A Travellerspoint blog

Malawi

Malawi and some R&R


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Malawi is a small, finger like shaped country located between Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania (smaller than Pennsylvania) and it packs a lot into a small space. Our first experience with Malawi was in the capital, Lilongwe. It’s pretty much what you would expect - large, crowded, and busy. We set ourselves down at Mubuya Camp, a lively hostel just outside of the Old Town, and from there spent two days exploring the city and planning the rest of our time in Malawi. The biggest draw is Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa. Since it’s Malawi’s most famous attraction and alone could keep you occupied for weeks, we decided to orient our travels around the lake.
IMG_5304.jpg The Wilderness center in Lilongwe "How Tall Are You" Sign
Our first stop was Nkhata Bay. Malawi is interesting and unique geographically compared to other places we’ve seen in Africa. It reminded us a lot of Brazil. In fact, the town of Nkhata Bay is often likened to St. Lucia. We travelled via bus then combi with some other backpackers. It is always makes for interesting conversation finding out what other people are doing in this part of the world and how they got here. After being landlocked for some time, our first views of the lake were particularly spectacular. It is so enormous that you can’t see across it - it looks like an ocean. We stayed in a little, Caribbean looking hut, right on the water, which made created a pretty relaxed vibe. One of our goals in Malawi was to spend more time relaxing, so we spent time soaking up the sun, reading, and watching the local children play in the water. Since Jeff can’t sit still very long, he also made use of the free kayak and snorkeling gear provided by the hostel.
IMG_5354.jpg View of the Bay
IMG_5372.jpg Jeff on the deck of our "caribbean hut"
IMG_5378.jpg Jeff kayaking and chatting with some local boys in their canoe
On our second day in Nkhata Bay, we went scuba diving. The visibility in the lake was great and there were lots of fish, so we really enjoyed it. Over 90% of the fish species in Lake Malawi are endemic to the lake. The main fish were cichlids which have the most interesting behavior. The mom fish swims around her babies fending off predators and if she senses real danger they form a ball and swim into her mouth. We saw it twice - really amazing. We also saw the elusive dolphin fish. They mainly come out at night and are the lake’s largest predator fish. They also filmed part of the Planet Earth series at Lake Malawi if you want to check it out. What was especially nice about diving in the lake?...no sharks! :)
IMG_5417.jpg Some local boys enjoying the view
IMG_5426.jpgGetting ready to enjoy some Thai food :)
IMG_5434.jpg Sunrise at Nkhata Bay
As a side note - if you want to know what happens to your Salvation Army donations, look no further than Africa. The locals wear all sorts of American t-shirts, including “Race for the Cure”, “GAP”, “Boise High School”, “Alzheimer’s Awareness, and one local was even sporting an official US Postal uniform.
We then headed to Cape Maclear. It’s a legendary backpacker spot and has been on the backpacker circuit apparently since the 1970s. Getting there was a task, as it tends to be. Since we arrived late at night, we couldn’t see our surroundings when we checked in, but in the morning, we woke up to a lovely beachfront view and the locals going about their daily lives (fishing, washing, etc). We soaked up some more sun, caught up on our emails, and went to Thomas’ for lunch which had tasty chicken and chips (french fries). We also got mobbed by some children on the way back from lunch who wanted to hold our hands and entertained a small boy carrying water by giving him high fives. They were adorable!
IMG_5482.jpg Jeff chatting with local children at sunset
IMG_5501.jpg Beach view of some locals swimming/washing clothes
On our second day in Cape Maclear, we took a boat trip out to an island in the lake for some snorkeling, fishing, and lounging. We didn’t catch any fish using line and a hook (local style, no rod), but caught a few fish barehanded with bread as bait. The snorkeling was great since the fish were so colorful and numerous. We also went to dinner and met a really nice high school student named Edward, 22-years old, whose life goal is to go to law school. He was extremely excited to talk with Jeff about being a lawyer and they had fun discussing law school “hypotheticals”. He told us that law school is understandably expensive- but then he told us it cost 30,000 kwatcha per semester which comes out to only about $200...we are constantly reminded that people here are extremely poor and even $200 is a lot of money to them.
IMG_5567.jpg Fish eagle on the right about to touch down at grab a fish
IMG_5571.jpg Boat ride back to our hostel
IMG_5581.jpgSunset in Cape Maclear
We head to Mozambique in the morning and revert back to Portuguese (sigh). We will write more soon!

Posted by geldere 10:36 Archived in Malawi Comments (0)

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