Liwonde National Park

 Posted by Elizabeth at 8:18 pm
Jun 102011

After crossing the border not a lot changed. The houses were still rectangular mud brick or mud plastered, with thatched roofs. People were on the road and bicycles were still in abundance. The road to Liwonde was in pretty good condition so the trip was easy. We were stopped a couple of times by police, but only one checked our drivers licence, carnet and insurance, all the others just wanted a chat.

Waterbuck, Liwonde National ParkIt wasn’t long after entering Liwonde National Park that we started to see animals so the trip to our camp was a pleasant game drive. There are loads of waterbuck, impala and warthog. We also saw elephants, baboons, bushbucks, squirrels, kudu, hippos and loads of birds. The main focus of the park is the Shire River which is quite large and flows along the length of it. There are Great Egret, Liwonde National Parknot a lot of roads in the park and the main one follows the river. The park itself is really pretty with the river, swamp areas and trees and there are enough animals around to make game drives worthwhile.

We stayed at Mvuu Camp which is right on the river. It is not worth the $US15 per person if you ask me. It is pleasant and the lodge has a nice area to sit as well as a restaurant and bar, but the showers were lukewarm at best and there were no lights in the amenities in the morning even though it was dark inside. There was also no garbage bin in the campsite and with baboons everywhere we had to keep putting the rubbish back in the car. For that sort of money I expect a little more.

Liwonde National ParkWarthog, Liwonde National ParkHippo and Great Egret, Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National ParkLiwonde National ParkLiwonde National Park

Cape Maclear

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:49 pm
Jun 122011

Cape MaclearFrom Liwonde we took a reasonably short drive to Cape Maclear at the very south of Lake Malawi. The last bit of the road in takes you over some mountains and eventually you wind your way through a village where at times there was barely enough room for our car to fit through. I am very glad we had our GPS as it would have been a bit of a challenge finding the campsites without it.

We stayed at Fat Monkeys for 2 nights for 500 Kw ($3.30) each per night. Our car was parked about 5 metres View from our tent, Fat Monkeys, Cape Maclearfrom the waters edge where we sat and watched the locals going about their business.(The picture shows the view from our tent). Some of the locals would stop for a chat and there was the inevitable attempt by some to sell you something, but there was no pressure and they were all very pleasant. From the comfort of my chair I organised some fish for dinner as well as some potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and bread (yes I had to barter with them to pay a reasonable price, but it sure beats going shopping). On our way here we also purchased a 1.5m x 2.5m reed mat for the grand total of 700 Kw ($4.60). It was the woman’s starting price and we couldn’t bring ourselves to barter for it. Goodness knows how long it took her to make it, but she seemed quite happy to have sold it.

Fat Monkeys, Cape MaclearFat Monkeys has a nice, reasonably priced restaurant and bar which we took advantage of the first night. The amenities are clean and the water is hot. The first really hot, fullFat Monkeys, Cape Maclear pressure shower we have had in a while. The camping area is small so I can imagine it would get pretty crowded during their peak season, but at this time of year it was perfect. They also have excellent security. Reception sells the treatment for Bilharzia at a cost of 200 Kw per tablet (you need 1 tablet per 15kg of body weight) which is significantly cheaper than it would be at home, so we bought enough to treat ourselves once we leave the infected areas.

Cape MaclearCape MaclearCape Maclear

We took a wander through the village and everyone was very friendly, waving and saying hello. The kids as usual wanted to have their photos taken so they could see themselves on the camera. The village is mainly a fishing village that also caters for the tourists with boat trips and basic accommodation. The lake is used for everything, from recreation to fishing, to bathing and laundry, yet the water is still really clear. It was a perfect spot to relax for a few days.

Cape MaclearCape MaclearCape Maclear

Senga Bay

 Posted by Elizabeth at 5:38 pm
Jun 132011

From Cape Maclear we headed off north a short way along the lake to Senga Bay. From the border all the way to Cape Maclear there was no diesel to be had anywhere and we knew we wouldn’t have enough to make it all the way north and out of Malawi. There was still no diesel at the first few places we tried on our way to Senga Bay, however at one of the police roadblocks the officer told us he thought we might find some in Salima. Sure enough, the third petrol station we tried in Salima had received a delivery just that morning, so we joined the short queue and managed to fill up, which was a bit of a relief. (We had planned though to make sure we were at a really nice place on the lake if we got stuck and just had to wait until there was diesel again – I could think of worse places to be stuck!) It must be a right pain in the neck for the locals with the constant fuel shortages. We’ve been told that they will run out of petrol one day and be out for a while, but will have diesel and then the reverse happens. Because of it, the price of diesel is a ridiculous 260 Kw ($1.70) per litre, although it is the same price everywhere.

Today our car window shopping whilst we were in the queue for fuel, consisted of some eggs, which we thought were uncooked, but turned out to be hard boiled. No problem, I had them on my sandwiches for lunch. I guess it is the African version of drive through take away.

Steps Campsite, Senga BayWe spent the night at Steps Campsite on the lake’s edge. The campsite is quite nice with heaps of sandy beach, lots of grass and really hot, clean showers. It has a large bar area and Steps Campsite, Senga Bayyou can order food from the hotel, but it was a bit too pricey for us. Unfortunately it was also really windy, and whilst the wind wasn’t cold it still made it quite unpleasant. The wind also stirs up the lake and forms waves just like on an ocean beach, and because the lake is so huge you forget it is a lake. We spent some time chatting to one of the locals, but it was an early dinner and into the tent to read to escape the wind.


 Posted by Elizabeth at 5:59 pm
Jun 142011

We had another reasonably short drive north to Chintheche where we were hoping to escape the horrid wind. The drive passed through typical villages with friendly people waving to us. Today I actually had to get out of the car to do our shopping! We bought 8 bananas for 20 Kw (13 cents) and 5 tomatoes for 100 Kw (66 cents). Roadside shopping is definitely cheaper than the supermarket. The Mozambicans make excellent bread and we could buy rolls or loaves for next to nothing in every small village. The bread in Malawi though always seems to be at least a day old even though they assure you it is fresh today, so we are missing the fresh Mozambican bread for our lunch!

MakuzI Lodge was our campsite for the night. It is situated on a beautiful, secluded bay with rock cliffs at either end, which provided some protection from the wind. It has a lovely sandy beach, lots of grass and shade and pretty gardens. We set up camp on the grass and relaxed all afternoon doing nothing more than taking a short stroll along the beach. If you want a place to relax and swim this is a perfect spot, but I missed being able to watch the village life.

Makuzi Lodge, ChinthecheMakuzi Lodge, ChinthecheMakuzi Lodge, Chintheche

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:11 pm
Jun 152011

We left the shores of Lake Malawi and headed inland towards Mzuzu where we managed to top up our diesel, ensuring we will have enough to get us across the border and into Tanzania. About an hour out of Mzuzu the road becomes pretty rough and slow, passing as usual through rural villages where we were warmly waved at by both children and adults.

Vwarza Marsh Wildlife ReserveVwaza Marsh is a small reserve, somewhat off the beaten path, but was well worth the effort. We arrived at lunchtime and our campsite gave us a clear view of the marsh and open plain (the picture at left is part of the view from our campsite). As we sat and ate our lunch, within 200 metres we could see a group of elephants, hippos, impala, baboons and bushbuck. Not a bad scenic backdrop. In the afternoon we took a drive along the marsh, managing to drive quite some distance right beside the water and plains with an unobstructed view and loads of animals. There aren’t many roads in the park, and those not directly beside the water had tall, thick scrub so game viewing was not very good. There are so many hippos in the park – more than we have ever seen in the one are. There were pods of 10-20 all huddled together on the water’s edge. There are also heaps of kudu, as well warthog, impala, baboons, bushbuck and elephants. We stopped off at the lodge and went down to the open shelter they use for dining. Not 30 metres in front of us there was a group of around 10 elephants eating, including 2 babies. 3 of them got really close, and one started walking straight towards us but finally stopped about 5 metres from where we were sitting. Very cool! As we sat and ate our dinner back in camp there were 2 hippos grazing about 8 metres from us, again an awesome experience. All night we heard the hippos calling, which was great, but they also managed to wake us up  numerous times as they were so close and loud.

Impala, Vwarza Marsh Wildlife ReserveVwarza Marsh Wildlife ReserveVwarza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

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