Finally arrived in another country and can happily add one more stamp to my well traveled passport as well as another SIM card to my already impressive collection.
Malawi has to be a highlight for me so far. Ok so I have only been in here for a matter of hours at the time of writing but the laughter, dancing and general banter have been some serious entertainment. The rest of Tanzania was much like the everything else I have seen. Mikumi National Park lived up to its reputation of being a must not see game park. I was glad to not be paying the fees to drive round. The drive through was very unexciting. Sad because I love game drives. Ok so it wasn’t completely a waste as we did see so many giraffes and impalas but without a good set of binoculars it was hard to really tell if indeed that was what we were seeing. It’s a beautiful park landscape wise but that’s is about all it has going for it. On the positive side however it was a nice break from the typical village scenes that we have been driving past for the last few days.
We decided to stop in at the Tan Swiss Hotel. It’s a little hotel come campsite just outside of the National Park. It’s really sweet actually, there is a small farm attached on to the side and they have all kinds of ducks, geese and chickens. The goose chases make for some good side splitting action. It has everything you need for a night including a hot shower. The first real hot shower I have had in a while, it was amazing to say the least! The Internet and bar also provided some much needed normalcy. Nothing like accepting friend requests on Facebook over a beer in the middle of Africa. I am pretty sure that most of you have seen the photos and memes but we definitely resembled exactly what the world has come to. We may as well have been sending each other messages over social network. Not much else was going on really, we were way too busy stalking and updating to really care that only a matter of a few kilometres away was potentially some very exciting wildlife! I do feel slightly guilty as the Internet connection should be on the bottom of my necessities list but on a rainy day after a long drive it is an absolute pleasure to have. Besides if there were other options of activities to do in such conditions then I can assure you the need for the World Wide Web would have been dramatically decreased. We weren’t on it for too long though as they switched it off at 10pm. Probably a good thing considering the lengthy drive we had to endure the following day.
And a lengthy drive it was. A whopping 12.5 hours (over 600kms) sat in the back of a truck. And just to add insult to injury it happened to be the one and only sunny day we had seen so far! Again though the scenery was stunning and the drive was beautiful. Apparently it was an accident prone road as we saw 10 bad car accidents a long the way. I was pretty glad to be done with it by the end however. As car journeys go though I have to say it was one of the best. Much sleeping was done obviously but in between the odd snooze here and there we didn’t actually stop laughing. Not sure if it was because we were over tired or if someone had spiked the tea with special juice but it was a long ride that I could have stayed on for a while. I couldn’t even tell you what was so funny but the dancing a long to Gangnam Style and Saturday Night down the gangway was definitely up there on the high end of the entertainment scale. Dancing while moving is definitely a no no but for a few quick minutes we just couldn’t help ourselves. We weren’t far from the hotel either so we figured we could get away with it as we were driving slowly. It’s funny how a cheesy song can provide so many tired people with hours of laughter. Adding to that The Spice Girls and Vengaboys provided some good sing a long songs too. You have got to love the old classics. Our cheesy tune high wasn’t even dampened by the torrential downpour we were treated to. It turns out that Cooking in the rain is actually highly enjoyable. The awning wasn’t even holding but that was not stopping us. The tunes still going we cooked up a storm and sat down to a civilised family dinner. Obviously full of yet more laughter and a ton of inappropriate comments. This was now becoming a regular occurrence. I don’t think I have heard the words “that’s what she said” so many times during one meal. Oh and the washing up… Yes it’s funny how when in the mood cleaning dirty dishes can become as kinky as a bondage club. Thanks to Elise and Lucy the drying of the dishes was also eye wateringly funny, we realised that the flap dry process resembles the action of the performing monkeys with the symbols. If only we had the red hats and blue waist coats that they wear. I am pretty sure someone would pay lots of money to see that. Now every time we dry the dishes we can’t help but giggle at the mental picture of exactly how ridiculous we must look. It was just what I needed though. It’s tiresome being on the road I won’t lie so to have days where you are constantly smiling and your stomach muscles a hurting from the endless laughter are just what is needed especially on rainy days. A pro to traveling on an overland truck is definitely the people. Without good people things can be very different. I can genuinely say that for my first overland experience I couldn’t ask for a better group. We have only known each other for some few weeks now but I can already see signs and hear plans of future travels and visits. Hopefully this continues on for the next few weeks as it is still early days yet!
After a rainy evening an upgrade to a room was in order so another hot shower and an actual bed to sleep in was another bonus to have. Not really a bonus for me as I have the pleasure of having a room in most camps as a tour leader but for the others they were more than happy. It sounds sad but a hot shower and a comfortable bed that isn’t under a canvas roof was the ideal way to end that day. It really couldn’t have been any better and it was a great way to get rid of any wet weather blues. A chance to dry off and keep warm is Heaven for any nomad!
The next day was an early start, well early being 6:30am. We didn’t have long to go but leaving early meant we could arrive at the campsite in Malawi at a reasonable hour so we could all finally have some free time to enjoy the best of what Malawi and its people have to offer. Malawi is again another beautiful country, this seems to be the trend in Africa and I expected nothing less but with the vast mountain ranges, endless green fields of Cassava and the beauty of Lake Malawi you really are spoilt to some good viewing. The Malawians also live up to their reputations, some of the friendliest people I have met so far. So friendly in fact that a 30 second dance party was in order whilst I was buying my SIM card. It was definitely a good start to the very short four days we would be spending in this forgotten country. I say forgotten because according to the lonely planet guide book it is sometimes left out when comparing it to the glorious beaches of Mozambique or the big game national parks of Tanzania and Zambia. Malawi is actually famous for a few things so this isn’t entirely true. The HIV rate is supposed to be one of the highest here, probably not anymore as I once read that Swaziland is on the increase. Ok so not the best thing to be well known for but it is the home of the third largest fresh water lake, a serious plus point I would say. The lake is truly a magnificent sight and definitely somewhere people should visit, this plus the friendly locals and mountain ranges are enough for me to be putting it on my list of countries to bring the family.
After a short drive we arrived in Chitimba at the Beach Camp there and finally had some time to relax and unwind. A swim in the lake was a must, I didn’t partake as it was way too cold for that and some picture taking too was also in order. The usual touristy things one must do when in such places. We didn’t stop there though. Someone got the idea in their heads that we should all be doing cartwheels and hand stands on the beach. Not a good idea. Luckily no one got injured but there was definitely more than one occasion where the potential of driving to hospital was all the more likely. I think it may have been me ending with broken bones or torn ligaments because my style was not the most graceful and certainly highly hazardous to my health. I have definitely strained a few muscles or pulled something because I ache. Badly. Not badly enough for hospital but badly enough to not be doing that again in too much of a hurry. The beach volleyball session afterwards didn’t help either but when being bullied in to it by a bunch of younger fitter athletic people it is hard to not get involved. I didn’t play well anyway and am now officially laughing stock and the truck clown. Oh yay.
Once all that was done it was a very social evening and an early bed time. It is exhausting work having to entertain a bunch of crazies but well worth it. Anyway we need to save ourselves for Kande Beach. We have a fancy dress party to attend and possibly a volleyball tournament to win as well as two days of large boozing. Definitely a good idea to get some shut eye as we wont be getting much of it in the next couple of days . It should be worth it though, we have plans for punch and a chance to buy a ridiculous outfit. I think I am slightly over excited by this but all 11 of us looking ridiculous is going to be some more humour to look forward to, who wouldn’t be excited? We also have three days there which means we can unpack and leave things unpacked for a while. A fresh water lake, some funny people, a couple of beers, a ridiculous costume and an un-packed truck. It really doesn’t get much better than that!
I think that is it for now, I will update you all again after the shenanigans of Kande Beach and of course will be uploading photos of the costumes! Still loving the touring and traveling and can not wait to go further South to Zambia where the adrenaline excitement starts and the civilisation of South Africa gets closer. I have finally now started filling in my Southern Africa lonely planet book. This in itself is pretty awesome. I Simply can not wait.
Kande Beach here we come…things a going to get messy!!
Huyu, this if for you:
Love Birds population number: no more sightings since Arusha
Number of cows hit or run over: 0
Any other fatalities: 0
Pretty good going considering but There is still time!