A beach journey in Malawi.

Posted: 22/08/2011 in Africa
Tanzanian Highlands
Lake Malawi

Our last few days in Tanzania were spent driving through the highlands and what a picturesque landscape it is. I had always imagined Africa to be fairly similar from north to south but I’m astounded at how often it changes. We spend a night in the baobab valley surrounded by all those trees that look like they belong in a Dr Suess book; fat, gnarly and ancient. It makes for some great fun night time photography as we learn how to paint a tree with light using torches and a very slow shutter speed. Our host is a rather unusual drunk south african born Australian who thinks it’s “savage” to ruin a good nights drinking by paying the bill as you go rather than in the morning. The boys are not sure why but ok whatever! Our next night is spent at a farm surrounded by hundreds of gum trees. There are a lot of eucalypts in Africa, sometimes I could be at home. It was here I had my hilarious in hindsight broken shower experience as described in one of my earlier blogs.

The next day we head into Malawi and on the way we stop at a clothing market. I misheard Will and thought he was giving us a chance to buy some really cheap brand name second hand clothes. When I get back to the truck he is carrying a Santa negligee, James is carrying a black sparkly dress and I have nothing. James proudly shows me his dress which confuses and concerns me (is there something about our photographer that I don’t know?!). I have to ask and it turns out that we were supposed to buy a weird outfit for Keith and James’ birthday, I don’t know whether to be relieved or frightened! Ahhh so this is what Will meant when he was talking about guys with garbage bags full of clothes. I had thought he meant they had good deals and yet they were showing me weird, funky, scary, sparkly outfits so I ignored them and just figured Will had bad taste. It turns out that most overland trucks go in there and buys clothes from these guys for parties. Anyway I managed to run out and find my own scary outfit!

Eventually we got to lake Malawi where we were to spend five nights at 2 campsites. It was a totally amazing experience getting my first glimpse of this massive body of water. It looks exactly like port Phillip bay and yet it is actually a lake, a really huge lake. Our camp sites on the lake were an improvement on what we were used to. Warm showers (most of the time), electricity (most of the time), hang on, I’m not sure I see the difference! Ok there was the beach (lake, but come on it looked like the beach – sand, waves, even a little island), a bar, hammocks, internet and loads of activities including fresh water diving. Walking along the beach was another adventure on how not to be harassed by locals trying to sell you stuff or ask you, yes ASK YOU, to take their photo and then request money for it. I understand why they do it, especially in malawi, one of the poorest nations in africa but after a while it just gets annoying. I just want to go for a walk in peace and quiet. While walking we saw a couple of local farmers tending to their cows on the beach, it was an unreal photo opportunity but the local boys that were harassing me were going on about not taking photos of the local fishing boats without paying the fishermen. Of course I’m standing next to the fishing boat, not behind it and was trying to explain how I was not taking a photo of the boat, which I think was kind of obvious but anyway, he kept going on. Meanwhile cow men are getting further away. Grrr! In the end I got a decent shot.

We celebrated Keith and James’ birthday in style with a table set up on the beach, surrounded by the African version of outdoor lighting – candles in paper bags. I think in Australia we would call that a fire hazard rather than lighting but it worked. We had a beautiful curry and the most delicious chocolate cake cooked by the amazing Ebron. While relaxing around the fire (not the ones in the paper bag) we were joined by people from gap adventures tour that we had met at a few stops along the way. Although I’ve come to enjoy the company of my 5 boys it was nice to meet some other people. What a great night we had.

  1. Michelle Harding says:

    Feeling like I am on this amazing adventure with you. Brings back some memories of our traveling adventures, just not as dramatic!!

  2. laurahartson says:

    great way to spend a birthday!

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