The main attraction on Malawi is Lake Malawi, the giant lake that stretches along its eastern coast, bordering Mozambique and Tanzania. When I got to the bus station in Mzuzu it was pouring, but I was able to snag the last available seat in a minibus, piling up all my stuff on top of me in my lap. Of course there was a backup thanks to another overturned truck, but our minibus was able to skirt around it offroad. The bigger trucks were not so lucky. 2 hours later they dumped me off in town on the side of the road and I wandered around a bit. At some point a man told me there was a free taxi to get to Mayoka Village, which is one of the guesthouses recommended to me, so sure, lets go! Winding up the hills for a kilometre or and we were there. I took a dorm room and resisted to the urge to buy a reggae CD sold by a very drunk rastaman at the bar. The set up of the place was really nice though, with views overlooking the lake, and a variety of standup paddleboards, kayaks, and traditional dugout canoes waiting near the lake, free to use. I liked this place already.
I ended up inviting myself into a group of people, two Italian girls, a South African guy and a British guy. The guys were working as teachers in Tanzania, one of the girls was an NGO worker in Kenya, and the other girl was traveling on here way up to Morocco. She was one of only three or four people I met in Malawi purely traveling!
It turns out the weather was not in our favor, as it rained for almost all of the first few days. Sometimes it would clear up a bit in the afternoon, enough time to take out the paddleboards or walk into town, but basically every night and morning, rain rain and more rain! So it was a lot of lounging around, reading, photo editing and playing bawo, which is like a more complex game of Mancala, very popular in East Africa. One night we even had a team Tanzanian acrobats come and perform for us, which was interesting!
They got off to rough start, as they were trying to dive through a hoop and do a sumersault, but they kept knocking over the hoop. But it got better after that! Not exactly the best acrobating, but entertaining enough. We also had a fun drinking night in town, where you get lots of attention at the bar! But in a big group its fine, if I was alone I wouldn’t like it so much. And finally we had one sunny day to enjoy before everyone parted ways. The teachers were heading north back towards Tanzania, the one Italian was sticking around, and the other one, Camilla came with me to Kande Beach, where I was going to meet up with Ben and Alex, the two guys I had met in South Luangwa.
It was a fairly straightforward minibus (and somewhat comfortable!) trip to Kande Beach, 60 kilometers south of Nhkata Bay. We even met a man proclaiming to be Jehovah, and almost as powerful as god, and that he could perform miracles. This wasn’t the first time I’d met someone telling me they had Godly powers in Africa. Weird! But we were dropped off soon enough, but the downside was we had to walk two kilometers from the road to get to the lodge. Fortunately some friendly locals showed us the way.
The Kande beach resort also had a nice layout, with lots of nice seating and hammocks out front to enjoy the beach, as well as an attached scuba dive shop. The lake in Malawi is famous for is multicolored cichlid fish, the freshwater fish that populate many aquariums! Right upon arriving we ran into Alex and Ben who were hanging out in the restaurant. So it was fun seeing them again, only a week later from when we first met. It turned out Alex knew the couple who were currently running the place, so we got lots of firsthand accounts of some of the difficulties of running a lodge in Africa.
As usual, there wasn’t a whole lot to do on the lake. Swimming of course, and the scuba diving, but the storms had hurt the visibility in the last few days. There was still one of my favorite activities, wandering around! A fishing village was located about a kilometer away, so it was cool to see them fish off the beach and pulling in their catches. Unfortunately almost any walk down the beach was accompanied by some guy trying to sell you stuff, mostly weed. Or the most annoying ones just walk with you and talk about random bs the whole time, like their legitimately interested in you, and then finally bring up weed at the end, and you should buy it now because you’re their best friend! Agh! And they all have stupid names like Gift and Innocent! Who told them names like this were a good idea?! I’ve met so many ‘Gifts’ and ‘Innoncents’ that it makes my head explode!
Sadly Camilla had to move on to meet some friends further south in Cape Maclear, so it was now just the three of us. Ben and I decided to a dive one of the days. We loaded up our gear, threw it in a rubber dinghy, and headed out with the divemaster. The waves hitting the beach were big, so we had to push to dinghy out past them, which was actually very difficult, getting blasted by the surf the whole time. But we finally got by it all, started the motor and made our way over the nearby island. It would be my first ever freshwater dive! With the fresh water you sink a lot easier, so no weight belts would be needed. We hopped off the dinghy and down we went. And the visibility was terrible! I mean you could see maybe a few feet and that was it. There were some fish, but not many, and we saw a sunken jeep at one point, but it certainly was not one of my favorite dives. Oh well!
I stayed for one more night, mostly just relaxing, and then decided to keep on moving. I said goodbye to Ben and Alex and then prepared myself for a solid day of dreaded minibus travel, to a place called Nkhotakota, maybe 5 hours away.