Sorry Malawi, it’s not you, its me…….

January 20, 2009

13th – 20th January 2009

We’re now in Blantyre, Malawi, and about to leave for Mozambique.  Malawi is an absolutely stunning country; the scenery on the drive over from Tanzania was amazing, steep hills covered in tea and banana plantations. Coming down from the Tanzanian highlands we glimpsed Lake Malawi shimmering in the distance, and although we knew it was big, we had no idea exactly how big, and how blue.  From this side one can just make out the mountains on the Mozambique side. 

Lots of blue wobbly stuff

Lots of blue wobbly stuff

 Over this week we’ve driven South along the lake, and detoured to visit a couple of game parks on the way cos they’re cheap here! 

A little bit of Scotland, maybe that's why the missionaries liked it here

A little bit of Scotland, maybe that's why the missionaries liked it here

The first park we visited, Nyika Plateau, was a surreal trip through Devon, Scotland and back to Africa as the landscape changed from rolling hills, with tree filled valleys and tors, to barren moorland where you could easily imagine the herds of Roan antelope were red deer.  It even had bracken and blackberries!

In spite of all this, I just can’t love Malawi.  It’s beautiful to look at, but somehow shallow.  There are a few reasons why Malawi just doesn’t do it for me.  Primarily, it has for a long time been a corridor for travelling between North and South, and as such, has the strongest ‘backpacker’ culture of all the African countries we’ve visited so far.  The campsites are well equipped, well run, and in spite of their laid back ‘stoner’ vibe, are about as individual and atmospheric as Travel Lodges. 

It also must have something to do with the staggering Tsetse fly population, by which we have been bitten senseless.  The beautiful Vwasa Marsh National Park was marvellous in every regard, except for the pestilent Tsetses.  I was still in pain 3 days later and have bruises where the bites were.

Vwaza Marsh, full of small bitey things

Vwaza Marsh, full of small bitey things

Thirdly, food.  Malawi’s markets seem to be stocked exclusively with little dried fish and tomatoes.  Nothing else.  This makes self catering tricky, to say nothing of our diminished gas supply. 

Cooking sans gaz

Cooking sans gaz

Which means we’re currently reliant on the universal ‘backpacker’ menu of burritos and burgers.  Bleagh…….

And another thing!  It has started to rain, big time.  Now this I can’t blame on Malawi, we always knew we’d hit the rainy season about here. Even so it has come of something as a shock.  The change in weather causes fabulous things like dramatic sunsets and awesome displays when multiple electrical storms do their thing over the lake.

Sunset over Lake Malawi

Sunset over Lake Malawi

None of this short sharp shower in the afternoon nonsense, when it rains, it threatens to drown or wash us away, this makes for some pretty challenging driving.

Slippery bridge

Slippery bridges

and shed loads

and shed loads

And finally, we’re running out of money and time, and having to think about coming home soon and that is throwing up it’s own challenges, so we’ve been busy planning our next steps from here.  The current plan is Mozambique next before a quick visit to S. Africa en route to Botswana, then Namibia then into S. Africa for the grand finale in Cape Town.

Nothing to do with you Malawi, we just happen to be here at the moment. 

PS.  Don’t take it too personally, Sean loves you.

3 Responses to “Sorry Malawi, it’s not you, its me…….”

  1. Sidney said

    hi! I hope you had a nice time in Malawi hope your bites get better Love Sidney xxx

  2. Leedhams said

    The small bitey things over here wanted to say something to you, but due to a technical difficulty, Sidney’s comment disappeared into the ether. As far as I remember she wrote: “Hope you had a nice time in Malawi and your bites get better soon. Love Sidney”

    I think maybe Malawi was a bit too much like home…

    Strongly recommend you squeeze every second’s worth of fun out of rest of trip. I’ll be VERY pleased to see your Barack Obama-clad tush back in the UK, but you know, you’re gonna pine for the savannah…

    LOL V

  3. Leedhams said

    Still loving the blog guys. Very envious that you saw those whale sharks. Sid wants to send some smiles… 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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