceneryAfter about 50km we catch glimpses of Lake Malawi, which is sometimes called Calendar Lake as it is about 52 miles wide and 365 miles long. After passing through Nkhotakota we turn north parallel to the lake until we reach Kande Beach at about 4pm, which will be our home for the next two nights. We take the option of upgrading to an ensuite room for $40 per night. It is pretty basic but it is good to have more space than in the tent. Even better, there is no early start and climbing into Sabie tomorrow. Luxury!

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